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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Zetas: The new fourth estate(*)

Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez

(Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat)

Mexico, D.F. Proceso. 8-7-2012. In July, attacks against communications media facilities in Monterrey increased. The daily El Norte was the object of three attacks, and another victim was Dipsa (the company that distributes Proceso weekly magazine, among others).  These attacks take place in a context of aggression against the principal print media in the northeast part of the country: El Norte had already been the target of attacks on at least three occasions since 2010; El Manana, in Nuevo Laredo, has been attacked twice this year,  and in 2011, the facade of El Siglo de Torreon was hit with a burst of gunfire, and that of El Buen Toro, in Veracruz, was set on fire. Another relevant fact: of the 12 journalists murdered this past year, eight were in Veracruz. A common feature in the geography of these attacks is that they have happened in places where the Zetas have a predominant presence.

Why would the Zetas undertake a campaign of systemic aggression against communications media? This last year, the Zetas have faced a series of external pressures. The federal government has carried out operations aimed at reducing their operational capability, which has resulted in the capture or arrest at least 13 of its leaders.  The Sinaloa Cartel has capitalized on the vulnerability these operations generate and has carried out incursions intended to extend its presence into places where the Zetas operate. Also, this past June 11, Jose Trevino Morales,  brother of Miguel Angel, El Z-40, and other members of the organization were arrested in the United States.

These pressures have generated tensions and created a crisis of trust within the Zeta power structure. There are even rumors of a split.  At this juncture, the Zetas' priority is to prevent the spread of information that would result in one or more of the following:  weaken the public's perception that they are a united and powerful organization; exacerbate their reputation of being an armed group prone to extreme and indiscriminate violence (an feature skilfully exploited by the Sinaloa Cartel), or that reveals the ties it maintains with extensive networks of government officials to create profitable illegal businesses. With respect to this last point, the Zetas are particularly vulnerable to information leaks about its operations. Unlike the Sinaloa Cartel, which focuses to a greater degree in international drug trafficking, the Zetas derive a substantial portion of their revenues from crimes at the domestic level, such as extortion, kidnapping and fuel theft, activities that require a greater degree of collusion with authorities and other actors in formal sectors of the economy. 

This is why recent attacks against El Norte and Proceso's distributor in Monterrey are part of a strategy to prevent the dissemination of information contrary to the interests of the organization. The daily newspapers of the Reforma Group were the only ones to disseminate a translation of a note that the New York Times published  on June 13 (2012), in which were revealed details of an extensive money laundering network that one of it leaders operated in the United States.  On July 19, El Norte also revealed the existence of a motor vehicle license plate trafficking network in Nuevo Leon (that presumably generated substantial profits for the Zetas), and this same newspaper daily publishes timely information about crime and violence in Monterrey.  As for Proceso, on July 19 it published an extensive article about the presumed  schism within the Zetas and repeated the principal accusations of betrayal made against one of its principal leaders. In addition, in May and June (Proceso) published a two volume special edition that contained 44  extensive articles about the Zetas.

In short, through their violent and intimidating actions, the Zetas are (or will soon be) the new fourth estate in several states around the country. 

*The author is an expert in security, transparency, access to information and professionalizing public service. This article was published originally in the daily newspaper, Reforma, on Friday, August 3, (2012) .

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat 


  1. If you want to clean Mexico start with zetas they are not a drug cartel they live from the hard working people. Mexico was better when we had them washing our cars

  2. Estate what? What are the other three? I am lost lol

  3. Aside from cartels's Inner battles and battles Against other cartels I wish to share this online clip:

    Israeli Radar Technology to be Used at U.S.-Mexico Border:

    "An Israeli company, Elta, will install a radar system to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

    Elta’s technology can identify potential human infiltrators from as far as 13 miles away and vehicles from 26 miles out. The U.S.-Israel agreement opens up a potential market “worth hundreds of millions of dollars” to Elta, according to"

  4. This like many articles from the news media outlets seems like it caters to the agenda of the Sinaloa Cartel that is handled by numerous consrvative Mexican interests as well as American consrvative interests (read Texas republican ex presidents)who use the CIA with the intent to monopolize the drug trafficking market thus embodying the true spirit of a what a "Cartel" means. The Zetas and the alliances they have made with other mexican cartels that have been betrayed by this interantion takeover attempt to control the Mexican Draug trafficking machine, put a serious wrench in these people's plans.

    In essence more and more propaganda disguised as legitimate news. And you people wonder why these attacks occur and furthermore you posit irrational reasons as to this happens. This occurs because the media has convinced the general public that the Zetas are a subhuman, subpar group of individuals that should not be given credit for their intelligence efforts, a serious underestimation of their capabilities, since the themselves are handled by another group of Mexican nationalists that will resist at every cost further US interference in their internal behind-the-scenes power moves.

    Attacking news media is just a power move to telling the contras that you can buy the news media outlets but we can force them to not print out your propaganda...Psychological Warfare 101

    It is a shame that when the PAN gets run out of Los Pinos that the US armed forces cannot incur into Mexican territory to do the job that the PAN run federal police and armed forces couldnt do for Chapo Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, because for the US to do this would be to essentially admit that they have more than an security interest in wuelling the violence here, it would lay it out in the open that they have an active interest in controlling drug trafficking through Mexico, not in elimintating it.

  5. great writing who ever you are the zetas are at war with everyone. reminds me of Pablo escobar and how he died fighting every government there was same thing with aturo people say that zetas are snitchsbut in reality they are the ones getting their hands dirty unlike any other cartel they are taking there fight to the police and government if a revolution starts in Mexico zetas would be the front runner guaranteed not picking sides but Sinaloa hides too much too scary too fight the Z's that is why zetas will run sinaloa out of sinaloa this year

    1. Lol! Your ignorance makes me laugh. It clearly shows that you know nothing about the Sinaloa Cartel or the Zetas. Oh yea and get up off your knees you coward.

  6. Out of all the people focused on the ongoing daily crime scene in Mexico I'd say that 99.9 % of us WANT THE ANSWERS THAT REMOVE THE PROBLEMS THAT ARE KILLING MEXICO. I wish I knew how to bring speedy recovery of a Mexico gone mad as armed traitor run around SHOOTING THEIR OWN PEOPLE!

    PS: If ANY of you out there know things that are hidden from the public regarding Any Form Of Corruption or Abuse of Power 'PLEASE BE A WHISTLING BLOWER' & GET THE TRUTH OUT TO THE WORLD WITHOUT DELAY.


  7. @ un Vato cuatro poder means " forth estate"? I think you got that one wrong buddy

  8. Zetas run CDS out of Sinaloa? Who you kidding.
    Too much money and power combined in Chapo, Mayo, Azul and associates for that to ever happen. And it's not cheer leading, it's being realistic. We know the Z"s are ballsy but it's not always about who can take the war full blast. CDS is strategic and don't underestimate the power they have. To demolish CDS it will take more then a few Zetas to wipe them out. The only ones who hold that card are the governments.

  9. Cuarto poder, or fourth estate, refers to the press (la prensa). The phrase arose in England, referring to the press, to mean a fourth center of power or institution that was separate from the three traditional branches of government in England at the time. Some sources attribute the origin of the phrase to French writers, who referred to the press as a fourth "estate" separate from the church, the nobility and the crown. Historically, the press has been perceived as the only social institution independent and powerful enough to counterbalance the government's power.

    1. Impressive VATO loco...

  10. In a republic such as the USA, the first estate is the executive branch -- the President. The second estate is the legislative branch -- the Congress. The third estate is the judiciary -- the Supreme Court. The Press is called the fourth estate and the electronic media is often referred to as the fifth estate. These institutions are meant to insure a balance of power in a nation.

  11. "zetas they are not a drug cartel" yea right, everybody extorts, since 20th century and they really do get much of the profits from drugZ

  12. Zetas seem to operate more like a traditional mafia in the sense that they are willing to get into whatever turns a profit. other cartels like sinaloa seem content to stick to drugs, or at least represent that they stick to drugs,and stay out the spotlight, whereas Z seems to do whatever whenever wherever to make $. however, they differ from traditional mafias in that they seem to have no regard for the negative backlash of some actions and tactics. the traditional mafia will not kill if they see a big response coming from it.


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