The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas


“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” – Psalm 20:7

Cartels: The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas
Location: Based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state
Current Gulf Cartel Leader: Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez.
Leader of Los Zetas: Heriberto “El Lazca” Lazcano
Previous Leadership: Osiel Cardenas Guillen (in prison), Sauceda Gamboa (killed),

Slaughter Of Police:

The new police chief of Nuevo Laredo was shot to death on the street the night of February 2 along with a bodyguard and his personal secretary. Manuel Farfán had taken his position as chief of police on January 1 with a promise by Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre that the state’s “cruel, unjust and difficult” surge of violence would come to an end under his government. The local cartels made clear their position on the matter by gunning down Farfán.

Governor Torre’s own brother was assassinated last June. “The people of Tamaulipas want to trust again,” said Torre in January. “We are going to diminish violence at its root causes and extinguish impunity.” Farfán and 10 other retired army generals took charge of police departments across the state as part of the effort to crack down on the violence. Whether Farfán was murdered because he was fighting the cartels or because the police had aligned with one cartel against another is a matter of debate.

According to the Mexican government, more than 900 people were killed in Tamaulipas last year, with 115 in Nuevo Laredo alone. The Houston Chronicle reports that some 34,000 people have been killed in the wave of violence across Mexico during the past four years, and much of that violence broke out first in Nuevo Laredo.

Some Police Victories:

There are bouts of good news too.  Law enforcement stopped a truck containing an arsenal of weapons on the highway between Reynosa and Monterrey on February 6.  The arrest of the driver led to 15 additional arrests at a house in a nearby town. Yahir Perez Lopez, purportedly the regional chief of the Gulf cartel, was among those arrested.  Perez Lopez confessed to participating in more than 21 homicides and seven bombings.  

The cartel members are only human beings.  They are not superhuman.  The structure of the cartels is much bigger than the single men and women who do the day to day “work”, however, and when cartel members are arrested or killed, others take their places.

Meet The Cartels:

Currently, the drug cartels in Mexico are divided into two viciously warring alliances:

1.Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel
2.Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel‎‎

The Gulf Cartel:

While the Sinaloa Federation cartel and Juarez cartel control a larger territory, the Gulf cartel in Tamaulipas state has been the source of much of the bloodshed that makes the news. The Gulf cartel is notorious for its intimidation tactics and violence. Its footmen smuggle cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine into the United States. The Gulf cartel also behaves much like the mafia, extorting money from local businesses in return for “protection.” Its members have added kidnapping and ransom collection to their business dealings.

The Gulf cartel dates back to the 1970s, when it focused on bootlegging. In the 1980s and 1990s, cocaine became the big commodity. Osiel Cardenas Guillen took leadership of the cartel after killing off rivals, and during the 1990s he employed the use of Los Zetas – a group of military deserters with sophisticated training – to consolidate his power. Guillen was arrested in 2003 and was extradited to the US in 2007. Three cartel lieutenants took charge, but Hector Manuel “El Karis” Sauceda Gamboa was killed in 2009. Heriberto “El Lazca” Lazcano is head of Los Zetas, which has since split off and in engaged in a vicious turf war with the Gulf cartel. This apparently leaves Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez as the Gulf cartel’s leader.

Los Zetas:

In the 1990s, the Gulf cartel recruited several dozen soldiers from the Mexican military’s Special Air Mobile Force Group (Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales, GAFES). As noted, the Gulf cartel formed these military deserters into a group of enforcers that maintained the cartel’s power. They collected the money on drug routes, carried out kidnappings and killings, and were able to do so with the sophistication of military weaponry and know-how. After Osiel Cárdenas Guillen was arrested in 2003, the Zetas fought to protect the cartel’s power in Nuevo Laredo.

Since February of 2010, however, the Zetas have broken from the Gulf cartel and engaged in a horrific turf war in Tamaulipas state. The war has raged beyond the borders of Reynosa and, as the Gulf cartel and the Zetas slaughter each other, hundreds of innocents and law enforcement officials have been caught in the crossfire.

Pray For Mexican Law Enforcement:
The police in Mexico have often felt their only choice has been to align with the “less evil” cartels against the “more evil” ones. The police need a better kind of protection. They need the armies of God defending them, just as Hezekiah had when facing the armies of Sennacherib (Isaiah 36:1-37:38) or that Elisha had when the king of Syria came for him in Dothan (2 Kings 6:8-23). Pray that the honest law enforcement in Mexico, those who stand against the cartels, will receive divine protection in ways that put the fear of God into the hearts of the would-be assassins.

Pray For God’s People in Mexico:

Pray that God would raise up courageous, righteous men and women who would stand up to the cartels, ministers of the Gospel whom God would surround with His heavenly armies.  Pray that the power and fear of God would blaze through Mexico.

The situation in Mexico seems dim, but God still reigns.

“There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” – Psalm 33:16-22


By Chuck Missler

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