On 11 March, I published a piece on how the Zetas are evolving.
One of the most common evolutions is the use of the name "Los Zetas" as a criminal brand.
Armed thugs across Mexico have begun calling themselves Zetas simply to provoke fear in their victims - a useful tool for control when attacking a small village to search for and then carry away targets for ransom kidnapping.
The Houston Chronicle published a piece on 22 March that underlines exactly what I was talking about.
Here is an excerpt:
Solis said he and other townspeople suspect those who raided Cuauhtémoc in early February, kidnapping the 23-year-old son of a bean-and-grain trader, are simply “bad characters from the area who have just taken the Zeta name.”
Fear of the Zetas borders on hysteria in this corner of Durango state, residents and officials agreed. Village boys playing with toy trucks have taken to shouting “here come the Zetas” when staging chases, Solis said.
When a rumor started March 10 in a town nearby that scores of Zetas were planning to attack, stores in the area closed, classes were canceled and people fled.
“A psychosis prevails across the whole region,” said Isidro Aguilar, the police chief of Guadalupe Victoria, a market town 25 miles from Cuauhtemoc, who otherwise denied that the area faces a crime plague. “There are people who are taking advantage of it.”
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