Mexico City – A man suspected of being "the No. 2 operative at the national level of the economic-financial structure of the Los Zetas criminal organization" was captured by army troops in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, officials said Wednesday.
Valdemar Quintanilla Soriano was arrested on Tuesday in a raid staged on the basis of intelligence and surveillance work, the Defense Secretariat and the Attorney General's Office said.
Quintanilla Soriano worked closely with Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano and Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, the two top leaders of Los Zetas.
The suspect traveled regularly between Monterrey, the capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, and the cities of Saltillo and Monclova, both located in Coahuila, to "coordinate accounting aspects and payments to authorities on the criminal organization's payroll," officials said.
Quintanilla Soriano previously worked as an accountant at the state level for Los Zetas in states where the cartel has a presence, such as Veracruz, San Luis Potosi and Coahuila, the Cabinet departments said.
Quintanilla Soriano's assistant, Jose Guadalupe Yañez Martinez, who helped run the cartel's financial operations out of a safe house in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila, was also arrested.
Army troops seized two rifles, a handgun, four automobiles, communications equipment and documents from the suspects.
Quintanilla Soriano and Yañez Martinez were paraded before reporters on Wednesday and the property seized in the raid was turned over to the Siedo organized crime unit of the AG's office.
Lazcano Lazcano, known as "El Lazca," deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent criminal organization, went into the drug business on their own account in early 2010 and now control several lucrative territories.
The Zetas cartel has increasingly become involved in people trafficking and kidnapping migrants.
Los Zetas has been blamed for several massacres in northern Mexico, including the August 2010 killings of 72 migrants, the majority of them from Central America, at a ranch outside San Fernando, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas.
The cartel now has a strong presence in Guatemala, where its gunmen massacred 27 peasants in the northern province of Peten in May.