Mexican federal police Sept. 2 arrested David "El Comandante Diablo" Rosales Guzman in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, a city and municipality of the Greater Monterrey Metropolitan area. Rosales Guzman is the alleged Gulf cartel plaza boss in Guadalupe and is accused of ordering several attacks on bars as well as kidnappings that left at least 19 dead in Monterrey in August.
Nuevo Leon state, the population of which is almost entirely based in the Monterrey area, has experienced a significant uptick in reported drug-related violence in August, to which Rosales Guzman's organization contributed. Official figures on drug-related homicides in Nuevo Leon are currently unavailable, but based on open-source information, Stratfor counts at least 120 such deaths in August. This compares to the official counts of 51 drug-related homicides in June and 65 in July.
Such a sharp rise in violence in a one-month period is usually indicative of cartel-on-cartel conflict. In Nuevo Leon, it has usually been between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas. However, according to Mexican media, the latest violence is the result of an internal Los Zetas war. While Mexican authorities believe the internal Zetas rivalry is between former leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano and current leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, evidence suggests it is more likely between Trevino and Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero, the plaza boss of Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon's neighboring states.
Despite the reports that internal Los Zetas rivalries are triggering violence in Nuevo Leon, the violence attributed to Rosales Guzman indicates that at least part of the surge of violence is due to the turf war between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas. With Los Zetas tied up in internal rivalry, and with the Gulf cartel attempting to exploit the opportunity presented by that rivalry to weaken the Zetas, elevated levels of violence will likely continue in Monterrey, at least in the short term.
The arrest of Rosales Guzman is a major victory for Trevino and Los Zetas because the Gulf cartel in Monterrey will have to undergo a transition in leadership. It is unknown whether the arrest will temporarily halt the Gulf cartel's attacks on Los Zetas' assets, but even if it did, violence would not decline substantially because Los Zetas' internal fighting would continue. And considering the importance of Monterrey, Los Zetas will need a counter-response to the Gulf cartel's recent campaign.
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.