Why Did the Zetas Ambush Two US Agents on a Lonely Mexican Desert Road?
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MONTERREY, NUEVO LEÓN–While meeting Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon at the White House on March 3, Barack Obama discussed the idea of letting armed US agents operate on Mexican territory. You know, to help us deal with our deadly drug violence. Boy oh boy do we Mexicans feel safe now!
I wonder if the idea to put US troops on Mexican soil has anything to with a recent trip by a few ICE agents into Northern Mexico that ended with one dead, one injured and one SUV turned to swiss cheese?
The attack took place on the night of February 11, when two ICE agents met a fake checkpoint while traveling with no escort on a lonely desert road between Monterrey and Mexico City. Right there was their first mistake. Every 5 year old kid around here knows that you might as well paint a target on your truck if you’re gonna travel solo like that. Mexican roads are very dangerous right now, specially in states with Zeta presence―and your ICE boys were deep in Zeta-infested territory.
Regular folk can travel in relative safety during the day, but it’s pretty much off-limits at night. But, if like the ICE agents, you’re traveling in a dark blue Suburban (obviously up-armored, judging by its window panels) with diplomatic plates, well, you’re just asking to be hit. Begging for it. And the agents got exactly what they asked for.
What were the agents doing there? Well, from what I could find out, the dead guy, agent Zapata, was based in Laredo, Texas, and worked in ICE’s human smuggling and trafficking unit. There’s a good chance that his investigations must have led him very often to a certain criminal organization, whose name starts with the last letter of the alphabet. Yes, the good-old, instant soup-eating Zetas.
Was the attack somehow related to one of his cases? Did the Zetas set up an ambush to terminate his line of inquiry? Maybe. But probably not.
About a week after the ambush, Mexican authorities captured six Zetas supposedly involved in the attack. Their guns tied them to a ring of gun runners operating in Dallas, Texas. Which is not very surprising. Most cartels buy their weapons from you yanks. I don’t mean to fluff any of you gun-crazed Americans out there, but it’s just a fact that Mexican cartels prefer shiny new American weapons to rusted AKs from El Salvador or some other Central American tropical hellhole. It makes sense: Buying new rather than used. So there’s not much of scent of a conspiracy there, if you ask me.
The FBI and other security agencies are still investigating the attack and fishing around for fiendish plots against Americans, but it’s not likely this was a planned gig. Targeting Americans is never good for business, much less American government officials. Even the Zetas must realize this. Regardless of what the Americans find (and I wouldn’t be surprised if they cook up some grand conspiracy connecting Mexican drug cartels with al Qaida), there is a very good chance that their meeting with the false checkpoint was random, like many acts of the drug war.
But one thing is clear: these agents should’ve been on an airplane, not in no man’s land in San Luis Potosi, a state that’s suffering an escalation of violence courtesy of the Gulf Cartel-Zeta war. (When Yasha Levine visited me in Mexico last year and we travelled through those parts, things were not even half as bad as they are right now. Even so, we constantly saw convoys of army trucks packed with Marines hunting for Zetas.)