Mexicans are celebrating a victory over the drug mafia this week. The arrest of Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, the head of the Zeta drug cartel, is big news. Treviño, alias Z-40, made a name for himself as one of the most brutal gangsters in a country that has become sadly inured to violence. One can only hope that his imprisonment will put an end to at least some of the stomach-turning brutality he was accustomed to inflicting on his enemies. (At one point, it’s been revealed, he even considered shooting down the plane of then-President Felipe Calderon.)
But will Z-40’s arrest put an end to Mexico’s drug wars? There’s reason to doubt it. Demand for drugs from the cartels’ customers in the United States remains strong, and until that underlying structural cause is addressed, this lucrative trade will continue to thrive. Some experts point out that one of the biggest beneficiaries of Treviño’s downfall is likely to be Joaquín Guzmán Loera (“El Chapo”), the head of the rival Sinaloa cartel, who can revel in the elimination of one of his most energetic competitors.