Mexico's Gulf Cartel publicly announced Tuesday its break with Los Zetas, which began as the cartel's armed wing in the 1990s.
Los Zetas, a gang formed by elite soldiers to work in the service of the Gulf Cartel, are now believed to be active not just in drug trafficking but also in kidnapping and extortions involving a large measure of violence. The gang has operated both with the cartel and independently.
The break-up was made public through street banners allegedly signed by the Gulf Cartel, which were displayed over footbridges in the Mexican city of Matamoros, on the US border.
'The Gulf Cartel distances itself from the Z. In our ranks we do not want kidnappers, terrorists, bank-robbers, rapists, child-killers and traitors,' read the banners signed 'Sincerely, CDG,' for the cartel's Spanish initials.
In late February, the dispute between Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel unleashed a wave of panic in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Activity across the state, particularly in Reynosa, was reduced drastically after threats of attacks were posted on social Internet networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
The Gulf Cartel then posted its own messages with banners on Reynosa bridges, saying there was no cause for panic.
'Reynosa is a safe city. Nothing is happening and nothing will happen, keep up your normal lives. We are a part of Tamaulipas, and we do not disturb civilians,' the banners said at the time.
Mexico endured its most violent year in recent memory in 2009, with 7,724 deaths linked to organized crime, according to the count kept by Mexican daily El Universal.