Oct 9 (Reuters) - Mexico says it has killed the leader of the brutal Zetas drug gang, the most powerful kingpin to fall in a six-year battle against cartels, but in a surreal twist his body was then snatched from a funeral home by armed men.
Mexico's Navy said fingerprint tests confirmed that Heriberto Lazcano was killed in a firefight in the northern state of Coahuila on Sunday afternoon.
Find out everything you need to know about the Zetas in the slideshow below. (Captions by Reuters)
The Zetas were formed in the late 1990s by 14 soldiers who deserted from army special forces to work as muscle for the Gulf Cartel. Their name comes from a military radio code. <em>Caption: Weapons seized during a police and military raid are displayed in Coban, province of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)</em>
The Zetas split from their former bosses in early 2010, waging an aggressive drive to expand their territory. They recruited from Guatemala and Texas, co-opting existing gangs to do their dirty work, while diversifying their criminal enterprises from drugs into kidnapping, extortion and even music piracy. <em>Caption: Guatemalan special forces soldiers known as a "Kaibiles" partake in training in this Feb. 12, 2005 photo at a military base in Guatemala City, Guatemala. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, file)</em>
The Zetas are known for their brutality and are blamed for some of the worst atrocities in Mexico's drug war, including the murder of 72 migrants and the burning of a casino that claimed 52 lives. In May, they allegedly dumped the headless and limbless torsos of 49 victims near the city of Monterrey. <em>Caption: Clandestine graves are seen in the backyard of an alleged drug traffickers' safe house where six bodies were found during the past weekend in Tlajomulco de Zuniga outskirts Guadalajara City, Mexico, Monday, March 20 2006. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)</em>
Mexican officials say the Zetas are the largest of the cartels and could have as many as 10,000 members across Mexico, Central America and the United States. <em>Caption: Alleged kidnappers from a criminal band known as "Los Zetas", are presented to the media at the Federal police headquarters in Mexico City, Thursday, March 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)</em>
The Zetas gang had recently appeared to be rupturing due to disputes among leading gang members. A longstanding rivalry between Lazcano, also know as "The Executioner," and his deputy, Miguel Trevino, alias "Z-40," exploded into violence in recent months. <em>Caption: This undated image taken from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website on Aug. 23, 2012, shows the alleged leader of Zetas cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias Z-40. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)</em>
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