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The emerging Zeta Region


First version of Zeta Region was originally released at Frontera List, Wed, 6 Apr 2011 12:53:58 -0400

The implications of Grann's A Murder Foretold* and Cirino's Latin America's Lawless Areas and Failed States are part and parcel of why I pay attention to the Zetas**, Zetas with gangs, Zetas in the Isthmus region, etc. Was in Guat decades ago when the military intelligence and commando units were "draining the sea" by day and the guerrillas were terrorizing those still alive by night. The only worse mass horrors were Africa. (The Indios to this day are still fodder for abuse, forced relocation and predation at will.)

Zetas unlike their criminal competitors

The Zetas are unlike other criminal groups of interest; they think strategically in a manner that I do not see in other cartels. A group of such vision is not one to overlook the corrupt, cooperative partner at hand. Guatemala is already a near-narcostate and almost went that way in a formal sense in a recent presidential election.

The Zetas are also positioned adjacent to, and in, Guatemala with the assets and skills to exploit a cooperative partnership with Guatemalan establishment enablers.

At the low end, the Zetas are already removing indigenous Guat drug competitors while recruiting Guat nationals. The moneyed oligarchy at the top will provide protection and influence for a price. See my earlier F-L note on Zetas now being the superior force against a weak Guatemalan state.

An emerging Zeta Region

Zetas are solidifying an arc from the Texas plazas south thru PEMEX and its illegal oil bunkering bonanza, through Chiapas and into Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala and its routes east to the Pan Am Highway and the Caribbean. (The Zetas are sufficiently adroit to have also commenced an out-of-area op to stake a position on the west coast (Colima, et al) to have access to inbound Chinese weapons, meth precursors and other contraband.)

The Zetas are forming cooperative partnerships with Latin gangs in the Central American/Isthmus corridor, going so far as to train the more aggressive members of what have long been described as hyperviolent gangs.

I submit that the Zetas want nothing less than to solidify their control along the Central American corridor.

 Such control would enable the Zetas to achieve a chokehold on the Isthmus drug pipeline, currently thought to be moving the largest percentage of cocaine into Mexico and then onto the US and Canada.

The Zetas will be able to control supply, either monopolizing and/or taxing transport to other buyers.

It is not unreasonable to suspect that other cartel groups understand the Zetas' direction and looking at variations of planning a countermove, planning a shift in allegiance or wondering how much time that they have given the changes afoot.

Unless competing cartels achieve a heretofore absent operational grasp, or external intervention backstops the remaining functional Guatemalan and Mexican assets, I see little on the horizon to slow the Zetas' advance.

* Grann does not mention any specific cartel. What Grann's story brought out in prose more gracious than mine was the corrupt nature of the Guatemalan oligarchy in and out of government. Their willingness to buy and be bought is touching in its completeness.

** The use of the term, Zetas, specifically refers to the airmobile commandos that the US trained, that later went rogue, and became known as the Zetas. The Zetas shifted from Praetorian Guard to cartel, appearing to lose none of their operational focus in the bargain. In contrast, other cartels increasingly draft younger unskilled recruits that indiscriminately spray rounds. Bowden's sicario, among many others, makes this point of rising unskilled assets. The Zeta organization of which I speak is really remarkable, quite unlike the other cartels in so many ways. We subsequently trained the equivalent Kabiles in Guatemala that the Zetas are now recruiting. We put structure and vision, tactics and strategy, into these people. We made them; the blowback is severe.

A Murder Foretold

Unravelling the ultimate political conspiracy.
by David Grann
A Reporter at Large
New Yorker
April 4, 2011

RE: [frontera-list] El Salvador fears Mexico drug cartel violence overflow - BBC
Gordon Housworth
Thu, 23 Dec 2010 13:05:42 -0500

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Volume I
Drug and Chemical Control
March 1, 2010

Police and Public Security in Mexico
Edited by Robert A. Donnelly and David A. Shirk
University Readers

Bunkering in Mexico
By Fester
June 30, 2009

Cartel Consolidation
By Fester


March 03, 2009

In Mexico Drug War, Sorting Good Guys From Bad
New York Times
November 2, 2008

Mafia & Co.: The Criminal Networks in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia
Juan Carlos Garzón
Translated by Kathy Ogle
The first edition of this book was published in June 2008 in Spanish.
This edition is an English language translation of the original.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Threat analysis: Organized crime and narco-terrorism in Northern Mexico
By Gordon James Knowles
Military Review
Vol 88 no 1, pp73-84
January-February 2008

A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil.
Max G. Manwaring

Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

ISBN 1-58487-334-5

December 2007

The Maras: A Menace to the America
by Federico Breve, former Minister of Defense of Honduras
Military Review
July-August 2007

Are the Maras Overwhelming Governments in Central America?
Steven C. Boraz and Thomas C. Bruneau
Military Review
Nov-Dec 2006

Persistent Surveillance for Border Security
Russ Graves
Mitre Technology Program

The Urban Threat: Guerrilla and Terrorist Organizations
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity study, 1999
Small Wars Journal

Latin America's Lawless Areas and Failed States
An Analysis of the "New Threats"
Julio A. Cirino, Silvana L. Elizondo, Goeffrey Wawro
Latin American Security Challenges
A Collaborative Inquiry from North and South
Paul D. Taylor, Editor
Senior Strategic Researcher, U.S. Naval War College
Newport Paper Twenty-one
Newport, Rhode Island
ISSN 1544-6824

Mexican Intelligence at a Crossroad
Leroy, Christophe
SAIS Review - Volume 24, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2004, pp. 107-130
School of Advanced International Studies
The Johns Hopkins University Press

Gordon Housworth

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