Mexico to exhume remains of slain Zetas chief's parents for DNA

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 17, 2012 4:44 PM
Mexico to exhume remains of slain Zetas chief's parents for DNA

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico said on Wednesday it will exhume the remains of the parents of slain kingpin Heriberto Lazcano to obtain genetic material and put an end to rumors the Zetas cartel is not dead after authorities lost his corpse.

Lazcano, alias "The Executioner," was the highest-profile kingpin to fall in President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on the cartels and had a $5 million bounty on his head when marines shot him dead on October 7 in the northern state of Coahuila.

Just a few hours after his death, a group of armed men seized Lazcano's corpse from a funeral home.

The navy said it had identified Lazcano from his fingerprints, but did not realize how important he was until after his body was stolen.

Mexican authorities hailed the downfall of Lazcano, but the loss of his corpse was an embarrassment in a country where belief in conspiracies and cover-ups is rife. Investigators hope they can use his parents' DNA to draw a line under the matter.

"We have located where his parents were buried (in the southeastern state of Hidalgo) and we are now trying to get permission to begin the exhumation, in order to ascertain their genetic profile," Cuitlahuac Salinas, head of Mexico's organized crime unit, told reporters.

The ultra-violent Zetas have been a big thorn in the side of Calderon, who staked his reputation on bringing the country's warring cartels to heel when he took office six years ago.

More than 60,000 people have since died in the violence.

Salinas said the identification process would not be easy as Lazcano's parents had been dead for some time. Investigators decided on the step after failing to procure DNA material from Lazcano's living sisters, he added.

The Zetas, originally comprised of army deserters, began life providing protection for the Gulf Cartel, but broke away in 2010 and became embroiled in a turf war against their ex-bosses.

The Zetas are accused of carrying out some of the most brutal atrocities in the drug war.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dave Graham and Eric Walsh)