MEXICO CITY-A self-styled drug-trafficking group calling itself the “Zeta Killers” claimed responsibility this week for the recent murders of at least 35 people believed to belong to the Zetas, Mexico’s most violent criminal organization.
The claim by the “Mata Zetas” has stoked fears that Mexico, like Colombia a generation before, may be witnessing the rise of paramilitary drug gangs that seek society’s approval and tacit consent from the government to help society confront its ills, in this case, the Zetas.
On Wednesday, Mexico’s national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota vowed in a statement that the government would “hunt down” and bring to justice any criminal group that takes justice into its own hands.
….”Our only objective is the Zetas cartel,” said a burly, hooded man who said he was a Mata Zetas spokesman, in the video. The man said that unlike the Zetas, his group didn’t “extort or kidnap” citizens and were “anonymous warriors, without faces, but proudly Mexican” who would work “clandestinely” but “always to benefit Mexico’s people.”
The mysterious group appears to be part of the New Generation drug cartel, which operates in the northwestern state of Jalisco, according to an earlier video that showed some three dozen hooded men brandishing automatic rifles as a spokesman vowed to wipe out the Zetas in Veracruz. In that video, the spokesman lauded the work of the Mexican armed forces against the Zetas, and urged citizens to give information on their location to the military.
Given the small size and relatively meager investment in Mexico’s military, compared to it’s GDP, the endemic corruption of the Mexican police and judiciary, the scale and firepower of the cartels and the degree of violence unleashed, the real surprise is that paramilitary activity has not arisen sooner. Assuming that the Mata Zetas are a genuine, emergent, grassroots paramilitary group ( something that Mexico’s corrupt political elite would find more threatening than the narcos). Too soon to tell.
It is difficult to see how the Mexican state, left to it’s own resources, can regain the initiative in Mexico against the cartels without either adopting tactics similar to those employed by Colombia to beat back FARC and ELN or engaging in a military mobilization sufficient to create a crushing advantage in manpower.
SWJ Blog – Mexican Cartel Strategic Note