Los Zetas – Iván Velázquez Caballero (1970) has been sentenced in the US earlier this month to 30 years in prison for money laundering and drug trafficking. Velázquez Caballero, whose nickname is also El Taliban and Z-50, was a former leader of the Los Zetas cartel in Mexico. A profile of the man who earned $30 million a month.
Iván Velázquez Caballero begins to steal cars as a teenager in his birthplace Nuevo Laredo, on the US border. At the age of 22 he goes to prison for the first time
Shortly after his release, he is under the custody of the violent Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, who in turn grows up to be one of the highest leaders of Los Zetas. This group, initially the guards of the Gulf cartel, consists mainly of ex-military. Partly due to his cooperation with the four-year older Lazcano Lazcano (also known as El Lazca), Velázquez Caballero becomes an important person in Los Zetas. In 2007, Velázquez Caballero commands about four hundred men. Increasingly, he is committed to organizing financial structures and money laundering.
After numerous conflicts, Los Zetas breaks with the Gulf cartel in 2010. That fracture leads to a big wave of violence with thousands of victims, among other things, as Los Zetas itself is severely divided. Two factions within the syndicate fight each other to the death: the Lazcano Lazcano group opposite to Miguel Treviño Morales. Although Velázquez Caballero still knows the last of his birthplace, he chooses to fight on Lazcano Lazcanos side. The battle between the factions within Los Zetas is getting bloodier.
The feud between the two factions leads to an all out war. In San Luis Potosí, the police in 2012 found 14 bodies in an SUV. Evidently, all fourteen victims are members of the organization of Velázquez Caballero. According to one of the gangsters who was able to survive the murder in a miraculous way (he acted dead while he was buried under different bodies), Miguel Treviño Morales is behind the slaughter. Shortly afterwards, police found several dead bodies in Nuevo Lerado belong to members of the morales group.
2.5 million dollars
Velázquez Caballero not only feels the threat of Treviño Morales, but also the Mexican and American authorities are on him. The Mexicans are now offering a reward of almost $2.5 million for the tip that leads to his arrest. The Americans make it known that it is forbidden for US citizens to do business with El Taliban and any of its companies.
On September 26, 2012, Mexican marines arrested Velázquez Caballero in a joint operation with US DEA in the city of San Luis Potosí. No shots were fired during the arrest. Justice found $20,000 in cash, several luxury cars, weapons, grenades and 12 kilograms of marijuana. The day after his arrest, he is presented to the press with some of his Henchmen (see video below).
During his trial, Velázquez Caballero declared that he earned about thirty million dollars a month. 70% of that had to be spent on : salaries for gang members, equipment, weapons, bribery of officials, etc. All in all, El Taliban would have earned an estimate $9 million a month.
Escape Life Sentence
Some time after his arrest, Velázquez Caballero was sent to the US. Earlier this month he was sentenced by a federal judge to thirty years. He also has to pay ten million dollars. He dodges a life sentence because he worked with the United States justice department. Eventually he made various solid statements against other arrested Mexicans. After Velázquez Caballero has served his sentence in the US, he will be extradited to Mexico. The Mexicans suspect him, among other things, of committing murder.
There are rumors that Velázquez Caballero has joined to the Gulf cartel shortly before his arrest. If this is true he did the same as his brother-in-law, Mauricio Ramírez Támez, alias El Diamante.