Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Translator's note: Nothing new, but a good recap, nonetheless. --un vato
MATAMOROS, Tamaulipas (Proceso).-- According to state prosecutors' statistics, February 2010 was when the narco-war started that has left around 10,000 dead to date in the northeast part of the country and in Veracruz, among them hundreds of innocent victim, in addition to disappeared and displaced persons.
Today, wide regions in the Mexican northeast are desolate. Closed businesses can be counted by the dozens, the night life barely attracts a few regulars in Monterrey and many towns survive amid precariousness and violence.
The background for this violent escalation can be dated to January 25, 2010, with the execution of Zeta gunman Victor Perez Mendoza, Concord 3, in Reynosa, at the hands of Samuel Flores Borrego, El Metro 3, a member of the Gulf Cartel (CDG) that had control of the city. His body was found in an abandoned vehicle on the Reynosa-Monterrey highway. Beside him was the body of Eloy Lerma Garcia, an agent of the State Ministerial police.
In the days after the murder of Metro 3, his followers erected a strange monument on Hidalgo Blvd, one of the most important streets in the city, with the figure of a rooster more than three feet tall and a floral arrangement with the words: "Always at your orders." ("Siempre a sus ordenes.")
In February of 2010, the major confrontations between CDG and Zeta sicarios strted. Streets in the border cities of Tamaulipas began to fill with armored pickups carrying armed killers.
La Riberena, a two-lane highway with wide shoulders that connects Reynosa with Nuevo Laredo and extends for 144 miles was the scene of the most bloody battles beginning in March that year. Hundreds of Hummer, GMC, Lobo, Durango, and Suburban trucks drove through that highway, with the logos of the two opposing cartels placed on the windshields.
Camargo, Ciudad Mier, Miguel Aleman and Guerrero were witnesses to the confrontations, in which up to 70 vehicles from each side took part, with at least five gunmen each. The fighting went on for months, with shootouts and grenade blasts lasting up to 24 hours at a time.
The narco-war resulted in scenes not seen before: Three fourths of the inhabitants of Ciudad Mier fled that "magic town"; some sought refuge in shelters in Miguel Aleman, while others went to the United States. The Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA: Secretaria de Defensa Nacional) even built a base for a 600-man battalion in that county. The troops continue to patrol La Riberena on land and air.
And, although the confrontations stopped towards the end of 2010, even today, the facades of dozens of homes and businesses, some of them abandoned, still show signs of gunfire. There are also the remains of burned out pick ups and chapels dedicated to the Holy Death ("Santa Muerte"), including the one located at the entrance to Miguel Aleman, as you come in from Reynosa.
The fighting spread to cities and towns of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Veracruz and Nuevo Leon, but especially to Monterrey, the city that was the pioneer of high tech, the biggest and most important city in the north of Mexico, with its prestigious universities, thousands of businesses and the headquarters of the nation's principal corporations.
According to the Nuevo Leon Attorney General's Office, in the past three years there were more thn 4,400 murders, 80% of themrelted to organized crime. In Tamaulipas and Coahuila there was an average of 1,000 murders per year.
Violence also brought mourning to the principal cities of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi and Veracruz, including its capital cities.
Many CDG leaders were arrested or executed, presumably betrayed by their own hired killers, among them the followers of El Coss, known as Los Erres ("The R's") or Rojos, and those of Cardenas Guillen, Los Metros.
The once-powerful CDG saw its top leaders fall at the hands of Marines troops: Eduardo Costilla, El Coss, and Mario Cardenas Guillen, both in the Tampico metropolitan zone, in September, 2012.
The Zetas split up. A faction is led by Ivan Velazquez Caballero, El Taliban; another is led by Miguel Angel Trevino, El Z-40. The organization lost its principal leader, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, El Z-14, in a confrontation with the Navy onOctober 7, 2012, in Progreso, Coahuila. The word in that group is that Lazcano was "set up" by his own friends.
A little later, Salvador Martinez Escobedo, La Ardilla, the regional leader of the cartel in the northeast and third in line, also went down. He was the principal perpetrator of the slaughter of 72 Central American migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in 2010.
In the three years of the narco-war, the Zetas lost several of their leaders, among them Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, El Mamito, Jaime Gonzalez Duran, El Hummer, and Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga, El Lucky.
They also lost control of Monterrey after the arrest of Carlos Oliva Castillo, La Rana, who worked out of Saltillo.
His capture was followed by that of three capos stationed in the metropolitan zone of the capital of Nuevo Leon: Roberto Carlos Lopez Castro, El Toruno, arrested in Jalisco at the end of September, 2011; Jose Loera Rodriguez, El Voltaje, captured in Monterrey by the Federal Police, and Francisco Medina Mejia, El Quemado, killed in a confrontation with the Army in Nuevo Laredo.
Many cells were left leaderless and turned to kidnapping and extortion, while others chose to join the CDG. The split among the Zetas continues in Monterrey. Proof of this is the slaughter of the Kombo Kolombia group.
According to the testimony of an alleged "halcon" (lookout) who was arrested after the murder, the Zetas committed the murder, even though they provided financing for the group's representative. The reason: the group would play at private parties for Zeta commanders who had gone over to the CDG.
Despite the fact that both factions are divided and weakened, they are still strong and are trying to expand their domain.The Zetas, for example, are present in the principal cities in the northeast part of the country and in other regions.
Their rivals, the CDG, control Matamoros, Reynosa, Tampico, as well as Monterrey and various counties in Nuevo Leon, and they're allied with the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin El Chapo Guzman.