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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Los Zetas, the ex-military narco hit men in southeast Mexico, was behind the horrendous decapitation murders of 12 men in the state of Yucatán

20:17 |

Los Zetas, the ex-military narco hit men in southeast Mexico, was behind the horrendous decapitation murders of 12 men in the state of Yucatán, reported yesterday. Quick action by federal authorities in setting up "Operation Mérida" resulted in the capture of three of the presumed killers at a highway checkpoint following a brief gunfight.Inside their vehicle, Federal Police found weapons and, most incriminating, a bloody ax. The three arrested included the leader of the cell, a know "Zeta."The group known as Los Zetas was the armed branch of the Gulf Cartel and is made up of ex-military special forces deserters. This year they split from the Gulf Cartel to became an independent crime organization and now work in alliance with the Beltrán Leyva brothers' cartel, distinguishing themselves by their high level of violence. Most of the victims of the Yucatán massacre have been identified as drug traffickers from the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo with criminal records from Yucatán and Veracruz. [Note: This would suggest a turf war, probably with the Gulf Cartel, the former associates of Los Zetas.]
Before, the settling of accounts between gangs of narcotraffickers used to be by bullets; now, after groups of hired killers mixed in with ex-military, the criminals use psychology against their rivals. In the strategy of generating terror in the opponent, there is a genuine method with which the narco organizations in Mexico have created their own semiotics, that kind of system of signs and codes to send messages that seek not only to intimidate, but to leave the imprint of the fury and violence of which they are capable. They have also copied methods of groups of other latitudes, explains Doctor of Sociology Luis Astorga, because there have also been decapitations in Colombia, but the quantity of deaths has been of such magnitude that that type of homicide no longer brings attention.

The Colombian narcos were precursors in methods copied to the counterinsurgency, in part due to the existence of guerrillas for more than four decades and to the continuing training in which the instructors have been members of the Armed Forces.

The fury that has been present in the violent deaths between nacotraffic bands in Mexico in recent years coincides with the presence of groups of military special forces recruited by the narcos, explains the author of Security, Traffickers and Military (Seguridad, traficantes y militares), a book published last year that covers the complex map of what has been the anti-drug policy of the government in recent years.

"Here in Mexico this was not the norm," Astorga explains. "In fact, there had been no record of this type of thing. This coincides - so far as we know of the type of assassination designated as ‘executions' by the press, but in reality are homicides and the rage with which they are done - coincides with the presence of ex-military, but not in an isolated way; for example there have been military men for a long time, like chiefs of security or hit-men, but not as a compact group."

There had not been any compact group close to the main decision circle of an organization; Osiel Cárdinas introduced this characteristic with the Gafes (Airborne Special Forces) by creating the so called Zetas. For the first time, an organization of narcotraffickers included an elite group of the Armed Forces trained in counterinsurgence and anti-drug warfare.

The type of training that is given these forces is in two fields.

For example, in Vietnam or Central America the strategy was to create terror, that is, a part was the struggle, the conventional war, and the other, the psychological. "Part of the psychological war is that of messages, usually intimidating and associated with techniques of mutilation of the enemy, that is part of the message. It's not the same to kill someone with one shot, as to kill them with one shot, quarter them in pieces and leave a message," Astorga pointed out.
In a review of news reports of violent killings between narco bands, the rage with which the Arellano Félix organization carried out some of their actions placed terror as the main player in the decade of the 90s, as they were the first to dissolve their victims in acid or torture rivals and toss them into ravines. The clan of Sinaloans located on the border of Baja California copied some of the methods of their countrymen in Ciudad Juárez, who introduced this method of dissolving bodies in drums like stew, a method used in other times by the Italian Mafia. Amputating members, writing on the body or leaving written messages was a practice that began to be used by Los Zetas, the paramilitary band at the service of the organization that Osiel Cárdenas Guillén headed in Tamaulipas some years ago. With that tactic what they seek is to use the minimum direct confrontation, says Astorga. They are counting on the psychological war to paralyze the enemy with fear, and for the terror to expand to their immediate circle. Today, a video on You Tube follows the decapitations with a message and, as happened a year ago in the dispute between the organizations of El Chapo and Cárdenas Guillén, a justification was left in a folk song where those who compose and interpret the songs pay with their lives on occasion.

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