Who are Los Mata Zetas? "Zetas Killers" viral video promises vengeance on Mexican drug cartel

[Video Link, via Blog Del Narco]

Above, a video released on September 24 by a group in Mexico identified as "Mata Zetas," or "Zetas Killers." In the video, they claim to be a counter-cartel vigilante force, and vow to kill members of the notorious drug cartel responsible for gruesome murders that have been the subject of recent international media attention. They describe Los Mata Zetas as an "extermination" force, a kind of self-appointed guerrilla army that works as the armed front "of the people and for the people," but refrains from extortion and kidnapping.

More about the videos at CNN and via AP. Things keep getting weirder and weirder down there. Caveat viewer: in war, everything isn't always what it seems. The men in the video are believed to be linked to the rival Sinaloa cartel, based on the similarity between this video and similar previous videos that hit the internet months and years back, later traced to that crime organization.

One side note that may be strange about this for internet audiences in the US, perhaps, is the accidental parallelism with Anonymous in some of the rhetoric. "We are anonymous warriors," says the man in the ski mask.


      1. I do not agree with that. It is not a truism either. Vengeance will only result in retaliation and further escalation of violence. While it may provide some small reward to certain individuals, there will be a very high price to pay for everyone else.

        1. “I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect
          himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently
          facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the
          oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no
          business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or
          must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to
          crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully.”

          – Gandhi

    1. Violence doesn’t always begat more violence. Sometimes it ends it.

      I’m not against vengeance in all cases. I can tell you that if that was my brother or sister being decapitated by the Zetas for posting on twitter about them, I would have absolutely no hesitation in going total mayhem on the Zetas and slaying every single last one of them with blind righteous rage until I was wading in blood up to my neck.

      I make absolutely no apologies for this attitude, I feel the same way about dealing with all mass murdering organizations across the world (such as the Taliban and the North Korean regime), and I would like nothing more than to completely terrorize these terrorists until they *beg* on their knees for mercy – of which, after all of the horrific things they have been doing for years, they shall get none.

      I completely understand where you are coming from, I respect your attitude towards violence and think that in many cases, your rule does apply. But I do not think that it applies to organizations of absolute evil who have literally no interest in your world view, no interest in seeking truth or justice or anything else aside from raw, fetid, power. There are such people and organizations in the world, as I know all too well.

      EDIT: I realize that my post may seem like I am an extremist and insane psychopath, but I’m not. =P I’m a reactionary. I react when very bad people do things to innocent people with intention and purpose.

      And I’m not saying that this group is in any way a good group. I know that they could be another cartel. I’m just saying that, personally, if this had happened to my family in the current conditions in Mexico, that is what I would do.

    1. “Los Pepes’ is absolutely the first thing to spring to mind. 
      And it’s unlikely Senor Seis-pack is gonna rise up and battle cartel enforcers who routinely employ military-grade weapons all by himself. 

      And just like Los Pepes had close ties with the Columbian Govt and the DEA, if this is a challenge to the Zeta cartel’s power, then there’s most likely an unseen hand at work that stands to benefit.  

  1. Not sure what it’s worth, but when I was living in Zacatecas, Mexico about a year and a half ago, the Zetas were firmly in charge of the city/region, which, ironically, meant no gang violence.  Since then, however, another gang has either formed or shown up there, causing outbreaks of shootouts, attacks and other violence.  
    I wonder if it’s these guys or something new?

  2. I’m from Mexico City, and in other circumstances it would be funny to read this comments. First of all , I don’t think the term “vigilante” applies they do mention protecting the people but they never discard being involved in drug trafficking.
     it’d be nice if there were some translated version of the video, but to give commenters a little bit more background, last week 35 corpses were thrown out in the streets of a small town in the state of Veracruz,it was not even a big city … it was a small town. Supposedly this guys were the authors of this situation. There is no parallelism with Anonymous… please don’t invent things were they don’t exist, this is just a situation of people killing people, and things the mexican people have to do to reclaim some justice and the extremes to which things have gone to

    Things are not getting weirder, they’re just getting more violent and it really surprises me how misinformed the US audience is about this “war on drugs”, I’m not implying that the US should be more involved… 

    1. Manuch,

      we’ve been covering all of that regularly on Boing Boing, see the previous posts linked to here.

      For example:

      I’ve been traveling in Mexico for the last 20 years, and am familiar with the history. I think it’s a fair observation to say that things are both increasingly surreal, and increasingly violent.

      The “Anonymous” reference was just an odd little aside referencing that one line. I did not mean that these guys are part of Anonymous, or anything literal like that.

    2. Agreed, there’s really no connection to Anonymous in this at all, aside from the use of the word ‘anonymous’ as an adjective, as opposed to a proper noun.

      I suppose you could come up with some loose connection, having to do with vaguely threatening videos by young men with masks, maybe…  But yeah, that’s about it.

      1. the line wasn’t intended literally. what part of that don’t you understand?

        One line of rhetoric here reminded me of an often-repeated line of Anonymous rhetoric, and that was noted as an aside. That is all.

          1. There is room in the analysis of events like this to note strange parallels with disparate threads of culture. That’s part of what we do here on Boing Boing. Not everything is literal. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but that’s what we do.

    3. Sadly, I think a growing number of Americans are becoming all too familiar with the drug-linked violence over the border. It’s kind of hard to ignore the rapidly rising body count. And the emboldened nature of the killings (beheadings, firebombs, press-intimidation, torture) are not the kind of thing that can be swept under the rug. 

      I’d say the U.S. is already way too involved in matters south of the border and this violence is largely a product of the Fed Govts attempt to stem narcotics supply and not treat the demand. Rather than staying out, we’re upping the pressure and I fear it’s only a matter of time before things escalate onto our side of the fence. 

    4. Manuch, that you may find this reasonable indicates a culture that is foreign to many Americans in more ways than one (and perhaps indicative of more than one problem to solve). When you can no longer tell the difference between the anonymous actions of one group versus the anonymous actions of another opposing group; this leads many to believe they are more alike than not. The names and faces may change, but the barbarism is the same. This appears to possibly be an epidemic more than a war. It may just be coincidence that drugs are involved.

    1. Agreed. Here :
      Other people know more about this than I do, obviously.
      It is illusory to think that that what people are dealing with down there is any less dangerous than a “war zone” or those protesting despots like Assad, Mubarak, Saleh and their secret police forces. Be careful, people.

  3. This is awesome, but in the old fashioned terrifying and awe-inspiring way. Those guys are vigilantes. Real life superheroes. Luchadores (you are so right, Stefan). Possibly terrorists too, by some contrived rhetoric. What a combination of, like, things to be.

    1. I would disagree that they are luchadores or heroes. I would also not characterize them as being vigilantes appointed by the people. Be very careful jumping to conclusions like that.

  4. I don;t know what they are saying, but did anyone else think it odd that they decided to have waters on the table. The y are trying to stage something.. yet they forgot the requisite banners hanging in the background. They got the hoods right… but waters?

    1. And how are they going to drink those waters?

      Guy on far right: “Man I’m thirsty” [lifts mask to drink water]
      Everyone else: “SMH!”

  5. Groups like this are appearing because people hate/fear the gangs so much. Just last week a video of a beheading by chainsaw has been circulating ( http://vkontakte.ru/video114405685_161033530?hash=4fa2eff270939ece  Warning: SUPER DISTURBING) and normal people, the police and the military seem powerless to stop the escalation. Maybe this chainsaw thing was just a gang vs another gang, but when they post it, it affects all of us. Anyway, the speculation on the street is that many of these anti-cartel groups are just other cartels trying to demonize each other. People have lost hope that anyone will really come in and restore peace. 

  6. How much of this crap would instantly cease if we changed our stupid drug laws here? Legalize it. Tax it. Starve the cartels.

  7. Serious question – is there any example of a region that became this troubled, yet climbed back into order and uncorrupted self-government?

    If so, what was the path?  How was it accomplished?

    1. Lebanon, maybe?  Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Lebanon did it by becoming a Syrian client state (with Hezbolla enforcers).  There’s no nearby totalitarian state to do this for Mexico.

      Well, unless Perry gets elected POTUS.  Then there would be.

    2. Yep – post-prohibition era United States.  Lots of the same flavor of bombings, shootings, murder and kidnapping… 
      Common sense kicked in and people stopped trying to legislate morality regarding personal choices and intoxicants. 

  8. Hmm, too  bad these guys are likely to be rival drug dealers. When I  first heard about this my first thought was something like Boondock Saints. Just in case, does someone want to translate their prayer into Spanish? 

  9. I’m having one of those devil-on-the-right-shoulder, angel-on-the-left-shoulder internal conversations about this.

    Devil: This is great! If only there were someone to kill all the members of every cartel in Mexico, along with every corrupt government official!

    Angel: But that would basically eliminate the entire Mexican political class!

    Devil: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  10. On a more serious note, those masks do not really hide the people’s identities much, if at all. Their body shapes, the shapes of their heads, even one guy’s hairline are all there to see, as well as their eyes, and how each of them slump or hold their shoulders. If you want to be anonymous in a mask you really need to add padding everywhere to change the shape of your body and head. Or put a paper bag over your head.

  11. To anyone that’s worndering, he’s basically saying how they’re a group who’s tired of violence in their state and are taking action. they also apologize for inconveniences they may encounter (killing people) during their fight.

  12. Those reports make the “Lord of the Flies” look like a “Disneyland ride”.  You are not going to believe what I witnessed on that site – I am shaking!  Desperate people do desperate things and the fact that people down there will behead a human being simply to pay their rent and feed their bellies is overwhelming.  I will never go there again – I am surprised that the pentagon does not view this situation as a threat.

  13. My comment was dissapeared. I see a strange parralel between that and right-wing death squads in 80s banana republics.

    Irrelevant you say?

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