Mexico Gov’t Now Faces Vigilante Groups It Backed

Latitudes Press.The New York Times, 01/16/2014

Armed vigilantes who have taken control of territory in lawless Michoacan state could turn into the very sort of organized crime forces they’re fighting, a Mexican official assigned to clean up the violence-wracked state said Thursday.

Alfredo Castillo, the federal government’s new envoy to coordinate security and development in the state, said the Knights Templar cartel that so-called self-defense groups are battling formed about 10 years ago with the same mission: to fight an incursion by the Zetas cartel.

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Jose Trevino Morales Horse Auction: Seized Mexico Drug Cartel Horses Sell At US Auction For Record $1.7M

horsesThe Latin Times, 11/05/2013

Over 300 racehorses were seized by the United States government in June of 2012 during a raid on a ranch belonging to the brother of a known Mexican drug lord. Jose Trevino Morales and another 14 people were charged with money laundering and using a quarter horse operation to move their illegal funds. Jose Trevino is the brother of Miguel Angel the former leader of the Zetas Cartel in Mexico.  Angel was arrested earlier this year in Mexico. Trevino Morales was arrested in Texas and tried in an American court. He was sentenced to 20-years in prison.

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Facebook beheading video: Who was Mexico’s Jane Doe?

BBC News, 11/3/2013

crime sceneA film of a woman being beheaded in Mexico caused an international outcry in October when Facebook refused to remove it from its site. There have been hundreds of reports about the video – but why has no-one identified the victim in it?

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New Article: Zetas Leader’s First Task: Hold Nuevo Laredo

IMG_9788By Steven Dudley,  8/7/2013

In this article, Steven Dudley, Director of InSight Crime and a former Wilson Center Fellow, suggests the Zetas dominance over the highly lucrative drug trafficking corridor through Nuevo Laredo will likely be seriously challenged in the wake to Miguel Treviño’s capture.

Even before Zetas’ leader Miguel “Z40” Treviño’s surprising capture on July 16, Nuevo Laredo was slipping into a chaotic state of nearly constant dispute. Now Treviño’s brother, “Omar,” alias “Z42,” will have the almost impossible task of keeping it firmly under the group’s wing if the Zetas are to survive as an organization.

The Zetas consider Nuevo Laredo their home, perhaps now more than ever. They may have spread throughout the country and into foreign nations, most notably Guatemala, but their base remains Nuevo Laredo. It is where their model — control territory, extract rent, move drugs (in that order) — has its clearest manifestation. It is also their most important moneymaker, especially since they lost their grip on Mexico’s industrial hub, Monterrey, in recent months.

To view the rest of the article read the PDF

Mexico drug cartel commander pleads guilty in murder of U.S. official

justice - gavel and bookReuters, 5/23/2013

A Mexican drug cartel commander known as “Tweety Bird” pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court in Washington to ordering the ambush and murder of U.S. immigration agents in 2011, according to U.S. officials. The plea related to a February 2011 incident when two “hit squads” from the Los Zetas drug cartel forced an armored U.S. government vehicle off a highway near Mexico City and surrounded it, federal prosecutors said.

Zetas commander Julian Zapata Espinoza, known as “El Piolin” (Tweety Bird), ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila out of the car, said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division. When the agents refused, identifying themselves as American diplomats from the U.S. embassy, Espinoza ordered the gunmen to fire on the vehicle. Zapata was killed and Avila was seriously wounded but survived, officials said.

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The comback of the Beltran-Leyva and Gulf Cartels (Spanish)


Animal Politico, 2/5/2013

Dos de los grandes cárteles de la droga que se creían al borde de la extinción, los Beltrán Leyva y el cártel del Golfo, han dado señales de vida en diversos territorios de México durante lo que va del presente año.

Analistas independientes y de la fuerza pública consultados por la agencia de seguridad InSight Crime destacaron que ambos cárteles – que se pensaba tambaleaban debido a luchas internas, la presión de las autoridades y ataques constantes de sus rivales – parecen estar resurgiendo.

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The Tools of Mexico’s Drug Cartels, From Landmines to Monster Trucks

Wired, 11/30/2012

guns1It can be a little deceiving to think of Mexico’s drug cartels as simply gangsters. Instead, they’ve blurred boundaries between organized crime and quasi-military insurgents, seized swathes of territory and become some of the world’s most dangerous criminal gangs. They’ve also acquired plenty of firepower to back it up.

The Zetas are one of the most disruptive and aggressive of them all. Formed by ex-military men who became armed enforcers for the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas split with their former patrons nearly three years ago and have since become one of Mexico’s largest and most dangerous cartels. While most of those ex-military founding fathers of the cartel are now dead or in prison, they’ve retained a culture of military loyalties, if not so much the discipline and hierarchy. Or much in the way of taste. In September, Mexican police arrested Ramiro Pozos, the alleged leader of drug gang “The Resistance” and Zeta ally — with his gold- and silver-plated AK-47. Meanwhile, coming up on Saturday, incoming president Enrique Pena Nieto takes office, the first change in the presidency since the drug war exploded across the country more than six years ago. Aside from reducing the level of violence, one of his priorities will be wrenching back control of cartel territory, and putting it back under the control of the state.

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