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Prisoner Education Guide

Mexico: Drug Cartel Used Prison to Dispose of Bodies

Mexico’s national defense department calls the Zetas “the most formidable death squad to have worked for organized crime in Mexican history.” U.S. officials agree, saying the gang is “the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.”

One of the Zetas’ most gruesome atrocities was the Allende Massacre of 2011, when hundreds of men, women and children suspected of being informants were slain, then their bodies transported to a prison in Piedras Negras for disposal in acid or by burning. The Zetas-controlled prison made headlines again in September 2012 when 131 prisoners took part in Mexico’s largest jailbreak, which was reportedly orchestrated by the gang. [See: PLN, June 2013, p.56].

According to testimony in federal court in San Antonio, Texas in July 2016, Zetas commandant Marciano “El Chano” Millan-Vasquez refuted accusations that he had not only participated in the mass slaughters but also trafficked thousands of pounds of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico to the United States. Millan-Vasquez allegedly bribed the governor of the State of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira, with “suitcases of cash” for his complicity in gang-related crimes. The governor’s office denied the allegations as “falsehoods and lies.”

Witnesses tied Millan-Vasquez to the disappearances and murders of over 150 people at the Piedras Negras prison from 2009 to 2011. “They took those bodies and transported them to the prison to destroy them and disintegrate them...,” said a former Zetas money launderer who testified at the trial. “They had acid containers, or whatever process to disappear them.”

On July 19, 2016, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict against Millan-Vasquez on ten drug-related charges; his sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 2016.

Sources:, www.fns­,,, CNN


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