American youths did Mexican drug cartel's dirty work
Court records describe how Zetas gave money, instructions to hit men
09:32 AM CST on Saturday, November 10, 2007
By DAVID McLEMORE / The Dallas Morning News
LAREDO – Rosalio Reta killed his first man at age 13. He didn't like it much, he told police. The guy was tied up and kneeling. Mr. Reta just had to pick up a pistol and shoot him in the head.
"He told us that wasn't his style. There was no challenge," said Webb County Assistant District Attorney Jesus Guillen, who successfully prosecuted Mr. Reta for murder. "He preferred to run surveillance on a victim, pick the right moment and surprise him. Like he was playing Grand Theft Auto."
By July 28, 2006 – one day after his 17th birthday – when Laredo police charged him with the contract killing of Noe Flores in Laredo, Mr. Reta had been involved with 30 murders, Mexican and Texas investigators believed. All were on behalf of the Zetas, the ruthless enforcement arm of Mexico's Gulf Cartel drug smuggling operation.
His trial last summer for the Flores killing offered tantalizing glimpses into the shadowy workings of the Zetas and the inroads of cartel violence into this border city.
Court records revealed a portrait of a group of young American killers who were well-paid to do one thing: kill people the Zeta leadership in Nuevo Laredo wanted dead. And they highlighted a group of young killers who followed orders from Mexican drug lords with ruthless efficiency while often behaving like teens with poor impulse control.
Mr. Reta sought his own extradition for the murder. He called a DEA agent and Laredo homicide Detective Roberto Garcia from a prison in Mexico, saying he wanted to stand trial in Texas for two homicides.
He told U.S. investigators he feared reprisals from the Zetas over a botched hit in Monterrey – a grenade attack on one of the city's nightclubs that killed four and injured 25. He was supposed to kill only one person, police said, but had missed the target.
Laredo police had already identified Mr. Reta as one of three people responsible for the Flores killing. Their investigation had linked him to one of three three-member scicarias, or hit man cells, the Zetas had set up in Laredo.
They believed Mr. Reta was responsible for at least five killings in the city – either as a shooter or organizer.
After he was charged in Laredo, Mr. Reta gave a statement to Detective Garcia, detailing the Flores killing and his role in it.
Mr. Reta told police he drove on the night of Jan. 8, 2006, when his three-man cell hit Mr. Flores in a Laredo residential neighborhood.
He described how one of his cell members, Gabriel Cordona, walked up to Mr. Flores and calmly fired eight bullets into his body – three of them into his head. And he told how the third member, Jessie Hernandez, panicked and began firing while in the car, shooting out the rear window.
But the wrong guy got killed. Mr. Flores had no criminal history and was just visiting a family birthday party.
The Zeta commander for Nuevo Laredo – Miguel Treviño Morales, a fugitive wanted on five state warrants for murder, kidnapping and organized crime – was believed to have ordered a hit on Mike Lopez, Mr. Flores' step-brother.
Mr. Treviño was angry at Mr. Lopez for dating a woman he was interested in. A month after the Flores murder, on Feb. 26, 2007, another group of Zeta gunmen killed Mr. Lopez, according to Laredo police.
Cells on retainer
Much of the specifics of the inner workings of Zeta operations in Laredo came out during testimony of prosecution witness David Martinez, a former Zeta gunman serving a federal sentence for weapons violations.
He provided details on how the cartel set up three cells, composed of three people each, who were on retainer at $500 a week, just to wait for instructions. Sometimes they were called on to buy cars for gang use. Other times, to perform killings.
Orders were normally passed from Mr. Treviño, the Zeta commander known by the nickname "El Cuarenta," to Lucio Velez Quintero, another fugitive known as "El Viejón" and also wanted on murder, kidnapping and organized crime warrants. Mr. Velez would, in turn, pass the orders on to one of the cells, Mr. Martinez testified.
For a contract killing, the cell leader received $10,000 or more, which was to be spread among the other members.
On Dec. 8, 2005, according to investigators, Mr. Velez gave an order to Mr. Reta's cell to hit the next target: Moises Garcia, a gang member who had angered the cartel.
They tracked Mr. Garcia's white Lexus sedan to the parking lot of the Torta Mex Restaurant in Laredo. Mr. Reta got out, witnesses said, walked to the Lexus' driver side and shot Mr. Garcia five times in the face.
Mr. Reta received $10,000 and two kilos of cocaine for the Garcia hit, according to cell member Cordona, now serving 80 years for his role in the Flores killing.
The next time the Zetas called, it was to order the hit that resulted in Mr. Flores' murder.
"We talked to him for hours about what he had done, and he never once showed any remorse," said assistant district attorney Guillen of Mr. Reta. "The funny thing is, as you talk to him, you start liking him. He's just a 5-3, scrawny little kid. He's bright, engaging and funny. He comes from a good, hardworking family of nine kids. Nothing in his background screams out 'criminal.'
"Half of you thinks, 'what a tragedy at so many levels this kid is.' But the other half looks at what he's done and you think there's something evil at work, that somehow, the morality switch never got turned on," Mr. Guillen said.
"He told us he liked the killing. It didn't make him sick," Mr. Guillen said. "He liked it. And for us to take that away from him was like taking candy from a baby."
Mr. Reta's trial ended abruptly – after just three days of testimony – when he quit cooperating with his attorney and pleaded guilty to murder for a 40-year sentence.
His conviction is now on appeal. His court-appointed attorney, Eduardo Peña, inserted in the plea agreement the right to appeal the inclusion of a damaging statement that Mr. Reta gave police even though a juvenile magistrate had not adequately informed Mr. Reta of his rights.
"The Zetas wanted him to shut up and do his time," Mr. Peña said. "They don't like outsiders knowing about their business. Rosalio wasn't too happy about the appeal. Neither, I understand, are the Zetas."
Mr. Reta is resigned to serve his time, Mr. Peña said.
"He was afraid the Zetas would go after his family," he said. "He knows it is a miracle if he can get out of this alive."
The appeal, now before the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, alleges Mr. Reta's statement should never have been allowed at trial – specifically because a juvenile magistrate is supposed to provide suspects a thorough understanding of their rights.
Mr. Peña said the state's video showed that a magistrate was not present the entire time, "except walk in, sign some papers and leave. He was there at best for five minutes."
"After the ... [statement] was admitted into evidence, we didn't have a chance at acquittal. So I sought out a plea," Mr. Peña said. "Frankly, I was surprised the prosecutor accepted it with the provision for appeal."
Prosecutor is confident
But the appeal must also show whether the failure to follow procedure was harmful – that is, that it predominantly led jurors to convict. And assistant district attorney Guillen believes that this is where it will fail.
"I'm confident even if the appeals court sees it as judicial error, they'll still find it a harmless error," he said. "Even if they do order a new trial, we have enough evidence and testimony to get a conviction."
Mr. Guillen says the state took the plea for one reason: Mr. Reta's youth.
"We had a good circumstantial case, but ... he's young," Mr. Guillen said. "he looks like some little kid, and I had concern that if he connected with one compassionate juror, the case could go sour."
It's doubtful Mr. Reta will ever see the outside of a prison, Mr. Guillen said.
The Moises Garcia case is still to be tried, he said. "Besides, he's safer in prison," Mr. Guillen said of Mr. Reta. "If he ever gets out, the Zetas will kill him. They don't forget."
Mr. Guillen is still mystified as to why Mr. Reta went to trial and didn't just plead out initially like his colleague in crime, Mr. Cordona, who took the sentence because that's what the Zeta leaders told him to do.
"I feel like Reta was testing us by going to court," he said. "But after two days and everything came out about the Zetas and the cartel's operations, he clammed up."
'We've sent a message'
For too long, people refused to admit that the drug-fueled violence that erupted for several years across the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo couldn't happen on the U.S. side, he said.
"That violence did slip across the border, and we have to understand, these weren't murders being committed by illegal immigrants," Mr. Guillen said. "These were executions, committed by American kids. They speak English, they play video games and they look just like any kid you'll see in the mall. They just chose to get into the life the cartel offered of money and drugs and violence.
"With the police investigations and these murder prosecutions, we've put the three hit man cells out of business and we've sent a message across the river that we're not going to tolerate the cartel violence to come across to our town," Mr. Guillen said.
THE ZETAS' REACH INTO DALLAS
The trial of Rosalio Reta offered a glimpse into the shadowy workings of the Zetas, the enforcement arm of Mexico's Gulf Cartel, and the inroads of cartel violence into Laredo. Below is a look at some cases in the Dallas area that were linked by police to the cartel or to the Zetas:
•In August, federal drug agents swept through Dallas and three other Texas cities, arresting more than 30 people believed to be affiliated with the narcotics distribution network of the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico's most powerful drug smuggling organizations. Among 20 people arrested from the Dallas area was Sergio Maldonado, 33, of McKinney, believed to be the cartel's "cell leader" for North Texas. Mr. Maldonado was arrested without incident in Laredo and indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering.
•Wesley Lynn Ruiz, 27, was arrested in March after shooting and killing Senior Cpl. Mark Nix following a short chase and a gunbattle. Mr. Ruiz, who faces charges of capital murder, aggravated assault and possession of methamphetamine, had been seen nine days earlier leaving the home of Maximo Garcia Carrillo, who is believed to be one of Dallas' leading drug traffickers and an associate of the Mexican drug enforcers known as the Zetas. Mr. Ruiz is awaiting trial.
•Maximo Garcia Carrillo, 34, a fugitive whose last known address was a fortresslike home in north Oak Cliff, is wanted on a sealed indictment involving drug charges out of Laredo.
•A Lancaster man, Erasmo Arciba, was sentenced in March to three years and 10 months after pleading guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was arrested by members of a U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives task force in September 2006 as part of an ongoing investigation into weapons sales to the Zetas, a group of mercenaries employed by Mexico's Gulf Cartel. His court-appointed attorney Carlton McLarty has previously said his client denies direct ties to the Zetas. Authorities believe Mr. Arciba used 21-year-old Angilita Ortiz of Grand Prairie and other "straw purchasers" to buy handguns and assault rifles in the Dallas area. She pleaded guilty to buying a firearm for Mr. Arciba.
•Nicolas Monarrez, 30, is a fugitive believed to have abducted and killed a Dallas couple whose bodies were found under a bridge in southeast Dallas County in January. Police believe that the couple – Luis Campos and his pregnant girlfriend, Linoshka Torres – may have been set up as scapegoats after at least $40,000 in drugs and cash was stolen from the home of a man who could have ties to the Gulf Cartel, the notorious Mexican drug operation that has been increasingly active in North Texas in recent years.
•Gilberto Lugo, thought to be the North Texas leader of a powerful Mexican drug cartel, pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in September 2005, ending a two-year investigation that chronicled the flow of cocaine from the violence-torn U.S.-Mexico border to the Dallas area. He was arrested about four months after a high-profile shooting at his home on Mimi Court in Oak Cliff in which a gunman walked up and began firing, killing one and injuring three others, including Mr. Lugo. Authorities seized 46 kilos of cocaine, semiautomatic weapons and more than $300,000 in cash from Mr. Lugo's two homes on Mimi Court. The shooting remains unsolved, but it is thought to be the work of the Zetas.
Los Zetas is a drug cartel operating along the Texas-Mexico border region. The group is believed to be led by Heriberto “The Executioner” Lazcano.
Los Zetas were originally ex-Army special forces trained in locating and apprehending drug cartel members. The founding 31 members of Los Zetas were trained in small-group tactics, mission planning, aerial assaults and sophisticated communications methods at army bases throughout the world. Though it is widely rumored that these soldiers were originally trained at the military School of the Americas in the United States. It is believed by Mexican Law Enforcement that the original members are rogue GAFE (Airborne Special Forces Groups) soldiers. Zeta training locations have been identified as containing the same items and setup as GAFE training facilities, it is also further believed the group employs the same internal organizational structure. Current estimates place Los Zetas around 200 members strong. The name "Zeta" comes from the Federal Preventive Police radio code for high-ranking officers.The Zetas are unique among drug enforcer gangs in that they operate as a private army under the orders of the Gulf Cartel
The Gulf Cartel eventually recruited the specialists and employed them to track down rival cartel members and provide protection for smuggling routes.Los Zetas are primarily based in the border region of Nuevo Laredo where it is believed they have carved the city into territories, placing lookouts at arrival destinations such as airports, bus stations and main roads.
Upon the arrest of Cardenas it is believed Los Zetas began transporting their own drugs through former Gulf Cartel routes.
ZETA'S ASSISTED BY GUATAMELAN ZETA TYPES
MEXICO CITY, Sept. 29 - The Ministry of Defense reported this week that a feared organization of hit men that was started by corrupt officers of the Mexican military had forged an alliance with deserters from an elite Guatemalan military unit to help the Mexicans fight for control of drug-trafficking routes across the United States border.
The ministry's report confirmed a warning in July by the United States Department of Homeland Security that said "unsubstantiated reports" had indicated that some Guatemalan military officers were training the Mexicans on a ranch just south of the border from McAllen, Tex.
The Mexicans call themselves the Zetas, Spanish for the Z's.
The defense minister, Clemente Vega García, described the alliance between the Zetas and the Guatemalan officers, deserters of a special forces unit called the Kaibiles, during an appearance on Tuesday before a Senate committee.
He said soldiers had detained seven former members of the elite Guatemalan unit earlier this month along Mexico's southern border. The men who were captured had six automatic machine guns and the equivalent of about $100,000 in Mexican and Guatemalan currencies.
On Wednesday, the Guatemalan Defense Ministry reported that four of the men in custody were deserters from the Guatemalan military.
Col. Jorge Antonio Ortega Gaytán, a spokesman for the Guatemalan ministry, said in an interview on Thursday that an explosives expert, a driver trained in defense tactics and a squad leader were among the deserters.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have reported that the Kaibiles, named after a revered Mayan warrior who avoided capture by Spanish conquistadors, are considered some of the most skilled jungle fighters in Central America.
They are believed to have been responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses during Guatemala's civil war.
Kate Doyle, a specialist on Guatemala for the National Security Archive, said that a 1983 intelligence report by the State Department said that the Kaibiles killed "every one of several hundred inhabitants in the village of Las Dos Erres."
The Zetas have been linked to the wave of violence raging across Mexico's border with the United States as rival drug traffickers fight for control of lucrative drug routes.
The most vicious fighting has occurred in Nuevo Laredo, a town where one drug-trafficking group known as the Gulf Cartel is struggling to fend off an invasion of its territory by another group, known as the Sinaloa Cartel.
Mexican law enforcement officials say the Zetas work primarily as gunmen for the Gulf Cartel.
Deputy Attorney General José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos said in a recent interview that most of the original members of the Zetas, many of whom had received training at the United States School of the Americas when they were in the Mexican military, had been killed or captured.
But the intelligence alert in July by the Department of Homeland Security said that a new generation of Zetas, called Zetitas, or Little Z's, had been recruited among young Gulf Cartel operatives and that the group had opened its own methamphetamine-trafficking networks as far as Arkansas and Tennessee.
ZETA'S HIRE AMERICAN MEXICAN MAFIA MEMBERS IN U.S.
La eMe In Deuel Vocational Institution, California
Founded by Luis "Huero Buff" Flores
Years active 1957–present Territory federal prison system and Southern California
Membership 300,000 (estimated)
Criminal activities Murder, Conspiracy, Drug trafficking, Racketeering, Witness intimidation, Extortion and Gambling
The Mexican Mafia was formed in the late 1950s by Chicano street gang members incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution, a state prison located in Tracy, California.
Texas Syndicate members are required to follow a "Constitution," stipulating that members:
While the Mexican Mafia was founded in part to show reverence to Aztec and Maya heritage, its primary focus was to protect members against other prison inmates as well as corrections officers. Deuel Vocational Institution was treated as an educational facility by convicts, where they would develop their skills in fighting, drug dealing, and creating weapons.
Luis Flores initially recruited violent members to the gang, in an attempt to create a highly-feared organization which could control the black market activities of the Deuel prison facilities. As a response to the increase in violence, the California Department of Corrections transferred some members of the Mexican Mafia to other prison facilities, including San Quentin Prison. This action inadvertently helped the Mexican Mafia in recruiting new members in both the prison and juvenile correctional facilities in California.
In the late 1960s, Mexican-American (Chicano) inmates of the California state prison began to form a rival group to the Mexican Mafia, known as Nuestra Familia. Membership was often determined according to the locations of their hometowns (the north-south dividing line generally accepted as Delano, California).
There was a perceived level of abuse by members of the Mexican Mafia towards the imprisoned Latinos from rural farming areas of Northern California. The spark that led to the ongoing war between Nuestra Familia and members of the Mexican Mafia involved a situation in which a member of La Eme allegedly stole a pair of shoes from a Northerner. This event put into motion the longest-running gang war in the state of California.
ZETAS HIRE TEXAS SYNDICATE AKA ESE TE
The Texas Syndicate or Syndicato tejano is a mostly Texas-based prison gang that includes mostly Hispanic members, and does not allow Caucasian members. The Texas Syndicate, more than La Eme or Nuestra Familia, has been more associated or allied with Mexican immigrant prisoners, such as the "Border Brothers", while La Eme and the NF tend to be more composed of US-born/raised Hispanics.
It was established in direct response to the other California prison gangs (notably the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Mafia), which were attempting to prey on native Texas inmates.
As of 2000, the Texas Syndicate had about 1,000 members in prisons and jails state-wide, with many more on the outside. 826 Hispanic members operate across Texas, including specific reportings in the Coffield Unit, about 60 miles southwest of Tyler, and at the Allred prison unit outside of Wichita Falls. However, they still maintain their headquarters in California, where their national president resides, and their numbers continue to reach into state and federal prisons across the US. They have been reported in the Federal Correctional Institute at Oakdale, Louisiana, and in San Quentin, California, with frequency. As a street gang, heavy activity has been reported in Austin, Texas, and Corpus Christi,Texas.
ZETAS HIRE MS 13
Mara Salvatrucha refers to large gangs in Central America and the United States. The gang names are commonly abbreviated as MS, Mara, and MS-13, and are composed mostly of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and other Central Americans. The Mara Salvatrucha gangs have cliques, or factions, located throughout the United States and Latin America.
The gang has moved beyond its Salvadoran and American origins and now can be found in other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Spain, Great Britain and Germany, according to international press on criminal activity. Membership in the U.S was believed to be as many as 10,000 in the United States as of 2005.MS-13 criminal activities include drug smuggling and sales, black market gun sales, human trafficking, theft, assaults on law enforcement officials, and contract killing.
Their activities have caught the eye of the FBI, who in September 2005 initiated wide-scale raids against suspected gang members, netting 660 arrests across the country. In the United States, the gang's strongholds have historically been in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Miami, Southern California, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, Maryland, the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, Richmond, and Delaware. In Allentown, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and other areas of Pennsylvania, the gang is known for its street graffiti, which is used to depict their presence on certain blocks and also sometimes provides clues to their forthcoming crimes, including murder, robbery, narcotics, and especially as a prediction of retaliatory violence.
Former gang member Brenda Paz said that MS is well structured, with multiple leaders, and that the gang's goal is to become the top gang in the United States.
Mara Salvatrucha Years active 1980 - present
Territory mostly Central America, United States, Europe
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, gun trafficking, murder, contract killing, etc.
Re: ZETA'S AND SANTA MUERTE
Federal authorities have their sights set on high-ranking members of the Zetas working in Nuevo Laredo, as indicated by a 50-page indictment partially unsealed earlier this week.The indictment alleges a wide-ranging, drug-smuggling conspiracy that involved several murders, including one in which a defendant is accused of collecting the blood of his victim and making a toast to Santa Muerte before killing the man and burning his body.
Two of the 32 people listed in the 47-count indictment were in federal court Thursday. Only four names have been made public; the others are blacked out on the court records because they are still at large.
One of the unnamed defendants is described in the document as "a leader and organizer within the Gulf Cartel, a.k.a. ‘La Compañia' and its enforcement arm, the ‘Zetas.' "
Named in the indictment so far are Aurora Del Bosque, Gustavo Fabian Chapa, Rene "Rana" Garcia and Juan Adolfo Ramos, also known as "Cordless" and "Karate."
Del Bosque was denied bond Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Adriana Arce-Flores. Del Bosque, the wife of a Zeta associate, faces one count of accessory after the fact.
Chapa, who is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, waived his arraignment Thursday.
Garcia is charged with money-laundering conspiracy, attempted murder, use of a juvenile to commit violent crime and use of a firearm in a crime of violence and a drug-trafficking crime Ramos is charged with money laundering conspiracy, two counts of use of a juvenile to commit a violent crime and one count of use of a firearm in a crime of violence or drug-trafficking crime.
He's also charged with murder in the April 2, 2006, killing of Jesus Maria Resendez and Mariano Resendez, the attempted murder of Marco Antonio "Mackie" Flores, the attempted murder of Michael David Lopez and the attempted murder of a person known only as "Checo."
All four, along with the 28 defendants whose names are redacted, are charged in a drug conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana, which the indictment alleges began in August 2001.
Aviles and Villarreal The indictment details several alleged drug-related murders, including the previously unreported deaths of Jorge Alfonso "Poncho" Aviles and Inez Villarreal.
Aviles and Villarreal were captured March 30, 2006, at a nightclub in Nuevo Laredo and taken to a safe house, according to the indictment.
After taking them to a second safe house, at least one of the as-yet-unnamed defendants cut and stabbed Aviles, then collected his blood and used it to make a toast to Santa Muerte before killing them and burning their bodies, the indictment states.
The indictment includes charges of money laundering, attempted murder, promoting unlawful activity, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
The indictment shows the alleged conspiracy also involved some of Laredo's most-publicized murders.
The killings in 2005 and 2006 of Bruno Alberto Juarez-Orozco, Moises "Moy" Garcia, Noe Flores and the Resendezes, all five of whom are mentioned in the indictment, were carried out by U.S.-born sicarios, hit men, who state investigators have said were operating in Laredo and killing on behalf of the Gulf Cartel.
Four defendants have pleaded guilty in state district court in connection with those killings, and one of those men is set to go to trial later this month for his alleged involvement in another killing.
State investigators have alleged that the killings are tied to Miguel "40" Treviño, a man they say is a chief enforcer for the Zetas.
Bruno Alberto Juarez Orozco The guilty plea of Gabriel Cardona for the June, 6 2005, murder of Bruno Alberto Juarez Orozco, a former Nuevo Laredo police officer, was the first conviction state prosecutors were able to secure in connection to what they have said were a wave of killings committed by cells of sicarios.
A police investigation showed that Orozco had been pulled over by men in a car with a flashing light, who Orozco believed were police, said Assistant District Attorney Jesse Guillen.
The sicarios were attempting to kidnap Orozco, according to the indictment. They ended up shooting him when he resisted, according to reports.
Cardona received a 60-year prison sentence for his part in the murder as part of a plea agreement in state district court in Webb County.
Richard Guerrero pleaded guilty to engaging in criminal activity in connection with Orozco's murder and received a 10-year prison sentence.
Wenceslao "Tucan" Tovar and Eric Ivan "47" Martinez have been charged with murder and are wanted in connection to Orozco's killing, Guillen said. Warrants have been issued for their arrest, he said.
Moises ‘Moy' Garcia The trial of Rosalio "Bart" Reta for the murder of Moises "Moy" Garcia is expected to begin in state district court April 28.
Reta is accused of shooting Garcia on Dec. 8, 2006, in the parking lot of the Torta-Mex restaurant on Corpus Christi Street.
Garcia was shot and killed after a sport utility vehicle blocked in Garcia's Lexus as he and his family were driving out of the restaurant parking lot. His common-law wife, Diana Loera, was injured in the shooting.
Aurora Del Bosque, the woman who was denied bond Thursday, is accused of aiding them and is charged with accessory after the fact in the federal indictment.
Gabriel Cardona pleaded guilty in state district court to murder in connection with Garcia's killing and, as part of a plea agreement on two other murders, received an 80-year prison sentence.
Cardona took part in the killing while free on bond after being arrested for the Orozco shooting, according to reports.
Noe Flores Noe Flores was killed in a botched hit on his half brother, Michael Lopez, according to testimony given in the aborted trial of Rosalio "Bart" Reta.
Both Reta and Gabriel Cardona have pleaded guilty to taking part in Flores' Jan. 8, 2006, murder outside Lopez's home on Frost Street. Reta received a 40-year prison sentence and Cardona was sentenced to 60-years in prison for his plea on the Flores and Orozco murders.
Warrants have been issued for Lucio "Viejon" Velez-Quintero and Jesus "Jesse" Gonzalez on murder charges for the Garcia and Flores killing, Guillen said. Authorities have said they believe Velez organized those hits.
Jesus Maria Resendez A police investigation showed that Jesus Maria Resendez was killed by the Zetas because of his involvement with the Sinaloa Cartel, Guillen said.
Resendez was a Texas Syndicate associate who had previously done business with the Gulf Cartel, but had switched his allegiance, Guillen said.
He and his nephew, Mariano Resendez, were killed April 2, 2006, when their truck was riddled with gunfire on U.S. 83.
Gabriel Cardona received an 80-year prison sentence when he pleaded guilty to those killings and the Garcia murder.
Raul "Richard" Jasso pleaded guilty to two counts of murder for the Resendezes' killings and received a 15-year prison sentence.
A police investigation has traced all five murders back to Miguel "40" Treviño, and warrants have been issued for his arrest, Guillen said.
(Jason Buch may be reached at 728-2547 or by e-mail at email@example.com)
Zetas break silence
Tuesday , June 06, 2006 Posted: 08:18 PM
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Tuesday , June 06, 2006
WESLACO - They are one of the deadliest gangs working along the U.S.-Mexico border. They admit to causing terror in Mexico and say they're busy in America. They are known as Los Zetas, and they sat down to speak with NEWSCHANNEL 5.
Along the Rio Grande, there are secrets. Secrets of kidnapping, murder and violence. It is that violence against the innocent that caused two members of the Zetas to come forward.
The meet was arranged by an individual who wished to remain anonymous. We met our contact at a restaurant, then it was off to rent a cheap motel room. Once there, the Zetas soon followed.
Both men, who will be identified simply as Zeta-1 and Zeta-2 confirmed they were members of the violent gang of former Mexican soldiers who now work for the Gulf Cartel. Their boss is the infamous Osiel Cardenas Guillen.
"Zetas are an armed group," said Zeta-1 in Spanish. "They pick up any people. They kill them. They kidnap them. They rob their houses. They find away to make people disappear."
The center of Zeta activity, the "stronghold," is the town of Carmago, Mexico, right across the river from Rio Grande City in Starr County. The men in the room say at least 50 of them are there, in a secluded compound, plotting their next move.
It's the same in other Mexican border cities like Reynosa, Miguel Aleman, and the violence-plagued Nuevo Laredo.
"They figure how they are going to kill," Zeta-1 said. "Burn(ing) in containers of diesel. They can dismember and put you in concrete containers. They toss you in the river, and you never see your family again."
Zeta-1 says he has killed people.
The motivation for these men, according to Zeta-2, is simple: money.
"I was in the military. I was a soldier," he said.
Zeta-2 was a soldier, trained by U.S. Special Forces to protect his country. Now, he is running with drug traffickers.
"They (Zetas) offered me a lot of money," Zeta-2 said. "While in the military they don't pay much. With that, I decided to work with them."
The military training comes in handy with the arms the Zetas carry, including 9mm weapons and infared technology - all parts of an armory equivalent to an American SWAT team. Drug money pays for it all.
The Zeta arsenal could make the group attractive to other groups, like al-Qaeda or the Mara Salvatruchas. When asked about their ties to terror groups, Zeta-1 said he would "not respond very well if they have any relations with terrorists."
But, he did acknowledge a tie with the MS-13.
""They don't work together. But there are some of the Maras inside the organization."
While the Zetas are a problem for Mexican police, they also claim to work with drug dealers in the United States. Their work includes cold-blooded killings. They told us they knew of a hit on two men outside a Rio Grande City restaurant, and the murder of two men watching a cock-fight in Starr County.
"They cross the river. They do the job over here," Zeta-1 said. "They kill. They pick up - they make people disappear, and they come back to the Mexican side. That's why police never find them."
But it is also innocents who get targeted.
"Whatever person," Zeta-2 said. "Whatever person has money. Rich people that have money. They get them. They pick them up and take their money."
And the pursuit of money knows no bounds - even the ice cream man is a target. The Zetas claim there is no place to hide in Mexico.
"The municipal police, the state police, the ministerial police, the police of the state," Zeta-1 said. "The soldiers and the federal preventive police. The military on the border. They are bought by the Zetas."
The Zeta's tools even include uniforms given by the police themselves. Another tool is torture. It was the torture of the innocent that caused Zeta-1 to break the code of silence.
"I talked about a short time ago, there is a tiger that they put live people in with to get information," he said. "Once they get the information. All the information they get - after this throw them to the tiger to eat them up. They never find their body."
"I realized these are many injustices that they are committing," he added.
These two members of the Zeta army also have a warning for American law enforcement: They are here, with cells operating in Roma, Rio Grande City and Mission - and more are coming.
"It's is not a lie," Zeta-2 said. "They need to check good, because it is true."
Mexico: YouTube Execution Video Claimed by Acapulco Death Squad
Posted by Colin Brayton on April 2, 2007
Wanted: El Cholo. The Zetas are reportedly made up of police and military personnel.
Suben a internet ejecución de presunto ‘Zeta’ (El Universal): YouTube receives a video purporting to show the beheading, by garrotte, of an alleged member of a group of soldiers employed by the Gulf Cartel.
[Actually, I may have mistranslated here, thanks to my current linguistic confusion. It comes from having to deal with Chilean relatives in Portunhol: Sp. degollar generally means "to cut the throat of." I did not watch to see whether heads roll here or not. I am going to change "beheading video" to "execution video." I am too lazy to research the answer to my own brain fart.
The method of execution here is meaningful.]
[Update: reportedly, the garotte was twisted until the head fell off. Ugh.]
The first item I read on this said that YouTube took the video down for “violation of terms of service.” The action was described as a reprisal for the murder of state police.
El Universal (Mexico) has downloaded the video and uploaded it to its own site. I am not going to watch it. I am going to take El U’s word for what it contains. A screenshot below.
So, yeah, well. Here come the death squads to take up the slack, taking a page from the media relations strategy of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
El video de la ejecución de un presunto integrante de Los Zetas, brazo armado del cártel del Golfo, fue subido a la página de internet YouTube.com.The video showing the execution of an alleged member of Los Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, was uploaded to the YouTube.com Web site.
En él se observa cómo le colocan un alambre en el cuello —que hacen girar con un tubo hasta degollarlo— después de confesar su participación en el asesinato de los siete trabajadores de la Policía Investigadora Ministerial durante el ataque del pasado 6 de febrero, en Acapulco, Guerrero.The video shows a wire being placed around the man’s neck — which was twisted with a tube until the man was decapitated — after he confessed his participation in the assassination of seven employes of the state police during an attack on February 6 in Acapulco.
El video se titula “Has patria mata a un zeta” (sic) y tiene una duración de cinco minutos con 16 segundos. Ayer estuvo en esa página de manera intermitente.The video is titled “be a patriot kill a zeta” and lasts 5:16. Yesterday it was intermittently available.
Death squads stepping in to do the dirty work for law enforcement is never a good sign, I don’t think.
Law enforcement officers and soldiers moonlighting for the traffic, or working full-time for the traffic under cover of the uniform, or graduating to the traffic while taking their Rolodex with them from their old job, is not a good sign either.
Observers — I am thinking specifically of a former top Colombian anti-narco official interviewed in El U a while back — have warned that centralization and militarization of anti-narco and anti-terror forces will cause corruption to metastasize through Mexico’s federal law enforcement.
Want a nasty insurgency on the U.S. border? Keep porting Plan Colombia to Mexico. IMHO.
Sending a message: Inscriptions on victim’s body reminiscent of Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony”
Who are Los Zetas? A 2004 report from Esmas, translation TK:
CIUDAD DE MÉXICO, México, oct. 29, 2004.- Les llaman “Los Zetas”.
Re: ZETA'S/ YOU TUBE
Last edited by texasx; 05-26-2008 at 12:12 PM.
Investigators say the feared band of ex-military elite forces are operating in Texas and other parts of the United States.
Domingo 20 de febrero de 2005
A team of rogue Mexican commandos blamed for dozens of killings along the U.S.-Mexico border has carried out at least three drug-related slayings in Dallas, a sign that the group is extending its deadly operations into U.S. cities, two U.S. law enforcement officials say. The men are known as the Zetas, former members of the Mexican army who defected to Mexico's so-called Gulf drug cartel in the late 1990s.
"These guys run like a military," said Arturo A. Fontes, an FBI special investigator for border violence based in Laredo, in south Texas. "They have their hands in everything and they have eyes and ears everywhere. I've seen how they work, and they're good at what they do. They're an impressive bunch of ruthless criminals." Dallas and federal officials said that since late 2003 eight to 10 members of the Zetas have been operating in north Texas, maintaining a "shadowy existence" and sometimes hiring Texas criminal gangs, including the Mexican Mafia and Texas Syndicate, for contract killings. The Texas Syndicate is a prison gang that authorities blame for several murders statewide.
The Zetas' activities in North Texas were described in interviews with two U.S. federal law enforcement agents, two former Drug Enforcement Administration officials, a former Dallas undercover narcotics officer and two undercover informants.
"We're aware of the Zetas' threat to U.S. cities, and we consider it a growing threat," said Johnny Santana, a criminal investigator for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Office of the Inspector General. "We're conducting investigations into several cases statewide to establish evidence. We still don't have those links yet, but the telltale signs are there, and they point to the Zetas." The Zetas' presence in Dallas represents a sharp departure from standard practice for Mexican cartels, which traditionally have kept a low profile on U.S. soil and have sought to avoid confrontations with U.S. law enforcement.
The Zetas, who are accused off carrying out killings and acting as drug couriers for the cartel, are regarded by U.S. law enforcement officials as expert assassins who are especially worrisome because of their elite military training and penchant for using AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles.
"The Zetas are bold, ruthless and won't think twice about pulling the trigger on a cop or anyone else who gets in their way," said the former Dallas narcotics officer, who asked not to be identified.
"And they like to take care of business themselves or, when forced to, hire their own assassin." Gil Cerda, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department narcotics division, said he had personally not heard of the group and could not comment.
Mexican authorities have downplayed the threat posed by the Zetas, saying that a major government crackdown has left the group leaderless and on the run.
José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, the country's deputy attorney general for organized crime, suggested that many of the crimes attributed to the group may have been committed by outsiders emulating the group's violent tactics. "There are many Zetas wannabes," he said.
Still, Fontes of the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement officials said the former commandos are both a potent threat and are bolder and more ambitious than their predecessors.
They are extending their reach and violence beyond the Nuevo Laredo-to-Matamoros border area into Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, where they blend into burgeoning Mexican immigrant communities, state and federal officials said.
The group may have ventured as far as Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga., the officials said.
"These guys are anything but wannabes," said Fontes. "They're the real thing, and they're a threat to law enforcement officers on both sides of the border." Dallas and federal law enforcement officials have linked murders and drug violence in Dallas during the past 18 months to cocaine and marijuana trafficking in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, a base of operations for the Zetas. Dallas and federal investigators have blamed at least three Dallas killings on the Zetas, and some officials said that more than a dozen violent incidents can be attributed to the group.
Federal and Dallas authorities have blamed the following incidents on the Zetas: At 1:20 a.m. on Dec. 5, a gunman stepped out of a red sports car with a semi-automatic weapon and opened fire on three suspected drug traffickers as they played pool in the open garage of a home in the 5100 block of Mimi Court in Oak Cliff. Christian Alejandro Meza, 26, alias Juan Antonio Ortega, a parolee from Wichita, Kan., who was wanted on weapons charges, died of multiple wounds to the abdomen. Two other men were severely wounded and are being held on drug charges.
Law enforcement officials said the men were attacked because they allegedly worked for a rival drug lord, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who escaped from the maximumsecurity Puente Grande prison in Jalisco state in January 2001, hidden in a laundry truck.
RIVAL GANG FIGHT
Guzmán is reputed to be a leader of the Juárez cartel, a rival of the Zetas' employer, the Gulf cartel, and is wanted in the United States, said Fontes, the FBI agent.
Dallas police seized 45 kilos of cocaine said to have been smuggled from Monterrey with a street value of US2.5 million and about 300,000 in cash from the Oak Cliff home and one next to it.
"The hit was a message to Chapo Guzmán, and the killer is believed to have been a Zetas member," said the former Dallas narcotics officer. "The gunman was very meticulous, didn't shoot a lot because he didn't have to." The case is under investigation, and the gunman remains at large.
On Sept. 28, police found the bodies of Mathew Frank Geisler and Brandon Gallegos, both 19 and from Laredo, in a burning 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe in a field near the corner of Morrell Avenue and Sargent Road, in the Cadillac Heights area of Oak Cliff. Both men had been shot, and the case probably involved drugs, according to police accounts.
A federal investigator said that "without a doubt" both incidents were carried out by the Zetas.
"We're seeing an alarming number of incidents involving the same type of violence that's become all too common in Mexico, right here in Dallas," said the former Dallas narcotics officer. "We're seeing executionstyle murders, burned bodies and outright mayhem. It's like the battles being waged in Mexico for turf have reached Dallas."
Last edited by texasx; 05-26-2008 at 12:15 PM.
3 Dallas slayings indicate Mexico's Zetas moved north
The Dallas Morning News
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.20.2005
A team of rogue Mexican commandos blamed for dozens of killings along the U.S.-Mexican border has carried out at least three drug-related slayings in Dallas, a sign that the group is extending its deadly operations into U.S. cities, two American law enforcement officials say. The men are known as the Zetas, former members of the Mexican army who defected to Mexico's so-called Gulf drug cartel in the late 1990s, other officials say. "These guys run like a military," said Arturo A. Fontes, an FBI special investigator for border violence based in Laredo. "They have their hands in everything and they have eyes and ears everywhere. I've seen how they work, and they're good at what they do. They're an impressive bunch of ruthless criminals." Dallas and federal officials said that since late 2003 eight to 10 members of the Zetas have been operating in north Texas, maintaining a "shadowy existence" and sometimes hiring Texas criminal gangs, including the Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate, for contract killings. The Texas Syndicate is a prison gang that authorities blame for several murders statewide. The Zetas' activities in north Texas were described in interviews with two U.S. federal law enforcement agents, two former Drug Enforcement Administration officials, a former Dallas undercover narcotics officer and two undercover informants. "We're aware of the Zetas' threat to U.S. cities, and we consider it a growing threat," said Johnny Santana, a criminal investigator for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "We're conducting investigations into several cases statewide to establish evidence. We still don't have those links yet, but the telltale signs are there, and they point to the Zetas." The Zetas' presence in Dallas represents a sharp departure from standard practice for Mexican cartels, which have kept a low profile on U.S. soil. The Zetas, who are accused off carrying out killings and acting as drug couriers for the cartel, are regarded by U.S. law enforcement officials as expert assassins who are especially worrisome because of their elite military training and penchant for using AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles. "The Zetas are bold, ruthless and won't think twice about pulling the trigger on a cop or anyone else who gets in their way," said the former Dallas narcotics officer, who asked not to be identified. Mexican authorities have downplayed the threat posed by the Zetas, saying that a major government crackdown has left the group leaderless and on the run.