On Nov 25 Salvadoran federal police intelligence reported that no fewer than 40 gang members from several countries in Central America were recently trained at a Zetas training camp alongside Laguna El Tigre in Guatemala across the border from Tabasco. A dozen were members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) cliques from several municipalities in El Salvador–a new wrinkle as most Maras working for the Zetas have been from southern Mexico and Guatemala.
According to these police sources the young gangsters were being skilled in light weapons tactics by former Kaibiles, the notorious Guatemalan special forces counterpart to the Mexican GAFE which produced the original Los Zetas cadre.
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering the longterm alliance between rogue Kaibiles and the Zetas, one that dates back to the late 90s when they were being schooled together in advanced special operations skills at Ft Bragg, Ft Huachuca and Ft Benning. See June posting-Blowback from Bragg.
Since being arrested in July 2006 three mid-level Zetas–“Mateo”, “Rafael” and “Karen”–have been secreted in the witness protection program of the Procuraduria General de La Republica (PGR) (the Mexican Attorney General’s office) . Over the past three years the three have provided lengthy insiders’ reports on the Zetas La Compania.. “Comandente Mateo” was a member of Los Tangos, the Gulf cartel security and assassination squad.
“In September 2001 Osiel Cardenas (head of Cartel del Golfo) issued a directive ordering a whole group of sicarios–assassins–to Monterrey to get better military training “, said Rafael. “There were over fifty of us. The course instructors were Daniel Pérez Rojas, el Cachetes ; Héctor Robles Duarte, el Caballo ; and Isidro López Arias, el Colchón . The course lasted two months. After that we were Los Zetas and started doing bigger operations.”
“Following the arrest of Osiel Cardenas (head of Cartel del Golfo) in March 2003, there were many problems within the organization, said Mateo. “Its leaders, like Eduardo Costilla and Gregorio Sauceda, they became disoriented and wanted to hide, so Z-3–Heriberto Lazcano took command and calmed everything down.”
Comandente Karen added that “by June of that year (2003), we were receiving training from the Kaibiles in the town of Valle Hermoso. What we learned from the Kaibiles we took back home and used it to teach the rest of our people. “
The Kaibiles are a prized employee pool for private military and security contractors. Their most recent controversial appearances have been in Iraq and the Congo. Their notoriously ruthless reputation dates back to their days as CIA-backed death squads.
What is important here is the year this took place–2003–which predates what has been reported about Kaibiles involvement with Zetas. Conventional take has been that Zetas allied with some rogue Kaibiles in Guatemala over the past year–if the above statements are true (and in this instance, I believe they are) not only has the Zetas/Kaibiles partnership been underway for over six years but the Kaibiles have been operating with Zetas in Mexico since that time.
This is adds a whole other dimension to the Zetas portrait. It was enough to know that the Zetas core leadership out of GAFE was trained at Ft Bragg, Ft Benning and Ft Huachuca and that the Zetas had made partnerships with some kaibiles in Guatemala–but to learn that the Zetas set up in-country training bases staffed by elite Guatemalan soldiers in 2003 must have been more than disconcerting for counternarcotics agencies on both sides of the border.
How such information was obtained from the three Zetas is speculative. A variety of means are available for authorities: deal-cutting, competitor snitch-out or, with the proper training, more stringent “enhanced” measures…