Recognized as one of the most fearless and violent cartels in all of Mexico, Los Zetas was brought forth by a need for personal security in the Gulf Cartel. This former hit man/security style operation, active since 1997, has since grown into its own ruthless and violent organization becoming the second most powerful cartel and easily the most feared in all of Mexico. Heavily trained and armed, members of Los Zetas are set apart from other cartels because of the level of brutality they are willing to administer to those who cross them, though they had initially hoped that by being more intimidating they would have to fight less. It is their command of the drug market, their lack of fear in using violent tactics, and the sheer level of brutality used by their members that sets this cartel apart from all others. It is their disregard for human life and their ties to the United States drug markets that cause Los Zetas to pose a significant danger to border communities across the southern border of the U.S.
The organization of Los Zetas, brought forth by a significant need the Gulf Cartel had for its own personal security team, was created in 1997. To create such a specialized team, Gulf Cartel, based in Mexico, enlisted the aid of thirty-one Special Forces deserters from the Mexican Army. These members called themselves Los Zetas, the Z’s (S. Logan 2009). Specially trained in surveillance methods, hostage rescues, prison escapes, and experts in weaponry these highly skilled Los Zetas quickly became an integral part of the Gulf Cartel’s operations (Longmire 2012). Their primary mission, while serving within the ranks of the Gulf Cartel, was the protection of future leader Orsiel Cardenas Guillen. Additionally, they were tasked with carrying out the wishes of Arturo Guzman Decenas, who, at that time, served as Guillen’s personal bodyguard (S. Logan 2012). Los Zetas, as stated by the Mexican Defense Ministry in 2003, established a name for themselves as, “the most formidable death squad to have worked for organized crime in Mexican history” (S. Logan 2009). By this time Los Zetas had grown from its original thirty-one members to over three-hundred members strong. It wasn’t until 2003, when Orsiel Cardenas Guillen was arrested and extradited to Houston, Texas, that Los Zetas began to contemplate the separation from their then partners the Gulf Cartel.
Finally exhausted with taking orders from others, many of Los Zetas, especially the new blood, supported the idea of separating into their own entity. In 2007, Los Zetas officially parted ways with the Gulf Cartel, and transformed into their own singular organization. Today, Los Zetas organization is still recognized for its thirst for bloodshed in the form of murder, torture, dismemberment, and decapitations. One federal agent commented that Los Zetas are more dangerous than any other criminal organization in Mexico because they are heavily armed and eager to engage in...