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Sunday, September 25, 2016

The capture of Los Zetas’ top kingpin was a major coup for Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

At least that’s what initial press accounts lead one to believe.

The bruised face of Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales was paraded, and officials gloated that he’d been taken in by Mexican military along a dirt road near the border. Not a single shot was fired. Abrazos for all.

Treviño, aka Z-40, earned his reputation as a ruthless killer. His name is tied to some of the most brutal and sensationalistic murders in Mexico’s war with its drug cartels: mass killings of migrants who refused to act as drug mules or otherwise cower, beheadings of military officials who got in the way, disembowelments, bodies reduced to teeth in barrels of acid.

But step back from the macabre details and consider a broader view. Drug leaders like Treviño are not in the business of brutality for its own sake. The cruelty and gore are merely tactics of their business, ones that Treviño didn’t invent either. He just took them to new heights for drug traffickers.

Los Zetas’ focus never wavered, not before Treviño’s capture and not now. It’s a criminal organization with many lines of enterprise: drugs, smuggled humans, stolen and counterfeited items, cargo theft and import/export fraud.

And you’re living in the primary market for Los Zetas’ products. The cartel launders its proceeds from the U.S. markets and send them to protected places offshore just as any multinational corporation would: using our banking system.

One of the things Treviño is credited for is expanding Los Zetas’ control over the source for cocaine, by reaching through Guatemala to South America. They are believed to control 11 of Mexico’s 31 states.

While many in the press speculate about who will emerge as Treviño’s successor, we need to recognize that taking out cartel leaders is a little like playing whack-a-mole. Treviño moved into power in October 2012 when Heriberto “The Executioner” Lazcano was killed by Mexican authorities.

Eliminating the personnel is unlikely to solve the problem; eliminating the processes they use to make and launder their money is more promising.

That perspective doesn’t get enough attention. Not from media, much less the Mexican and the U.S. governments. In Congress, it’s a bipartisan effort of denial.

  • Dominick Vila

    Unfortunately, the only measurable results in the “drug war” involve the imprisonment of tens of thousands of Americans found with a couple of ounces of marijuana in their pockets, while drug lords continue to enjoy a lavish lifestyle under our noses.

  • LaRae Bailey

    Last week CBS came out once before being shut up and had a border patrol whistleblower who told of the whitehouse directive that no drug smugglers caught bringing drugs into the USA were to be arrested, merely returned to mexican soil and turned loose. they order this crap while millions of americans sit in jail for many years for using pot for recreational or medicinal use.. what a deal for americans again.. all of this is being ordered because they do not want this bad press of drug smuggling to come out while they try to shove amnesty down our throats to lower our wages and take our jobs. then throw in the millions of tax dollars we will pay to have these illegals here in benefits..only a politician would call this a good deal for the american people.

    • fortunev

      You need to pull your head out of your nether region, LaRae.

      • LaRae Bailey

        everybit of this is factual, sorry you did not see the article, as for the amnesty facts, go to the FAIR site and read the actual portions of the amnesty bill and the top 40 reasons to oppose it..

  • howa4x

    Why not talk about the banks that launder drug money. These drug lords couldn’t exist with out them. Most banks that get caught with this act face fines which are less than the interest they make on these transactions. Start charging anyone that is acting in the interest of the drug lords as accessories to murder. Start giving banker life sentences with no parole and give the gun dealer in this country that arm these thugs the same. Name politicians that are receiving drug money and publically shame them. If all that happened then there would be a real war on drugs

    • RobertCHastings

      How about just confiscating ALL the money in these schemes? ALL of it.

      • howa4x

        good idea

        • RobertCHastings

          There already are provisions for confiscating property gained from illegal activities. The federal agencies involved in the covert investigations that harvest this property have periodic auctions, and the proceeds generally go toward financing the agencies. They would be much better funded if EVERYTHING these drug lords (or their underlings at every level) were forfeited upon prosecution, with provisions prohibiting transfer of ownership to shield them. Same thing should happen with ANYONE in WHATEVER line illegally conceals assets out of the country to avoid taxation. Romney would be a lot poorer, as would many of his wealthy contributors.

  • rkief

    When Americans stop using this stuff, the drug lords won’t profit by bringing it anymore. As with Prohibition in the 20’s and 30’s, making (or continuing to have) it illegal makes it more desirable forbidden fruit for hedonists (the young, especially,) to whom the true social costs are irrelevant.