Maybe you saw the news about the 49 bodies that were found near Monterrey, Mexico earlier this month: well, the 49 torsos. Seems the heads, hands, and feet had been removed. Good luck with those identifications, right?
Actually, the torsos were found near San Juan, on the highway that you would drive if you were leaving say Houston to visit Monterrey. And you just might do that -- Monterrey is, after all, a huge industrial powerhouse, home to lots and lots of major international companies and Mexico's richest city.
And Monterrey isn't a common destination for Texans just because of business: lots of folk I know have family down in Monterrey. One friend of mine has a father who owns an apartment complex in Monterrey, part of his retirement plan. You get the idea.
It takes around 5 hours to drive from San Antonio to Dallas. It also takes around 5 hours to drive from San Antonio to Monterrey.
Message 3: 100% Zeta
Let's put it this way: last year, in a special report, Reuters predicted "if Monterrey falls, Mexico falls." So, when 49 torsos are found on a major highway near Monterrey with a nearby cement archway spray-painted, "100% Zeta," it's not hard to figure that the major drug cartels are something that the Powers that Be need to be considering as serious business here in Texas and in the rest of the country, too.
Now, though, the carnage is getting closer to home. Well, at least to San Antonio.
Message 2: "Parasites"
Last month, there were also 23 bodies found in Nuevo Laredo, which is across the border from Laredo, Texas, and a mere 157 miles from San Antonio. Years ago, we used to take day trips to shop in Nuevo Laredo. No more.
Nine corpses were hanging from a bridge. The remaining bodies were found decapitated, bagged, and stuffed into an SUV parked in front of the local Customs building. (Yes, they did find the heads. Later.)
The message with those bodies, according to the San Antonio Express News:
"This is how I am going to finish off all the fools you send to heat up
the plaza ...We'll
see you around, you bunch of parasites.”
Message 1: Sinaloa Taking Nuevo Laredo Back
Then, there were 14 bodies left outside of Nuevo Laredo's City Hall last month. They were also mutilated. With those bodies, another message was written on a banner and signed (according to the banner itself) by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Part of that message? Guzman was going to take Nuevo Laredo back from the Zetas, and had joined forces with the Gulf Cartel.
Who are the Zetas?
Los Zetas are an efficient organization that originated as trained military personnel recruited by a powerful Mexican drug cartel, the Gulf Cartel. These are commandos. Special Forces folk.
Skilled, smart, savvy professionals - and understandably from a business perspective, in February 2010 they broke off to form their own independent organization.
Like an associate who becomes partner and then splits to form his own law firm, taking business with him. Or at least, that's my analogy. Point being, don't be distracted by the blood and gore: it's business to these guys.
Today, Los Zetas are known to operate out of Nuevo Laredo and they've got a big territory. The biggest in Mexico, in fact.
Cartel business has expanded too: from drugs, it's gone into guns, and kidnapping for ransom, as well as human trafficking and who knows what else. It's a business, and a growing business needs to diversify.
Los Zetas have diversified as well as expanding their territory.
Which is what business does. Now, if you were running the biggest company in your industry in Mexico, and you were projecting where your business would be in the next five years, where would your projections go?
Does Texas seem so farfetched? Does Montana? It's business.
This isn't a gang war between two factions in the poor section of town. This is two major, international combines fighting for who comes out on top in their market. It's market share.
So, in today's news where "El Loco" was arrested for taking part in the 49 beheadings event near Monterrey, a man named Daniel Jesus Elizondo Ramírez and a member of Los Zetas, this shouldn't be considered all that big of a deal. He's an employee.
Nor should the fact that the Treasury Department just put the names of four big wigs in the Sinaloa drug cartel to its "kingpin list," two of which are the sons of the CEO of the Sineloa organization, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Being on the Kingpin List means that the U.S. Government can freeze any assets found in the United States as well as barring anyone from doing business with them.
"El Chapo" is the most wanted man in Mexico. He's been on the Kingpin List since 2001. "El Chapo" also made Forbes' Billionaire List in 2012 (he's number 1153) and Forbes lists Guzman as number 55 in this year's 70 World's Most Powerful People.
Would anyone be surprised to learn that the day that this post was typed, this guy was off someplace nice playing golf? I know I wouldn't. It seems like something a billionaire CEO would be doing....
Zetas vs. Sineloa: Fight for Sales Territory and Market Share Between Two Industry Leaders
It seems to me that too many people hear about the nicknames and the bloodbaths and think that these are strange, emotional groups of illiterates who will just kill each other off in time. I think that's stupid.
This is business at a scale that most of us cannot comprehend. It's billions of dollars in revenue, and I'm wondering if that is monthly not annually.
And maybe that's why we're not hearing that much or seeing that much happening here in Texas to stop this advance. The profit-motive is a powerful thing.