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Zetas cartel hitman captured in northern Mexico

The Americas Post - This was the last face ever seen by a minimum of 75 murder victims

Police in northern Mexico have captured a suspected member of the Zetas drug cartel, who confessed to killing at least 75 people, authorities announced Monday.

Enrique Elizondo Flores admitted to investigators that 36 of his victims were bus passengers traveling through the town of Cerralvo, near the Texas border, according to  Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene.

Elizondo was captured Jan. 20 in the town of Salinas Victoria, but authorities postponed announcing his arrest in order to verify details of his confession, state Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said.

Domene said the 35-year-old suspect told investigators he had worked in the region over three years and that his duty was killing members of the rival Gulf drug cartel en route to the towns of Cerralvo and General Trevino.

Elizondo and other gunmen last January started pulling passengers off buses as they arrived at Cerralvo’s bus station, Domene said. They were among at least 92 bus passengers the Zetas are accused of killing in three attacks in January and March 2011.

Elizondo was famous “for torturing, maiming and then killing his victims,” Domene added.

Last year, authorities in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas exhumed 193 bodies from unmarked graves in the town of San Fernando. Security forces were led to the site by Zetas who confessed to kidnapping and killing bus passengers in the area.

The exact motive for the bus abductions is undetermined. Prosecutors  suggested the gang may be recruiting at gunpoint or killing suspected rivals aboard the buses.

Northeastern Mexico has been inflamed by a turf war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas since their 2010 division.  Over 47,000 people have been killed nationwide since President Felipe Calderon launched his December 2006 crackdown against drug traffickers.

The Center for International Policy, a Washington think tank,  reported Monday that $872 billion in proceeds from crime flowed out of Mexico between 1970 and 2010.