Jun 27, 2012 | 10:30 GMT

4 mins read

Mexico Security Memo: Zetas in Chihuahua and More Body Dumps

Mexico Security Memo

Addressing Los Zetas in Chihuahua

Authorities discovered a narcomanta June 25 along a road in northern Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. The unsigned message denounced Los Zetas, specifically addressing the group's top leaders Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano and Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales. The narcomanta was unusually long for a cartel message, and while it did not make any specific threats against Los Zetas or its leaders, it said the group's end was near and urged the Zetas to leave the city.

Los Zetas maintain a minor presence in Chihuahua, but their activity in the city is not frequently reported, especially compared to the group's shocking displays of violence in their home territory of Nuevo Laredo and elsewhere. Though the authorship of the message addressed to Los Zetas is uncertain, the narcomanta was notable because it called attention to the group in a city where a rival cartel, the Sinaloa Federation, has solidified operational control. In the past, such warnings sometimes have preceded a new offensive to drive out the weaker elements, though no evidence has emerged to indicate the likelihood of increased violence.

Los Zetas' posture toward Sinaloa has been less aggressive than the Juarez cartel's or its offshoots' in both Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez, the latter of which Los Zetas use for one of their routes for smuggling weapons into Mexico. While there have not been many overt signs of conflict between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation in the region, because the Zetas have a known presence in the area and are aligned with other groups hostile to Sinaloa, the potential for such activity in the future should not be ruled out.

Body Dumps Continue in Ciudad Mante

Authorities found the remains June 23 of at least 14 bodies inside a truck parked at a shopping center along with a narcomanta in Ciudad Mante, Tamaulipas state. The discovery followed an earlier dump of 14 bodies found with a narcomanta June 7 in Ciudad Mante, totaling 28 bodies in less than a month.

Mexico Weekly Map June 27, 2012

Mexico Weekly Map June 27, 2012

While Ciudad Mante is located along the trafficking corridor between Nuevo Laredo and Mexico City that is contested by Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel, displays of violence on this scale are extremely uncommon in the city. The body dumps likely indicate that the criminal organizations are increasing their competition in southern Tamaulipas state for control of trafficking routes leading to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though authorities have not released any details on the contents of the narcomantas found in Ciudad Mante, reports indicate that both messages involve the ongoing territorial conflict between Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel with the support of the Sinaloa Federation. It is not yet clear if the body dumps on June 7 and June 23 in Ciudad Mante were conducted by rival cartels, or if one cartel was responsible for both. Either way, the events demonstrate heightened attention on the city. Given the growing trend of sending messages through body dumps, it is possible that these incidents will continue in Ciudad Mante. But regardless of location, a response is likely by whatever cartel was targeted in the June 23 incident.

Editor's Note: As indicated previously, the above analysis represents our revamped memo. The new format reflects our goal to more concisely communicate and analyze the most important trends, tactics and movements happening in Mexico. If you have any comments about this new format, please contact [email protected]. 

As an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, we now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, which provides more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. If you are interested in learning about this new fee-based custom service, please contact [email protected].

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