Thursday, September 22, 2011

The matazetas

In the aftermath of the recent killings in Veracruz, there's been a lot of talk about the so-called "matazetas," apparently an alliance between la Gente Nueva (originally from Sinaloa), la Generacion Nueva de Jalisco (from Jalisco) and possibly, the Gulf cartel. The Wall Street Journal has a fine piece on the subject and the fears of paramilitarization. (Link in title of post)

Contrary to conventional wisdom (if there is any such thing in Mexico's drug war), the Matazetas are nothing new. Around 2004, when a Sinaloa cartel-backed kill squad known as Los Negros moved into Nuevo Laredo to take on the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas, the name "matazetas" was born (to the best of my knowledge, that is the first time it was mentioned.)

Then in 2005/2006, when La Barbie took it upon himself to work with La Gente Nueva and try to instill the fear of God in Los Zetas in Tamaulipas, the term matazetas became commonplace. (One of the infamous videos of La Barbie's men executing Zetas, which were later uploaded onto the Internet, was titled "Be a patriot, kill a Zeta.") Throughout Tamaulipas, if you ask anyone with a decent memory, they'll tell you stories of the matazetas, and the fears that residents had back then that these apparent vigilantes, or paramilitaries as some are calling them, might take over. They might even admit that they preferred the Zetas running the show.

Throughout 2007, Veracruz was in the midst of a raging turf war, too – the violence there is not that new, although it does appear to have intensified with the latest killing of 35 Zeta-affiliated gangsters. Back in 2007, Los Zetas was under threat from an armed wing of La Gente Nueva, according to newspaper reports. Chapo was trying to take the plaza.

The local Veracruz chapter of La Gente Nueva went by another name, too, according to a Dec. 16, 2007, story in Mexico's leading newspaper, El Universal.

"They're known as Los matazetas," wrote correspondent Edgar Avila Perez.

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