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Better security: Mexican police captured co-founding member of the Zetas gang.

Flavio Mendez Santiago, center, alias "El Amarillo," alleged member and co-founder of the Zetas drug cartel, escorted by mexican federal police after his capture on tuesday.

Improving national security in Mexico.

The federal police of Mexico announce the capture of a founding member of the Zetas. Flavio Mendez Santiago, 35, known by his gangster nickname of El Amarillo, or the “Yellow Fellow,” was captured Monday in a town just outside Oaxaca City, informed a spokesman of  the federal police’s anti-narcotics operations. Mendez allegedly relayed drug shipments and moved migrants from Central and South America north to the U.S. border. He was in charge of operations in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz, and controlled the smuggling of undocumented Central and South American migrants to the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, on the border with Texas.

Mendez ranks 29th on a list of Mexico’s reputed 37 most dangerous and powerful gangsters that officials put together two years ago. Twenty of the men on the list are now either dead or jailed. The Mexican government had offered a $1.25 million reward for his capture.

The former soldier allegedly joined the Zetas when the gang was formed in the 1990s by ex-members of elite military units. He appeared before cameras Tuesday with close-cropped hair and dressed in a black shirt.

The Zetas once served as hit men for the Gulf cartel in northern Mexico, but they broke away early last year in a turf war that has terrorized the border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. The gang has branched into migrant smuggling, selling pirated goods, kidnapping and extortion, and it now operates across much of southern Mexico.

Mendez Santiago,  was recruited by the Gulf cartel in 1993 and later served as bodyguard for then-leader of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas Guillen.

Formed from a small group of elite soldiers based in Tamaulipas who deserted to work for the Gulf drug cartel, the Zetas earned their notoriety for brutality by becoming the first to publicly display their beheaded rivals.

The Zetas began gaining independence from the Gulf cartel after Cardenas Guillen’s extradition to the US in 2006 and finally split from their former bosses last year. They have since been fighting for control of northeast Mexico, the traditional home base of the Gulf cartel.