Mexico: The Unstoppable Los Zetas


January 24, 2012: Mexicans living in the U.S. will be able to vote in Mexico’s 2012 presidential election. Mexico’s major political parties (PAN, PRD, and PRI) as well as a few minor parties are already conducting voter outreach seminars in the U.S. For years Mexican emigrants to the U.S. have contributed to the Mexican economy by sending money back home, the annual figure varies a great deal but may be as high as $18 to $20 billion. Because of that many of the Mexican political parties are seeking donations from the Mexican expatriate community as well as votes. There are no official estimates, but Mexican media has estimated that as many as four million Mexicans living in the U.S. could legally vote in the July 2012 election. They must, however, register.

January 23, 2012: A Mexican Army special operations unit shot and killed a senior enforcer in the Sinaloa Cartel in Durango State on January 20 and captured 11 other cartel members. Luis Alberto Cabrera Sarabia directed Sinaloa operations in Durango State and some operations in Chihuahua State. Four soldiers were wounded in the firefight. A second senior Sinaloa cartel leader, Fidel Mancinas Franco, was arrested in a separate operation in Sonora State. In the last couple of months the army and federal police have been conducting a number of successful operations against the Sinaloa cartel, which is one of the three most powerful in the country. The string of successful operations suggests the government has been getting some very good intelligence on the movements of senior cartel leaders.

January 17, 2012: The Mexican Navy seized a dozen shipping containers in the Pacific coast port of Lazaro Cardenas and found 195 tons of chemicals used in producing methamphetamines. The chemicals had come from China, and Nicaragua and Guatemala were listed as the final destinations. This was the second major seizure of methamphetamine precursor chemicals headed for Guatemala in the last five weeks. The major drug cartels have been moving some of their methamphetamine operations to Guatemala.

January 16, 2012: The government revealed that 28 helicopters have been hit by gunfire in anti-drug operations since the Cartel War began in December 2006.

January 14, 2012: U.S. congressional investigators are reportedly examining another undercover sting operation in Mexico run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). The White Gun operation, like the Fast and Furious operation, involved smuggling weapons to Mexico. Investigators are wondering if BATFE personnel may have lost track of weapons involved in White Gun. As with Fast and Furious the weapons may have ended up in the hands of cartel gang members. White Gun was directed at the Sinaloa cartel senior leaders. Officials indicated that up to nine leaders were targeted by the sting operation. The Sinaloa cartel was operating several training camps for its gunmen and wanted military-grade weapons, to include .50 caliber heavy machineguns, medium mortars, and grenade launchers. The M2HB .50 caliber heavy machinegun is capable of destroying light armored vehicles of the type used by Mexican federal police. It is also effective against aircraft, particularly helicopters.

January 13, 2012: The Mexican Army captured Luis Jesus Sarabia, a senior leader in Los Zetas drug cartel. Sarabia is allegedly involved in the murder of a U.S. immigration agent in Mexico in February 2011. Another U.S. agent was wounded in the attack.

January 11, 2012: Drug gang-related violence killed 12,903 people between January 2011 and the end of September 2011. This was an 11 percent increase over the same time frame in 2010. 1,206 people were slain in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua State).

January 9, 2012: Mexican security officials are acknowledging that the Zetas drug cartel is still managing to attract recruits among former members of Mexican police forces and the military. A press release attributed to Los Zetas senior commanders (made in late December 2011) said that the drug gang could recruit soldiers, sailors, and security agents (ie, bribe them to defect or recruit them after they leave the service). The press release included this statement: "Not the Army not the Marines nor the security and anti-drug agencies of the United States government can resist us. Mexico lives and will continue under the regime of Los Zetas.”

January 6, 2012: Police captured another member of Los Zetas who was involved in the August 2011 massacre of 52 people in a casino in the city of Monterrey. Baltazar Saucedo Estrada was described as being a key hitman involved in the operation. Saucedo had a reward of one million dollars for his capture. Saucedo’s nom de guerre is Dog Killer.




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