By Chris Covert
The 49 individuals found butchered on a remote section of highway east of Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon Sunday may have been the victims of a Los Zetas plot for a spectacular Mother's Day massacre, according to information taken from Mexican press accounts, private emails and other sources.
Since late April the Los Zetas criminal gang has been under immense pressure from an alliance between the Gulf cartel, the Los Zetas' mortal rival and the Sinaloa drug cartel. That alliance was formalized sometime last year, and its existence was revealed following the capture of Victor Manuel Felix Felix in Tabasco state.
Victor Manuel Felix Felix is the brother in law to Sinaloa chief Joaquin Guzman Loera AKA El Chapo, and was also chief financial officer for the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the Pacifico cartel. In Felix Felix's possession were documents which indicated that an alliance between the two groups had been formalized and that the Sinaloa Cartel and Gulf Cartel would combine their efforts to the east coast for the transshipment of drugs north to the United States.
That alliance was a formalization of what had already taken place in the fall of 2010, indicated by a fax sent to numerous Mexican news organizations which threatened 11 more car bombs like the one which was detonated in Zuazua, Nuevo Leon in December 2010 if authorities did nothing to stop Los Zetas' kidnapping operations in the state.
We now know that Los Zetas were during that time, indeed kidnapping bus passengers in Linares, which is in eastern Nuevo Leon and in San Fernando in central Tamaulipas state.
The San Fernando kidnappings and murders led to the discovery of one of the largest mass graves in modern Mexican history with a total of 193 individuals found dead in hidden mass graves in the spring and summer of 2011. Uncredited reports at the time said that Los Zetas hijacked buses, raped and killed female passengers and then held tournaments to see who would live to become shooters for Los Zetas and who would die.
Later news reports said that Los Zetas operatives in San Fernando became aware that the Gulf Cartel was bringing new shooters up from southern Mexico and that provided the impetus for the hijackings.
The increased pressure placed on Los Zetas came in late March of 2012, when as many as 13 individuals said to be Los Zetas were killed and dismembered, their body parts placed on display along with a narcomanta, which challenged Los Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano and Nuevo Laredo chief Miguel Treviño Morale AKA Z40. The message said, absurdly, that El Chapo would conduct a clean campaign to rid the city of Los Zetas.
It was later reported that the 13 dead were in fact not criminal gang members but random individuals who had been kidnapped and killed for the purpose of terrorizing local criminal groups.
Since that time, several similar events have taken place, most, though not all, in Nuevo Laredo, which is considered to be Los Zetas territory.
And Los Zetas have responded in kind, killing and butchering at least 10 individuals in Sinaloa state, the home turf for the Sinaloa cartel, as well as conducting their own operations in alliance with Beltran-Leyva and Juarez criminal groups against Sinaloa cartel groups in Choix, in the sierras of eastern Sinaloa state earlier in May. Those gunfights ended with 57 dead including 35 in intergang firefights.
In April, 14 unidentified individuals said to be members of Los Zetas were found in Nuevo Laredo, butchered and stuffed into an SUV, it said by Los Matazetas, said to be aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, and based in Veracruz state.
These examples are only the ones Mexican press and private social media have been allowed to reveal to the pubic due to threats from criminal gangs. Indeed, it was not until almost 10 days after it took place that at least one US publication, the Houston Chronicle, has reported on the fight for Nuevo Laredo by mentioning the March massacre of Los Zetas operatives in Nuevo Laredo.
But it is apparently the find in Jalisco state five days ago of 18 individuals butchered and stuffed into two SUVs that information came out describing a spectacular plot for a massive Mother's Day massacre.
May 10th is traditionally Mothers Day in Mexico. In the United States, this year Mothers Day is May 13th.
According to a press account on the website of La Prensa news daily by reporter Elizabeth Ibal, two SUVs were found in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos municipality just south of Guadalajara city near the Querencias break leading to El Rancho Querencias with the bodies stuffed inside. A warning was left to El Chapo, which said, in part, that the dead were an example of what will happen to those who help the Sinaloa Cartel in Jalisco state.
Jalisco state underwent a change early last March when a Mexican Army detachment detained two of the remaining top leaders of the Jalisco Nuevo Generacion drug cartel, Erick Valencia Salazar, AKA El 85, and Nemesio Oseguera, AKA El Mencho.
Valencia Salazar was also the leader of the Matazetas group which first appeared in Mexican press reports in the fall of 2011, which at first was said to be a vigilante group independent of any drug cartel. That group was responsible for the murder of 35 individuals said to be members of the Los Zetas in Veracruz state. It was later reported that none of the 35 were affiliated with any criminal group, and were in fact innocents kidnapped to be used as grisly props.
The vacuum left by the troubles of Jalisco Nuevo Generacion appears to have allowed Los Zetas and their allies Milenio Cartel to fill vacuum in Jalsico state.
According to the report in La Prensa, a number of individuals had been kidnapped and held by this criminal alliance, 13 of which had escaped captivity.
A anonymous commenter on Borderland Beat said on May 9th just after the news broke of the discovery of the 18 dead, said that the plan of the Zetas-Milenio group was for a massive and spectacular bloody Mothers Day massacre of their rivals. The rescued 13 individuals may have placed a crimp in those plans,and possibly led to the massacre in Nuevo Leon.
It is also possible that the Zetas-Milenio group already had set their plans in motion, and it is also possible Mexican security forces were unable to rescue other kidnapping victims in time.
There is no question that the victims in the Cadereyta massacre had been kidnapped from southern areas of Mexico and possibly originated from south and central America. A Sunday morning report in Milenio news daily said as much. The attorney general of Nuevo Leon Adrian de la Garza stated that some of the dead were from other states, and a spokesman of the Nuevo Leon Secretaria de Seguridad Pública (SSP) stated that the dead had been killed at least 48 hours before their discovery, and had been transported, possibly by dump truck.
The narcomanta at the site, which was spray painted graffiti said 100 percent Zetas, a possible reference that the murders were done only by Los Zetas and not Milenio cartel members.
It was Los Zetas which killed 72 migrants in the summer of 2010 after the victims refused to pay tribute for passage. A Los Zetas criminal group was detained last month in northern Coahuila state along with several migrants. The upshot is that Los Zetas are involved in the passage of illegal immigrants into the United States. Its is likely that many of those were included in the dead in Cadereyta.
Borderland Beat reporter Chivis contributed to this report.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com