Death of cartel leader expected to cause a rise in vehicle thefts

The death of Zeta drug cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano has made national headlines in both Mexico and the United States.

But for the Rio Grande Valley, a spike in crime is expected to be a result.

"Whenever incidents like this happen in Mexico, it directs to us immediately, said Narcotics Investigator Rolando Garcia with San Juan Police. You will start seeing people wanting to take over the top spot, so they start moving stuff."

And by moving stuff, police mean moving drugs across the border.

And to move drugs across the border, vehicles are needed to do the job.

Investigator Garcia says drug traffickers start aggressively stealing more vehicles to build momentum and maintain the power the former cartel leader once had.

"You have people that are the next in line for the cartels that are going to take it, and you have the opposing cartel that wants to take over the group, now that they're hurting and low their main guy," said Garcia.

Knowing this, police are following the trends and trying to stay one step ahead of the criminals TM plan.

Some favorite targets are pickup trucks, particularly Ford F-150 TMs and F-250 TMs.

However, since the death of Lazcano, any vehicle is at risk of being stolen.

San Juan police say they are providing extra patrol in their area to minimize these crimes, but also urge vehicle owners to take preventative measures.

"Know what you have, said Garcia. If it's your type of vehicle that is being stolen, make sure you lock it at all times. Put any sort of auto theft device to try to minimize that chance of your car being stolen."

The Texas Department of Public Safety also provides bumper stickers with the acronym "H.E.A.T.," or Help End Auto Theft. With this, officers have a way to make sure the driver is the owner, and not a thief.

"If one of our officers sees a Ford F-250 driving down at 2:00 in the morning and they see that 'H.E.A.T.' sticker on it, they know that the owner shouldn't be out at that time, and it gives us authority right away to stop it, said Garcia.

San Juan police say these measures could prevent vehicles from being forced into the wrong hands.