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October 19, 2011 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
The callers to the radio program were voicing their support for the Matazetas, the Zeta killers. Better they fight among themselves. Let them kill each other. Anything to rid us of the thugs who long ago took control of our city and are slaughtering our people. It is a sign of the desperation and deep outrage over surging drug-war violence that a shadowy group of vigilante killers is not only tolerated but welcomed by many here in Mexico's third-most populous state. Full coverage: The drug war in Mexico Yet it also comes with a disturbing question: Just who is behind the killings of Zetas — another drug gang?
September 20, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Gunmen dumped the bodies of 35 people with suspected ties to organized crime under an overpass filled with motorists Tuesday on the outskirts of the Mexican port city of Veracruz, officials said. The bodies were left in a pair of trucks and on the road near a major shopping center in the community of Boca del Rio, a popular site for Mexican tourists to the port city, along the Gulf of Mexico. Reynaldo Escobar, prosecutor for the state of Veracruz, said the dead bore signs of torture.
September 13, 2012 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY - Authorities have captured the top leader of the Gulf cartel, a potentially fatal blow to one of Mexico's major drug-trafficking networks that could also unleash a violent power struggle that would pose an immediate and explosive challenge to the incoming government of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto. It is the second big catch of a suspected Gulf cartel capo in 10 days and essentially wipes out the leadership of an organization that once dominated large parts of Mexico.
July 3, 2011 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
The state of Texas is warning Americans to avoid travel to the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo this holiday weekend because of an anticipated surge in drug cartel violence aimed at Americans. In a news release   Saturday, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Webb County Sheriff's Office said their sources indicated that the Zetas drug cartel was "planning to target U.S. citizens who travel to Nuevo Laredo this weekend. "  Steven C. McCraw, the department's director, also said in the statement:  "According to the information we have received, the Zetas are planning a possible surge in criminal activity, such as robberies, extortions, car-jackings and vehicle theft, specifically against U.S. citizens.
May 15, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood and Alex Renderos, Los Angeles Times
At least 27 people were slain early Sunday in a remote area of northern Guatemala that has become a key base for Mexican drug-trafficking groups, authorities said. Police said a small army of gunmen attacked workers on a coconut farm in the northern province of Peten, a zone that has become increasingly dangerous as Mexican drug smugglers extend operations in Central America to escape a crackdown at home. The victims included 25 men and two women, all of whom were decapitated, according to Jaime Leonel Otzin, director of Guatemala's National Civil Police.
November 24, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Killers dumped the bodies of more than 20 men near a well-known monument in the western city of Guadalajara, reports said Thursday. The city last month hosted the Pan-American Games amid tight security because of recent drug-related fighting. Mexican media said 23 victims were found in three vehicles at a traffic circle that is the site of the 150-foot Arches of the Third Millennium, a series of yellow arcs arrayed in a curving pattern above the intersection of two major avenues.
March 5, 2011 | By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
A gun used in a fatal attack on a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Mexico last month has been traced to a Texas man suspected of attempting to deliver at least 40 firearms to a Mexican drug cartel, federal authorities said Tuesday. Thomas Crowley, spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Dallas, said the weapon was one of three used in the Feb. 15 attack on Agent Jaime Zapata and his partner, Victor Avila, who survived. FOR THE RECORD: Gun arrests: An article in the March 2 Section A about the connection between three Texas men and a weapon used in the fatal shooting of federal officer Jaime Zapata and the wounding of his partner, Victor Avila, incorrectly identified the officers as Border Patrol agents.
January 14, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Mexican soldiers clashed with gunmen for hours in the capital of the coastal state of Veracruz, leaving at least 12 suspects and two soldiers dead, authorities said Friday. The shooting ended early Friday and spanned at least two neighborhoods in the normally quiet city of Xalapa, Mexican news reports said. Mexican army officials said gunmen opened fire when infantry soldiers arrived at a home about 6 p.m. Thursday. The military did not immediately specify the purpose of the raid.
June 4, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano and Molly Hennessy-Fiske
WASHINGTON - Federal law enforcement officials theorize that five people found dead in a burned-out vehicle in southern Arizona were hostages killed by a Mexican drug cartel and that their deaths last weekend could mark another example of violence spreading from Mexico across the Southwest border into the United States. “That is what it sounds like to us,” said a Border Patrol official who has been briefed on the bodies found Saturday morning in a white Ford Expedition in a remote desert area off Interstate 8 between Phoenix and Tucson.
September 5, 2012 | Tracy Wilkinson
Mexico's U.S.-backed naval special forces have captured a man believed to be one of the two top leaders of the Gulf cartel, a drug-trafficking organization that once dominated the northeast border region but has recently engaged in devastating battles with the vicious Zeta paramilitary force, authorities said Tuesday. Mario Cardenas Guillen, alias El Gordo ("Fatso"), was paraded before reporters in Mexico City on Tuesday after his capture Monday in the northern border state of Tamaulipas.
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