09/07/14 — Mexican authorities arrested an alleged high-ranking member of the notorious Los Zetas criminal organization on August 31. Mario Alberto Arce Moreno (31) was a presumed leader of the Zetas, operating largely in Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. He was detained in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, along with three other suspects ages 18 to 24, in a coordinated operation led by the Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF), with support from members of the Secretaries of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) and the Navy (Secretaría de Marina), the federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), and the local police. The suspects have since been transferred to Mexico City for holding under the PGR’s Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada, SEIDO).
Arce faces charges of drug trafficking, migrant trafficking, extortion, and ties to criminal activity. The National Security Commission (Comisión Nacional de Seguridad, CNS) reports that he was one of the driving forces behind the violence occurring in the Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. Authorities also believe he was responsible for an attack in August 2014 against the Special Forces branch (Grupo de Armas y Tácticas Especiales, GATE) of the Coahuila State Security Commission (Comisión Estatal de Seguridad de Coahuila). When detained, Arce and the other three suspects were in possession of a large vehicle, two firearms, one pistol, a cell phone, marijuana, and a substance similar to the synthetic drug known as crystal. No shots were fired during the operation.
Arce’s arrest falls in line with the federal government’s ongoing security strategy in Tamaulipas, which began in May 2014. Since the operation began, the Tamaulipas Coordination Group (Grupo de Coordinación de Tamaulipas) has brought down eight of the 14 priority organized crime suspects, which, taking into account Arce’s takedown, includes three regional leaders from Los Zetas and one from the Gulf Cartel (Cartel del Golfo, CDG). Nevertheless, reports indicate that it is unclear if Arce was named as one of the top 14 priorities.