Despite the arrests of multiple top leaders in Mexico’s Zetas cartel, the organization continues to be active across northeastern Mexico and in several areas within the state of Texas. While the Border Patrol often intercepts Zetas associates attempting to smuggle drugs across the border, many smugglers evade capture and move into the realm of Texas state and local law enforcement, posing a very real threat to these officers.
As Breitbart Texas recently reported, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers recently captured Jose “Z-31/El Borrado” Saldivar Farias and his assistant Osiel Hernandez Martinez, both members of Los Zetas, after a boat chase near Falcon Lake. Saldivar is described as the regional commander for the Zetas in Zapata County and in northern region of Mexico for the states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. Both men are currently facing immigration charges as well as marijuana conspiracy charges.
Los Zetas have a notorious history associated with Falcon Lake. In September 2010, American citizens David and Tiffany Hartley were shot at by smugglers while jet skiing on the lake near the international borderline that runs through it. David was hit and died from his wounds, and the incident sparked outrage that more efforts weren’t being made to find David’s body or investigate the shooting. Information later emerged that indicated the shooters were “Zetitas,” or very young and inexperienced members of the cartel who were trigger-happy and accidentally mistook the Hartleys for members of the rival Gulf cartel.
The cartel also has widespread roots across the state, operating heavily in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Laredo, and fighting for control of territory between Laredo and Brownsville. In addition to conducting drug trafficking operations in the state. Los Zetas have also run numerous money laundering operations in Texas, including a horse racing and breeding business run by former Zetas leader Miguel “Z-40” Treviño’s brother Jose.
While the arrests of Saldivar and Hernandez are a success for Texas DPS, this is just one indication that Zetas operations in the state are continuing with little disruption after arrests in Mexico, and that US law enforcement efforts to mitigate their activity are of little concern to Zetas members.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.