The violence and chaos in Mexico has escalated to new levels recently. One of the most violent groups, the Zetas, has reportedly taken a page from the Ancient Roman playbook.
There are reports that drug traffickers have been stopping buses and kidnapping the passengers inside. They then force the passengers to fight against each other, as if in a gladiator arena.
According to the Houston Chronicle, a federal agent met with a drug cartel-connected trafficker in Texas to discuss the recent developments in Mexico. The man, given only the name Juan, relayed the following information:
“If what he says is true, gangsters who make commonplace beheadings, hangings and quartering bodies have managed an even crueler twist to their barbarity.
Members of the Zetas cartel, he says, have pushed passengers into an ancient Rome-like blood sport with a modern Mexico twist that they call, “Who is going to be the next hit man?”
It’s like a game show where the winning prize is getting to be a member of one of the most violent and bloodthirsty drug cartels ever to operate. A mass burial pit was found near San Fernando, where nearly 200 bodies were unearthed. Authorities say that most of the bodies had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and had most likely been passengers dragged off of buses traveling through Mexico.
A retired FBI agent focused on cartels and traffickers has a different take on the gladiatorial exploits of the Zeta Cartel. Peter Hanna says that using passengers to fight like gladiators would be inefficient and much too time consuming. Instead, he says, “It would be more for amusement, I don’t see it as intimidation or a successful way to recruit people.”
That’s right, we’ve fully moved back into 63 BC, where people are forced to fight each other for fun. But no Russell Crowe this time to rise up against the Zeta Cartel. Only busloads of innocent civilians being kidnapped for sport.
According to Mike Vigil, a retired DEA agent, the Zetas “love brutality, they do not care whether you are a police officer, a trafficker or an innocent bystander.”
The issue is that the drug cartels have been involved in so much infighting that it spills out onto the streets and becomes a major problem for everyone living in the affected area.
The drug trafficker that the federal agent interviewed, Juan, has made it a point not to get noticed as a potential target in the ongoing skirmishes in Mexico. “The secret is not being greedy or flashy enough to draw attention from other gangsters, who these days show no hesitation to cut down rivals,” he says. “He can quickly size up in a bar or cafe who is likely to be a trafficker, from the money they spend to the way they talk, sit or eat.”
All those years of playing Where’s Waldo finally pay off in Mexico, where people must go unnoticed for fear of violence. People that stand out become the targets of the drug cartels in their unending war across the country. The Zetas have been stepping up their attacks, including the death of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata on February 15th when he was traveling between Monterrey and Mexico City.
At the rate the violence is escalating in Mexico, it will be difficult for the authorities to get a handle on the gladiator-esque fights that have been popping up due to the Zetas.
June 14th 2011