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Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, the top boss of the Los Zetas drug cartel, was killed in a shootout with marines in Coahuila state, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Tuesday.
The government has now captured or killed 25 of Mexico's 37 most dangerous criminals, the president said.
Information provided by the marines corps shows that Lazcano was "killed while resisting the authorities in an operation" in Progreso, a city in northeast Mexico, Calderon said during the inauguration of a prison in Guanajuato.
The Navy Secretariat has not yet confirmed that the man killed in Sunday's shootout was the Zetas boss, but it said the body fit the description of the drug lord and matched information available about him.
The body, which underwent an autopsy and had other test performed on it, was stolen on Monday from a funeral home in Sabinas by a group of gunmen, Coahuila state officials said.
The marine corps has launched a series of operations in recent weeks that "substantially weakened" several criminal organizations, Calderon said.
Gulf cartel bosses Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez and Mario Cardenas Guillen were captured in northeast Mexico, the president said.
A "considerable number" of Los Zetas regional bosses, including Ivan Velazquez Caballero and Salvador Alfonso Martinez, who was allegedly behind the killings of more than 300 people, have been arrested, Calderon said.
These blows have now been followed by "the killing of the main leader of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano," Calderon said.
The government "will continue using all the resources at its disposal in defense of Mexican families" and Mexico should continue pursuing the current security strategy, the president said.
The government's security strategy consists of "taking on the criminals, but at the same time bolstering security and justice institutions, and rebuilding the social fabric," Calderon said.
"That is not just the route for winning the battle against crime, but for building a secure Mexico and the peace that all we Mexicans ... desire," Calderon, who will hand over the presidency to Enrique Peña Nieto on Dec. 1, said.
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.
The shootout that killed Lazcano occurred a day after marines captured Martinez, who allegedly ordered the killings of more than 300 people, including 72 migrants massacred in 2010 in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas.
After several years as the armed wing 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. EFE