MEXICO CITY (AP) — A founding member of the brutal Zetas cartel who was killed by soldiers last week was no longer a major player in the drug trade, a Tamaulipas state official said Monday.
The official said Galdino Mellado Cruz operated in the border city of Reynosa, where he and his group kidnapped for ransom, robbed banks and stole cars.
It's not clear if Mellado Cruz still belonged to a drug cartel, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to be quoted by name for security reasons.
Reynosa, which is across the border from McAllen, Texas, is controlled by the Gulf Cartel.
Mellado Cruz, 41, was one of the 30 former special forces soldiers who created the Zetas gang. The Zetas served as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel before splitting off in a bloody breakup with its former ally.
Earlier Monday, the head of Mexico's federal police, Monte Alejandro Rubido, confirmed Mellado Cruz's death and said gunmen trying to protect him during the shootout with soldiers on Friday used heavy weapons, including .50-caliber sniper rifles.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, which levied sanctions against Mellado Cruz in 2010, he was also known as "Galindo Mellado Cruz," ''Z9" and "El Mellado."