Today, I came across an article that appears to be an example of criminal branding.
As I've talked about before, criminal branding is an effective way for small-time crime group to leverage the fear factor already earned by larger groups.
This example is one where kidnappers claim to be a member of Los Zetas.
The story in the El Paso Times notes:
"Three of the suspects seemed to be younger than typically hardened Zetas, who often are former soldiers and ex-police officers."
It is possible that these guys were members of Los Zetas, in a way part of the organization's evolution.
It's also possible that these guys operate with the permission of Los Zetas, and have been told that if they are caught, that they should tell the police and press that they are Zetas, which expands the perception of this group's presence across Mexico.
This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.