El Diario Milenio December 26, 2012
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Distrito Federal-- Despite the death of the absolute ruler of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, "El Lazca", this criminal organization was not affected. On the contrary, its cells continue in operation and are multiplying, and they are the bloodiest in the country.
In over half of Mexico, they have a presence in activities related to drug trafficking, human trafficking, fuel theft and extortion, despite the blows struck against the organization in the past six years.
The United Nations classifies this criminal group as the most violent in the Americas, which not only seeks control of the drug market at the national and international level, but also of the whole spectrum of illegal activities.
Officials of the PGR (Mexican Attorney General) and the SSP (Secretariat of Public Security) commented that the "strengthening" of the criminal group is the result of the leadership of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, El Z-40, who now occupies El Lazca's position. This person's rise to power broke the pattern of the group, which had always been led by Army deserters.
El Z-40, they pointed out, is an intelligent and ruthless person who travels freely throughout the country and Central America, and who often stays in the Distrito Federal to close deals with Colombian narcos. As a cover, he uses "caravans" of purported businessmen and religious persons, among which he hides to evade law enforcement forces. In addition to this, they assume that he maintains contact with politicians from the northern part of the country that he has "bought".
A branch of the cartel is in the hands of his brother Omar Trevino, El Z-42, who operates in the Gulf of Mexico area, while Miguel hides in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, or in Laredo, Texas, in the U.S.
Currently, the federal government has in place a 30 million peso ($2.4 million) reward for each of the brothers; the U.S. is offering $5 million (reward) for each of them.
According to information gathered by these agencies and information exchanged with the National Defense and Navy Secretariats, the officials indicated that El Z-40 has reinforced the cartel with "new blood", which today occupies the positions left by the local bosses who were arrested or killed.
This is why it has proven difficult to locate the new leaders, who control various illegal activities, from protection rackets to the sale of drugs. The Zetas, they added, are behind the high-impact crimes that have been committed during the last six years, ranging from the murder of politicians, relatives of governors and undocumented (immigrants), to the slaughter of rival criminals.
They currently operate in Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Distrito Federal, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo.
Today this group, unlike other cartels, has specialized in the area of telecommunications and it has been established that they kidnapped specialists in this area to build their communications networks. A few months ago, the Colima Attorney General documented that an armed group picked up a group of computer systems engineers in the township of Tecoman, whose fate is still not known.
During 2011 and 2012, the Navy dismantled more than two telecommunications networks in Veracruz that were being used not only to communicate among the group itself, but also to intercept communications between the Marines, the Army and the Federal Police.
The new administration is faced with the challenge of identifying the new operators in the group, of whom they don't even have photographs, who constantly travel to Tamaulipas and Veracruz to report to the Trevino Morales brothers.
Likewise, the group faced a revolt led by Ivan Vazquez Caballero, El Taliban, identified as one of the Zeta leaders. This triggered a series of confrontations in San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas until last September 26, when the Marines captured El Taliban in San Luis Potosi. This person had rebelled against his leaders, in particular against Miguel Angel Trevino, who had won the group's leadership years before the actual death of El Lazca. This is why there was no internal struggle for control within the group after the death of Heriberto, on October 7, in Coahuila.
Los Zetas were organized by a former member of the military, Arturo Guzman Decena, El Z-1, who worked worked under orders of the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas Guillen. After his death, the group continued to function as the armed branch of the cartel, but under the leadership of Jose Guadalupe Rivera, El Gordo Mata. But after the capture of Guadalupe Rivera, in April 2005, El Lazca took control of Los Zetas until 2010, when he broke up with the Gulf cartel.
One should mention that the principal leaders of Los Zetas were Army deserters, and they still have a large quantity of weapons that law enforcement agencies don't even have. The PGR has documented that the organization has in its possession M72 and AT-4 anti-tank rockets, RPG-7 rocket launchers, 37mm MGL grenade launchers, grenade launcher adapters for 37mm and 40mm, fragmentation grenades, and .50 caliber Barrett rifles.
It also has new generation firearms such as the Belgian-manufactured 5.7X28mm FN Herstal pistols, known as the "Five-Seven", imported by the United States, which due to its technical characteristics is capable of penetrating Kevlar and Crisat armor, also known as the "police killer".