A deadly brew of Los Zetas, Los Pelones and now Los Matazetas in the Riviera Maya
A commando team of at least 50 hired executioners has arrived in Cancún to take control of the city's main plaza from two other warring groups, a local newspaper reports this morning. Los Zetas and another group, Los Pelones, are engaged in a bitter struggle to monopolize drug sales and other criminal activity in the bustling city, which is an international gateway to lush Riviera Maya resorts along Mexico's Caribbean coast. Dozens of people have been killed since the vicious turf war erupted in 2011.
Authorities say that Los Zetas dominate business in the city's large hotel zone, while Los Pelones are powerful in nearby tourist spots like Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Isla de Mujeres. The two organizations routinely execute each other's members, as well as occasional independent drug dealers, known as chapulines, who are daring enough to set up shop on their own. Cancún police and other regional law enforcement departments have been busy in recent weeks following a bloody trail of homicides, usually committed with extreme brutality and sometimes within blocks of the sprawling tourist district.
The allegations were made in today's edition of a local newspaper, Por Esto, which reports regularly on crime in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo. The paper claims that the executioners work for Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, a/k/a Los Matazetas, which allegedly is in close alliance with the most wanted narcotics trafficker in the world, Joaquín El Chapo ("Shorty") Guzmán. Guzmán escaped from a Mexican prison in January 2001, and runs the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, known in Mexico as Cartel del Pacifico. The United States claims that Sinaloa imports more drugs into the country than any other cartel. The U.S. and Mexico have offered millions of dollars in bounties for Guzmán's capture, and Felipe Calderón wants few things more than to take down the elusive trafficker before his six year term as president ends on Nov. 30.
Calling Cancún the "jewel of Caribbean narcotics trafficking," Por Esto claims that the Los Matazetas execution squad arrived in the city two weeks ago and received dual marching orders. First, put the insolent, upstart Los Pelones in their place. The Pelones began as a local murder-for-hire gang, then later morphed into street drug dealers, kidnappers and extortionists. Although they don't enjoy the national name recognition and power that the Los Zetas do, they unquestionably rival the latter for sheer violence. A Pelones boss arrested in December has admitted to carrying out 30 contract murders in Cancún last year, and those fighting to replace him have been working overtime to demonstrate their own expertise in merciless execution. Los Pelones may be allowed to retain a small share of local drug markets, but only if they recognize the authority of and pay homage to Los Matazetas and El Chapo Guzmán, according to today's story.
The second directive issued to Los Matazetas sicarios, whom the paper calls "experts in creating urban chaos," is to kick Los Zetas out of the plaza altogether - a formidable task which almost assuredly will lead to a bloodbath in Quintana Roo in the months ahead. Por Esto predicts that the mandate will include the elimination of some Cancún police officers, many of whom are said to be on the Los Zetas payroll. A senior officer in charge of the Quintana Roo military district alleged last November that 90% of the municipal department is corrupt as the result of infiltration by cartels.
Cancún authorities say that the murder of a Zeta narcotaxista earlier this week appears to be the work of Matazetas, who left their calling card to confirm it. But that killing may be no more than the squall before the storm, as a team of 50 Zeta-killer professionals settles in and awaits its next mission along Mexico's famed Riviera Maya.
Update Apr. 18, 2012: The mayor of Cancún said today that he would not be opposed to assistance from military units in patrolling city streets. He noted that municipal police already have their hands full, and sometimes are the targets of violent attacks themselves.
Apr. 17 - Los Matazetas - the "Zeta killers" - may have arrived in Cancún
Apr. 29 - Los Pelones killer in Cancún also may have been hit man for Los Matazetas
Aug. 2 - Cancún authorities report that the war between Los Pelones and Los Zetas has left at least 175 dead in Quintana Roo since 2007, most of them since 2010
Los Zetas executioner arrested near Hotel Oasis Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/04/los-zetas-execution-squad-arrested-at.html.
Mexico's Caribbean Riviera Maya in the hands of drug cartels and extortionists: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/02/mexicos-caribbean-riviera-maya-in-hands.html.
Chapo Guzmán, just missed in Los Cabos: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/el-chapo-nabbed-almost.html.
Is Mexico closing in on El Chapo Guzmán?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/is-mexico-closing-in-on-el-chapo-guzman.html.