A stocky man, Trevino has a reputation for grotesque savagery, even stuffing his enemies into drums and burning them alive or disemboweling them.
Over the years, first with the Gulf Cartel then with los Zetas, Trevino is believed to have operated in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico’s busiest trade crossing with the United States, and in Veracruz state along the Gulf Coast. Earlier in his life, he is believed to have lived in the Dallas area in Texas.
Trevino rose to become a co-leader of Los Zetas along with Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano. But after Lazcano’s apparent killing last October (an armed squad took his body from a funeral home and he is officially missing), Trevino became its top boss.
“He reportedly is responsible for smuggling multi-hundred kilogram loads of cocaine each week from Mexico to the United States and also facilitates smuggling of cocaine through Guatemala to the United States,” according to a State Department profile.
The U.S. government called Los Zetas “the most technologically advanced, sophisticated, and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.” In recent years, it has pushed its operations into Central America and the Andean region.
Despite his fierce image, Trevino has weaknesses, and one of them is American quarter horses. Trevino’s older brother, Jose Trevino, was among 15 people charged in June 2012 after U.S. agents swooped down on a ranch in Oklahoma, saying the cartel had spent $1 million a month on the horses. A jury convicted the elder Trevino and three others in May, and they face up to 20-year jail terms.
Who will succeed Trevino was not immediately clear. The Stratfor private intelligence company said in a brief note about the arrest that “Trevino’s brother, Omar "Z-42" Trevino, will likely continue to maintain his role in criminal operations but it remains to be seen whether he has the capability or respect within the organization to replace his brother.”
Last week, the Interior Secretariat said 869 people were killed in June, bringing the year-to-date toll to 7,110, which a bulletin described as an 18 percent reduction over the same period a year earlier.
Some analysts dispute the assertions of a fall in killings, saying the government may be using different benchmarks to measure crime-related murders.
Just late last week, authorities said Mexican soldiers killed 13 gunmen linked to organized crime in northern Zacatecas state.
Still, the pace of mass killings appears to have diminished in the past year, along with news coverage of organized criminal activities.
Trevino’s reported arrest marked another triumph for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the rival Sinaloa Cartel and a bitter rival who has long sought to cripple Los Zetas. Guzman, whose crime group prefers to bribe high-level officials, has lashed out at Los Zetas for using tactics that bring government action against drug trafficking groups.