Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ciudad Juarez: War Against Los Zetas, Along the Gulf and Into America

One of the hallmark facts about the growth of the Mexican cartels and the corresponding growth of violence in Mexico over the past decades is that where there is more money to earn, there is more money to lose. As their revenues and influence grew, it lead to the cartels becoming both more covetous of turf and more zealous about defending it. The Zetas were born out of this fact. In the late 90s, Osiel Cardenas, then the head of the Gulf cartel, began to recruit members of an elite Mexican army special forces team to become enforcers for his cartel. They were very well trained (some say in the U.S.) and one of their main goals was to combat drug trafficking. In the beginning, about 35 soldiers defected to become the Zetas—and suddenly the Gulf Cartel had its own paramilitary force. They brought professional knowledge of advanced weaponry and battle tactics, and came with a pre-ordained chain of command. Their creation sparked a huge upward trend in violent enforcement in an already violent industry. Soon after the Zetas hit the scene, the Sinaloa cartel followed suit, organizing Los Negros and Los Pelones, similar groups of ex-soldiers, to act as wings of the business devoted to nothing but violence and murder. As time went on, the former leaders of the Zetas began to intertwine themselves more in the business aspects of the cartel. In the past few years, Zetas have taken over leadership positions in both enforcement and trafficking, becoming an inextricable part of the cartel while still remaining a unit unto themselves...more

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