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Mexican authorities have arrested Miguel Angel Trevino, aka Z-40, the leader of the infamous Zetas drug cartel.

Mexican marines intercepted his pick-up truck close to the border with the US, following a month-long operation.

The Zetas, formed by army deserters, are believed to be responsible for some of the worst instances of gang related violence carried out in the country.

Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Mexico’s Interior ministry, made the announcement: “This person has seven arrest orders issued by federal judges and is at the centre of 12 criminal cases. He is accused of organised crime, murder, torture, money laundering and importing specialist military firearms.”

Trevino has a reputation for extreme violence. “He’s the most sadistic of them,” US political scientist and Zetas expert George W. Grayson said. “He really gets off on inflicting diabolical pain on people.”

The Zetas are thought to be behind an arson attack on a Monterrey casino in 2011 that left 52 dead. The are also suspected of the murder and decapitation of hundreds of migrant workers.

At the same time the Mexican military said it had arrested two associates – a bodyguard and an accountant – and seized two million US dollars in cash.

Trevino’s capture follows a string of blows in 2012 against the Zetas, whose previous leader was killed by Mexican marines in a firefight in northern Mexico last October.

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