A Mexican drug cartel infamous for its brutality — including kidnappings, dismemberments, beheadings, and mutilations of rivals — has expanded into the United States with a coast-to-coast recruitment effort, The Washington Times reported on Monday
The recruitment for the "highly disciplined and structured" cartel, known as Los Zetas, includes the usual criminal element but also "former military and law enforcement officers," The Times reported.
"Trained as an elite band of Mexican anti-drug commandos, Los Zetas evolved into mercenaries for the infamous Gulf Cartel, unleashing a wave of brutality in Mexico's drug wars," the Times says. It is now "a well-financed and heavily armed drug-smuggling force of its own."
According to the report, the cartel — purportedly led by brothers Omar Trevino Morales and Miguel Trevino Morales — "has gained control over U.S. gangs such as the Mexican Mafia, the Texas Syndicate, MS-13 and the Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos."
A third brother, Texas resident Jose Trevino Morales was convicted in May for being part of a drug money-laundering conspiracy involving horse racing in Austin, Texas.
George W. Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary and a specialist on Mexican drug gangs, identifies Dallas as a key U.S. point for drug transportation and distribution, The Times says.
The Los Zetas cartel expansion is driven by its desire for a larger portion of the "$25 billion U.S. cocaine, heroin and marijuana market," the Times reported.
The organization, which has "between 1,000 and 3,000 core members and 10,000 loyalists across Mexico, Central America and the United States," operates in 276 U.S. cities and represents "the nation's most serious organized crime threat," the Times says.
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