Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are the Zetas the Worst?

I have a piece examining that question at InSight. The short answer is maybe, but a lot of the reasons you might say that they are don't hold up all that well upon closer inspection. I didn't mention this in the article, but it's even more true if you take into account the influence over the American drug market, because the Zetas don't supply nearly as many cities as does Sinaloa.

That doesn't mean that the US and Mexico are wrong to go after the Zetas --maybe from the standpoint of starting with the low-hanging fruit, it makes a lot of sense-- but I don't think it's been sufficiently demonstrated that these guys are the worst of all. You have to start somewhere, of course, but as far as sending a message to the other gangs, it would be helpful if the governments would offer a better explanation as to why the Zetas are the worst, so as to disincentive those activities.


Mexfiles said...

Well written, as always, Patrick, but you overlooked Mexico's favorite conspiracy theory... that the Sinaloans are protected by the DEA, FBI, CIA and the Calderón Administration.

To give the U.S. gov the benefit of the doubt, the Zetas are probably more a threat to them, simply because the Zetas seem to be branching out from narcotics distribution tinto a rent-a-thug business... more or less a Blackwater for criminals. Having been started by ex-military and police types (the same kind of people Blackwater advertises for), it makes sense that they'd be looking for opportunities that would employ those particular job skills. There is more than speculation that the recent massacre in Petan, Guatemala had less to do with narcotics than with clearing campesinos off land slated for large-scale agricultural development.

pc said...

Re the protection, that's kind of the subtext to it all, isn't it? But I dont think it has to necessarily be a case of the American agencies being in bed with Chapo; more banal explanations like the ones I wondered would leave you at the same result: the Zetas getting inordinate attention.

RE Peten, I think the most credible story remains that they campesinos were killed by the Zetas because their boss is an enemy of theirs.