09/27/11 — A group calling themselves “Mata Zetas,” or Zeta Killers, have announced their campaign to “eradicate” the feared Zetas cartel in the coastal state of Veracruz, explaining that their only goal as an armed group is to kill all members of the cartel. Last week, a previously unknown group, the New Generation (Nueva Generació), claimed responsibility for the 35 bodies dumped on a Veracruz street during rush hour, saying that all those killed were affiliated with the Zeta cartel. Media outlets have linked the two groups as synonymous, and La Vanguardia has reported that the Mata Zetas have taken responsibility for the 35 bodies and gave an apology to residents of Veracruz for the “scourge” of the Zeta killings. The Zeta Cartel is also in a brutal battle with their former Gulf allies and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, with which the New Generation is thought to be linked.
Yesterday, the “Mata Zetas” released a five minute video clip on a prominent drug cartel website and YouTube. In the clip, a masked spokesman, dressed in black and surrounded by four colleagues wearing balaclavas (full head covering ski masks), announced the group intended no harm to ordinary residents. “We are asking public officials and authorities who support the Zetas to stop doing so, and let the armed forces know that our only objective is to finish the Zetas,” the spokesman says. “If with our actions we have offended society, the Mexican people, and federal agencies, we apologize.”
Mexican authorities have not taken kindly to the vigilante violence. In a statement issued late Monday, the Federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) warned that it would crack down on “any criminal group or organization that acts outside the law and creates violence.” The agency said the battle against organized crime belongs to Mexican authorities alone. “The only way to achieve lasting security and tranquility is by enforcing the law and strengthening our institutions,” it said.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister (Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob) Francisco Blake Mora acknowledged weaknesses in Mexico’s police forces, but said groups seeking to carry out justice on their own “will confront the force of the state.”
In Veracruz, residents have watched helplessly as violence has skyrocketed, and the Zetas, who once served as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, have solidified their grip through brazen violence and, it is widely assumed, with the help of corrupt state and local officials. Several newspapers reported Monday that different messages were left in public places in different parts of Veracruz denouncing the alleged connections between the Navy with the Sinaloa cartel, which is led by drug lord Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán. In recent months, the Zetas Cartel have taken responsibility for an inferno at a casino in Monterrey that left 52 dead in late August and the slaughter in 2010 of 71 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil.
In the video, the Mata Zetas spokesman articulates that the group’s goal is to eliminate the faltering security situation in the country. “We are warriors anonymous, faceless, but proudly Mexican. We are the armed wing of the people with the sole purpose to eradicate the Zeta Cartel,” they say. While the Mata Zetas have expressed deference to public authorities and Mexican police, they also argue that the government is not doing enough, and acknowledge they will have to act outside of the law to attain justice. They explained their stance in sending a strong message with the 35 killings that the Zetas “are not invincible” and those local officials must stop bending to Zeta extortion and government corruption.
The Attorney General’s Office has announced the opening of an investigation into the Mata Zetas to identify and arrest its members since they have taken responsibility for the 35 bodies dumped on the highway on September 20 (for more information on that event, click here). “The Mexican state has no place for the event or action of a person, group or organization that harms or violates the rule of law, regardless of their purpose,” PGR announced in a statement given Wednesday.