In terms of news, sometimes when it rains, it pours. Last Friday was one of those days in Mexico. The big story was the horrendous killing of a grieving mother up in the Chihuahua capital who had been campaigning for justice in the murder of her daughter. Click here to read the story and see a chilling video.
That same day, widely overshadowed in the media, was the escape of 191 inmates from a prison in Tamaulipas. Turns out the criminal syndicate known as Los Zetas was behind the prison break.
Grupo Savant, a security analysis firm run by former DEA agent Gary J. Hale, has come up with some interesting interpretation of what that jailbreak signifies about Los Zetas, which he said “orchestrated and approved the escape plan.” The jailbreak has repercussions that range from a likely increase in carjackings in Tamaulipas state to manpower shortages for the Zetas in their blood battle with the Nueva Federacion, the alliance between Sinaloa, La Familia, and Gulf cartels that is trying to snuff out the Zetas. Here’s more from a report I received from Savant this morning:
The escapees were, according to reliable Grupo Savant sources, immediately taken to Zeta safe houses in northeast Mexico where they were fed, clothed and armed to serve as a sort of "escapee battalion" of fighters that were brought forth as reserve force so that they could be placed into the fight against the Nueva Federación.
These inmates have traded their incarceration, a life in prison that required self-financed sustenance in order to survive, for a conditional freedom that requires Zeta Cartel servitude and grave risk of death. The fact that Zetas reached into a prison population speaks to the levels of attrition they are suffering and the obvious difficulty they are having finding ready and willing fighters on the streets of the contested territories. The need to recruit fighters in Tamaulipas itself, instead of bringing reserve forces from other parts of Mexico demonstrates that the Zetas have equally important priorities elsewhere.
The Zeta organization mobilizes its forces in convoys of 3-20 vehicles. These convoys are commonly referred to as “commandos” with each vehicle carrying 4-5 cartel gunmen. Since the Gulf Cartel and Zeta split in early 2010 they have had several incidents of mistaken identity that led to “friendly-fire” casualties among members of the same cartels. As a result, the traffickers have begun to identify their vehicles with cartel affiliation placards or hand-painted initials that are clearly visible on the doors of the vehicles. The Zetas typically have a large “Z” emblem on their vehicles while the Gulf cartel uses the markings of “C.D.G” which stands for Cartel del Golfo.”
While the Zeta cartel likely has the weaponry needed to outfit this latest crop of fighters, it is believed that the majority of the 191 prison escapees will be pressed into service in the fight against the Nueva Federación in northeast Mexico. At the ratio of 4 fighters per vehicle, we assess that the Zetas will require an additional 50 vehicles to enable these troops to mobilize for the fight.
While it is only conjecture, the thesis constantly put forth by President Felipe Calderon that some of the cartels have suffered so many casualties from inter-cartel turf wars that they suffer manpower shortages may be bolstered by Savant’s analysis. At some point, potential recruits may consider a well-paid but short life ending in violent death may not hold allure.