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Mexico's drug war

Nieto eyes retired Colombian general for security advisor

Zetas cartel chief arrested; reporter found slain

Colombian Gen. Oscar Naranjo will be Mexico's chief security advisor if presidential front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto wins next month's election.

Peña Nieto announced Thursday that he will appoint the retired general and ex-police chief as his advisor, calling Colombia a success in drug war strategy, according to the Associated Press. Naranjo, 55, said that he would "have no operative role or place in the government hierarchy."

"He has a sterling reputation in the administration, almost unassailable," Adam Isacson, a military security expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, told The Miami Herald.

Known for helping bring down Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, Naranjo has also had a long history with U.S. counter-narcotics officials, who he often collaborates with closely, reported The Washington Post. Peña Nieto's unusual move may indicate that he plans to keep the already-established alliance between Mexico and the United States in place.

Peña Nieto has pledged to reduce violent crime that has affected everyday Mexicans during a drug war that has killed more than 47,000 people since 2006, according to the AP. His strategy is the opposite of President Felipe Calderón's, which went after drug kingpins. Some analysts believe Peña Nieto's plan could mean drug dealers who are more discreet would be left alone, although both the potential president and Naranjo insisted all cartels would be treated equally.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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World Economic Forum

Oscar Naranjo at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in 2010.

Zetas cartel chief arrested

Gregorio Villanueva Salas, a senior member of Mexico's Zetas drug cartel who is suspected of running piracy operations for the criminal organization, was arrested last week.

Known as the "Czar of Piracy," Salas is accused of producing and distributing pirated discs in Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states, according to the International Business Times. He also faces charges in connection with several grenade attacks on schools, as well as media and military headquarters.

Salas was arrested by army troops June 11 in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, along with three other members of the Zetas gang, reported EFE. The four were brought in front of reporters on Thursday in Mexico City.

Considered one of Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano's right-hand men, Salas told military interrogators that the 14 bodies found earlier in June in a vehicle in Ciudad Mante, Tamaulipas, belonged to members of his cartel, according to Agence France-Presse. It was also announced June 13 that another 50 members of the Zetas — including two policemen, women and children — also were arrested in Nuevo Leon.

Salas and and the other three suspects face organized crime, weapons, piracy and other charges, according to EFE.

Crime reporter found slain

Amy Silverstein/Global Post

A Mexican crime reporter named Victor Baez was kidnapped and killed by assailants, making him the sixth Mexican journalist to be killed in the past two months, Reuters reported. Baez refused to leave Mexico's Veracruz state, even as other journalists fled the city in fear of their lives. Baez left his office late Wednesday when he was kidnapped by three armed assailants. 

"Victor Baez's murderers committed a crime that hurt his family and all journalists. Their aim is to intimidate society," Gina Dominguez, spokeswoman for Veracruz state government, told Reuters.

Baez's death comes just one week after state governor Javier Duarte announced that the government was creating a special commission to protect journalists, BBC News reported.

Baez covered the police beat for the Milenio newspaper and also worked for a website called Reporteros Policiacos. While it's not clear who exactly is behind his death, officials believe that it was an organized crime gang, the BBC said.