Friday, September 9, 2011

What Targeting the Zetas Looks Like

Earlier this year, there were reports that Calderón government had formally made the Zetas their top priority. And then the Casino Royale attack occurred, which furthered the logic that the Zetas as the most dangerous gang. The formal (though off-the-record) recognition likely means something, but it remains to be seen what, exactly. Over the past few years, the group seemed to have the de facto recognition from the government that they were the biggest threat, and officials often said as much, but it more in an offhand sort of way, rather than as the organizing principal of their policy. In short, it wasn't quite clear how this was going to change the government's approach in practice.

But the marines' mass arrest of 80 Zetas in Tabasco and Veracruz, which form part of the gang's stronghold, suggest that there is a genuinely intensified effort to reign in the group. This investigation, which resulted in more arrests and seemed significantly more sophisticated than what you typically see from the military, follows last week's arrest of 31 Zetas in a cell operating out of Hidalgo, another state where the Zetas have long been dominant. So we'll see if this keeps up.

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