Heriberto Lazcano, Mexican drug lord of the Zetas cartel, reported dead


Salvador Alfonso Martinez, aka 'Ardilla', (3rd-L), alleged member of the Los Zetas Cartel and alleged mastermind of the San Fernando slaugther, is presented with accomplices to the media at the General Attorney's offices in Mexico City, on Oct/ 8, 2012. Some 50,000 people have been killed in mostly drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006, when the government launched a massive military crackdown on the powerful cartels.


Alfredo Estrella

The Mexican navy believes it killed the infamous Zetas drug lord Heriberto Lazcano in a firefight on Sunday afternoon.

In a statement on Monday, the navy said there are "strong indications" the kingpin was one of two people killed during the battle in Progreso, Coahuila, though it was awaiting further forensic testing is required to confirm identity, CNN reported.

Later in the morning, Reuters reported that Mexican Marines said early forensic tests, which included finger prints, confirmed that the man killed was the notorious Zetas boss.

In a strange turn of events, The New York Times reported that Lazcano's corpse was "taken away from a funeral home by armed people." The authorities had already obtained evidence needed for identification before the body was stolen.

According to Reuters, a state prosecutor confirmed the theft of Lazcano's body.

False reports of Lazcano's death or capture have not been uncommon in the past, CNN reports. The US State Department had offered a $5 million reward for Lazcano.

Los Zetas is one of Mexico's most notorious cartels, and Lazcano one of the most powerful drug lords yet to be felled by Mexican forces. Lazcano founded the criminal organization after deserting the Mexican military.

The US government said in 2009 the Zetas were "the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico."

More from GlobalPost: Zetas drug cartel leader 'El Taliban' arrested

Last month Ivan Velazquez Caballero, alias "El Taliban," another leader of the Zetas cartel, was captured by Mexican authorities. Other notable arrests in Mexico's drug war include Gulf Cartel head Jorge Costilla and regional Zetas leader Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo.

Current Mexican president Felipe Calderon began his country's war against the drug lords in 2006. It's believed 50,000 people have died in violence related to organized crime since then, according to the BBC.

The IBTimes reports: