Zetas Issue Open Challenge to US and Mexico Governments

Mexico's ultra-violent Zetas drug cartel released a communique challenging Mexico and the United States.

"Message to the nation, the government, and all of Mexico and to public opinion: The special forces of Los Zetas challenges the government of Mexico and its federal forces," said the communique, which was signed by Zetas leader Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, also known as Z-40.

The Zetas were formed in 1999 Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as "El Lazca," who along with three other soldiers deserted an elite special operations unit within the Mexican army to become the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.

Not the Army, not the Marines nor the security and anti-drug agencies of the United States government can resist us.

— Zetas communique

The Zetas are now one of the most violent and powerful cartels operating in Mexico. The former paramilitary group is considered to be one of two dominant cartels in Mexico, along with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's Sinaloa cartel.

The group is believed to be responsible for the attack on a casino in Monterrey earlier this year that left 52 people dead.

"Not the Army, not the Marines nor the security and anti-drug agencies of the United States government can resist us. Mexico lives and will continue under the regime of Los Zetas," the communique went on to state.

While most of the violence related to the Zetas has remained in Mexico, the group has made headway into the U.S. with recent attacks and the capture of cartel members highlighting this infiltration. Last month, a botched drug bust outside of Houston left a U.S. secret operative dead and a sheriff's deputy injured after Zetas gunmen surprised the operation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents also deported last week Donis Ruiz a suspected  Zetas member wanted for kidnappings in Mexico.

"Let it be clear that we are in control here and although the federal government controls other cartels, they cannot take our plazas. You want proof?" the communique asked. "Look at what happened in Sinaloa and Guadalajara. If we can get all the way into their kitchen we are not going to lose control of our territory."

The Zetas are considered the second most powerful cartel in Mexico behind Guzmán's Sinaloa cartel, with one or the other group present in almost every Mexican state.As they battle for lucrative smuggling routes, the two cartels have recently ramped up attacks on one another.

Back in September in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz, Mexican authorities discovered the bound and tortured bodies of 35 alleged Zetas members dumped by the Sinaloa cartel onto a main thoroughfare in the city. In May, over two dozen people, most of them Zetas, were killed as they attempted to infiltrate the Sinaloa cartel's territory in the state of Nayarit.

Since President Felipe Calderón declared war on the country's drug cartels shortly after taking office in 2006, an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico's ensuring violence.

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