Sunday, December 06, 2009

Los Zetas investing drug profits in legitimate businesses

Ever since the original founders of Los Zetas were trained by US Special Forces personnel at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, they've been upping the ante and redefining the very model of a modern major drug cartel. Reports Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas News ("Mexico's Zetas gang buys businesses along the border in move to increase legitimacy," Dec. 6):

The Zetas, Mexico's notoriously brutal group of paramilitary thugs, are expanding their role as bully businessmen along the Texas-Mexico border, branching out from traditional criminal enterprises such as extortion and drug trafficking and buying legitimate businesses, U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials say.

The group, which authorities say operates a weapons and drug distribution hub in North Texas, now calls itself "The Company" and has over the past year evolved from extorting businesses to owning them outright, the officials say.

"They own used-car lots on both sides of the border, restaurants, discotheques, liquor stores," said Robert García, a detective with the Laredo Police Department and an expert on the Zetas. "Basically, anything anywhere that moves to and from the border, or anything and anywhere they can launder large amounts of money, the Zetas have a hand in. They even own a dog-racing track."

Aside from money laundering, the Zetas are seeking legitimacy from those they have terrorized over the years, using methods such as beheadings and burning rivals alive. Investigators and civic leaders say the Zetas are trying to position themselves to become movers and shakers, even political players, in communities where they have a major presence.

Authorities say their strongholds include Ciudad Acuña, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, Matamoros – where they were created – and Nuevo Laredo, their biggest base of operation. All five cities border Texas.

"We could see them running for mayor, even governor, in the future," said one civic leader in Nuevo Laredo, who like most people interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.


Anonymous said...

The police in Mexico find it more gratifying to shake down foreign tourists than to go after their cousins in Los Zetas. That's too bad because I used to like to travel in Mexico. Now I am very hesitant to return.

If you do plan to travel to Mexico Google this:
How to Bribe a Corrupt Mexican Traffic Cop March 17, 2007

Anonymous said...

This must be that pro-business strategy Perry has been talking about.

Anonymous said...

Los Zetas is the Mexican Gulf cartel. On the west coast of Mexico (where the resorts are) you have these cartels: Beltran Leyva organization, La Familia and the Joaquin Guzman/Sinaloa cartel.

In Juarez/El Paso you have the Carrillo Fuentes organization. In the Tijuana area you have the Arellano Felix organization.

Lots of folks have to stay busy to keep you and your friends supplied with your weed.

ckikerintulia said...

Anon 11:13--"Lots of folks have to stay busy to keep you and your friends supplied with weed."

To whom is this sentence addressed? Is it serious, or in jest?

Anonymous said...

With so many willing to use their money for drugs, even before paying for their own health care; the drug sellers will always win. US folks just don't care enough to stop.

Anonymous said...

The increasing influence and entry of Los Zetas into more legitimate businesses classic organized crime strategy everywhere. We should not be surprised that prohibition produces and strengthens organized crime - it is the 1920's all over again.

The only feasible way out of this mess is undercut the cartels by legalizing and regulating access to psychoactive drugs to adults (like alcohol and tobacco). What legalization and regulation is combined with current RICO type laws against organized crime -- we have a chance to reduce both drug use and organized crime.

Yes, use rates are lower when substances are legalized and regulated. Check it out -- Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, etc.

Toestubber said...

Apparently the USA has decided that monolithic crime syndicates, charred/beheaded bodies (preferably South/Central American), trillions of dollars in the toilet and worldwide, institutionalized corruption is a small price to keep weed a black-market commodity.

This post illustrates the kind of scum who are granted enormous power when you decree popular/useful substances illegal. Good work, DEA. Good work, Mr. & Ms. Voter. Sleep well.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 12/06/09 11:13

Lots of folks have to stay busy to keep you and your friends supplied with your prohibition.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:55 you said it all !

I Prefer the Term "Ironic" said...

This sounds frighteningly like the last two seasons of "Weeds." Don't be surprised if someone finds a tunnel to Mexico in the back room of a maternity clothing store!

Anonymous said...

Grits, this Post is very informative and appreciated. Commentors might want to do so as an anon due to pissing matches and jerkweeds, get-it.

In order not to appear as a racist and/or get wacked, we silently watched the take-over of landscaping cos., Restuarants, Junkyards, Used Car-lots, Auto-Shops, Tire-Shops, Flea-Marketts, Thirft-Stores, Stereo/Tint-Installation Shops, etc....

This was not done by hard-working hispanic citizens, it was done hard-working illegals from several countries. We are talking about countries with gangs that make the Mexican gangs look like amatures.

The scary part is that millions took to the streets flying these countries flags in protest of being marked as illegal. When all that was wanted, was the jobs Americans won't do for such low wages. Then and only then did people notice that the county hospitals and schools had been taken over by illegals.

Now, today we learn that gangs are investing drug profits and they are getting recognized by the DMN. HMM, money laundering and fitting in or hiding in plain sight is newsworthy?

Either Mr. Corchado has an FBI insider leaking classified info. or the FBI leaked it to keep pressure on the need to increase funding. Something is up when they announce info. that's already widely known. His follow-up will be interesting. FYI, folks this isn't about weed, it's about money. Money that comes from profits obtained from a mutitude of sources.

doran said...

It is almost a tradional thing to do in America: Make a lot of money illegally, and put it into "legitimate" businesses. This tradition has its roots from early on when Europeans started stealing real property from Native Americans and killing Native Americans with bacteriological warfare.

American privateers got into the game later on, acting for all the world like pirates. Bootlegging has produced at least one Nationally Significant Family, while trading with the enemy has produced another. And prostitution, illegal gambling, and protection has produced some very rich families who are no longer involved in such things.

This is American History into which Los Zetas seems to be inserting itself.

I'm not doubtful of the core of Mr. Corchado's report -- that Los Zetas is following in this tradition. But I am skeptical of the certainty with which Detective Garcia and other, unnamed "authorities" state their conclusions about the extent of Los Zetas' quest.

If authorities know as much as they say they do about the ownership of businesses acquired with criminal money, why don't they do something about it? The federal statutes are there, as are some State laws, to be used for that very purpose. They can seize, condemn, forfeit and sell those businesses. They can use the cash generated for their own purposes.

And in which North Texas County is that drug and arms hub located? If they know that, then they should shut it down.

Maybe the "authorities" know these things in a Mother Joad kind of way: They just have a feeling.

I smell a state rat here. "Authorities" burnishing their images, mongering some fear, etc.

bob42 said...

The last thing the cartels want to see is a trend toward decriminalization. They've become very adept at maintaining their tax free profits despite billions of taxpayers money being wasted to prohibit their popular products.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of their loot wasn't laundered via campaign contributions to pro-drug war politicians. At least that would explain the continued ignorance and lunacy among those nutjob politicians who maintain that all they need is more of OUR money, more people in jail, and more needless death and violence to finally "win" their war on drugs.

Anonymous said...

I think you might be on to something doran. In the past, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has engaged in covert propaganda disguised as news stories.

I'm not saying that's what has happened here but given all the other things they have been involved in over the years, like paying money to TV networks for "agreeable" scripts... It does leave one to wonder what we are being feed.

I had a philosophy professor in college that once described the then "Drug Czar" William Bennett as evil. This was so completely out of character for this soft-spoken, thoughtful man that we all turned to each other with utter surprise. I think I understand now what he meant. He said it was because he was trained as a philosopher and should have known better.

doran said...

Ck me if I'm wrong, Anon, but wasn't Bennett a Texan? Maybe a graduate of UT?

Lee Rials said...

Just a minor correction to this story, and a question. First, Los Zetas never trained at the School of the Americas; this myth has continued even as many of the people who perpetuate that correctly say they got some US training at Fort Bragg, which is in North Carolina. Secondly, what is the point of mentioning US training of people who turn to crime when you have no evidence or even the suggestion that the training had anything to do with their moral character? Since when do we blame some minor piece of a criminal's history for his behavior, and not the criminal himself? Okay, that's two questions. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Bennett was born in NY but received his Phd from UT. My professors major gripe with him was his moral stance.

Much of philosophy is grounded in ethics and logic. Morality is a lower level way of thinking. For example, slavery was once argued to be moral. Morality is tied to the social and cultural ways of the time and not based in a more solid foundation found in an ethical or logical way of thinking.

Also, to try to impose a morality upon someone in an unethical manner was something that my professor found repulsive.

This is philosophy 101, so yes, Bennett should know better.

Anonymous said...

Why do you guys/gals think the violence consistent with what's seen in Mexico spread over to the U.S. side? And this is a serious question. The reason I ask is because they are well known to be recklessly ruthless. Why are they holding back on the U.S. side (for the most part)? The reason may be a key finding in the success/failure of our current drug policy.

Anonymous said...

I meant 'has not spread to the U.S. side'.

Anonymous said...

Mexico just embarrasses themselves by allowing these people to openly break the law (if there are any) and intimidate, hurt and terrorize people. I'm embarrassed to be an American as I watch our government piss money away in the middle east and watch our southern border become a festering chancre, that is getting more and more infected by the day. It's almost what we deserve.