09/15/11 — The Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina, SEMAR) has broken up a sophisticated communications network used by the Zetas drug cartel in the eastern state of Veracruz, announced authorities on September 9. Rear Admiral Jose Luis Vergara, Coordinator of Social Communication of the Navy (Coordinador de Comunicación Social de la Marina), said that for several months, members of the military’s Special Forces (Fuerzas Especiales) conducted intelligence and operational work in Veracruz, and managed to identify substantial communications infrastructure used by Los Zetas. “The immediate consequence [of the operation] was the disruption of the Zetas’ chain of command and tactical coordination in Veracruz,” Vergara said in a press conference. He also announced the arrest of 80 suspects thought to be Zetas members or affiliates who were connected to the communication networks, six of which are Veracruz municipal police officers. Vergara continued, adding that forces found thirteen communications spots the cartel set up in several cities in Veracruz to provide constant communication for the cartel’s two-way radios. Authorities believe that the communications system helped coordinate drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and murder across much of the state.
The system was operated from a central base in Veracruz and reached part of its neighboring state of Tabasco. The naval elements were able to identify the exact sites where the communication network operated in several municipalities including Cordoba, Orange, Orizaba, Panuco, Perote Poza Rica, Tantoyuca, Tepetzintla, Veracruz, Xalapa. The networks were run out of safe houses with seven-foot tall antennas and used not only by Zetas members, but also by taxi drivers and traffic attendants who served as informants. The communications system also had the capabilities to monitor the actions of federal forces in order to conduct illegal operations and evade authorities.
The operation, which was carried out between August 10 and September 9, 2011, led to the seizure of a radio, satellite, digital mobile radio transmitters, high-powered transmitters, computers, radio scanners, encrypting devices, solar power cells, seven amplifiers, power supplies, batteries, solar panels, wiring, seven trailer trucks carrying medical kits, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.