The brutal Zetas drug cartel now has full control over Mexico’s northeastern province of Coahuila, and dominates all aspects of local criminal businesses.
The Zetas has taken advantage of rampant political corruption, an intimidated and silent public as well as a complicit and profiting segment of the business elite to aggressively expand its influence in Mexico’s third-largest state, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We are people under siege, and it is a region-wide problem,” Raul Vera, the Roman Catholic bishop of Coahuila, said.
Violence once limited to a small corner of the state has now spread in ways few imagined, he added.
What sets the Zetas apart from other Mexican drug cartels, in addition to its gruesome violence, is their determination to have all local criminal dealings completely under their sway.
The Zetas confront every local crime boss in charge of contraband, pirated CDs, prostitution, street drug sales and after-hour clubs. The locals have to comply or risk death.
One common threat from Zeta extortionists to Coahuila businessmen is ‘a thousand pesos,’ or ‘three fingers.’
The Zetas members are also involved in the multi-billion-dollar cross-border drug trade, extortion, kidnapping and other criminal businesses.
Moreover, they are engaged in the murder of hundreds of people whose bodies have been frequently found in mass graves, the massacre of 72 migrant workers in Tamaulipas on August 24, 2010, and a bar attack that claimed 52 lives in Monterrey on August 25, 2011.
Drug violence has reportedly killed more than 50,000 people since outgoing President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against Mexico’s cartels, when he took office in December 2006.
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