Cartel arrests prompt urgent Mexico travel warning



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Posted on June 13, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 13 at 8:14 PM

The U.S. State Department has issued a new travel alert for Americans living in Mexico or traveling to that county. It issued the warning after the recent arrests of some very dangerous — and high-ranking — members of the Zeta drug cartel.

The alert specifically mentions the State of Tamaulipas, which is just off the southern tip of Texas, south of McAllen and Harlingen.

James Capra, the special agent-in-charge of the Dallas Drug Enforcement Administration office, says there's no doubt about it — the Zetas are terrorists.

"They are our predominant threat in our region, and for all intents and purposes, the threat here in the United States," Capra said — a group that has no regard for the people who they believe cross them.

"It is beyond doing the most inhumane things to another human being — such as skinning people alive," he said. "While they are alive and pinned down, they light people on fire. This is men, women, and — in some instances — there have been children."

The FBI raided a home in Balch Springs on Tuesday morning. It belongs to Jose Trevino and his wife Zulema. They lived in North Texas for nearly a decade.

Jose Trevino's brother, Miguel Angel Trevino, is second in command of the Zetas cartel. He's on the run in Mexico.

The FBI said the brothers were operating a horse racing business that laundered billions of dollars of illegal drug money. But federal agents have now shut that down.

“It’s a significant hit to that organization to remove this head like that," Capra said. "It is a big disruption."

Now U.S. authorities are concerned the Zetas will retaliate against Americans. They are urging U.S. citizens to maintain a low profile in Mexico.

"Without a doubt, it's a valid threat," Capra warned.

Most of the cartel-related violence has occurred in Mexico, but the DEA official said the organization has the means to eventually bring that level of violence to the United States.