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Mexico arrests a key leader of Zetas gang

MEXICO UNDER SIEGE

Carlos Oliva Castillo, known as 'Frog,' is said to be the No. 3 leader of the Zetas. He allegedly ran drug-trafficking operations spanning several states, the armed forces say.

October 14, 2011|By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
  • Mexican authorities say Carlos Oliva Castillo, known as ?Frog,? is suspected of giving the order to set fire to a casino in the northern city of Monterrey in August.
Mexican authorities say Carlos Oliva Castillo, known as ?Frog,? is suspected… (Mario Guzman / European…)

Reporting from Mexico City — A high-ranking member of the Zetas crime group suspected of widespread drug trafficking has been arrested, Mexican officials said Thursday.

Carlos Oliva Castillo, known as "Frog," was captured Wednesday in the northern city of Saltillo, where he allegedly ran drug-trafficking operations spanning several states, said Col. Ricardo Trevilla, spokesman for the armed forces.

Gunmen sought to rescue Oliva by trying to distract soldiers with gunfire around the city, authorities said. Hours-long shooting rattled residents and prompted officials to ask people to remain indoors for much of the day.

Trevilla described Oliva as "one of the most important leaders" of the Zetas, and said he ranked just below the two men in charge of the group, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano and Miguel Angel Trevino Morales.

Authorities say Oliva, 37, is suspected of giving the order to set fire to a casino in the northern city of Monterrey in August. That daytime blaze trapped scores of people, many of them women who were middle-aged or older, and claimed 52 lives. Authorities have said the fire may have been tied to an extortion attempt.

Oliva is alleged to have joined the Zetas in 2005 in the border state of Tamaulipas and worked to relay drugs north to the United States. Officials said he later helped oversee money collection and at the time of his capture was in charge of smuggling drugs across the northern border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila.

Two other suspects, including a woman described as Oliva's girlfriend, were arrested. Authorities recovered several rifles and handguns and a 10-pound packet of marijuana.

ken.ellingwood@latimes.com

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