A history of the Mexican drug-trafficking organization, the Zetas.
Created by insightcrime on Oct 19, 2010
Last updated: 07/17/12 at 09:05 PM
Tags: InSight Zetas Gulf Cartel
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The Zetas reportedly move into former FARC territory on the Colombia-Venezuela border, in order to team up with the Colombian Rastrojos. Venezuela becomes a main transit point for Colombian cocaine headed for the United States and Europe.
Horst Walther Overdick, the man who helped the feared Mexican Zetas drug gang cement their power in northern Guatemala, is arrested, throwing the country's already volatile underworld into flux. Overdick had worked closely with the Zetas, providing them with logistical support, weapons and drugs that he obtained through his own networks.
The US Treasury Department announces its first designations of the President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime – an initiative announced last July intended to' tackle this increasingly serious threat to American economic and security interests worldwide.' The order imposes economic sanctions against four key transnational criminal organizations – the Brothers’ Circle, the Yakuza, the Camorra and Los Zetas – and 'authorizes the Treasury Department to impose additional sanctions on their members and supporters.'
The bodies of 35 alleged Zetas members are left beneath an underpass in downtown Veracruz, south Mexico. This is the latest example of negative reactions to the group's activities on the Gulf coast.
Veronica Mireya Moreno Carreon, alias "La Flaca," is arrested by the Mexican Marines. Authorities claim Carreon served as the chief of the drug trafficking territory of San Nicolas de los Garza, outside Monterrey. She allegedly took over the plaza after the capture of Raul Garcia Rodriguez, alias "El Sureño" in August.
Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar was traveling in the company of a police officer escorting him to the southeastern state of Campeche when Federal Police detained him outside Mexico City. Rejon defected from the elite army unit known as the GAFEs in the late 1990s to form the Zetas.
Familia Michoacana leader Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, alias "El Chango," reveals after his arrest that he had recently sought an alliance with the Zetas to support his group in its standoff with rivals the Caballeros Templarios.
Forty-five Mexican police, all from the town of Cadereyta in the state of Nuevo Leon, are arrested because of their alleged ties to the Zetas cartel.
Mexican Federal Police announce they have arrested Luis Miguel Rojo Ocejo, alias 'Oso Rojo,' linked to the Zetas attack against two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on February 15, 2011.
Police blame the Zetas for the attack. This was the second such device to be used by Mexico's drug cartels, further painting the criminal syndicates as “narco-insurgents” and prompting comparisons to the drug violence that rocked Colombia in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
On December 19, the Guatemalan government declared a state of siege in the Alta Verapaz province, sending 400 army troops there in an attempt to purge the place of the Zetas, present since 2008.
At least 148 prisoners escape from a prison in Neuvo Laredo, Tamaulipas, a Zeta-controlled area. The government of Tamaulipas relies on the support of the Mexican federal government to maintain control of the prisons in the state.
Mexico sends more military and police to the Tamaulipas and Nuevo León states, the headquarters of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, in an effort to quell the violence caused by the rift between the two groups.
Citing recent clashes between Guatemalan security forces and the Zetas, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal calls on the U.S. to provide for more anti-narcotics assistance, in part to fight the growing influence of the Zetas.
The Zetas' head of operations, Gabriel Garcia Carballo, alias 'El Arabe,’ is killed in a shootout with authorities in Tabasco. Officials also capture Didier Saul Hernandez Alvarez, alias ‘El Gordo,’ the Tobasco cell’s third in command. The death is a significant strike against the Zetas' operations in the state.
Authorities say the Zetas are responsible for the massacre of 72 migrants, most of them of Central American origin. The killings indicate how deep is the Zetas involvement in human-trafficking rings.
The US Department of Treasury blacklists 54 members of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel under the "Kingpin" act. The US also offers a $5 million reward in return for intelligence that would lead to the capture of the Zetas top six commanders, including Miguel Ángel Treviño, alias Z40.
Following the assassination of Sergio Peña Mendoza, alias 'Concord 3,' by suspected members of the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas demand that Gulf leaders hand over the culprits. When they refuse, the Zetas declare war on the Gulf Cartel and the two break definitively.
One of the Zetas original founders, Germán Torres Jiménez, alias Z25, is arrested in Veracruz. He was among the last of the original 31 Zeta recruits still at large.
The White House lists the Zetas under the “Kingpin” act, along with the Sinaloa Cartel and Familia Michoacana. The law blocks all property and businesses linked to drug traffickers, under US jurisdiction.
The Zetas ally with their former rivals, the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO), after the BLO and their leader, Héctor (photo), split from the Sinaloa Cartel. The alliance, on paper, appears to be a good move for both since they have a similar mentality and do not compete for territory.
Shortly after Mexico extradites Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas Guillén to the United States, the Zetas declare independence from the Gulf Cartel. However, the two groups continue to do business with one another.
The Zetas, possibly contracted by local trafficking groups, kill eleven members of a Guatemalan drug-trafficking organization, including leader Juan León. The massacre points to the Zetas growing influence in Guatemala.
The Mexican government extradites Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the head of the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas take action almost immediately, robbing casinos and killing police, in action to show their independence and force. The Dallas Morning News reports that the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias 'El Coss,' only speaks to the Zetas' leadership by phone.
The Mexican Ministry of Defense presents evidence that new recruits of the Zetas are being trained by members of the Guatemalan Special Forces, the Kaibiles.
Zetas enter Yucatán and Quintana Roo with the permission of their progenitors, the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas quickly begin extorting, kidnapping and gain control of the piracy market.
Rogelio González Pizaña, the original second-in-command of the Zetas, is arrested in Matamoros, after an intense firefight with federal agents and soldiers.
The Zetas, at the behest of several disgruntled lieutenants of the Milenio Cartel, enter the Michoacán province. Nestled along the Pacific Coast, the province offers a port to receive drugs from abroad and a thriving methamphetamine drug production center and embarkation point. The Zetas train the lieutenants who later break away to form their own cartel, which they call the 'Familia Michoacana.'
After a long shootout in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, authorities arrest Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the head of the Gulf Cartel. His arrest opens the door the Zetas to begin their move towards independence.
Lieutenant Arturo Guzmán Decenas, alias Z1, dies in a shoot-out with the Mexican military in a Matamoros restaurant. A former soldier, he was among the first mercenaries recruited by Osiel Cárdenas of the Gulf Cartel.
The Zetas recruit directly from the military, drawing from the discontent they know exists, especially as it relates to salary, benefits, and, as this banner points out, care for the family.
Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the head of the Gulf Cartel, recruits 31 members of the Airborne Special Forces Group (Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales - GAFES) to act as his personal bodyguards and strike force. They call themselves 'Zetas,' a reference to radio call signs for the commanders in the special forces.