Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexico Fears Rise of Vigilante Justice

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 |


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A frame from a July video in which a paramilitary group vows to eliminate the violent Zetas drug gang.


By JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA
Wall Street Journal

A self-styled drug-trafficking group calling itself the "Zeta Killers" claimed responsibility this week for the recent murders of at least 35 people believed to belong to the Zetas, Mexico's most violent criminal organization.

The claim by the "Mata Zetas" has stoked fears that Mexico, like Colombia a generation before, may be witnessing the rise of paramilitary drug gangs that seek society's approval and tacit consent from the government to help society confront its ills, in this case, the Zetas.

On Wednesday, Mexico's national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota vowed in a statement that the government would "hunt down" and bring to justice any criminal group that takes justice into its own hands.

The issue surfaced last week after 35 bodies were dumped just blocks away from a hotel in the port city of Veracruz where Mexico's state attorney generals were due to hold a meeting the following day. Two days later, after the convention kicked off, an additional 11 bodies were found in different parts of the city.

The shocking scenes, suggesting mass murder in front of the country's top law-enforcement officials, were followed up days later by a video in which five hooded men took responsibility for the murders, saying the victims were all Zetas who had carried out crimes like extortion.

"Our only objective is the Zetas cartel," said a burly, hooded man who said he was a Mata Zetas spokesman, in the video. The man said that unlike the Zetas, his group didn't "extort or kidnap" citizens and were "anonymous warriors, without faces, but proudly Mexican" who would work "clandestinely" but "always to benefit Mexico's people."

The mysterious group appears to be part of the New Generation drug cartel, which operates in the northwestern state of Jalisco, according to an earlier video that showed some three dozen hooded men brandishing automatic rifles as a spokesman vowed to wipe out the Zetas in Veracruz. In that video, the spokesman lauded the work of the Mexican armed forces against the Zetas, and urged citizens to give information on their location to the military.




The rise of any paramilitary gangs could propel Mexico into an even more violent stage of a drug war that has killed more than 43,000 people since President Felipe Calderón took power in December 2006.

In Colombia, government-backed peasant militias formed to defend against Communist guerrillas in decades past were eventually taken over by drug traffickers, who were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. "This is a version of para-militarism which is emerging," said Bruce Bagley, an expert on Latin America and drug trafficking at the University of Miami. "We are not sure who these guys are. They are outlaws, but if they kill Zetas, they could find a following among some of the Mexican political and military elite. It bodes very badly for the rule of law in Mexico."

Other analysts say the Mata Zetas appear to be just another drug gang battling it out with the Zetas over turf.

The new group "pretends to use vigilante tactics to finish off another criminal organization," wrote Eric Olson, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, on El Palenque, a Mexican website.

In the recent past, other cartels, most notably La Familia, based in the state of Michoacán, have tried to use the Zetas' reputation for brutality as a way of rallying popular support and gaining new adherents to fight them. La Familia recently suffered a major split after the group made peace with the Zetas.

Nevertheless, the rise of a group like the Mata Zetas raises troubling questions for ordinary Mexicans and the government: Is it a good thing when members of a bloodthirsty cartel known for murders, extortions, and kidnapping are themselves summarily killed by other criminals?

While Mexico's federal government has condemned the killing, the response by Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte was widely seen as more equivocal.

"It's lamentable the assassination of 35 people, but it's more so that these people had chosen to dedicate themselves to extortion, kidnapping and murder," the governor wrote on his Twitter account a day after the event.

Among other atrocities, the Zetas are blamed for last month's casino fire that killed 52 people in the business capital of Monterrey in Nuevo León state, and the murder of 72 U.S.-bound migrants last year in Tamaulipas state.

The Zetas evolved from a small group of elite soldiers who defected in the late 1990s to work as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel into a vicious multinational crime organization.

Since they broke with the Gulf Cartel in 2010, the Zetas have been fighting a bloody turf war across Mexico against other groups, in which thousands have perished.

Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico says that the emergence of illegal groups such as the Mata Zetas—perhaps with some help from local or national government authorities—wouldn't be a surprise, given the level of violence inflicted by the Zetas on the Mexican population and the Mexican state's inability to provide its citizens with protection.

Officials "would never tell you openly, but I wouldn't be surprised if some sectors of government look the other way, and I fear that parts of the civilian population would also see this with approval," he said.

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24 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

These MATA-ZETAS got balls of steel, if the Mexican Govt can't do the job then these are the guys who got organized,left their families and children behind to join the fight for a better Mexico.Like Pancho Villa i guess.Vigilante Justice is the only way to finish the Zetas and ruthless criminals. Mexican justice sucks ass,the drug cartels PAY $$$$ for their freedom, is that fair to innocent, hard working businessmen and citizens in general ????? "Manos a la obra"

Anonymous said...

Eh it's only a matter of time before theirs a group whos like the FARC in colombia.

Anonymous said...

Los Pepes are coming to Mexico. It's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better.

Anonymous said...

I dont think people in México fear vigilante justice. We simply want some form of justice. Ill take street justice if the government isn´t up to it.

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said

I like the idea of a vigilante group all over Mexico, but I don't like the idea of a vigilante group from another cartel for the fact that a cartel will not fight for the people they only fight for their on gain.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a vigilante group. This is a group of active military, and police officers that are active members of a cartel. They are no different than La Familia and their savior propaganda. They are all very EVIL. They are not a God send. They work for Satin. Step back and watch a little while. Don't jump on their cheer leader wagon.

Anonymous said...

Yall need to read up on some history..... Vigilant gruops always turn against the people the were tring to protect.....

Jesus the Moose said...

@ anon 12:12

What's your proof for saying that they are active military and police? Is it a mere personal assumption?

Anonymous said...

The objective is a reduction in the violence. Mexico and Mexicans want the return of the
"businessman traffickers" that would adhere to their own set of ethical guidelines: the product is worth more in the US so don't sell it locally, no women, no children, use violence with strategy and purpose, don't upset the apple cart, no bitching if you get pinched.

For decades money has been safely made from self-destructive fucks in the US. Different now is the government's insistence in a pipe dream of a country free of drugs.

"Just say no" is for schoolchildren. The reality is that as long as money is to be made, market forces will rule. Violence is an unfair trade practice.

Anonymous said...

at 12:12, you dont know shit....Mata-Zetas (CJNG) made an alliance with CDS to let them operate and use routes in their territory in Jalisco. CJNG doesnt really traffic drugs, they protect their turf and they have elements in Veracruz supporting el nuevo dueno de plaza, La GENTE NUEVA.....PURO CDS

el blanco

El_Regio said...

This is not a VIGILANTE group people!!! This is simply another Cartel moving in on Zeta territory all while claiming they are doing it for the people. Once the Zetas are removed, they will fill the Zetas roles in the area and things will be back to what they are now. The only people the Mexican people should support is their military and government.

Anonymous said...

So what El Regia....I think the people are ready for things to go back to where they were. Sell ur drugs but don't mess with my family. All cartels are bad but some are worse....Zetas need to go.

Anonymous said...

These guys just want to eliminate the competition so they can do all the extortions and kidnappings themselves.

The people who think they actually give a shit about the innocent civilians and wanting to make Mexico a better place are so gullable its not even funny.

Yes they'll help take out the Zeta's and stop them from their evil doings to innocent folks.....AND WHY? so THEY can do it to the innocents.

Anonymous said...

The old school cartels didn't fuck with the law abiding citizen. Hell, they would go around buying unnecessary things. Some of them were worse than other, ex. CDJ and the femiscides. But the new breed is just bad, they kill everyone. Look at Barbie, he would tell his soldiers not to kill women and kids.

El_Regio said...

So why the name calling? Also hiding behind anonymous... lol BTW it would be La Regia, not El Regia.

Things will not go back to how they were 6-10 years ago. What will happen is CDS will move in and they will take over whatever Zetas were doing. Just like they have done in other parts of the country. What do you think they did in the Creel Chihuahua massacre? They executed an entire family (children included) because they didn't pay the extortion money! That was CDS, so they are no better than Zetas, CDJ, Arellanos, Beltran Levya, LFM, or CT's!
Please stop trying to sell that bullshit to the people of Mexico....

Anonymous said...

In another article by borderland I read el chapo is in veracruz fighting zetas just like the Mata zetas, this cowards aren't fighting for the people. You'll get a surprise just wait because there's nothing else you can do.

Anonymous said...

They are just ANOTHER armed wing of Sinaloa cartel using lame propaganda...

Anonymous said...

Ser9iously, thinking long-term: It is inevitable that vigilante groups will being ops in the USA (if they haven't done so already). I say this because, the recent MataZeta video showed high professionalism and if they are as comp[etant as I think they are, this group will follow their victims all over the world.

Mexico Watcher

Anonymous said...

@10:18 I never question you, but the Creel massacre did not happen because of that. The word on the street was that the dad of that family perpetrated the first Creel Massacre, working for the Juarez Cartel. So when Chapo came in, they had to go after him. The dumb ass knew sooner or later was going to die, he shouldn't have had his family with him. Look it up, there was a massacre in Creel before that. I believe 15 or 17 died. If you talk to people from the Sierra of Chihuahua, they are more fond of Chapo than CDJ.

Anonymous said...

@ Regio again. Check this link out, thats the first Creel. Also if you watch the interrogation of Patricia Gonzales brother he talks about it..
Massacrehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/19/mexico.drugstrade

Anonymous said...

These are by no means paramilitary groups. They are just a branch of the Sinaloa cartel aimed at taking out their rival. They go by many names. Gente Nueva, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, and Carteles Unidos (which includes the Gulf Cartel), plus the Ms (May Zambada sicarios). Add to that los Caballeros Templarios which split from La Familia. Supposedly, these cartels do not Kidnap or Extort. They just want to satisfy you the junky customer.

Anonymous said...

I have lived and have family in areas of Mexio where the Sinaloa Cartel claims ownership. I can vouch for the fact that all of my family and friends can work and live as law abiding citizens and do not have to pay extortion or fear kidnappings from cartel members. Actually the ones doing the extortion in those areas are the cops and federales (a cartel all on its own). So yes once they exterminate the Zetas the law abiding citizen can go back to living life as it was before. I'm not saying Sinaloa cartel members are saints. But their focus is more on drug trafficking and they understand that burning the plaza by attracting the attention of media and law enforcment is bad for business.

Anonymous said...

Yep Just a Mexican version of "Los Peppes" , just like in the Columbian case ,Groups like Mata-Zeda coming to fruition in a certain probability

When you have so many families hurt by drug king pins ,you have what we see in this picture .A small unit of very "Motivated" angry killers.That all have a common denominator.

Now its payback time , I hope corruption doesnt spread too quickly through its ranks (as things usually do ) and the Mexican Authorities will "look at their shoes " concerning this issue .Like they have done with so many other issues. It would be almost comical if the Federales,gave the Mata-Zedas a hard time ,since the Mata -Zedas are doing the Federales job!

Cheers/Lex Talionis

Anonymous said...

YEA! Go get em vigilantis Mexican citizens got yo back next you should go get the corrupt puta politicians and all the rest of the scum!these guys are armed to the t

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