Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Los Zetas

During the past 12 months, Los Zetas have remained a power to be reckoned with throughout Mexico. They operate under the command of leader Heriberto “El Lazca” Lazcano Lazcano. Miguel “Z-40” Trevino Morales is believed to be the organization’s No. 2. Trevino reportedly oversees much of the Zetas’ operations in the southern portions of the country. Daniel “El Cachetes” Perez Rojas, who was arrested this past year in Guatemala, was responsible for the group’s activities in Central America and reportedly answered directly to Lazcano.

The November arrest of Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, the organization’s third-in-command, was another significant blow to the organization, as Gonzalez was believed responsible for Zeta operations in nine states. It is unclear at the moment who has replaced Perez and Gonzalez in the Zeta hierarchy.

Since their split with Gulf, Los Zetas have contracted themselves to a variety of drug trafficking organizations throughout the country, most notably the Beltran Leyva organization. Los Zetas also control large swaths of territory in southern Mexico, much of which formerly belonged to the Gulf cartel, and they have a presence in the interior states of Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas.

Zetas are also present in disputed territories such as Durango, Sonora, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Guerrero and Michoacan due to their alliance with the Beltran Leyva organization, though these areas are not considered to be under their control.

Following the government’s crackdowns, Los Zetas have expanded from strictly drug trafficking to other criminal activities, including extortion, kidnapping for ransom and human smuggling. Los Zetas’ human smuggling operations are based out of Quintana Roo and Yucatan states, where mostly Cuban and Central American immigrants enter Mexico on their way to the United States.

Los Zetas maintain a vast network of safe-houses and access to counterfeit immigration documents — which facilitate the illegal movement of drugs or people. At an average cost of $10,000 per person, human smuggling has become a lucrative business for the organization.

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