An armed group stole the body of the slain leader of Mexico's Zetas drug cartel from a funeral home in northern Mexico, just hours after he was killed in a gun battle with marines.
Initial forensic tests including finger prints confirmed the marines had killed Heriberto Lazcano, one of Mexico's most wanted men.
Lazcano, alias "The Executioner," is the most powerful drug kingpin to fall in President Felipe Calderon's military offensive against the gangs.
He was killed along with another Zeta member, whose body was also stolen.
The Zetas, considered one of the two most powerful drug gangs in Mexico, have perpetrated some of the most violent acts in the country's drug war that has killed about 60,000 people during Calderon's term.
While the government - and rival gangs - may welcome Lazcano's death, the failure to properly guard his body is embarrassing and a battle for control of the Zetas could become a major headache for President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, who takes office on 1 December.
Photographs published by the navy showed the body of a man in a dark shirt stained with mud lying on a table, his face similar to mugshots of Lazcano, a former Mexico special forces soldier who defected to join the Gulf Cartel in the 1990s.
He and other army deserters built up the Zetas group as enforcers for the cartel but then broke away in 2010 to fight a bloody turf war with their former bosses and other drug gangs.
Lazcano, also known as "Z-3," was one of Mexico's most-wanted men. Only Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, boss of the Sinaloa Cartel, would represent a bigger prize to the government.