The Zetas are a Mexican criminal organization, whose main business is kidnapping, car theft, murder, extortion and drug trafficking.
The group was formed from a group of soldiers who deserted the Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE), Amphibious Group Special Forces (GANFE) and the Parachute Rifle Brigade (BFP) of the Mexican Army, founded in 1994 to mark the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas and one traditional group of elite soldiers who were trained by the CIA of the United States, commandos of military advisories of the Israeli Sayeret Matkal and the French GIGN.
They received specialized training that included handling of sophisticated weapons and counterinsurgency work. According to the Attorney General's Office (PGR), at least 40 former members of the Gafes have joined the ranks of the Zetas.
Further more Los Zetas have in their ranks an undetermined number of former special forces from Guatemala (also trained by the CIA, and have charges of genocide in that country).
In early March of 2010 it was confirmed the de facto separation of Los Zetas from the Gulf Cartel. Recent research has shown that this criminal group has begun recruiting young civilians, including minors and illegal immigrants trying to cross the border between Mexico and the United States. They currently have an alliance with the Juarez Cartel.
Its area of influence was originally Tamaulipas but later extended their activity to Nuevo Leon and Coahuila. Movements have also been reported in Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa (Los Mochis), Puebla, Hidalgo, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Durango, Tabasco, Campeche, Guanajuato, Queretaro (San Juan del Rio), Veracruz, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala.
Unlike any other drug cartels in Mexico, Los Zetas do not exercise total control over any port of the Republic for the sole purpose of drug trade, so they have been forced to strengthen their finances with practices such as kidnapping and extortion against the civilian population. As a consequence the criminal group of Los Zetas have become more repudiated by the public and persecuted by the authorities as well as rival criminal organizations.