It has nothing to do with El Zorro. Bu the truth is that the criminal organization Los Zetas uses the Z in their uniforms and currently control the routes, the gangs and the drug trafficking “business” in northeastern Mexico and border with the United States, and have done so for at least ten years.
On Tuesday September 27, 2005, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) started to learn the length of the real deep penetration of Los Zetas among the Mexican society. This feared group of assassins was born to be a war tool in the cartel drug war and then later went on to become an independent cartel whose tentacles have spread across the entire country of Mexico.
The declaration to federal authorities from a military deserter of the Sixty-Fifth Infantry Battalion, and a turned-hit man, started what was to be an alarm of panic because the birth of Los Zetas led to the restructuring of organized crime that spiraled in to chaos, showed the weakness of the government, and brought to light (once again) the police corruption at all levels of government bringing the Mexican military to the forefront of the drug war.
The consolidation of criminal group Los Zetas resulted in a campaign of revenge that increasingly became more violent and that eventually led into internal disarray of every major cartel and a bloody arm race that to this date has no end in sight.
That particular Tuesday in September it became extremely important and necessary to take the statements from that protected witness seriously. Besides being a soldier, Karen, his code name assigned to him by the Attorney General, also served as a municipal police in the small town of Uzuluama, one of the historic Huasteca Veracruzana towns.
When he was captured in the state of Tamaulipas, Karen also had the distinctive role of being employed as an agent of the municipal police of Nuevo Laredo. The power of Los Zetas extended throughout the entire country side of Mexico, serving as the private army for the powerful Gulf cartel and engaged in the sale of high caliber weapons in order to confront the police forces as well as the military.
The testimony of Karen revealed that the new army of sicarios had taken the characteristics of excessive violent tactics in order to regain control of the drug markets from other rival cartels. In addition to the hundreds of dead bodies scattered along the many towns and cities, Los Zetas extended their criminal activities to bribing victims for exchange of security and were successful in developing new methods to recruit young people that required two things: loyalty and ability to kill.
The offensive of the Zetas weakened the official governmental structures and with each passing day they attained greater involvement in the drug trafficking market.
You, well informed Borderland Beat readers, certainly have the right to your own version of the history of Los Zetas but this is the actual events told by a former Zeta given to the Mexican prosecutors on September 2005 and was to become the beginning of a preliminary investigation to the Zeta existence PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/222/2005.
"In the month of July or August of 1994 I enlisted in the Mexican Army as an infantry soldier serving under the Sixty-Fifth Infantry Battalion, based in the military camp Number One in Mexico City."
Enlisting in the Army was not a surprised: "I always wanted to be in the military. My uncle (Alejandro Cruz Hernandez) was a paratrooper in the first or third battalion of the "Fusileros de Paracaidistas" and other cousins of mine, whose names at this time don't remember, served in the military in numerous parts of the country. In the sixty-fifth battalion I served a total of approximately ten months, but as the salary was not enough to make a living, I became desperate and decided to desert."
"In August 1995 I returned to my home in Alamo, Veracruz. I was hired as a municipal police in the community of Ozuluama. I remained at this job until August of 2002. In April of 2003, after being able to take care of some legal problems, I took my wife and two children to live in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas."
And in the northern state Karen managed to find worked in a maquiladora assembling harnesses for automobiles, but after a month and a half he got tired of what he called an exploitation of workers from the manufacturing plants and he responded to a "call to service" to enlist in the Municipal Police.
Once passing all the police exams he wore the police uniform for the fist time in August of 2003 for the municipality located in the state of Tamaulipas. Immediately thereafter "my group leader (Cresencio Astorga Castro), whom we all called "Cuma" for being our superior officer, offered me more money to get out of poverty.
"He said that I was to conduct searches of vehicles and suspicious people that were directed to us by the group known as Los Zetas, who at that time were under the orders of Ivan, aka "Taliban 50," leader of the Plaza of Nuevo Laredo. This group was dedicated to trafficking drugs and kidnapping (levantones), with hints of executing people who opposed their interests or went against their will, which they referred to as opposing groups."
Later, the "Taliban 50" would be fully identified as Ivan Velázquez Caballero, head of the cell in Nuevo Laredo known as "los Perros Adiestrados" or los Zetas. Later, in late March of 2009, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) would offer a reward for information leading to the capture of 37 of the biggest drug kingpins and lieutenants of organize crime. And first in the list of the 37 wanted drug cartels capos operating in the country, included the name of Ivan Velázquez Caballero or "El Taliban 50."
The PGR put a reward of up to thirty million pesos (about three million dollars) for the capture of each of the top cartel leaders, and up to fifteen million pesos for each of the lieutenants belonging to the different criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking.
Published in the Official Journal of the Federation, the Attorney General sought, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, El Lazca; Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, El Coss; Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, Tony Tormenta; Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, L-40; Comandante 40; La Mona; Omar Treviño Morales, L-42, and Iván Velázquez Caballero, Talibán.
The list also included the names of Joaquín Guzmán Loera or Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, El Chapo; Ismael Zambada García, El Mayo Zambada and Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, Nacho Coronel.
After being offered the benefits of a protected witness and hidden with a code of Karen, the former soldier confessed about joining Los Zetas. "Under the code name 10-082 I started working for Los Zetas. I was paid three hundred dollars every two weeks that I received directly from the hands of Pedro Chavez, one of the commanders of the GOP or (Grupo Operativo Policial) Police Task Force, the elite police body of Nuevo Laredo municipal police. Or sometimes he would get paid by the second in command of Chavez named Castillo, who received the money directly from "Taliban 50" or the person he designated to cover the payments for assisting Los Zetas or just fees for protection."
"This activity, which almost ninety percent of the municipal police of Nuevo Laredo were involved, was diverse. It included surveillance, monitoring and support, or any necessary assistance requested by Los Zetas. Sometimes we were directed to watched movements from some homes, we would follow some of the vehicles or people coming out of them and would stop any vehicle that seems suspicious."
In case there was doubt, the situation was very clear: "we stopped the vehicle with a pretext of revision, we ensure they did not have drugs or weapons, and we would verify their identifications which we would relay to Los Zetas through the radio that they gave us. Many times we would hold them until Los Zetas arrived to the scene or Cuma would take them to another point/location, and Los Zetas would take them away never to be seen again, them or the vehicles ... I supposed sometimes they killed them."
Source: Mexico Rojo