"Brutal Mexican drug gang crosses into U.S. Zetas butcher victims to spread message of fear"

Hi Gang:
While many newspapers and other sources of news and information are reluctant to publish accurate reports on the many aspects of the immigration crisis that threatens the sovereignty and indeed the survival of our nation and our citizens, the Washington Times has served as a steadfast source of solid information.  Yesterday, April 19, 2011 the Washington Times ran an important news report authored by Jerry Seper, that newspapers investigative editor.  Before he became a newspaper report Jerry was a police officer and his understanding of crime is evident in his writings.  The article that Jerry wrote that has served as the predication for my commentary today focuses on an issue I have been greatly concerned about for many years- the fact that the Mexican cartels are spreading their cancerous tendrils across our nation and bringing with them the violence that is threatening to turn Mexico into a failed state.
In order for these extremely violent thugs to gain access to communities across our nation they needed to cross our nation’s borders.  Contrary to the claims of the current administration and the previous administration, our borders are not secure!  This is not a revelation for most thinking Americans but it is a point that must be made!
Immigration is not simply a “border issue!”
The borders of our country can not only be found along the lines that are supposed to represent where one country’s domain ends and another begins.  Certainly those are borders- but borders also exist at every international airport.  The border can be found along the nearly 95 thousand miles of coastal regions of the United States.
Finally, when an alien manages to run our nation’s borders or gain access to our country at a port of entry or by entering by sea along our coastal region- whether by embarking from an vessel which requires he is formally admitted into the United States or by stowing away on a vessel or by entering surreptitiously at a marina, aliens are coming to our country every single day.  
The issue is not simply a matter of securing our land borders- a mission that has never been more important for a host of reasons- the issue is to make certain that no matter how an alien enters our country- if a violation of law has been committed by that alien either by running the border or via some other unlawful means that efforts be made from within the United States by ICE to identify that alien and take him into custody.  Similarly, when aliens are lawfully admitted and then violate their terms of admission that efforts are made to identify, locate and apprehend such aliens and seek their removal from our country.
Today an alien who runs our borders has little to fear from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  As I have noted on ever so many occasions, there are roughly 6,000 special agents employed by ICE for the entire United States of America and they have many important jobs to do and not all of those jobs even relate to the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.  The great majority of the managers at ICE at headquarters and at field offices came from Legacy Customs and have no real background in immigration law enforcement.  They are focused on enforcing customs laws.  At least half of the ICE personnel are engaged in enforcing customs laws.  This leaves about 3,000 special agents to enforce the immigration laws for our entire country!
Further exacerbating this insane situation is the fact that many communities are reluctant to cooperate with ICE and have declared themselves to be “Sanctuary Cities” which means that they will not even notify ICE when illegal aliens are arrested for committing felonies.  Other cities will notify ICE about aliens who have been convicted of felonies but will not make any other efforts to work with ICE.  
Even when local law enforcement agrees to work with ICE two more  stand in the way.  
First of all, ICE is strapped for resources.  This is an ongoing problem for that agency.  Even when I was assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in the 1990’s we often had no money to spend on vital expenses.  In fact, there were times when I had to borrow credit cards from my colleagues at the DEA, ATF or FBI just to fill up the gas tank in my government vehicle!  I recall getting chewed out for purchasing wiper blades for my government vehicle by one supervisor when there were no funds!
The lack of resources also include agents and jail space.
What message is sent when you have to chase an illegal alien for blocks and wind up having a fight with him and he lies about his identity- and then you have to release him after your bring him into your office for processing?  This was a common occurrence when I was an INS special agent and suspect that today things are no better.
Additionally, I can tell you that I have been told that often when police do call for ICE to come and pick up an illegal alien that they encountered that ICE lacks to resources to take the illegal alien into custody.  Remember that the administration has made a point of making it clear that aliens who have no convictions will not be dealt with by ICE!  Under the law an alien is only a “criminal alien” if he has convictions for felonies.  An alien who may have been arrested and prosecuted numerous times but has been acquitted is not considered to be a “criminal alien!”
Furthermore, when a neighborhood becomes the home to thousands of illegal aliens various businesses are established that are important to illegal aliens who seek to alter their identities, move money to their families back home and otherwise enable them to do what they need to do without calling attention to themselves.  The enterprises that are important to illegal aliens are absolutely essential to criminals and terrorists.  
I can also tell you from my personal experiences from  having spent nearly half of my career working on narcotics investigations that the criminal aliens almost always set up shop within the immigrant communities that reflect their own backgrounds.  Russian mobsters live in the Russian communities, Jamaican drug traffickers live in the Jamaican communities while the Mexican gang members live within the Mexican communities.  This fundamental fact makes life miserable and extremely perilous for illegal aliens and lawful immigrants alike who are living inside the United States.
The politicians who claim that members of the immigrant communities will not report crimes to the police if the police work with immigration are either liars or are fools- or perhaps both!
One of my areas of responsibility when I was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division at the DEA and then when I was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and was assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force was to use my authorities as an INS agent to help those other agencies as well as various police departments, including the NYPD to cultivate informants and cooperators!  
Aliens who have information are likely to be far more intimidated by criminal organizations than ICE agents when you consider that ICE has the statutory authority to provide illegal aliens with the authority to live and work in the United States.  There are even visas that can be given to illegal alien victims of crimes and to aliens who cooperate in major criminal investigations!  The immigration laws can provide a very juicy carrot as well as a big “stick” to encourage aliens to come forward.  This is not conjecture on my part, this is something I did for most of my 30 year career with the former INS!
If you want to talk about intimidation I suggest you consider this excerpt from Jerry Seper’s excellent news report:

Trained as an elite band of Mexican anti-drug commandos, the Zetas evolved into mercenaries for the infamous Gulf Cartel, bringing a new wave of brutality to Mexico’s escalating drug wars. Bolstered by an influx of assassins, bandits, thieves, thugs and corrupt federal, state and local police officers, the Zetas have since evolved into a well-financed and heavily armed drug smuggling force of their own.

Known for mounting the severed heads of their rivals on poles or hanging their dismembered bodies from bridges in cities throughout Mexico, the Zetas have easily become the most feared criminal gang in Mexico — where 35,000 people have been killed in a continuing drug war. Everyone is a potential victim: men, women and children.

“The Zetas are determined to gain the reputation of being the most sadistic, cruel and beastly organization that ever existed,” said George W. Grayson, professor of government at the College of William & Mary and an expert on Mexican drug gangs. “Many of Mexico’s existing drug cartels will kill their enemies, but not go out of their way to do it. The Zetas look forward to inflicting fear on their targets.

“They won’t just cut off your ear, they’ll cut off your head and think nothing of it.”

Grisly example

What the Zetas are capable of doing was never more clear than the carnage they left behind in December 2009 on a squalid back street in the border town of Reynosa, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas. The bodies were no longer human, their torsos scarred by deep lacerations and punctures; the severed heads were badly beaten. Crudely butchered limbs lay scattered across a blood-stained tarmac.

“See.
Hear. Shut up, if you want to stay alive,” read a note written
like so many others in block letters on blood-splattered poster
board.

The simple truth, Mr. Grayson said, is that the Zetas “enjoy killing — they want to terrorize communities.”

Over the past few months, Mexican authorities have unearthed more than 140 bodies from mass graves in the state of Tamaulipas. Many of the victims were kidnapped off buses and killed when they refused to work for the Zetas. Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico, is across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

Mexican police arrested 22 suspected Zetas in the killings. The victims were Mexicans and Central and South American migrants, who authorities think were targeted to work for the Zetas as gunmen or drug mules. Others were thought to have been killed when they refused ransom demands.

Companies often put up billboards to advertise products and services.  To the Mexican cartels, bodies hanging from bridges an heads stuck on the top of poles serve as their version of a publicity campaign to convince those who would talk to the police or federal agencies that this would be a big mistake!
What is even more upsetting is the fact that the Zetas were trained by our own government!  The idea was to have Mexico’s elite police and military officers learn how to more effectively combat the cartels and, in so doing, our government created the Zetas!
Furthermore because these gangs span several countries, they are able to threaten to do harm to family members back in the immigrants’ home countries if they speak with law enforcement authorities.  They also use this threat of violence against family members back home if immigrants refuse to cooperate with the gangs in committing crimes!
Yet the ACLU, La Raza, and politicians will make the accusation that when people, such as myself, call for enforcing immigration laws and securing our nation’s borders that we are being “Anti-Immigrant!”
I ask you- who is more “anti-immigrant” those of us who are doing everything we can to prevent the continuing infiltration of our nation by members of these extremely violent criminal organizations from all over the world including the incredibly violent Mexican cartels, or those who would exploit vulnerable illegal aliens for their own political and/or profit-driven objectives?
Even without passing an amnesty bill, every time the president and such political “leaders” as Schumer, Pelosi, Reid and McCain talk about the need to put illegal aliens on a pathway to United States citizenship encourage hundreds of thousands of more illegal aliens to run our nation’s borders.  There is a hotel chain that promises to “leave the light on for you” while the politicians offer to provide citizenship to those who violate our borders and our laws! 
Here is something else for you to consider-
If there was no market for narcotics in our country then there would be no point to the cartels attempting to set up shop in America.
When was the last time you saw a truly concerted effort to educate our people, especially our young people about the dangers of drugs?  It seems as though one third of the commercials on television these days is for a pharmaceutical product- often some drug that has an unpronounceable name that requires a prescription and offers a laundry list of potential side effects that may end with the death of the person who takes this “wonder drug!”
The next one third of commercials seem to be advertisements of law firms offering to sue drug companies if their magic “elixirs” have caused you harm!
With more and more young kids watching television without adult supervision, it is not surprising that they may well get the idea that no matter what your problem is, there is a chemical that can take care of the problem!
The time has long since come for a meaningful effort to be mounted to educate about the extreme dangers to be found in the use of narcotics.  The term “recreational drugs” needs to be replaced with the term- “POISON!”
It seems that there are more efforts underway to dissuade kids from smoking cigarettes than with using hard drugs! 
When AIDS was identified as being a massive problem for our nation and, indeed, for people throughout the world there was an effort mounted by epidemiologists to find “patient zero,” the first person in the United States to have contracted and then spread AIDS.
The epidemic of drugs and the violence associated with the drug trade have been a factor in our country for decades- however, the level of violence associated with the Mexican cartels is unprecedented.  Left unchecked it is only a matter of time- and I fear not much more time, before we start to see the same sort of violence that has become commonplace in Mexico playing out in every American city!
How secure is the homeland with these thugs moving into communities across our nation?
When the person who is supposedly charged with securing the homeland- if indeed that is what the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to be doing, can blithely stand in front of the cameras and declare that the borders are safer now than ever before you have to know that we are in deep trouble!
When I was a boy, my mom always used to tell me that “Actions speak louder than words!”
The words of our “leaders” are hollow and without meaning!  The time has long since passed when our nation that claims to be waging a “War on Terror” and a “War on Drugs” actually secured our nation’s borders and enforced the immigration laws throughout our nation in order to deprive transnational criminals and terrorists with opportunities to set up shop inside our nation.
The blue smoke and mirrors approach of lying and smiling before the cameras will not protect our nation or our citizens.  Our leaders were elected to uphold the Constitution. 
I would remind you that the Preamble of the Constitution contains the following:


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide
for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States of America.  
 

How on earth can our government insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote general welfare when we know that there are international terrorists and members of transnational gang members including the Mexican cartels crossing our nation’s borders each and every day with the intention of setting up their pernicious cells in cities and towns across our nation?
What will Napolitano have to say when the people in a community in our country awaken to find bodies hanging from a bridge in their community?
Will she even admit that they were killed by the cartels or will she claim that they simply were people who committed suicide- even if the bodies have no heads and multiple bullet wounds in their backs?!
I would remind you that the day after “Captain Underpants” attempted to destroy an airliner over Detroit on Christmas day, 2009 Napolitano had the chutzpah to claim that, “The system worked!”  I wrote a commentary in response to her absurd statement in which I said, “If hope is not a strategy, then dumb luck is not a success!”
Napolitano and our other “leaders” are clearly grammatically challenged.  They are only able to conjugate verbs in the first person singular.  The three most important people in their world are “Me, myself and I”  Therefore they need to realize that even if they are being selfish- the cartels usually seek to kill high ranking government officials.  No one is safe from the violence of the cartels.  

The securing of our nation’s borders and the effective enforcement and administration of our nation’s immigration laws are, arguably, among the most important of all missions that are supposed to be carried out by our federal government.  

Nothing less than the security of our nation and safety of our citizens hang in the balance!
A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

I

our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!


The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to resolve this year to get involved!
I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world.  However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 


Please check out my website:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/apr/19/violent-mexican-drug-gang-expands-into-us/

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Brutal Mexican drug gang crosses into U.S.

Zetas butcher victims to spread message of fear

 

          SPREADING TERROR: A woman sees a relative lying dead on the ground after he was killed by gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in December. The city was where three Americans were killed earlier in the year, fueling concerns Americans were considered fair game by the drug cartels. (Associated Press)

SPREADING TERROR: A woman sees a relative lying dead on the ground after he was killed by gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico,
in December. The city was where three Americans were killed earlier in
the year, fueling concerns Americans were considered fair game by the
drug cartels. (Associated Press)

8:47 p.m.,
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The signature crimes of the most violent drug cartel in Mexico are
its beheading and dismemberment of rival gang members, military
personnel, law enforcement officers and public officials, and the random
kidnappings and killings of civilians who get caught in its butchery
and bloodletting.

But this disparate band of criminals known as
Los Zetas is no longer just a concern in Mexico. It has expanded its
deadly operations across the southwestern border, establishing footholds
and alliances in states from New York to California. Just last year,
federal agents tied a cocaine operation in Baltimore to the Zetas.

“Those
of us who live and work along the border know they’re already here,”
said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr., whose Texas county
lies on the Rio Grande 50 miles southeast of the Zetas’ stronghold of
Nuevo Laredo. “There’s already been killings and many residents here are
living in fear.”

Sheriff Gonzalez, whose Texas Border Sheriff’s
Coalition sought help from the federal government to control growing
violence along the border, said the rising brutality of Mexican drug
gangs, particularly the Zetas, “never stops shocking me.”

Trained
as an elite band of Mexican anti-drug commandos, the Zetas evolved into
mercenaries for the infamous Gulf Cartel, bringing a new wave of
brutality to Mexico’s escalating drug wars. Bolstered by an influx of
assassins, bandits, thieves, thugs and corrupt federal, state and local
police officers, the Zetas have since evolved into a well-financed and
heavily armed drug smuggling force of their own.

Known for
mounting the severed heads of their rivals on poles or hanging their
dismembered bodies from bridges in cities throughout Mexico, the Zetas
have easily become the most feared criminal gang in Mexico — where
35,000 people have been killed in a continuing drug war. Everyone is a
potential victim: men, women and children.

“The Zetas are
determined to gain the reputation of being the most sadistic, cruel and
beastly organization that ever existed,” said George W. Grayson,
professor of government at the College of William & Mary and an
expert on Mexican drug gangs. “Many of Mexico’s existing drug cartels
will kill their enemies, but not go out of their way to do it. The Zetas
look forward to inflicting fear on their targets.

“They won’t just cut off your ear, they’ll cut off your head and think nothing of it.”

Grisly example

What
the Zetas are capable of doing was never more clear than the carnage
they left behind in December 2009 on a squalid back street in the border
town of Reynosa, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas. The
bodies were no longer human, their torsos scarred by deep lacerations
and punctures; the severed heads were badly beaten. Crudely butchered
limbs lay scattered across a blood-stained tarmac.

“See. Hear.
Shut up, if you want to stay alive,” read a note written like so many
others in block letters on blood-splattered poster board.

The simple truth, Mr. Grayson said, is that the Zetas “enjoy killing — they want to terrorize communities.”

Over
the past few months, Mexican authorities have unearthed more than 140
bodies from mass graves in the state of Tamaulipas. Many of the victims
were kidnapped off buses and killed when they refused to work for the
Zetas. Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico, is across the border from
Brownsville, Texas.

Mexican police arrested 22 suspected Zetas in
the killings. The victims were Mexicans and Central and South American
migrants, who authorities think were targeted to work for the Zetas as
gunmen or drug mules. Others were thought to have been killed when they
refused ransom demands.

Just last week, Mexican security forces
arrested 16 police officers in San Fernando in Tamaulipas state, accused
of protecting Zetas gang members suspected in the massacres. On Sunday,
Tamaulipas Gov. Egidio Torre Cantu replaced his public security chief,
naming a former Mexican military official, Capt. Rafael Lomeli Martinez,
to the post to coordinate new efforts to crack down on drug smugglers.

While
the beheadings and dismemberments are used to punish those who oppose
or betray them, to establish turf, to terrorize the citizenry against
testifying against them, and to press political leaders to collaborate,
random killings also have become the gang’s trademark — used by the
Zetas, Mr. Grayson said, to demonstrate that no one is beyond their
reach, that they can kidnap, torture and kill anyone they choose.

“Their
brutal attacks on Mexican military and police personnel and their
kidnapping and killing of civilians are meant to intimidate the civilian
population and increase their successes in extorting funds from street
vendors, business owners, political officials and others,” he said. “The
mere mention of the word ‘Zeta’ in Mexico conjures images of brutal
murders and decapitations.”

Sheriff Gonzalez said U.S. authorities
on the border are outgunned and outmanned by drug smugglers armed with
automatic weapons, grenades and state-of-the-art communications and
tracking systems. He said drug profits have allowed the cartels,
particularly the Zetas, to develop “experts” in explosives, wiretapping,
countersurveillance, lock-picking and Global Positioning System
technology.

“Their violence has emboldened them and they are
expanding to cities all across the United States,” he said. “Our own
country needs to stop them at the border. We know they’re coming, we
just don’t want to admit it. Instead, we continue to say the border is
more secure than ever, when we all know that is absolutely not true.”

Sheriff
Gonzalez said Middle Eastern terrorists brought the practice of
beheading their enemies to Central America and later Mexico. He said it
also has become a tactic of U.S. street gangs, including Mara
Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which, according to the FBI, has now spread
across 42 states, with active operations in Virginia, Maryland and
Washington, D.C., as well as California, Texas and New York.

With
an estimated 10,000 members and an active recruitment drive under way,
MS-13 is involved in crimes including drug distribution and homicide.

Still expanding

The
U.S. Homeland Security Department has said that Mexican drug cartels,
including the Zetas, have infiltrated 276 U.S. cities and represent the
nation’s most serious organized-crime threat.

The National Drug
Intelligence Center said the influence of Mexican drug gangs is “still
expanding,” adding that they were more deeply entrenched than any other
drug trafficking organization and operate coast to coast.

While
the FBI has called the violence associated with drug trafficking along
the border a daily fact of life, the boldness of the attacks and the
savagery of the Zetas has shocked many veteran law enforcement
authorities. Kevin L. Perkins, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal
Investigative Division, told a Senate committee last year the level and
severity of violence was “unprecedented.”

Rep. Michael McCaul,
Texas Republican, has introduced legislation seeking to place six
Mexican cartels, including the Zetas, on the Foreign Terrorist
Organization (FTO) list — a designation that would limit their
financial, property and travel interests, and impose harsher punishment
on those who provide material support.

“This designation will
provide the necessary tools to effectively advance the national security
interests of both Mexico and the United States,” said Mr. McCaul,
chairman of the Homeland Security oversight and investigations
subcommittee.

Many of the gang’s targets have been Mexican
military and police personnel, but in recent years, U.S. law enforcement
authorities also have come under attack. As early as 2008, the FBI
warned U.S. authorities that the Zetas were attempting to gain control
of drug trafficking routes into America and had ordered its members to
use violence against U.S. law enforcement officers to protect their
operations.

According to an FBI intelligence bulletin, the gang
stockpiled weapons in safe houses in the U.S. in response to crackdowns
in this country and Mexico against drug traffickers. The bulletin said
Jaime Gonzalez Duran, head of Zetas operations for the McAllen, Texas,
region, or “plaza,” had ordered gang members to “regain control and
engage law enforcement officers if confronted.” It said the gang members
were armed with “assault rifles, bullet proof vests and grenades.”

Gonzalez
Duran was arrested in November 2008 in the border city Reynosa by
Mexican Federal Police and the Mexican Army, who took custody of what
was then the largest weapon seizure in Mexico’s history — 540 rifles
including 288 assault rifles and .50-caliber sniper rifles, 287 hand
grenades, 2 M-72 anti-tank weapons, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 67
ballistic vests and 14 sticks of dynamite.

2010 killings

The
March 2010 killings in Ciudad Juarez of U.S. citizens Lesley Enriquez,
25, an employee at that city’s U.S. Consulate, and her husband, Arthur
Redelf, 30, a 10-year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office,
and the slaying that same month of Douglas Krentz, 58, a Douglas, Ariz.,
rancher, fueled concerns that Americans were fair game for Mexican
gangs seeking control of U.S. smuggling routes.

In September,
David Hartley, 30, was shot and killed as he and his wife, Tiffany, 29,
were jet skiing on Falcon Lake along the U.S.-Mexico border in Zapata,
Texas. Mrs. Hartley managed to escape and Sheriff Gonzalez said the
shooters were members of the Zetas. Shortly after the attack, the lead
investigator on the case in Mexico was decapitated.

It also was a
Zetas hit squad that killed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata in a Feb. 15 ambush on a major Mexican highway
250 miles north of Mexico City. Attacked with AK-47 assault rifles, Mr.
Zapata was shot five times in the chest and his partner, Victor Avila
Jr., was wounded twice in the leg after being forced off the highway and
attacked — despite identifying themselves as Americans and being in a
vehicle with diplomatic plates.

The agents were unarmed as Mexico
does not authorize U.S. law enforcement personnel to carry weapons in
that country. But the brazen daylight attack did not surprise U.S. law
enforcement authorities. The Justice Department began warnings in July
2010 that the Zetas new drug smuggling routes could result in increased
violence to U.S. personnel.

In September, the U.S. Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) even posted signs along Interstate 8 in Arizona, more
than 100 miles north of the border, warning travelers the area was
unsafe because of drug and illegal-immigrant smugglers. The signs were
posted along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and
Gila Bend, the major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with
San Diego.

Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose
jurisdiction includes the posted area, said Mexican drug gangs
“literally do control parts of Arizona,” noting that gang members are
armed with radios, optics and night-vision goggles “as good as anything
law enforcement has.

“This is going on here in Arizona — 30 miles from the fifth-largest city in the United States,” he said.

Baltimore operation

In
Baltimore, prosecutors said cocaine and marijuana dealers gave $1.2
million to Zetas members for drugs. Convicted were Wade Coats, 45, and
James Bostic, 39, both of Baltimore, and Jose Cavazos, 43, of
Midlothian, Texas. Investigators seized $610,000 in heat-sealed bricks
of cash wrapped in aluminum foil in two suitcases and recorded a meeting
between Bostic and cartel members in which he handed over $590,000 for
marijuana and cocaine.

“A substantial portion of the illegal drugs
distributed in Maryland are imported from the Mexican border,” U.S.
Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in announcing the convictions. “This
case demonstrates the international ties of a local drug dealer.”

According
to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials, the Zetas also have
reached across the Mexican border into Central America for new recruits,
including former members of Los Kaibiles, an elite special operations
force of the Guatemalan military trained in jungle warfare and
counterinsurgency tactics.

Guatemalan officials said the Zetas
have established bases in several jungle areas and formed alliances with
Central American gangs to take control of cocaine shipments from
Guatemala to Mexico. Other links have been forged between the Zetas and
the Ndrangheta, one of Italy’s most powerful crime syndicates that
specializes in cocaine distribution and arms trafficking.

The
Zetas also have pushed their way into legal and illegal businesses by
killing, kidnapping or extorting those in control, a scheme known as
“plata o plomo,” Spanish for “money or lead.” According to U.S. law
enforcement and intelligence reports, they use their massive supply of
weapons and high-tech equipment to instill fear to take over numerous
businesses.

Mr. Grayson said the Zetas use blatant violence to
take over lesser-equipped criminal gangs and extortion to assume control
of legitimate businesses. He said they extort business owners with
threats of kidnapping family members “and think nothing of cutting them
up if they don’t get their money.”

The ‘Executioner’

The
reputed leader of the Zetas is Heriberto “The Executioner”
Lazcano-Lazcano, an original member of the Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas
Especiales, or the Air Mobile Special Forces Group, the elite special
forces operation within the Mexican army initially assigned to fight the
drug cartels.

Lazcano-Lazcano is described by law enforcement
officials on both sides of the border as one of the most violent members
of the gang. He is sought in the U.S. and Mexico on charges of murder
and drug trafficking, and the State Department has offered a $5 million
reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

He
was named in separate indictments in 2008 and 2009 in federal court in
Washington, D.C., for conspiring to import cocaine and marijuana into
the United States — charged as a result of “Project Reckoning,” a
15-month undercover operation targeting Mexican drug gangs in the U.S.
The operation resulted in the seizure of 20,000 kilograms of cocaine,
hundreds of weapons and $71 million in cash.

U.S. authorities said
Lazcano-Lazcano has a vast arsenal at his disposal, including
helicopters, armored vehicles, AK-47 assault rifles, AR-15
semi-automatic rifles, MP-5 submachine guns, 50-mm sniper rifles,
shoulder-fired missiles, grenade launchers, bazookas, armor-piercing
ammunition, plastic explosives, dynamite and improvised explosive
devices (IEDs). Gang members wear body armor and ballistic helmets, and
launch attacks in military uniforms and military-style vehicles.

The
Zetas, seeking to grab a larger portion of the $25 billion cocaine,
heroin and marijuana market in the United States, are estimated to have
between 1,000 and 3,000 hard-core members and 10,000 loyalists across
Mexico, Central America and the United States. Authorities said the gang
has organized a sophisticated supply and distribution network operating
through established territories.

“The Zetas are quite diversified
and they are good bookkeepers,” Mr. Grayson said. “They will go where
they can make money and will do what they have to do to make it happen.”


Mexican
federal police and army soldiers guard a U.S. Embassy vehicle after
it came under attack by gunmen on a highway between Mexico City and
Monterrey in February. A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
agent was killed and another wounded in the attack. Many of Zetas’
targets have been Mexican military and police personnel, but in
recent years, U.S. law enforcement authorities also have come under
attack. (Associated Press)



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