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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Los Zetas in Los Angeles--Mexican Cartel Expands to California

La Opinion

News Report,

Jorge Morales Almada
Translated by Sarah Damian

One of the most violent criminal organizations in Mexico has established itself in Los Angeles.

From here, it controls drug distribution to other parts of the country and, according to an informant, has started recruiting former California prisoners to become assassins.

This is the fearsome organization of Los Zetas – a group of Mexican army deserters that in the late 90s became the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel. Since then, they have consolidated as a group of sicarios, fighting wars against some Mexican cartels and partnering with others.

Los Zetas began its incursion into the United States through Texas, but now they have extended their criminal network in California.

The head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Narcotics Division, Lieutenant Alvin Jackson, admits, "Here in the city, the Sinaloa, Gulf and Los Zetas cartels are operating."

"They are operating at the middle level and at the street level," he told La Opinión in an interview, flanked by his team of agents.

"The (anti-drug) agencies working in Los Angeles are combating seven major cartels from Mexico. We’ve detected two of them, Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, working in distribution for the area covering San Fernando Valley, Westside, Central and South Central (Los Angeles)," said the police chief.

The other cartels operating in the area are the Arellano Félix, Beltrán Leyva, Sinaloa, La Familia and Carrillo Fuentes cartels.

Since 2006, the Sinaloa cartel, whose main drug lords in Mexico are Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, has taken over the California territory, displacing the Arellano Félix cartel, to distribute drugs across the United States.

One of the top henchmen working for "El Chapo" and "El Mayo" was identified by the DEA and FBI as Víctor Emilio Cázares Salazar (or Gastélum), as known as "El Licenciado."

But recently Los Zetas have established their operations in the Los Angeles area, a strategic location for drug trafficking.


The informant sets the date, time and place for the interview. He wants to be in a public place where there are lots of people. He starts giving driving directions over the phone. He changes the location for the meeting three times, as a precaution.

The meeting finally takes place on a public bench at the corner of 83rd Street and Vermont Avenue in South Central Los Angeles.

The man who signals from a distance looks about 50 years old, with long hair in a ponytail, and a green military-style jacket.

He talks fast, says that he was in the army and for a few years has been going back and forth to his native state of Michoacán.

He does not hide his sympathy for the cartel La Familia.

"The truth is that La Familia does more for the people than the f------ government," he says. "They do care about the people, so the people protect them, and they'll never be able to destroy them."

The informant, who keeps looking in every direction, says that in the last few months Los Zetas have been recruiting people after they get out of Los Angeles jails, gang members who are unemployed and would be more than happy to fire an AK-47.

"They’re bringing them to Mexico where they’ll train them. That is their army," says the informant, who asked to have a longer interview on another day because he is feeling a little anxious.

The days passed and the informant stopped answering his cell phone. He didn't respond to voicemail. Days later his phone said it was out of service. One of his relatives in Mexico says they haven't heard from him.

Strategic Point

"That is something we can’t say," said Los Angeles FBI director Steven Martinez regarding the recruitment of gang members by Los Zetas.

What the local FBI chief does stress is that Los Angeles is a strategic point for drug cartel operations, both for consumption and distribution throughout the country.

"There are people here who are connected with these major groups, for distribution networks, but the cartels are in Mexico, the drug lords are there," he says.

Martínez explains that the drug lords live where the drugs are produced, and that the marijuana that is produced in California is also sponsored by the cartels.

"There are operations for growing marijuana," he acknowledges, "but it's a production sponsored by the cartels in Mexico, Central and South America, something that our intelligence is very interested in and we are working to fight these activities."


  1. I doubt they just appeared in LA, they have probably been up and running for a year or so by now, and with their recent exposure after the fall out withe CDG they are on the law enforcement radar now. LA is just swarming with drug distribution networks though, I knew at least 4 were operating, I assumed

    Beltran Leyva/Zeta's
    La Familia

    but I didn't think the Gulf and Juarez were working this far west. Their traditional strongholds have always been the southwest and the east.


    in the above article (link)it states the the us gov has knowledge that the cartels have al queda connections. Something I stated on BB about a month ago. Nothing I knew, it was just a logical assumption, they can be of great help to each other. The examiner article also says the LA Zeta operation is recruiting from M13...a vicious enity itself, this also is something that I thought would happen..M13 & Zeta together...I cannot think of anything much scarier

  3. The blazing "Z" doesn't stand for Zorro anymore!

  4. Wow, the FBI and DEA work fast. For them to figure out about Cazares Salazar in the west coast is quick. Not really, anyone who knows about the cartels knows El Licensiado runs the west coast, El Peinado runs SouthEast, and El Guero the Midwest.

    1. PiencheZ vatoZ pendejoZ no mi AgaZ BurlAr pendejadaZ

  5. Why is Univision using a video of the US armed forces training Iraqi soldiers?

  6. Regarding Anonymous (August 11, 2010 2:32 AM)'s comment, very witty!

    And I agree, in fact, it's quite unfortunate. I miss Zorro. He's the original Batman, the Mexican Batman, but sexier of course, because he's a hot-blooded Latin male.

    It's a real shame that now in days the letter 'Z' stands for something more sinister.

    Bring back Don Diego de la Vega! I would gladly put my badass feminist views aside for him.

  7. Sorry Chivis. You still need more evidence to make an accusation like that. If its true its true but you lack sufficient information. All that article says is that they may have info regarding that connection. Keep trying.

  8. fair enough anonymous 10:33...I read the article in haste while I was working on a spread sheet. However, my close relative is senior DEA Agent in Mexico DF for his 5th and last year said the same thing, this is suspected. I would rather come at it from an offensive postion then the alernative. I do not think however one needs "proof" to voice an opinion so for now I will say, it is the opnion of Abuela Chivis that cartel and al queda partnership is probably already establish, but if not, soon will be...Paz

  9. PS..Bridgette Gabriel states clearly that since 2005 Hezbollah has been paying $5000 – $10,000 to the Mexican drug cartels to bring in a member of the terrorist group and Al-Qaeda has been paying between $25,000 to $50,000 to the cartels for the same service. Gabriel explains the connection is well known between Iran and Venezuela and that Hezbollah is known for it tunnel making ability and is teaching these and other skills to the cartels. Think car bombs.
    these are the words of Bridgette Gabriel;
    before the first car bomb

  10. I'm so sick of this propaganda about California marijuana being "cartel-sponsored". I have many friends who are active in the so-called "Emerald Triangle" in Northern California, and manage thousands of plants each every year. They don't work for any cartel and they don't want any cartel coming around there.

    Sure, there are massive cartel-operated grows in California. However, the majority are independent growers (well, to a degree -- in that world and part of the country the saying "everyone know's everyone" is pretty accurate) who have no affiliation whatsoever with any drug cartel.

  11. For those doubt comments by Chivis, here is a link to Bridgette Gabrielle's op/ed from 7/30

    As a side note, a member of Hezbollah was recently arrested in Tijuana.

  12. The Zetas holding prayer 5 times a day?

    uh...yea right... ...whatever...

    By those standards, Che and Hitler could have been were bosom buddies; Reagan and Stalin would have freinded each other and Jerry Falwell would have been "audited" by Tom Cruise.

    As always, a key feature in the argument is the conflation of a security and a labor see, if you need to secure the border against the crazy bombers, you by default, have to secure the border against the dishwashers, grass mowers and ass wipers. But since we hate both, why not raise them both to an equivalent level of "sinister?"

  13. I am not sure of the point of Zetas praying 5X daily...not even sure if the target was my comment..I think so..
    Don't be silly, I did not say nor would I ever see the day that zeta/Qaeda merge idelogy..what I propose is that it is a logical assumption and progression that the group that would like to conduct destruction via easy entry to the US and the group that would like to progress in their terror could work together in the limited capacity of achieving those two goals. That is it..plain and for Che-Hilter why would they merge? Falwell/Cruise? what woud be the gain? for each side? with cartel/qaeda it makes sense because of the logistics. and you don't have to agree I even say tell me your opinion and I may disagree but repect your right to maintain one as long as you keep it respectful-non personal-and within the bounds of reality/plausibilty.

    As for the"grass mowers", first time I heard it refered to as that, I find that deeply offensive since I am second generation american born Mexican. My beloved paternal/maternal all were immigrants from Mexico-3 legal 1 not. Obviously you are not Mexican or detactched from Mexico. the name Chivis is of Mexico and short for another name.and a common one. each of my grandparents referred to me by chivis.

    As for the "ass wipers" comment I will file that in the Harry Reid playbook of sensitivity. My grandparents were hard working landscapers and farm workers, having families totalling 17 kids and 24 grandkids-all but 4 graduated with a college degree, most are civil servants and all are passionate about their cultura and are patriotic americans.

    100 years ago, my gma an 18YO from Jalisco came with her dreams to the US. At the age of 54 became a US citizen making all of us study with her elements of the constitution. SHe registered as a republican setermining the ideolgy was closer to her belief. SHe taught us to be idependant thinkers, to cherish the freedoms afforded by our constitution and to always be ready to do what is necessary to defend & protect those freedoms. Her 4 sons were the real band of brothers fighting in WWll simultaneously, 1 became a POW.

    sorry this is so long, but sometimes I think it is best to know a little of each other to see how we got where we are. I have working in Mexico for 6 yrs building schools, kitchens and therapy centers benefiting disabled kids for our family foundation. I will go to Iraq in 2011 and build two centers for kids.

    and for the record...I I am a middle of the road republican of mexican decent (suck it Reid)
    but I have been known to vote dem when I think it is the best choice, I keep an open mind.

    Have a good day Amigo, my office opened 35 min ago and I must get going!

  14. Here is a new Strafor report on Hezbollah in the U.S., Mexico, etc. It's an interesting read:

  15. ¡Hijole abue! se me enoje...mi respeto ya es suyo, ¡muy de usted!; aunque cada navidad me teje los mismos calcetines, eh... ¡Muah!

    My point was to argue that the immigration debate is [expediently and malevolently] simplified to make equivalent 1) the security threat posed by mere laborers and 2) the security threat posed by the MexicanDTOs/IslamicRadicals.

    In other words, mowing lawns and baby sitting (without a work visa) IS NOT EQUIVALENT to smuggling drugs or deliberately crashing into a building.

    I attempted (and very seriously failed) to say that this distinction is inconvenient for those that do their very best to stoke fears and raise alarms within specific segments of the electorate. You see, right around the fall midterm crunch-time I become a threat to American jobs, the American budget, states' budgets, the security in cities/neighborhoods; and then my family is accused of burgling the American cultural identity under the cover of shadows and darkness!


    Nunca quise lastimarle, ni ofender al BB. Los los admiro a todos.


  16. To AR from Matamoros (or Anonymous 8.12.10 at 10:26 PM):

    I completely agree with you, regarding the fact that, as you put it "mowing lawns and baby sitting (without a work visa) IS NOT EQUIVALENT to smuggling drugs or deliberately crashing into a building."

    And I like the way you write and express yourself. Indeed, well said.

  17. buena suerte taking over in the USA the way you do in Mexico...nunca olvides pinche madres, en EUA ,nosotros todos tengo armas..we are not defensless against you the way Mexican people are, you culeros will die here

  18. The talk is over with in Texas. If the Militia catches you pinche cartel scum in our territory you'll be killed where you stand. Forget the deportation process. Your head will be chopped off and put on a pike near the border for all cartel scum to see.

  19. Look- for those of you who seem to have a tough time wrapping your head around the idea that Al Queda (who are motivated by "Religious" ideology) would partner with the Cartels (who are "motivated" by money), it really boils down to the old addage "The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend". The U.S Government AND Populace are the enemy of both. Besides- if you really believe that the purported motives of either group boil-down to anything besides shear control and power (in which case they share the exact same motive) you are seriously lacking in understanding and logic. Money = Power, Shariah Law = Power. Same goal- just different M.O's....for now.

  20. Anonymous grave shift worker/ 🚺 finds this all to be fascinating and historical. I wish I could find a timeline and hierarchy diagram of the cartels, areas of operation or control, and connect it with biographies I have been watching. Most of all I respect your opinions and would love having a conversation over coffee.


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