Evolution of Los Zetas in Mexico and Central America: Sadism as an Instrument of Cartel Warfare   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Drug-related violence in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, the crown jewel for U.S.-Mexican commerce, left the bustling, crime-afflicted city of 350,000 with¬out a police chief. Alejandro Domínguez Coello, a print-shop owner and Chamber of Commerce president, accepted the post on the morning of June 8, 2005. 'I'm not beholden to anyone. My commitment is to the citizenry,' stated the 56-year-old father of three. Six hours later, he took the wheel of his Ford F-150 pickup. A vehicle pulled up next to him, and the crack of an AR-15 rifle sounded as 30 bullets ripped through his white shirt, splashing blood over his chin and chest. Los Zetas paramilitaries were sending a message: We control the streets of Nuevo Laredo. 'They are openly defying the Mexican state,' said Mexico City political scientist Jorge Chabat. 'They are showing that they can kill anybody at any time. It's chilling.' As a result of such carnage, virtually every other drug trafficking organization (DTO) in Mexico, the more professional law enforcement units, Mexican and U.S. security agencies, and the armed forces are committed to exterminating Los Zetas, who sprang to life in the late-1990s. Osiel 'The Friend Killer' Cárde¬nas Guillén, who aspired to lead the then-mighty Gulf Cartel based in Matamoros across from McAllen, Texas, feared assassination to the point of paranoia. Hooked on cocaine and haunted by internal demons, the 31-year-old Friend Killer became convinced that assassins were plotting his demise."

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