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'It isn't about murder or torture, it's about making a statement...' Dreaded Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel known for lack of scruples

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The capture of the leader of Mexico's most feared drug cartel, Los Zetas, is being met with cautious optimism today. leader, Miguel Angel Treviņo Morales, aka "El 40" or "Z-40," who was taken into custody near Nuevo Laredo by the U.S. -Mexico border."This is probably the beginning of the end of the Zetas as a coherent, cohesive organization," Alejandro Hope, security policy director for the think tank Mexico Competitiveness Institute says.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Treviņo had the monstrous reputation for punishing his foes with "guisos," Spanish for "cookouts," i.e., burning someone alive.

Such acts of inhumanity were the Los Zetas' idea about making a statement. Even non-Zetas, members of other cartels, dress like the group to simply to instill fear.

"Los Zetas is a powerful brand," Hope said. "It is identified with extreme violence. It is identified with a complete absence of scruples."

Known for their suspected 2010 massacre of 72 migrants who refused to mule their drugs, two particular incidents of the Los Zetas got the attention of U.S. and Mexican authorities, Hope said.
In February 2011, two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were ambushed in the state of San Luis Potosi. Agent Jaime Zapata was fatally shot. Later that year, several men, including those believed to be Los Zetas' extortion enforcers set fire to the Casino Royale in Monterrey, killing 52 people.

"There are many types of drug trafficking," Hope said."This one is particularly toxic."
while U.S. and Mexican authorities have zeroed in on Los Zetas, other factors have helped fracture the group. Among them is Los Zetas' massive expenditures on weaponry to defend their turf.

"Over the years, Los Zetas have evolved from a vertical organization with effective command-and-control mechanisms to McDonald's-like franchises," George Grayson, a professor of government and co-author of "The Executioner's Men," which focuses on Los Zetas, said in an e-mail.

Grayson added that Los Zetas' leadership has been eviscerated, the group has relied on groups of "green-as-grass newcomers" who lack the operational savvy of the original Los Zetas.

Other cartels, such as the Sinaloa, Gulf and Knights Templar have all turned their attention to taking down the group. Los Zetas have chosen weak allies in the Beltran-Leyva Organization and Juarez Cartel, Grayson said.

The group also lost a key military strategist in Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, who was killed by Mexican Marines last year.

With Treviņo's capture, several scenarios could enfold.His brother could take over, but experts question whether he has the respect or capabilities to head a national criminal outfit.

All agree that certain behaviors need to change before the ongoing problem of the Mexican drug cartels go away.

"To affect the volume of drugs going into the U.S., there needs to be a reduction in the demand for drugs in the U.S."


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