Posts Tagged ‘Zetas’

Mexico’s Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Fascinating article in Popular Science on Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies
Inside the communications infrastructure of the ultraviolent syndicate

Why walkie-talkies? To enable communication even in locations without cellular service.

How Jose Luis Del Toro Estrada was tapped to develop the covert radio network also remains a mystery, but as his system grew, it supplied the Zetas with what’s called a command-and-control capacity. “It essentially linked all the different members of the cartel—the people doing the trafficking and the people doing the protection—so there was a communication between them,” says Pike, the DEA special agent. Armed with handheld radios, the cartel’s street-corner halcones, or hawks, could help commanders avoid arrest by alerting them whenever police set up checkpoints. A midlevel boss in Nuevo Laredo could monitor a semitruck carrying several tons of cocaine as it trundled across the border into Texas. Most crucially, Zetas gunmen could use the system to attack and seize plazas, or smuggling corridors, held by other drug gangs.

And,

The Zetas’ military training and ultraviolent tactics were crucial for propelling their rise to power, but one other factor was essential: After splitting from the Gulf Cartel, it was the Zetas who maintained control of the radio network.

Read the whole thing.

Mexico: Don’t write off the Zetas

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Stratford reports that Mexico’s Zetas Are Not Finished Yet, Scott Stewart and Tristan Reed analyze the available information and disinformation,

Over a year later we do not know if the inaccurate rumors of the Lazcano Lazcano and Trevino Morales split were an incorrect understanding of the Velazquez Caballero defection (misinformation), or if they were a deliberate information operation conducted by the Mexican government or a rival cartel attempting to sow division among the ranks of Los Zetas (disinformation).

and the observable facts – for instance, no other organization is trying to take control of Monterrey – and conclude that the Zetas “remain a powerful organization engaged in a diverse range of criminal activities across a large portion of Mexico — and the globe.”

Two weeks ago, Guatemala seized from the Zetas an arsenal of weapons, and earlier on, El Salvador had seized a stash of stolen Salvadorian army grenades (link in Spanish),

Read the Startford full report.

Mexico: 120-yard tunnel near the Nogales entry into Arizona

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Mexican Authorities Find Smuggling Tunnel Equipped With Electricity Near Border

Mexican authorities have discovered a sophisticated smuggling tunnel equipped with electricity and ventilation not far from the Nogales port of entry into Arizona, U.S. and Mexican officials said Friday.

The Mexican army said the tunnel was found Thursday after authorities received an anonymous call in the border city of Nogales, Sonora, south of Arizona. U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed that the Mexican military had discovered the football field-long tunnel with elaborate electricity and ventilation systems.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Victor Brabble said the tunnel did not cross into the U.S.

This is not the first, nor the only; in fact,

More than 70 such tunnels have been found since October 2008, most of them concentrated along the border in California and Arizona. In Nogales, Arizona, smugglers tap into vast underground drainage canals.

In other drug war news, the war is not only against law enforcement, it’s also cartel vs. cartel, for territory:Nine slain in Mexican town as cartels clash in Sinaloa

A group of armed men stormed a town in the mountains of the western state of Sinaloa on Christmas Eve and shot nine men to death with assault weapons, then dumped their bodies on a sports field as part of a war between Mexico’s two most powerful cartels, officials said Wednesday.
Sinaloa state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said the town of El Platanar de Los Ontiveros had become part of a dispute between the Sinaloa cartel controlled by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most-wanted man, and remnants of the Beltran-Leyva cartel who have allied themselves with the Zetas, a paramilitary organized-crime group founded by ex-members of the Mexican special forces.

Another cartel fight is raging to the south, along the border between the state of Jalisco and Michoacan. At least seven people have been killed in the area since Sunday. Officials in both states said Wednesday they could not confirm local media reports of more than a dozen new deaths in clashes in the area. Michoacan authorities did report the slaying of a mother and her three children in the capital, Morelia, which has been mostly spared the worst of the state’s drug violence.
Prosecutors said 41-year-old Maria Elena Lopez Bautista and her 19-year-old daughter and 18- and 13-year-old sons appeared to have been tied hand and foot with wire and burned to death inside their home on Monday.
Officials did not speculate on the motive for the crime, but the border with Jalisco has been hit by clashes between Michoacan’s dominant Knights Templar cartel, and the New Generation cartel that operates in much of Jalisco.

With the PRI back in power in Mexico, and marijuana legalization in the USA, 2013 will be an interesting year.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.


Mexico: No Iran or Hezbollah here

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Last week the US House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management issued a report updating its 2006 A Line in the Sand findings.

The new report (pdf file), A LINE IN THE SAND: COUNTERING CRIME,
VIOLENCE AND TERROR AT THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
found (emphasis added):

 Although the United States tightened security at airports and land ports of entry in thewake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S.-Mexico border remains an obvious weak link in the chain.

 Despite the near doubling of Border Patrol personnel, the Government Accountability Office found that only 44 percent of the Southwest border was under operational control.

 In 2012, National Guard presence on the Southwest border was reduced to 300 soldiers.

 Since October 2008, 138 Customs and Border Protection officers or agents have been arrested or indicted on corruption related charges.

 The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports that there have been 58 incidents of shots fired at Texas lawmen by Mexican cartel operatives since 2009.

 Experts believe the Southwest border has become the great threat of terrorist infiltration into the United States.

 Iran and Hezbollah have a growing presence in Latin America.

 Hezbollah has a significant presence in the United States that could be utilized in terror attacks intended to deter U.S. efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

 Latin America has become a money laundering and major fundraising center for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s relationship with Mexican drug cartels, which control secured smuggling routes into the United States, is documented as early as 2005.

If Iran’s assassination plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, D.C. had been successful, Iran’s Qods Force intended to use the Los Zetas drug cartel for other attacks in the future.

Long-term readers of my blog are certainly not surprised by this information, as I have been blogging on the subject for years. Neither would the readers of Jon Perdue’s excellent book, The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism.

The Mexican government, however, strongly denies the report’s findings: Mexico disputes House GOP report alleging Iran, Hezbollah are using Mexican drug cartels

A spokesman for Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, told The Daily Caller his country’s government disputes a recent House GOP report alleging that Iranian and Hezbollah terror operatives are using Mexican drug cartels as a conduit to infiltrate the United States.

As Matthew Boyle points out, on October 11 last year, two men were arrested in New York and charged with taking part in an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. You can read the full details of the plot in the Department of Justice’s report.

While its government denies these findings, Mexico is the deadliest country on earth for journalists.

Also last week, the head of Mexico’s organized crime unit stepped down on Thursday, just weeks after announcing that members of his team had been charged with having links to the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.


Sin Zeta*

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

*Without a Z

This post could also be titled, Weird News from the Mexican Drug War.

Mexico Strikes Back Against Cartel
Navy Says It Killed Leader of Vicious Zetas Drug Gang—Then Armed Gunmen Steal His Corpse; U.S. Awaits DNA Proof

The Mexican Navy said its marines killed the leader of the country’s most ruthless drug cartel in a gunfight, identifying him by his fingerprints. But in an embarrassing twist, a state prosecutor on Tuesday said gunmen later burst into a funeral home and stole the dead man’s body.

The corpse’s theft raised doubts that the cartel leader, Heriberto Lazcano, had been slain. A U.S. official said the U.S., which had a $5 million bounty on Mr. Lazcano, was checking DNA samples provided by Mexico to confirm his identity.

Mr. Lazcano, known by his nicknames as “Lazca” or “el Verdugo,” (the Executioner), deserted an elite Mexican army unit and rose to head the Zetas, which is considered to be Mexico’s most brutal cartel.

The fingerprints matched, while Mexico’s navy said Wednesday that its personnel had no idea they had killed the leader of the country’s most-feared drug cartel until after his body was stolen from a funeral home in this border town.

If it really was him, Mexican Zeta Kingpin’s Demise Is Good News For America, Too. The Economist is optimistic, too.

However, Mex Files has his doubts:

Jorge Zepeda Patterson, viewing the widely distributed photographs[1] of the presumably dead Herbierto Lazcano Lazcano noticed something weird… the guy has no ears.  Side photos of the corpse clearly show he DID have ears, but in the head shot, they appear to have been cropped off… or they were photoshopped out.  As it is, there’s a lot missing… not the least being the body itself.  Lazcano Lazcano, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, stood 1.72 meters tall; the body on the slab was was measured as being 1.60 meters.  Obviously, someone should have taken a closer look, or checked again… but for unexplained reasons the body was released to a funeral home before the autopsy… which is mandatory under Mexican law when the suspected cause of death is homicide or suicide.

The missing corpse (and his missing six inches… and missing ears) are the least hinkey thing about this whole story.

Which comes to show that posting on Latin America is not only a testament to my hard-headedness (since it doesn’t drive a lot of traffic), but also that there are ample reasons why magical realism is so popular in the region.


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 10th, 2012

ARGENTINA
Argentina’s dubious poverty line
The six-peso diet
Rumbling stomachs, grumbling citizens

BRAZIL
Petrobras Seeks Partner for Deep-Water Gulf Operations . . . in the Gulf of Mexico

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s Leader Expects More Violence in Short Term

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica Escapes Major Damage After Most Severe Earthquake in Two Decades
The Wednesday quake proved the sturdiness of the Latin American nation’s structural codes

CUBA
Mauricio Claver-Carone: Cuba’s American Hostage
The White House calls for the release of Alan Gross but puts scant pressure on Havana to let him go.

Something More Than Numbers

MEXICO
Banned in Juarez

Second arrest in “Fast and Furious” killing

NICARAGUA
Iran’s Hezbollah Creeping Toward Our Doorstep

That makes the recent news from Israeli Radio that Iran has set up and supplied a Hezbollah training camp for 30 terrorists in Nicaragua near the Honduran border all the more significant. The base serves as a “meeting point for drug cartels” to acquire weapons and launder money, Israeli Radio says.

PERU
Peru’s Shining Path
Still smouldering
An attempt to form an extremist party

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico money laundering case ends with prison

VENEZUELA
Venezuela Seized a U.S. Flagged Ship and Has Been Holding It For a Week

Lost in the supermarket

Chavez’ Ever Morphing Petrorinoco Investment Instrument


The racing Zetas

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Like something out of a crime novel, All American Futurity, “the Kentucky Derby of quarter horse racing”, was used by the Zetas for money laundering:

Ginger Thompson reports for the NY Times how a Mexican Cartel Hides Millions in Horse Races, U.S. Alleges

Newcomers rarely make it into the winner’s circle at the All American Futurity, considered the Kentucky Derby of quarter horse racing.

Yet in September 2010, a beaming band of men waving Mexican flags and miniature piñatas swept into Ruidoso, N.M., to claim the million-dollar prize with a long-shot colt named Mr. Piloto.

Leading the revelry at the track was Mr. Piloto’s owner, José Treviño Morales, 45, a self-described brick mason who had grown up poor in Mexico. Across the border, Ramiro Villarreal, an affable associate who had helped acquire the winning colt, celebrated at a bar with friends.

As for the man who made the whole day possible, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, he was living on the run, one of the most wanted drug traffickers in the world.

Mr. Treviño, a younger brother of José Treviño, is second in command of Mexico’s Zetas drug trafficking organization, say law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border. Thin with a furrowed brow, he has become the organization’s lead enforcer — infamous for dismembering his victims while they are still alive.

The race was one of many victories for the Treviño brothers, who managed to establish a prominent horse breeding operation, Tremor Enterprises, in the United States that allowed them to launder millions of dollars in drug money, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.

Using Miguel Ángel Treviño’s cash, José Treviño’s legal residency and Mr. Villarreal’s eye for a good horse, Tremor bought a sprawling ranch in Oklahoma and an estimated 300 stallions and mares. The Treviño brothers might have kept their operation quiet, given the criminal connection, but their passion for horses and winning apparently proved too tempting. In the short span of three years, Tremor won three of the industry’s biggest races, with prizes totaling some $2.5 million.

The business was “so far out there it’s hard to believe,” said Morris Panner, a former prosecutor who handled drug cases, and officials said it amounted to a foothold in the United States for one of Mexico’s most dangerous criminal networks. “Maybe they were using some kind of perverse logic that told them they could hide in plain sight, precisely because people wouldn’t believe it or question it,” Mr. Panner said.

The Justice Department moved against Tremor on Tuesday morning, dispatching several helicopters and hundreds of law enforcement agents to the company’s stables in Ruidoso and its ranch in Oklahoma. Jose Treviño and several associates were taken into custody and were expected to be charged later in the day, authorities said.

An affidavit prepared before the raids said the Zetas funneled about $1 million a month into buying quarter horses in the United States. The authorities were tipped off to Tremor’s activities in January 2010, when the Zetas paid more than $1 million in a single day for two broodmares, the affidavit said.

The New York Times became aware of Tremor’s activities in December 2011 while reporting on the Zetas. The Times learned of the government’s investigation last month and agreed to hold this story until Tuesday morning’s arrests.

Thompson explains how the Zetas have expanded their reach to South America and West Africa, while their stronghold is Nuevo Laredo, right across the US-Mexico border, with Miguel Ángel Treviño as their money manager. The Treviño brothers have been involved in the drug trade for at least two decades.

This is a must-read.

And, the NYT’s finally got a reporter!


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 9th, 2012

LatinAmerARGENTINA
No cause is permanently lost, even the worst causes

BRAZIL
Another “summit” for Obama to waste: Dina’s coming to Washington, Hopes Rise on Brazilian Ties, but The Economist says,BRAZIL has probably never mattered more to America than it does now. America has probably never mattered less to Brazil.

Can Brazil Stop Iran?

CHILE
Chile: La Cuba que Camila Vallejo no quiso ver – por Yoani Sánchez

An open letter to Chilean communist student leader Camila Vallejo

COLOMBIA
Colombian politics
Santos v Uribe
Álvaro Uribe has fallen out with his chosen successor, Juan Manuel Santos. At stake are conflicting visions of the country’s future

CUBA
Cuba After Benedict
Dissidents who asked to meet with the Pope are now being arrested.

18,262 days to be thankful for

Oscar Biscet says religious freedom does not exist in Cuba

Economist special report: Revolution in retreat
Under Raúl Castro, Cuba has begun the journey towards capitalism. But it will take a decade and a big political battle to complete, writes Michael Reid

ECUADOR
Meet Latin America’s next Hugo Chavez
Ecuador’s Rafael Correa demonstrates same anti-American behavior

FALKLAND ISLANDS
The Significant ‘Little War’
Declassified documents show that the Falklands War really did matter.

GUATEMALA
Two of Latin America’s deadliest gangs join forces, via Dick and Silvio Canto.

MEXICO
Earthquake warnings in Mexico City
This app could save your life

Miguel de la Madrid, 1934-2012
When the PRI shook

“That is how I infiltrated Iran” A Young Mexican spy narrates the details of an operation executed in Teheran from La amenaza Iraní [The Iranian Threat (in Latin America)]

US GUN LOBBY COULD HELP STOP MEXICO’S VIOLENCE

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico warns Occupy Movement to clean up mess

Samuel must have been off that day: Santero priest targeted in Puerto Rico drug operation

Orlando Robles Ortiz is accused of helping the group transport U.S.-bound cocaine from the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten to Puerto Rico and of consulting with a spirit named “Samuel” on which days were best to do so, officials said.

VENEZUELA
Searching for Gorbachev in Caracas
The Bolivarian Revolution risks breaking to pieces. With each passing day, Caracas more closely resembles Moscow circa 1991.
via Real Clear World

The Unforgiven

The week’s posts:
Mexico: The big business of oil theft
Cuba: Aftermath of the Pope’s visit
Argentina: Book banning through unleaded ink
Monday’s North American summit: Just how bad was it?
The wasted 1-day summit

At Real Clear World:
Chavez Heading Back to Cuba
Chavez Medical Emergency?


Mexico: The big business of oil theft

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The big business of oil theft

According to an Excelsior newspaper article, the value of the theft ascends to nearly half a billion dollars, just a fraction of Pemex’s $100 billion annual revenue but still a lot of money. Other estimates say the value of the losses are higher.

The states with the highest number of holes punched in the pipelines are Sinaloa, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz, Puebla and Tamaulipas.

The story said in a one-year period ending in November, thieves relieved Mexican taxpayers of revenue from 2,986,563 barrels of oil, 52 percent higher than the 1,959,439 barrels that went missing in the previous year. Read here and here to find out more about oil theft in Mexico (in English). Much of the oil appears to be stolen by gangs linked to Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel

Apparently 5,026 places along the Pemex pipeline are used for syphoning off nearly three million barrels of oil.

This is not a few people stealing small amounts. This is another way organized crime spreads across Mexico, beyond drugs: Oil Theft is Big Business for Mexican Gangs.


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 19th, 2011

ARGENTINA
Falklands Blockade Is an Act of War Toward Britain

Snif Snif: 300 Dogs stop Dollar Flight

BRAZIL
In her first year, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff cleans house

Chevron’s Crude-Oil Spill in Brazil Prompts $10.6 Billion Lawsuit

Brazil Bets Big on Wind Power

CUBA
Cuba: Images of repression

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
News host in Dominican Republic quits when station refuses to air video of politician’s bodyguard shoving a journalist

ECUADOR
Petroecuador to Ship $538 Million Worth of Oil to PetroChina in 2012

Ecuadorian government’s attempt to trademark Twitter tag portends censorship, warns blogger

FALKLAND ISLANDS
Rockhopper and Desire jump on Falklands find
Rockhopper Petroleum has unveiled another oil discovery near the Falkland Islands, sending its shares up almost 10pc.

HONDURAS
Where has La Gringa been?

LATIN AMERICA
Iran Preparing Serious Cyber Attack Against the U.S. from Latin America

Hezbollah, Yet Another Western Hemisphere Link

MEXICO
Zetas: We are not Terrorists, Nor Guerrillas
A series of public messages seemingly hung by the Zetas in the border town of Nuevo Laredo deny that the group has any plans to confront the Mexican or US governments.
via Gancho.

Why Would Mexican Drug Cartels Need Hezbollah To Launder Their Money?

Government Says Hezbollah Profits From U.S. Cocaine Market Via Link to Mexican Cartel

PANAMA
Don Ray brings hospital supplies: Container #8 Unload

PARAGUAY
La Policía brasileña confisca 13 toneladas de marihuana en la frontera con Paraguay

PERU
Peru’s Humala Passes His First Test
By lifting a blockade of a copper mine, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala upholds the rule of law and sends a strong positive signal to foreign investors.

PUERTO RICO
2 strong earthquakes strike Puerto Rico within a few minutes

VENEZUELA
What Hugo Chávez’s illness means for U.S., China

U.S. authorities probing alleged cyberattack plot by Venezuela, Iran, via GoV

Shake it, baby! Shake that PSUV tree!

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