Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Despite a major government crackdown, Zetas keep expanding their reach

Monday, January 16, 2012 |

Zetas brazenly hang recruitment banners calling for military or former military
I recall the first narco banner "advertisement" I saw.  It was in Monterrey, also a Zetas banner.  I could not believe my eyes and thought it was a joke.  Seeing the banner that day, jolted me into a realization that there was a new breed of narco in Mexico, a flagrant, brazen and in your face narco.  How that would transform from what we knew to be, was uncertain, the only thing for certain, clearly, things were going to be different.   Paz, Chivis

Banner text translation:

Operating Group 'Los Zetas' wants you. Military or ex-military. We offer a good salary, food, and we care for your family. Do not suffer bad treatment. Do not suffer hunger. We will not feed you Maruchan (noodle) soups. Do not hesitate to call 8671687423.”

by Ioan Grillo for Global Post

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Residents of the town of Fresnillo in northeast Mexico cowered in their homes as gunfire rattled between federal police and cartel gunmen on the streets outside.
When the shooting subsided, those brave enough to peer out their doors saw the corpses of nine gunmen sprawled on the concrete.
Police officers said the deaths — which happened Wednesday — were the latest blow against Los Zetas, a psychopath criminal army battling for control of Mexico’s drug trade, and responsible for multiple kidnappings, oil theft and other rackets.
Many in Mexico’s federal police and army consider the Zetas to be the biggest problem in the drug war. They have launched a sustained campaign against them, resulting in hundreds of deaths like those in Fresnillo and thousands of arrests in recent months.
Rival cartels have also attacked the Zetas across the country, piling corpses of alleged members on the streets — such as 35 who were dumped in Veracruz state — and massacring them in prisons.
But despite the onslaught from all sides, the Zetas keep coming back, recruiting more troops and fighting to dominate trafficking from the Texas border deep into Central America.
A Jan. 1 report by Mexico’s Specialized Organized Crime Unit, known by the Spanish acronym SIEDO, found the Zetas now dominate the most territory in Mexico — overtaking the Sinaloa Cartel, the oldest criminal group in the country.
“This criminal organization has become the biggest risk for internal security,” said Defense Secretary Guillermo Galvan, “because of the impact of their actions against government institutions and the complete disregard for human life.”
Agents say the Zetas’ ability to find a steady stream of new recruits, including many former Mexican police and soldiers, has allowed them to their replace their losses.
Their extreme violence has also helped them to expand and control territories through old-fashioned intimidation.
The Zetas are alleged to have committed the most horrifying atrocities in the drug war, including the burning of a casino that led to 52 deaths, the massacre of 72 migrants, and two mass graves, each with more than 200 corpses.
They are also alleged to be behind the fatal shooting of US immigration agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico last year.
In a December communiqué purportedly signed by the Zetas’ second in command, Miguel Trevino, the group openly challenged attacks from the Mexican and US governments.
"Message to the nation, the government, and all of Mexico and to public opinion: The special forces of Los Zetas challenges the government of Mexico and its federal forces,” it said in the statement, which was sent to some media outlets.
"Not the Army, not the Marines nor the security and anti-drug agencies of the United States government can resist us. Mexico lives and will continue under the regime of Los Zetas.”
The Zetas were originally formed in the late 1990s by deserters from the Mexican special forces who were hired as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel.
They expanded rapidly, hiring many former police officers, soldiers and street thugs into their ranks. To attract recruits, they even put up job advertisements on blankets and hung them from bridges.
“The Zetas operations group wants you, soldier or ex-soldier,” one banner said. “We offer you a good salary, food and attention for your family. Don’t suffer hunger and abuse any more.”
In 2010, the Zetas then fractured from their masters in the Gulf Cartel to fight for control of the northeast of Mexico, turning the region into a brutal battleground.
 The area, which shares a border with the East Texas cities of Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville, is one of the most sought-after trafficking corridors. From there, drugs can be transported through Texas to the American South and Eastern seaboard.
The Zetas also have a strong presence along the whole Gulf of Mexico and in cities along the Caribbean coast down to the Belize border.
Over in Guatemala, the Zetas are alleged to be behind a series of massacres that provoked the Guatemalan government to declare a state of emergency and send in military special forces to the region that borders Mexico.
On Wednesday, alleged Zetas hung blankets in Guatemala bearing messages that threatened Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.
“We won’t go until you pay your debt,” the message. “We helped you, and you stabbed us in the back. The bill is due.”
As well as trafficking drugs, the Zetas have expanded aggressively into other businesses from protection rackets to product piracy.
On Monday, police arrested 10 alleged Zeta members for stealing crude oil from pipes of the government oil company Pemex.
Pemex is estimated to lose more than $2 billion worth of oil each year to theft.
President Felipe Calderon has waged a national offensive against drug cartels since he took power in December 2006.
However, the arrest and killing of gangsters has only led to the rise of more violent groups like the Zetas, leading many to question the entire war on drugs.
“We are seeing evidence of an official failure of the anti-drug fight with the expansion of the most worrying cartel of all,” wrote Mexican columnist Jorge Alejandro Medellin. “The anti-crime model is showing the rottenness of its structure.” 

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51 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

god damn mexico sucks lol

Anonymous said...

Death Sentence is necessary in Mexico,anyone found guilty of being a Narco,and especially Sicario should be executed within 5 days of arrest and trial..

Anonymous said...

This is no different from terrified kids in school siding with the meanest toughest bullies in order to avoid being bullied.
The Mexican government is sort of like the exasperated teacher that is so worn down from having to deal with the bullies that most of what the bullies do to their victims is left unpunished. That empowers the bullies to become increasingly brazen.

Anonymous said...

Hello amigos!!!
Only a few words about this article!!!
Kill all these retarded, in bred, pinche culos Zetas!!! They r all stupid rats who hide in the shitty sewer and smell like fucking Caca!!!
Without their dope and guns all of them are worthless piece of crap, including morales( he had sex with his own mother) and the rest of these assholes!! They all suck big ones!!!maricones!!
Have a good day

Anonymous said...

Amateurish piece with little new information or interesting theory, and the Z-40 banner was widely discredited. Filler.

Anonymous said...

stop sayin the zetas dominate more territories than sinaloa, i tihink its about even

Anonymous said...

Pretty brazen anti-Zeta article and I would advice Mr Grillo against visiting Meeeejico any time soon.

Judging by the latest publcity stunts - including, but not limited to, the recruitment banner above (which obviously the Z's would not put up) - it seems like the guys in bed with chapo are putting on a heavy public relation campaign to battle the Z's.

Anonymous said...

Los zetas contra la nueva organizacion mundial chingen su madre los otros carteles lavando dinero en bancos americanos attn los zetas

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Perhaps Los Zetas will force the power brokers to sell Chapo down the river. They are like a bad dream without a morning.

As the top 1% continues to create ant economies groups like Los Zetas will rise around the world. The future is psychopath capitalism. The mentioned disregard for human life applies to the greedy at the top also.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a failure of the anti-drug actions. I see the cartels getting weak and disperate. They are trying to branch out to save themselves. Looking for other countries to go to since they relize they can't hold Mexico. Mexico is going to win this. All that needs to happen is for Mexico to step up taking out these criminals.

B. Garza

Anonymous said...

I really find it strange that with all the money and all the troops and all the different police agencies Mexico have and they can't catch Lazcano or Trevino.
Something smells or in reality Mexico is a defacto failed state!

Anonymous said...

So how many members are with Zetas now? Of course no one would know exactly, but any speculation?

Anonymous said...

@ January 17, 2012 1:36 AM .I have to agree completely.The blanket purportedly by Zs challenging the government?Doe's anyone believe they actually did that,of course not.Trevino taking the unprecedented step of denying it,so yes this is a filler,and people on here are a bit more clued up than that.The comment at 5:00 AM,every country on the planet seems to be going more and more towards a super rich 5% without spreading that wealth.Lack of opportunities for young men to make a better life?Well can you blame them?If there are no jobs,and you had a family,what would you do?Having employment is a must for young men,if i can't get it legally,i will get it so-called illegally.No job,leads to,feelings of alienation,emasculation,bitterness,the fuck you feelings,i for one cannot blame a man for having to do things to make life better.No one else gives a fuck,why should he.

Anonymous said...

their Marketting campaing consistes of Decapitation videos, cheap banners, most of them hand written although the above one
seems to be made by Fast Signs.
and January 17, 2012 7:08 AM, just what the hell is a failed state in your deffinition?
Prohibition and fighting it with the military is a failed state? Last numbers i looked at Mexico is spending upwards of 7 Billion USD a year to fight Nixons prohibition, none of it
from the U.S. the Merida innitiative is a fucking joke, why are drugs criminalised?
if the user wants to be a user, fucking let him.
when that user commits a crime then put his ass in jail. If youre worried that the user rate in the U.S. will rise, so fucking what
Addiction is a disease not a criminal state of mind, most addicts have some form of mental illness to begin with, wether Bipolar, depression etc. People will allways get high.
Wether your drug is Religion or substance of choice it is not going away and i dont see how spending Billions on shootouts will change that.
Plan Colombia was supposed to be the example, yet cocaine is cheaper and purer now. this world is way fucked up when getting rid of addicts by death is cheaper than counseling.

EL GUERO said...

Mexico will never finish with the Zetas, this crackheads keep recruiting ANYBODY, 80% of them r low level thugs that r plain stupid!! The other 20% r making the real money thou. Even if Lazcano or Trevino gets caught, them Zetas will still b around. The only way u goin 2 get rid of them is if THE US gets involve...

Anonymous said...

This article was posted on blog del narco over a year ago.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that the famous MARUCHAN banner that was hung in Nuevo Laredo a couple of years ago?

Por eso se llaman Pobres Maruchanezzz...jajaja

Anonymous said...

@10:08 Get the US involved? Are you crazy? Do you read the Mexican press? Proceso, El Universal, BDN, etc? 100% anti-US. I have yet to read a pro-US comment, opinion piece or news report in anything published in Mexico.

They don't want any change. As things are lots of Mexicans are making lots of money from drug traffic and other crimes like kidnapping, extortion, robbery and murder.

Anonymous said...

January 17, 2012 10:08 AM
Tell us how the Mara is extinct since the U.S. became involved in their apprehension,
last i read Mara is stronger now that ever in the U.S.
your last post is an epic fail dude, get a grip.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me WHAT te options are to opposing criminals(DRUG WAR) turn the country over to criminals,legalize crime,elect Narco gangsters to run the country?? All this bitching by these Nuevo Journalist what is the new plan I have been waiting for YEARS to hear the plan???

Anonymous said...

Looks like these rats are desperate. Pathetic ,just look at what they promise totally contrary to what they are about. These ratas are pure comedy.

Anonymous said...

NUEVO LAREDO IS THE CAPITAL OF LOS Z...HERE NOBODY COMES IN THE CITY AND YOU XAN ASK ANY1 FROM HERE ABOUT THAT.JUST HERE IN LAREDO THERE MORE THAN 10,000. + THIS PLAZA IS PROTECTED AND IT WILL ALWAYS BE .VIVIMOS Y MORIMOS POR NVO LAREDO.YOU CAN PUT CDS CDG CJNG CT TOGETHER ANS BRING THEM TO LAREDO ANS I PROMISE YOU I GUARANTEE YOU THEY WONT BE ABLE TO DETHRONE Z.SUKS FOR YOU Z HATERS YALL GONNA KEEP POSTING COMMENTS ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU HATE THEM FOR A LONG WHILE CUZ AI ZETAS PA ARATO.

Anonymous said...

@1/17/12 1:02PM If Nuevo Laredo is so well protected by 10,000 zetitas why are most of Z40 relatives liviing in Laredo, Tx on Mines Rd. Even his nephews the ones that were learning to fly small Cessnas 150CL in Tampico, Tamps, Mexico quit flight school and are now hiding in Laredo, Tx? May be that is because they don't trust 10,000 zorritas.

Anonymous said...

They fighting CDG CDS CT CDJNG and federal police these psychos are gunna soon dominate more than half of Mexico

Anonymous said...

Hey, you forget to put the sentence "Relajes, Abstenganse de llamar" in your translation. (lazy Azzes worthless people, please restrain from calling...or something like that)

Apparently, they didn't need any more of these worthless types calling, because they just line up outside their recruitment centers in droves.

Anonymous said...

2:02 PM "NUEVO LAREDO IS THE CAPITAL OF LOS Z.."Ermano,if you a player,there are lots of people who want you posting on here.Bounce all the clowns shouting shit,but then talking as tho they know what they talkin about.If 2:02 is the real deal,then thats who we want postin on here.Motherfuckers who know what they talkin bout.Ermano,you be cool on here,no one knows who the fuck you are,and no one will.Ermano,check in with any clave you want,so we know its you.Because you know what the fuck you talking about.Same thing to you 3:58 PM.We want the players,not the fuckin old women.You can educate everyone on here with any shit,so Senores check in.

Anonymous said...

They aren't fighting anyone. Every time they engage the Army or Marines they all die like dogs.

Anonymous said...

Man this is an old story.The blanket is ages ago.Regurgitating old stories c,mon man.Notice the one that gets put up again?Zs,to get the comments and interest.And the old "Specially Trained"one gets muted again.Is this some kind of propaganda against the Z?This is lazy work,pullin this out again,people who dont know will think this happened today or yesterday,someone in the comments above think just that.So whoever put this one up,pretty shoddy and lazy work.Almost anything would have been better than trotting this out again.Please dont start doing this kind of thing,this is lowering everything to do with this blog.

Chivis said...

@ 11:17AM
"This article was posted on blog del narco over a year ago."

What a silly asertion, so BDN posted this? and they predicted events not yet transpired?

This is a NEW post from Grillo, he wrote it for Global Post and it was published Jan 13, 2012 @ 06:33

and the foto:
If you read the post you will see Grillo mentions the mantas, I chose this one to provide an example of the type he referred to.

The pic had a date of August 2011,but the date was not of importance it was the type. this is not the only one put on display by narcos, many with a similar theme, as I stated I saw one for the first time in Mty and later in my town in Coahuila.

Paz, Chivis

Anonymous said...

@12:25 get your head out of your ass so you can understand the point of the post.

Mara and zeta and etc are running Mexico. They have the country in their power. The rich, successful Mexicans are members or affiliates of the narcos. The US isn't going to do anything about it - a few helicopters, some infiltrated agents that are bought or dead - big deal - the Mexicans don't want the US to change anything, they're making too much money.

ajulio said...

The zetas one day will be minimilized and will probably be pushed more to the south of mexico where they will fight for their stronghold of nuevo laredo and will probably expand their operations to central america, especially guatemala, where I feel the drug war will heat up.

But It's hard to imagine los zetas destroyed completely.

What did they say about that if the world were to come to an end, everything would be destroyed except cockroaches, Cher and los zetas?

Well I believe that cockroaches and zetas are the same species.

Anonymous said...

I think its obvious that Zetas are the most powerful drug cartel in all of Mexico,Chapo cant clean up the north and south of his home state.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing that banner too hanging up. Didn't they post the same one in nuevo laredo?

Anonymous said...

They recycle that noodle line like newspaper. Too lame to think of something new.

Anonymous said...

January 17, 2012 5:10 PM
it went over your tiny head huh?
My point being the U.S. aint doing shit in its own territory, what makes you think Captain Murrica will solve in Mexico what it cant figure out on its own turf.
If Murrica has all the answers why is MARA, ZETA, CDG, Etc. Etc. operating and laundering money in the good ole USSA? ROFL

Anonymous said...

Hermanos with an H stupid

Anonymous said...

jan 17 1:02 pm u sound like another zeta dick rider.u should go join those cockaroaches since u think there so great

Chivis said...

Ajulio "What did they say about that if the world were to come to an end, everything would be destroyed except cockroaches, Cher and los zetas?"
jajaja ajulio..my laugh for the day.

cockroaches oldest fossil found was dated 350M years old...dinos are 150 and I hear Cher is 400M..

Anonymous said...

LA LETRA ZE REZPETA PENDEJOZ!!

Anonymous said...

ALL THESE IDIOTS I SEE ON HERE ARE DYING AND GOING TO HELL FOR EL CHAPO, EL LAZCA. I GUESS THEY ARE TO STUPID TO REALIZE THAT WHILE THEIR TOP CARTEL BOSSES ARE LIVING A LIFE OF LUXURY THEY ARE DYING. THATS REAL SMART WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE PENDEJOS.

Anonymous said...

TU CREES QUE LA LETRA VA A RESPETAR A TU MADRE, HERMANAS , HIJAS O ESPOSA? EL PENDEJO ERES TU! METETE LA LETRA EN LA COLA GUEY!

Anonymous said...

The cdg kept nvo laredo becuase zetacuaches n cdg were together fighting only cds. Jajaja. It was el botas miadas trying to take that shitty bordertown. Chapo never sent la gn or anthrax to take nvo laredo. Im sure he put some effort to help botas.miadas n that bitch barbie. And you can see carteles unidos made the zetacuaches leave reynosa,matamoros. Even in veracruz the zetacuaches are hiding and running. Chapos ppl are in their moving dope while the zetonas cry. In chihuahua same thing what happen? Who you think moves the big dope pendejo? Tu padre el chapo.. La gente de michoacan never got in the battle for laredo not even the matazetas did. Haci que no hables a lo pendejo becus if el chapo realy wants nvo laredo he will turn that dusty ass ,thieven, roach infested town into a slaughter house and your role model z40 will be the first one to leave . Remember this werever el chapo goes to take over alot of ppl die. You should be thankful he realy hasnt try to take nvo laredo por que if he does pobre lacrazz your gona cry like your doin in veracruz. No zetarata has money, imfluence,or resources like chapo. Arriba michoacan y sinaloa. Hijos de la verga.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Sinaloa Cartel is LETTING these Z's do what they're doing. If Chapo really wanted to he would of started to sweep up those rats a long time ago. And if the Zetas really can take on "anything they throw at them" then why did those cowards run from the cities like Reynosa and Valle Hermoso, Tamps? Cause the CDG came in to settle down what those cockaroaches had started, they put them in their place and slaughtered the rats of the streets. Zetas are like chihuahuas, all they do is bark and bark, then when a bigger dog comes up, they shut the fuck up.

Anonymous said...

Arriba Michoacan y Sinaloa!

Anonymous said...

Look michoaculo or sinakaka ....SAY WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT ABOUT NVO LAREDO U COME FROM STATES MUCH WORST YOU MONTAPERROS.ALL I CAN SAY IS THEN TELL YOUR CHAPO AND YOUR TUTA U TELL THEM...OR TELL ONR OF YOUR FRIENDS WHO IS ASSOCIATED WITH THEM TO STOP THINKING ABOUT THE NEXT CORRIDO THEIR GONNA MAKE AND TELL THEM TO BRING IT. SHIT YOUR CHAPO. WUD LOVE TO HAVE NVO LAREDO...PERO TODOS USTEDES AKI MAMAN CABRON Y NI ENTRAN NO MATTER HOW MANY ALLIANCES YOU MAKE JAJA UNION HACE LA FUERZA PERO NO PA PANOCHONES COMO USTEDES.WERE FROM NVO LAREDO AND US LAREDENSES WILL DEFEND IT TO OUR LAST BREATH. GUARANTEED !!!!WELL BE WAITING ANYTIME ANYDAY IF YOU EVEN GET TO MAKE IT A LA 26-30 Y LA 13 .LA NACIONES MEXICANA Y AMERICANA VERA LO QUE LES DIGO.VIVIMOS O MORIMOS POR NVO LAREDO.CIUDANDOS TAMBIEN NOS APOYAN. QUE ESPERAN Y POR FAVOR CHIVIS APROVE THIS COMMENT SO THIS GUY CAN SEE N REMEMBER WHAT IM TELLING HIM.ARRIVA TAMAULIPAS

Anonymous said...

When a bigger dog comes up haha you must be a joke just like cdg knew the ZETAS WERE GONNA BE BIGGER THEN THEM WHAT DO THEY DO THEY START SNICTHING ON LOS Z AND TRYING TO KILL THEM.SAY WHATEVER MOTHERFUCKER MY FATHER WAS CDG RIGHT BEFORE THE RUPTURE AND BEFORE THE CDG BETRAYED HIM N KILLED HIM REYNOSA HE TOLD ME ABOUT DA SITUATION. I KNOW MY SHIT CUZ OF LIFE EXPIERENCES NOT CUZ I JUST READ A BLOG.SO REPLY TO ME IF YOU THINK YOU GOT KNOWLEDGE

Anonymous said...

@8:44 because the good ol' USSA don't give a shit ... and neither do you asqueroso troll. There's money to be made idiota so that will have to be my last word. Go beat your kids or something.

Anonymous said...

@12:24

now this is the guy we need posting real info, some people say zetas getting there ass kicked here and there and some peolple say they are expanding, we cant eever know what really goes on if people start talking out of there ass.

so please bro can u enlighten us of to what went down, cuz im surely interested.

Anonymous said...

"We will not feed you Maruchan (noodle) soups." -Banner

I do believe a couple months ago there was a "look-out" camp and the zetas "stationed" there were only eating maruchan. Lmao oh the irony.

Anonymous said...

Gangstas=Lowlife=Real=Killer.

Anonymous said...

Let me say u are 100 pct truthful if u look at el mamitos interrogation he said cuando se iso la ruptura eyos ya estaban aliados so u are right!!!

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