41% of Mexicans Believe Zetas Founder Lives On

By Chrisanne Grise 10/24/12

Mexico's government scrambles to disprove conspiracy theories about a cartel boss they say was killed.

Lazcano: still causing trouble from beyond
the grave?
Photo via

First Elvis, now cartel leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano, nicknamed "The Executioner." Conspiracy theories are flying that the founder of the Zetas, one of Mexico's two biggest drug cartels, is not actually dead as the government declares. A new poll shows that 41% of Mexicans don't believe the police report that Lazcano was killed in a shootout with marines on October 7, with a further 33% unsure. The fact that an armed gang stole the body from a funeral parlor in Northern Mexico the day after the shootout naturally fuels the speculation. Investigators did obtain DNA samples before the body was stolen, but the preliminary identification was based on fingerprints and an examination of the body; the height of the man killed in the shootout reportedly differed from Lazcano’s recorded height. In an attempt to quash the rumors that the government got the wrong man, investigators have obtained DNA from the remains of one of Lazcano’s parents, and are working overtime to prove that the drug lord is dead.

Despite this, Mexican president Felipe Calderón has had plenty of recent success in taking down cartel bosses, as an Economist report illustrates. In March 2009, Mexico released a list of 37 men believed to be running drug gangs; now, all but 12 of them (or 13, if you believe the Lazcano theory...), have been arrested or killed. Still, the most wanted man of all remains at large: Joaquín Guzmán, known as “El Chapo” or “Shorty,” the boss of the Sinaloa cartel. And even if they're finally convinced of Lazcano’s death, the Mexican people remain pessimistic: 47% of those polled said they believe the amount of violence in the country will remain the same, 31% believe it will increase, and just 11% think things will get better.

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices, AbsolutePunk.net, Chorus.fm, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.