A large banner hung near a supermarket in the middle of a busy San Fernando street Tuesday morning, bearing dozens of names and faces — and calling them Zetas.
The banner, photographed and described to The Monitor by sources outside law enforcement, was taken down by authorities. But during a few hours of exposure to the public, it advertised a request for citizens to come forward and provide information leading to the capture of individuals it accused of murders, rapes, kidnappings and extortions.
The banner named more than 30 individuals — about 20 with accompanying mugshots — as members of the Zetas, and listed a toll-free number through which callers could provide information on the location of those individuals. The message in the banner asked the public to turn over the Zetas in order to avoid becoming their future victims.
The individuals were identified by their names and by their aliases, the use of which is a typical practice among individuals in organized crime in Mexico.
Some of the names in the banners belonged to San Fernando-area residents with questionable dealings, while others are known Zetas such as Roman “El Coyote” Palomo Rincones, Efrain “El Zorrillo” Perez and Carlos “El Diablo” Silguero, while others are relatively low-ranking players in the area’s drug trade, according to sources outside law enforcement familiar with organized crime in Mexico.
The banner was hung by a group of unidentified men Tuesday morning before being taken down hours later by authorities, according to sources outside law enforcement.
While its professional production quality might resemble a Crime Stoppers-style sign used by law enforcement in the U.S., the banner was signed by “concerned citizens,” which sources outside law enforcement say is actually an effort by members of the Gulf Cartel to locate and eradicate Zetas.
The city of San Fernando lies some 70 miles south of Reynosa along the only highway connecting Reynosa to the Tamaulipas state capital, Ciudad Victoria.
San Fernando has gained notoriety since the summer of 2010, when, after a firefight, the Mexican military discovered the bodies of 72 migrants reportedly killed by the Zetas. In January 2011, U.S. missionary and Rio Grande Valley resident Nancy Davis was shot fatally by the Zetas during a failed hijacking attempt near San Fernando.
In late March and early April, the area again made grim headlines when, despite the claims of state officials that the roads were safe, Mexican federal authorities discovered 193 bodies in dozens of shallow, mass graves. The bodies were presumed to belong to bus passengers and other travelers who had been hijacked at gunpoint by the Zetas.
The Zetas and their former ally, the Gulf Cartel, are fighting for control of the city, according to sources outside law enforcement familiar with organized crime in Mexico.
Photos: Chuy News