Los Zetas’s leader, Marcos Carmona Hernandez, AKA El Cabrito, sentenced to 121 years in prison

"El Cabrito", former Los Zetas leader, faces 121 years in prison after arrest and subsequent trials in Oaxaca for organized crime.

In the labyrinthine world of Mexican organized crime, few figures have proven as elusive and ruthless as Marcos Carmona Hernandez, popularly known as “El Cabrito.” A former leader of the notorious Los Zetas in the state of Oaxaca, Carmona’s reign and eventual downfall serve as a chilling testament to the intricate webs of power, corruption, and violence that span the country.

Back in March 2011, the now-dissolved Federal Police arrested El Cabrito while he was behind the wheel. The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) reveals that upon inspecting the vehicle, officers found two containers filled with a white powder bearing the hallmarks of cocaine and various weapons.

By October, the Federal Ministerial Police (PFM) of Oaxaca executed an arrest warrant, transferring Carmona to the Federal Center for Social Readaptation number 5 East in Villa Aldama, Veracruz.

(Illustration: Infobae México/Jovani Pérez Silva)
(Illustration: Infobae México/Jovani Pérez Silva)

The judicial hammer

The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime (FEMDO), working in tandem with the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Regional Control (FECOR) in the State of Mexico, played a pivotal role in El Cabrito’s prosecution. Their efforts culminated in the Fifth District Court for Federal Criminal Proceedings in Toluca imposing a sentence of 30 years and four months on him.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t Carmona’s first brush with the law. In January 2022, another criminal case saw him sentenced to 91 years, bringing his cumulative prison time to a staggering 121 years. Presently, he is incarcerated in the 13th Federal Center for Social Readaptation “CPS-OAXACA” in Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz.

Oaxaca’s wars and struggles

Oaxaca’s criminal landscape was notably tumultuous when El Cabrito was apprehended. The state witnessed heightened organized crime violence, with Central American immigrants bearing the brunt of the brutality. Federal sources indicate that the 29-year-old Carmona, at the time of his capture, was a direct subordinate to Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, alias “El Lazca,” the paramount leader of the Zetas.

Los Zetas’ inception can be traced back to the late 1990s when they emerged as the Gulf drug cartel’s militant arm. However, 2009 marked a significant schism, leading to Los Zetas parting ways and igniting a bloody conflict over the control of territories and drug conduits to the U.S., primarily centered in Tamaulipas. This ferocity wasn’t contained, eventually spilling over to other states.

Heriberto Lazcano, the church El Tezontle
Heriberto Lazcano, the church El Tezontle

El Cabrito’s rise to power

The then-federal Public Security Secretariat (SSP) outlined El Cabrito’s trajectory within the cartel. Joining the Zetas’ ranks in 2006 in Tamaulipas, he initially helmed a group of informants. His influence grew, and by 2009, he was anointed as a plaza chief.

His post-arrest confessions painted a grim picture. Carmona admitted to orchestrating and partaking in numerous abductions and homicides in Oaxaca. His modus operandi was chilling – victims who defied paying tributes were hanged, beheaded, or shot down.

The SSP’s disclosures underscored the extent of Carmona’s clout. He reportedly had municipal, state, and ministerial police in his pocket, with insiders tipping him off about impending operations targeting him.

Moreover, Carmona divulged to authorities a tacit non-aggression pact that Los Zetas shared with three other cartels, a testament to their influence.

Los Zetas’ roots are entrenched in the Mexican military. Formed in the 1990s, the group primarily comprised elite military defectors from the Mexican Army who subsequently ventured into organized crime. Their meteoric rise and the tales of figures like Carmona are a stark reminder of the deep-seated challenges plaguing the Mexican criminal justice system.