Most Brutal of the Mexican Drug Terrorists Trained in US
(Thanks to Anonymous Physicist for the article.)
It was a brutal massacre even by the gruesome standards of Mexico’s drug war: 72 migrant workers gunned down by the "Zetas" - arguably the country's most violent cartel - and left rotting in a pile outside a ranch in Tamaulipas state near the US border in late August.
The Zetas have a fearsome reputation, but the real surprise comes not in their ruthless use of violence, but in the origins of where they learned the tricks of their bloody trade.
Some of the cartel's initial members were elite Mexican troops, trained in the early 1990s by America’s 7th Special Forces Group or "snake eaters" at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, a former US special operations commander has told Al Jazeera.
“They were given map reading courses, communications, standard special forces training, light to heavy weapons, machine guns and automatic weapons,” says Craig Deare, the former special forces commander who is now a professor at the US National Defence University. (snip)
“The Zetas definitely have the reputation of being the most dangerous, the most vicious, the most renegade of the cartels,” says Kristen Bricker, a Mexico-based research associate with the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).
About 29,000 people have died since Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president, declared war on the drug cartels in 2006.
The group has mounted the severed heads of its victims on pikes in urban areas, posted torture and execution videos on the internet, forced poor migrants into prostitution and massacred college students during house parties.
"Other cartels have accused them of not following the 'gentlemen's code' of drug trafficking and causing undue violence," Bricker told Al Jazeera.
"At one time, it was considered bad form to kill pregnant women, but not any more." For safety concerns, Bricker didn’t want to say where she lives in Mexico.
Deare estimates "probably more than 500" GAFE personnel received special forces training. He is unsure exactly how long the programme lasted. The Zetas came to the attention of Mexico’s Attorney General’s office in 1999.
After US training, GAFE operatives defected from the Mexican military to become hired guns, providing security to the Gulf cartel, a well established trafficking organisation, according to Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas program of the International Relations Center. (snip)
But unlike Zorro, the Mexican outlaw hero who also used the "Z" alias, Los Zetas steal from everyone, not just the rich. And they certainly don’t give much back to the poor, except the corpses of their relatives. "They are just known for being a different kind of human being," says Bricker.