(Reuters) - Mexican marines shot and killed drug baron Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas after a ferocious gunfight on the U.S. border on Friday, a victory for President Felipe Calderon but one that is unlikely to end drug violence.
Cardenas’ death marks the elimination of another cartel leader as Mexico struggles to curb a thriving drug trade. Below are some facts on the top traffickers that remain at large.
* Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel based in northwestern Mexico, escaped from a high-security prison in a laundry van in 2001. He built up his trafficking alliance in the Sinaloan mountains and in 2005 started a turf war against rival smugglers.
Just five feet tall, Guzman is Mexico’s most-wanted fugitive. He has continually eluded capture, reportedly changing cell phones after every conversation and possibly having undergone plastic surgery to alter his appearance.
* Ismael Zambada, Guzman’s right-hand man, has never been captured in three decades as a top trafficker. Now 62, he brazenly gave an interview to news magazine Proceso in April, even posing for a photo with its founder Julio Scherer. He is considered a sharp businessman and negotiator.
A former farmer from Sinaloa state, Zambada is believed to launder drug profits through a milk company, real estate holdings and a bus line. He has a $5 million bounty on his head in the United States.
* Heriberto “The Executioner” Lazcano is head of the Zetas, the former armed wing of the Gulf cartel based in eastern Mexico. He and believed to be at large in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas.
Once a member of Mexico’s elite special forces, Lazcano switched sides in the late 1990s to join the Gulf cartel, now at war with its erstwhile allies as the Zetas seek to run their own smuggling routes. Lazcano has a huge arsenal of grenades, automatic weapons and even rocket launchers. He is feared for his brutal tactics and is rumored to use tigers to scare victims or dispose of their bodies.
* Vicente Carrillo Fuentes is the long-time head of the Juarez cartel, based over the border from El Paso, Texas. Brother of drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who flew airliners full of Colombian cocaine into Mexico in the 1990s, Vicente took over the cartel after Amado’s death during a clandestine plastic surgery operation.
* Evangelical Christian Nazario Moreno, who calls himself “The Craziest One,” leads “La Familia” (The Family), a cartel in the western state of Michoacan. He preaches Bible scripture mixed with self-help slogans to gang members and has tried to promote a mystique that is unique among Mexican gangs by claiming to protect the local population.
* Fernando Sanchez Arellano is fighting for control of the weakened Arellano Felix cartel in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego. A nephew of the Arellano Felix brothers who shipped tonnes of cocaine into California in the 1990s, Fernando has emerged as leader after other brothers were arrested and one was killed in a shootout with police. He has the help of his accountant aunt Enedina Arellano Felix.
Compiled by Mexico newsroom; Editing by Eric Walsh