This Sadistic Mexican Cartel Boss “Stewed” His Victims In The Worst Death Imaginable

We've all heard the horror stories of victims targeted by Mexican drug cartels. They typically involve vicious torture such as dismemberment, face peeling, and acid baths. One of the more ruthless cartel leaders is the Los Zetas boss, Miguel Trevino Morales. In 2013, Mexican authorities arrested and imprisoned Trevino, also known as Z-40, for crimes that include drug trafficking, torture, and the illegal use of firearms. Truly sadistic toward his victims, Trevino murdered hundreds if not thousands of people. He is responsible for bodies hanging from bridges, hours-long torture videos, and mass graves of Mexican migrants.

George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas at the College of William and Mary, says that Trevino is one of "the most sadistic" of the cartel leaders who "really gets off on inflicting diabolical pain on people." Certainly there is no lack of cruelty in Trevino's tactics. Encouraged by corruption in both the Mexican and United States governments that help perpetuate the deadly drug war, Trevino's terrors knew no bounds. Unexpectedly, it was Trevino's love for his U.S.-based newborn child that led to his eventual capture.

  • He Boiled Victims Alive

    Miguel Trevino Morales was no chef, but that didn't stop him from having a favorite stew. His preferred way of killing was called "el guiso" or "the stew." The practice involved making his victims stand in a 50-gallon barrel of water, gas, or kerosene where he would either burn or boil them alive.

  • He Removed Peoples' Hearts In Cancun

    He Removed Peoples' Hearts In Cancun
    Photo: Wilson Loo / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Cancun may be a popular spring break destination for American college students, but for the Zetas, it's the perfect place to dump their victims. Eighteen bodies were discovered in a cave near Cancun in 2010 over a one-month period. The victims were tortured, their hands and feet were bound, and several had their hearts removed. It was determined that they died of suffocation. Three of the victims had Zs carved into their chests, indicating that the crime was carried out by the Zetas.

  • Trevino Rose Through The Ranks Of Two Cartels

    Miguel Trevino Morales came from humble beginnings. He started his cartel career with Los Tejas, a drug gang near the border town of Laredo, Texas, running errands and washing cars. He was eventually promoted and became responsible for running drugs across the border. The Gulf cartel absorbed Los Tejas when it took over their stretch of border territory, and Trevino rose quickly through the ranks. Los Zetas began as a private army of the Gulf cartel, including elite members of the Mexican military. All of the group's members went by code names that began with "Z," and they were responsible for executing rivals to maintain the Gulf cartel's supremacy.

  • People Were Forced To Participate In Gladiator-Like Fights

    In the Zetas' fight for control of human trafficking networks, they carried out mass kidnappings of migrants from buses traveling through San Fernando. They viciously murdered those who refused to be drug mules for the cartel. It was later discovered that local authorities acted as lookouts and assisted the cartel in capturing travelers. 193 bodies were discovered in 49 anonymous mass graves, and 47 more human torsos were found in a neighboring state. Unconfirmed stories about Los Zetas forcing kidnaped men to fight each other to the death and of Trevino brutally beating men with sledgehammers have circulated online. Former law enforcement officer in the Southwestern United States, Alejandro Marentes, speculates that the stories are likely true.

  • They Used Smuggled Gulf War Weapons

    They Used Smuggled Gulf War Weapons
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    The Zetas waged war against a wide range of groups including their former employers, the Gulf cartel, the Mexican government, police, journalists, and everyday people. The Zetas were able to target so many groups by obtaining assault rifles like AR-15s and high caliber machine guns with the help of smugglers who brought the weapons back from the Gulf War. 

  • Miguel's Brother Laundered Money Through A Horse Farm

    Miguel's Brother Laundered Money Through A Horse Farm
    Photo: PMillera4 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Miguel's brother Jose Trevino Morales, an American citizen, was a bricklayer in Oklahoma while his brother was climbing the ranks of Los Zetas. Miguel had to find a way to make his cartel money legitimate, so he laundered it with the help of his brother. They bought 400 quarter horses and set up breeding and training facilities to clean nearly $16 million. He even named his horses Number One Cartel, The Hitman, and Mr. Ease Cartel to taunt authorities. Everything came crashing down in July 2012 when the FBI raided his property after the pair bought two broodmares for over $1 million. In 2013, Jose was sentenced to 20 years in prison.