Kill the Zetas

Mexico’s drug cartels have turned against the Zetas - a ruthless group of military deserters turned drug traffickers – and are vowing to kill them one by one. The Zetas were founded by members of the Mexican elite paratroop squadron (GAFE) as guns for hire used for protecting the market share of drug cartels with the brutal tactics they learnt in the military. Over the last ten years they have grown in power and size and have become increasingly brazen in their tactics. They openly drive around in military fatigues and heavily armed with ‘Z’ marked on their vehicles. In the past they have also advertised for new members by hanging banners from bridges urging members of the armed forces to join their ranks as they offer good pay and protection for their family. The advertisement even has a telephone number to call.

In January 2009 the Zetas showed what a powerful organisation they had become when they abducted Brigadier General Mauro Tello Quiñones in downtown Cancun - a week earlier he had been appointed as head of law enforcement in the city - and shot him in the head. His body was found in the back of a pick up truck on the side of a highway with his two aides, the autopsy showed that both of his arms and legs and been broken.

However the Zetas have become victims of their own success. After splitting from their former employers the Gulf Cartel the Zetas have made many enemies as they wage war on everybody trying to become the biggest drug trafficking cartel. This has led to the three main cartels - the Family, the Gulf Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel - joining forces to eliminate the Zetas.

Interestingly the Internet is becoming an important weapon wielded by this who want to see the Zetas eliminated and ‘interrogation videos’ have been appearing on Youtube filmed by members of the Gulf Cartel.

The most recent video shows a blindfolded man being interrogated in a dark room with a torch shining in his face. The man being interrogated claims to be David Rivera Alvarez codenamed ‘Z43’ and second in charge of the Zetas operations in Tabasco – a state in the south of Mexico. He claims to have been redeployed to Tampico in the north where the Zetas a raging a fierce war against other cartels to control the movement of cocaine to the US. The man proceeds to confess to a number of attacks on civilians and military installations in the northern state. The most shocking being when members of the Zetas opened fire with machine guns and grenades at a public fair in a city on the US border, 7 civilians died. The video ends with an apology from the Gulf Cartel as Youtube would not allow them to show the full execution followed by a warning to another Zeta commander stating, “You’re next”. After the video was posted the man was found dumped outside a local TV station, he had been shot in the head.

In another video that was released last week a kidnapped Mexican soldier is interrogated in front of a camera and details to what level the Zetas have infiltrated the military. The soldier explains how he receives bi-weekly payments to share information with them. He then explains that his superiors get paid more and that they provide the Zetas with military equipment and ammunition. The video highlights how the Zetas are able to stay one step ahead of the military because they are given the exact whereabouts of military installations and roadblocks. The body of the man filmed has not yet been found but a large sheet that was pinned up behind him his a chilling reminder of his probable fate, a sheet is often used in these executions to stop the location being stained with blood.

These videos highlight not only the ruthless tactics of the cartels but also how their infiltration of the military has made the war against the cartel an even greater task.