Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Dumping of 35 Bodies Seen as Challenge to Zetas

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 |

By E. Eduardo Castillo
Associated Press

A gang known to be aligned with Mexico's most-wanted drug lord appears to be making a violent challenge to the dominant Zetas Cartel in the Gulf state of Veracruz, dumping 35 bodies on a busy avenue in front of horrified motorists near where the nation's top prosecutors were about to start a convention.

The cartel known as the New Generation unloaded the bound, seminude, tortured bodies during rush hour Tuesday as part of a several-month campaign to take the strategic port of Veracruz now controlled by the Zetas drug gang, an official in the Mexican armed forces told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

All 35 victims, who included 12 women and two minors, were linked to the Zetas cartel, said the official, who couldn't be quoted by name for security reasons.

It was the first official acknowledgment of who may have carried out the attack after a banner left at the scene threatened the Zetas and bore the initials "G.N."

A U.S. law enforcement official said the New Generation is believed to be linked to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, widely considered the world's wealthiest drug trafficker.

But the U.S. official, who also could not be quoted by name for security reasons, said it would be surprising to see heavy involvement in Veracruz by Guzman or his Sinaloa cartel, which is based in the Pacific coast state of the same name on the other side of Mexico.

"We don't have anything that corroborates or disputes" that the body dumping was linked to Guzman, the U.S. official said, adding that other sources say the Gulf Cartel could have been responsible. "Sometimes these criminal groups blame the other guys."

Drug trafficking in Veracruz was long controlled by the Gulf Cartel. But the business has been taken over by the Zetas, who had acted as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel before breaking away in early 2010 and waging a bloody war with their former allies across northeastern Mexico.

The Zetas presence in Veracruz has grown since the government launched a crackdown late last year in their main base of Tamaulipas, a border state to the north. But the gang has also been hit hard in Veracruz by Mexican army and navy operations, leaving them weakened and vulnerable to challenges from rival gangs, the Mexican military official said.

This Gulf coast city is Mexico's busiest port for commercial goods.

The official said there is no way to inspect all the containers coming in. He said many of the drug smuggled in come from Central American, an area where the Zetas have been expanding.

The state is also a main transit route for cocaine and migrants coming from the Guatemalan border. The Zetas have controlled the corridor, the Mexican official said.

A banner left with the bodies Tuesday criticized the Zetas for killing innocents and charging extortion, warning: "No more." The Mexican officical said the New Generation gang has been carrying out what it calls "surgical" attacks that target Zetas only and no civilians.

Security expert Raul Benitez agreed that the attack could be the work of a gang aligned with Guzman, who is forming alliances to attack the Zetas in other parts of Mexico. He said Guzman is seeking both to control territory and to punish the Zetas for attacking civilians, something that is shunned by most drug traffickers and that has ramped up government heat on all cartels.

The Zetas have been blamed in two of Mexico's biggest mass killings of civilians since the federal government stepped up a crackdown on organized crime in 2006: the massacre last year of 72 migrants in Tamaulipas and a casino fire last month in the northern industrial city of Monterrey that killed 52 people, mostly women playing bingo and slot machines.

"El Chapo wants to ruin the Zetas in all locations because of their errors in Tamaulipas and Monterrey," said Benitez, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "Those were mistakes for other cartels, too."

Photographs of the bodies showed them handcuffed, bloodied and bruised, some marked with a "Z'' on their torsos. Veracruz State Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez told MVS radio Wednesday that they had been dead only a few hours.

Escobar, who earlier reported that many of the victims had links to organized crime, said they had records for kidnapping, extortion, murder and drug dealing. He called the killings unprecedented in a state where crime has been escalating dramatically, including deadly attacks on soldiers and journalists.

"The killing of 35 people is deplorable, but it's even more deplorable the same victims chose to extort, kidnap and kill," Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte wrote via Twitter.

Authorities said they were examining surveillance video for clues to who left the 35 bodies beneath an overpass while other gunmen pointed weapons at frightened drivers.

Stunned motorists grabbed cellphones and sent Twitter messages warning others to avoid the area, which was alongside the biggest shopping mall in Boca del Rio, part of the metropolitan area of Veracruz city and less than a mile (1 kilometer) from where Mexico's top state and federal prosecutors and judiciary officials began a meeting Wednesday.

The bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground near the statue of the Voladores de Papantla, ritual dancers from Veracruz state.

Among the bodies was a local police officer who had disappeared two weeks ago, Escobar told W Radio in Mexico City.

Drug violence has claimed more than 35,000 lives across Mexico since 2006, according to government figures. Others put the number at more than 40,000.

The Gulf Cartel and the Zetas broke apart over the killing of a Zeta in the border city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, in January 2010. They have made a war zone of northeastern Mexico, drawing heavy presence of military and federal police in a special operation to stop the violence.

Since then, Zetas from the Mexico border area have been showing up in Veracruz, the U.S. official said.

On Wednesday, soldiers clashed with gunmen in the northeastern border state of Nuevo Leon, killing five, authorities said. Troops were on patrol in the town of Cienega de Flores when they came across gunmen traveling in an SUV, a state police investigator said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk about the case.

Under Guzman, Sinaloa has grown bloodier and more powerful, controlling cocaine trafficking on the Mexican border with California, while expanding eastward to the corridor between Sonora and Arizona and waging a fierce battle for Chihuahua state bordering Texas.

Mexico's most powerful drug cartel also appears to be expanding methamphetamine production on a huge scale, but has not been known to operate along the Gulf of Mexico coast.

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38 Borderland Beat Comments:

ajulio said...

El chapo is really declaring war on los zetas. I see los zetas moving in on juarez. This war is gonna get really nasty. We are seeing the two most powerful cartels preparing to go all out on each other.

I just hope that they take out los ratazzz as soon as possible and hopefully mexico can move forward. I really prey to GOD that mexico will see peace again.

But meanwhile, this is gonna be world war 3 in mexico. I hope the U.S. makes a strong presence in mexico and helps our neighbors.

J said...

I didn't even really think of that, that all the talk about Gente Nueva is a wrong assumption, it's an acronym of Cartel Jalisco New Generation, but why not sign the banner CJNG instead of GN? Or not? It was Chapo's people? Hopefully there is clarification soon. Is there a reason why this isn't signed by Carteles Unidos?

Everything we've seen so far suggests that CDG has been fighting in Veracruz too, CDS has been quiet, as far as news I've seen, in regards to fighting in that state. Is this Chapo making his play? Or simply a public announcement of an ongoing fight?

Anonymous said...

So why doesnt la gn go at it with the zetas or with anybody without the help of the military first!

ajulio said...

Very good point J. If it was Chapo, This would be a very Big statement for El Chapo to make towards a cartel that he may very likely go to war with in the future.

This incident seems too audacious for anyone but El Capo to make.

I have a feeling that El Chapo sees los zetas as a Huge threat and has some connection to this incident.

Anonymous said...

This was CJNG backed up by CDS or vice-verse
Keep up the good work...

Texcoco said...

If this people were kidnappers and killers I'm O.K. with this capital punishment.

Anonymous said...

Right now UAVs are being loaded at Dyess in TX. I count 5. Betcha they head south:)

Bones said...

This def feels like Chapo. Remember when he dumped 15 headless bodies in the middle of Aca? This is totally his style. And quite a show of power in my opinion

Anonymous said...

In my view the Zetas MESSED UP BIG TIME in San Fernando Tamaulipas and Monterrey Nuevo Leon......."they need TO GO"

Anonymous said...

My personal theory is that this mass execution and dumping were actually conducted by the marines with some cooperation from one or another of the other cartels. A few little bits of circumstantial evidence point to this:

1. the same day that the corpses were found, after they had barely been counted, the Procurador General de Veracruz was announcing that they were all Z's. With Mexico's slow ass bureaucracy, how did they know this so fast?

2. The police and military conveniently don't show up to a major throughfare where these guys spent several minutes setting the display up until after they've left. This despite numerous marine and police patrols constantly roving the city of Boca del Rio.

3. The governor himself voicing an implicit agreement with the actions of the killers. (his twitter post) and not a typical reaction to delinquents from this particular governor.

4. the lack of clear self identification on the part of the killers. Such an enormous display of force and no clear labeling which cartel did it.
speculative, si, but not that implausible either.

Capo said...

I don't feel that Chapo would want to waste money, time, and resources on Veracruz? He has his routes in place and established for decades. He has his hands full in Juarez. And according to the US Government, he still brings in loads through Tijuana, Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros. Just my opinion of course.

"L"B said...

@ September 22, 2011 4:46 AM

you make some good points..i have always been intrigued as to how "they" can round up and detain so many people at one time to be tortured and killed apparently at leisure, later on...one group that has the resources to do that is the military...

maybe los zetas have run out of money to pay the army off..or maybe their opponents are able to pay more...i am so cynical about Mexico..that i assume ALL the authorities are dirty from top to bottom

Anonymous said...

I just look forward to the day when they catch the leader of the Zeta's and make his torture and execution a pay per view event.

Anonymous said...

I read yesterday on BDN that only one of the 35 bodies strewn about on the road had been shot. The rest suffocated. It appeared to be true from the pictures. What is up with that? Why not the impersonal shooting if you're going for the big statement effect? Time on their hands to torture the victims?

hasta la madre said...

I agree 4:46, I find it hard to believe that a "comando blanco" was not participant in the killings. Who cares though, a dead zeta is a good zeta.

Ardent said...

This has all the appearances of an action by death squads aligned with the Mexican government and its military itself. If so, then it follows a pattern taken by criminal governments before in places like Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc.

YES, nobody should be much fooled by the pretense that the assassins were from merely another armed cartel. After all, many in the Mexican business community have already openly advocated for this sort of mano dura 'response' to the Zetas. This sort of illegal murder by the 'legal' authorities may soon become very common in Mexico. The government really has no real solutions to the problems of poverty and social decay that have produced the cartels, except using their own monopoly on violence.... but doing it in clandestine manner.

Anonymous said...

@September 22, 2011 8:24 AM

Suffocation is less messy. Maybe they shot the last one when they run out of plastic bags? :)

DFL said...

Fucking savages!! There will be no arrests for this crime. I'm glad i'm an American living in a great country where shit like that would never happen with out swift justice. Mexico is a really nice country that has gone mad and lost its mind. what a shame!! Its a festering shithole now only because its police and citizens are spineless , weak and cowardly. To afraid to confront a very small handfull of thug common criminals. Here in the states we would destroy them!!

Anonymous said...

@9:11 seems exactly right.

The solution is not a legal means through the courts and prison, because it seems imprisonment in Mexico is temporary even to the highest criminals.

What needs to be done is a "social cleansing" and the elimination of the aspects of society that continue to engage in this. That is really the only solution at this point. Death squads. When the cartels and their associates fear something like government sponsored death squads, the country will turn the corner.

Anonymous said...

Death Squads have been in Mexico for many years. They used them against the socialist party many years ago murdering activists speaking out against the government. And I mean murdering thousands of people even if it was suspicion.

Death Squads are made up of elite military or police officers. Now, after they do this for a while for regular pay, and of course they become very organized with what they do, what do they become. Elite sicarios for cartels, for whom their generals already take orders from. They can even branch out as independents (Zetas). Cheering for more of this is real sick. Many innocent people were murdered in those times and it was similar to the Nazi's.

Could these people be a collection of people collected over a period of time by the government on suspicion? People disappear in Juarez constantly to the military never to return, and families scream they were innocent with "no" cartel involvement.

Don't think turning judge, jury and execution duties over to the military in any way is a answer. It will be abused in the worst way, no doubt.

It is time to force peace, re-develop tourism, improve the economy, and create jobs. It will get to a point that any informants word that you are with a cartel will become fact. Wow, the death squad comes because you dumped someones cousin....Some justice.

J said...

lol at the death squad/government involvement. Are there government officials involved, sure, but not in the capacity you guys are saying.

Suffocation is less messy, and quiet(er). Done at safe houses in the city, don't have to worry about gunshots. In 'El Sicario'he talks about why victims were suffocated.

Mino said...

@4:46
I agree with you.
Another point it's that the army got really mad when the zetas escaped from prison a few days ago, having risked their lifes for nothing. They might have thought " next time we'll get those mf's, we'll kill em or hand em over to their rivals for some cash"
May be they suffocated them, so their weapons wont be tracked and then everybody would know it was the army/marines!!!

Anonymous said...

@ I understand that "J". My point is simply that we have a lot of folks with the idea that the government needs to initiate death squads to go after cartels. My point was that Mexico is too corrupt and has a past history of malicious use of them. And they have been notorious in Juarez for the past 4 years too with continued misuse. Your pro PAN and CDS mentality leaves a void when it comes to seeing outside the box. It hasn't been that long since you were arguing that there is no way the government supported CDS.

Anonymous said...

J, I think this was most likely a desperate act done by CDG in trying to confuse the enemy.Zetas and CDG,mostly zetas operate in Veracruz.Chapo and his cartel really dont have people there.

J said...

Pro Pan and CDS? I don't think I ever said that the Government didn't support Sinaloa, I think I said I don't think Calderon and Chapo are partners/buddies/in collusion in the way that people claim they are. It's really pretty duplicitous and dishonest to claim I am pro Sinaloa or pro PAN, or any of that.

J said...

Maybe, but people (ask Buela) for months have been saying Chapo/Sinaloa is moving into Veracruz, and then that shipment that was seized in June (?) the 12 tons, was definitively Sinaloa, shows he has an interest/investment in the area. If it was CDG and only CDG, they wouldn't want any confusion, judging from the personal nature of the war, and the execution vidoes, and massacres (done by CDG to Z's) we have seen so far.

TheMexican said...

@ September 22, 2011 4:46 AM My personal theory is that this mass execution and dumping were actually conducted by the marines with some cooperation from one or another cartels.

@ September 22, 2011 3:38 PM Another point it's that the army got really mad when the zetas escaped from prison a few days ago, having risked their life's for nothing.

@ September 22, 2011 11:45 AM Death Squads have been in Mexico for many years. They used them against the socialist party many years ago murdering activists speaking out against the government. And I mean murdering thousands of people even if it was suspicion.

The army doesn't have to hide to kill Zetas, they are doing it every day, you people just talking out of your asses conspiracy theories. Just because we are fighting corruption doesn't mean that every one is corrupted in Mexico, most Mexicans are affected by corruption than the ones who benefit from it.

TheMexican said...

DFL Here in the states we would destroy them!!

Yes sure dream on DFL, for years here on the U.S I have seen people doing all different crimes from burglary to credit card fraud, Identity theft, drug dealing and many more bullshit and 5 years latter is busyness as usual, the same drug dealers are selling drugs on the street.

I just wander will the police be involved with this criminals?.

SbrviviLaMafiaAntigua said...

"Social cleansing"?? And where do you think these cartel 'sicarios' came from? They are criminals, from the same gangs and organizations, and disgruntled military (have you noticed the m203s - Mexican military issue) the Zetas crews come from in different parts of Mexico. What do you think will happen if the manage to get rid of the Zetas in Veracruz? Will they just pack up and leave? Most likely, you will have a of new Zeta-like group to fight off even Chapo and CDS for control. These men are from the MZ arm of the NG, under CDS control for now. They made their declaration back in July, posting a vid with their 30-man force. Since then, they have been working toward making this statement in Veracruz, holding Zeta members (dead and alive) to dump them in streets. Further words were that the PFP & PGR were well aware that this was coming and have stayed out of the way of the NG - which IMO only means Chapo still has the AG in Sinaloa and other places in his pockets.

This group NG (actually CJNG) is a coalition of sicario crews from Jalisco, Coronel's old forces, Chapo's forces, and local anti-Zeta gangs from south Mexico. Word is, they are being paid $5000 pesos a week each - thereby buying their loyalty no doubt. There only job, kill Zetas. Zetas will begin retaliations soon with their own coalition of LFM / Milenio (La Resistencia) soldiers in Jalisco. So yea, the bloodshed will grow in many parts of Mexico. But it will be interesting who will die out, or when a truce will come. CDS vs CDJ/Zetas may become the biggest players in 2012.

J said...

Thanks for the information. Is the fact that the banners were signed 'GN', and not NG, just a language/whatever thing? I guess the CJNG followed through on the video, there was a series of comments regarding that a few weeks ago. We got the answer apparently.

Anonymous said...

SbrviviLaMafiaAntigua Why do you think the juarez cartel and zetas are some of the bigger players in all of mexico? Theres hasnt been much of the Juarez Cartel,you barely hear about the sicarios and footsoldiers.I think that the Beltran Leyva and Zetas alliance is much more worthy of mentioning,(its even rumored that z42 or the second in command of Los Zetas is in Nayarit,supporting H2 a plaza boss for the beltran leyvas current leader Hector) I dont know its just my opinion,the alliance between these two seem to be in full effect,while on the other hand you barely see proof of such between Juarez cartel and zetas.

ajulio said...

5:03 pm

Good information to know. It seems like things will blow up with CDS and los zetas soon.

Texcoco said...

According to GUERRA CONTRA EL NARCO blogg 14 more bodies were left all around Veracruz today, in the center of the port in the corner of Altamirano y Carranza, Colonia Zaragoza 4 bodies were left 3 more bodies were left in Boca del Río in Colonia Vista Hermosa.
4 more bodies were left in Colonia El Coyol and 3 more in Barrio de la Huaca.

Anonymous said...

TheMexican, I don't see how you could say that we've all been spouting bullshit conspiracy theories. Its a perfectly plausible idea that the military would secretly kill these narco scum like this in mass numbers. There is indeed circumstantial evidence which supports the idea, and Mexico isn't exactly a stranger to clandestine military death squads (as others have pointed out)

The case for military involvement grows all the stronger with the latest news of 14 more corpses appearing, this having been done in the middle of the day despite even more heavily beefed up police and army patrols..

Furthermore, if you can't tell the difference between the line of duty officially sanctioned killing of narcos the military does and these largescale terror massacres explicitly designed to instill fear, then you're an idiot.

SbrviviLaMafiaAntigua said...

September 22, 2011 6:23 PM Well, I think when it comes to CDS current fight, it’s a two front battle. Juarez & Zetas. 2-reasons, 1st – the obvious Chapo wants one of the most lucrative crossings (plaza) without paying a cuoata to non-Sinaloense running the CDJ. This meant taking over, a task that resulted in the all out war. Gente Nueva vs Linea. That war, reached Sinaloa. Navolato was always Carillo territory. Now, Chapo has made his prescence with a group (Ms) dedicated to taking them out. Hence the move from the Carillo bros out of Sinaloa. They packed up and moved into Juarez, brining a whole new conflict to the CDS in Juarez. In fact, I just heard chatter in the last hours about Francisco Carillo (Amado’s nephew) was taken out this evening. Then, there is ‘Licensiado’ Cazares’ (CDS) crew from Calexico. They rattled things so much that there are (2) new mobile xrays running 12hrs out of 24 at that crossing since July. 80% of them have ratted, essentially sending Chapo’s shipments to TJ / Tecate, and of course eastward to Juarez. Then there’s Chapo’s failed alliance to el Golfo with Caballeros. Zetas stopped that quickly. Having seen Zetas get the upper hand, it’s only a matter of time till CDJ and/or CDCL split the plaza with Zetas, crippling CDS’ ops (if not the war).

2nd, the word on the Zetas’ new alliances is aimed to gain the pacific route. BLs have agreed to share Acapulco, that is not a rumor anymore. What isn’t clear is how. I’m assuming this alliance with Michoacan (Valencias) will set up staging from Acapulco to Michoacan, Resistencia /Sonora Leyvas will take ground/air transport (where, who knows?), and the BeltranLeyvas will take to the water into BC– and thus the Zetas coalition will move into the Pacific to BC into TJ by 2012. If that is true, and I believe Chapo is taking it as truth, then expect this all out assault on Zetas to come to it’s climax very soon Side note, Ensendada’s new port is said to be started in 2012 – Chapo’s ‘ghost’ companies are said to have invested heavily in its 10millionUSD asking price – this means shipments from SA can now come directly to port city, close to the US. So Chapo has everything to gain or lose here. I don’t think he is getting much sleep these days. So it seems that Chapo’s gathering of a new coalition (Jalisco, Colima, Caballeros, Guatemala, etc) will be for the purpose of fighting against CDJ or Zetas, or both. Plus, the BLs will eventually lose Acapulco to the Zetas under this alliance – as the BLs are Sinaloans too, and Zetas’ hate Sinaloa. Yes, there is still a lot of prejudice amongst cartels. I would expect a whole lot of new crews popping up in the north and even at the Zetas feet (south Mexico). Chapo doesn’t move, unless he has to – and when he does, it’s to “aplacar el pleito para siempre” – Chapo Guzman to Zambada circa 2002 re: Arellano in Mazatlan.

BTW boys, I appreciate your comments as much as you appreciate mine. It’s a pleasure speaking with you compas, this is nothing like BDN.

Anonymous said...

You have alot of information there,but i wonder which is true@sbrvivilamafiaantigua.I dissagree on the whole zetas betraying the beltran leyvas its just a bad move by zetas,and Lascano knows this since he agreed to a truce,and working together as 1cartel,when he agreed to with arturo and later hector.If you look at the zetas area of influence you will see they have expanded this do to alliances,and the beltran leyvas one is key,now there able to operate in the pacific.I think gou guys are giving the South Pacific Cartel no credit,its just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

It's not the military they wouldn't need to leave the bodies on display. They would make them disappear. It would also cause more fear if they just disappeared with no one claiming responsibility.

Anonymous said...

saludos a mi tierra tamaulipas puro cdg

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