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Dispatch / The Mexican Drug War / February 23, 2009
By Pancho Montana

This is a video of shootout that happened a few days ago (the same day the international bridge into America was blocked in Reynosa), that Yasha Levine sent along, asking me to decipher what the hell is going on. Well, let me tell you that this is some great stuff. I hadn’t seen this particular video myself until he sent it along, but I definitely did hear about the gun battle it captured so beautifully. How could I not? Up to 10 people were killed in shootout that lasted something like three hours.

In the video, it’s funny how the news correspondent says that this is an armed battle between federal forces and, hesitating for a second, he goes on to say “organized crime.” Ha ha! Come on! Everybody knew the cops were battling it out with the zetas as soon as they heard about the shootout, even before we found out it took place in Reynosa. No one will dare talk shit about the zetas. That’s how shit scared the media is in Tamaulipas.

This particular fight was the result of a mixed operation by the Army and Federales against a cell of zetas that was intercepted along with its leader. The whole thing quickly turned into a running gun fight like you see in crappy Hollywood action movies.  Zetas grunts stole cars at gun point from civilians and then used them as roadblocks all over the city to cover the escape of their boss.

This isn’t heroics. This is a common tactic. Arturo Beltran, a lieutenant of the Sinaloa cartel, escaped the same way on the highway between Acapulco and Cuernavaca. The zetas are freaking badass. Even other cartels call them the “Los Locos.” None of that holding your gun sideways bullshit gangster moves, these guys are trained professionals. I bet they’d hold their own with the Chechens, maybe even kick their asses. See, unlike those Chechens, they never stopped fighting, never stopped honing their skills.

Anyway, I think this time the government was going after El Caris, a zeta lieutenant working the border of Texas/Tamaulipas. He had taken control of the plaza when El Hummer was captured. Now, there’s no official confirmation of this, but there are rumors that he was possibly killed during the fight.

In the video, a reporter talks about the superior firepower of the armed forces, but a month ago the news were saying that the narcos were better armed. Fact is, the narcos have shiny new weapons from Arizona, while the army has their home-produced very-potent G3 variant (the G3A4 or K, I think, if your a gun nut) and the police…Well, who cares about the police, right? Fuck ’em. As for the armed forces, superior firepower or not, they’ll still get their amateur asses kicked by the zetas. This is guerrilla warfare to the max and if the world’s learned one thing from Iraq is that weapons don’t mean shit.

I hope you enjoyed the video. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear Baghdad. Haha!

And remember to stay tuned for more gory news like this because it’s gonna get pretty more badass from here on. 2009 is local elections year and the Goverment is shit scared about the infiltration of narcomoney into the campaigns to finance their own men, which wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.


Pancho Montana is an eXiled Special Mexican War on Drugs Correspondent.

As a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, located in northern Mexico, Mr. Montana lives in Gulf Cartel territory. That means the streets belong to the Zetas, a paramilitary organization trained by the Yankees and hired by the Gulf Cartel to keep things civilized and business booming. Read his last dispatch: Pro-drug Demonstrators Riot Against the Anti-drug Surge.

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Add your own

  • 1. mx?  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Nothing Hollywood about it. This was your everyday Mexican style.

  • 2. Chema Pino Suarez  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    PFP and AFI have been increasingly better equipped every time the last couple of years I have seen them; G-36s and M4s. Not to mention slick looking Dodge Chargers; but i do agree the general consensus is that the Federal police are soft. I have seen weapons I have never seen on soldiers before last time I went to Mexico as well under barrel grenade launchers and SAWs. Soldiers are heavy handed no doubt but they won’t cop out when the going gets tough.

    You are way right about weapons being bought in the States for the cartels. Shit a store a few blocks from my house sold a shade under 150 AKs to a guy who sold the AKs straight to the Gulf Cartel.

    It will be interesting to see how this drug war plays out in the following year. I did make a bit of a curious prediction that in the next decade drug decriminalization will gain some traction amongst the American public.

    Also have you heard rumors of rouge Central American special forces types entering the Zetas?

  • 3. dave  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    weak article. poor attempt at putting words to the news clip …. which was badass on its own.

    what we need is the war nerd’s input on this conflict.

  • 4. mx?  |  February 24th, 2009 at 3:43 am

    the rumors are true, Narcos, Zetas mostly, have hired a lot of kaibiles in this last few years to serve as personal bodyguards of capos and to train sicarios for the cartels.

    They are Guatemalan SpecOps, I know how lame that sounds, but everyone in the world goes to train there, theres no equal when it comes to training for counter-guerrilla/jungle warfare.

    Hey Chema I would like to know the gun stores KNOW where their weapons are gonna end up, right?

  • 5. Oelsen  |  February 24th, 2009 at 5:46 am

    We only have sparse news on this drug war here in Europe.



    (sorry, german)

    A lesson never learned: if you want the populace to avoid drugs, you have to teach them, maybe even brainwashing the concept out, but never ever prohibit them. Only last weekend i met someone close to the church (free evangelical, i suppose) who openly said that drugs are from satan and have to be forbidden… they never learn.

    Keep up the dispatch, its very valuable for us here across the atlantic.

  • 6. zip  |  February 24th, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Sorry dude that comparison to the Chechens is sort of weak, the Chechens got artillery barrage fire and air strikes for months and anyone male over 14 found within the control areas was either shot or raped and then shot. I don’t see the Mexican army/police/whatever doing that…in the good ‘ol times of the 70/80 that might be a possibility (and all the Zetas Betas and Thetas would be running away to mummy) but not now, Mexico with drug cartels or not is turning into middle class territory.

  • 7. Chema Pino Suarez  |  February 24th, 2009 at 7:24 am

    No, since the weapons are bought by people who can legally buy firearms I doubt most gun store owners are going to expect the weapons to go straight to Mexico. That and there isn’t anything suspicious about Mexicans buying guns here in Texas, I own a two myself.

  • 8. Allen  |  February 24th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Chema: but 150 AKs?

    You would have to be stupid not to connect the dots on that. Who needs 150 AKs except someone looking to equip a large force people for some serious shooting.

    That or someone looking to resell; and who is going to be willing to buy marked up AKs …

  • 9. Chema Pino Suarez  |  February 24th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I should have clarified that the guy was caught which is why i brought him up.

    Also it was a shade under 80 AK’s along with 70 pistols.

  • 10. homer  |  February 24th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    This is little more than WAR NERD worship

  • 11. mx?  |  February 24th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Actually they are very different creatures, mexican narcos and chechen guerrilla,the only similarity is they both have very low life expectancies, zetas more I think, The less trained ones anyway.

  • 12. Fly  |  February 24th, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Does anybody else get the feeling that Pancho is actually Gary Brecher? The similarity in writing style and content is definitely there I think. For example, the references to Chechen militants, the disdain for hi-tech warfare, the reference to Baghdad, knowledge of weapon models, and the general gist from the article that war and violence is “badass.” Also, how come War Nerd articles have stopped coming out at about the same time as Pancho’s articles have started coming out?

    Anyways, even if they are the same person, I’m still impressed with the research and with with which the articles are written.

  • 13. Duh!  |  February 24th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Chechens had to fight an actual army. Place Zetas against the Russian Army, and Zetas wouldn’t stand a chance. Just ask Saakashvili about what the Russian Army can do. Might have to wait till he stops chewing his tie though. Your Chechen-Zeta comparison aside, great article!

    As for insurgency movenments, I’ll say it once: stay the fuck local. Chechens were independent until they decided to attach Dagestan, and then they got their asses kicked. Zetas are smart, they’re staying in the Gulf Cartel Area and not seeking expanding, unless it’s election time.

    Finally love this line: “police…Well, who cares about the police, right? Fuck ‘em.”

  • 14. lyserg25  |  February 25th, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Where’s the War Nerd? Where are the funny cartoons? The outrageous articles? Exile has become quite scheisse.

  • 15. Joe Blow  |  February 25th, 2009 at 12:13 pm


    War ist die gemuetlichkeit?

  • 16. Bo Andersen  |  February 25th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    In the last few big shootouts, the army has won xx-0. In the only shootout where the gangs actually has killed a soldier, it was in the begining of the battle, which curiously ended with no gang members alive.
    Solidiers are only killed in ambushes, when they are travelling alone.
    The Mexican army seems to be doing fine in firefights against the gangs. The police is not a factor here – not because they are outgunned, but because they are bought and paid for…. The first thing the army does when entering a new town, is disarming the police in a dawn raid on the police stations.

  • 17. jason  |  March 25th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    If the zetas were so tough and badass, they’d be in the US battling the dea, opening up the corridors to the most lucrative markets. big time shortage of quality mexican supply in the Northeast USA. Cowards, going for the easy battles.

  • 18. Rolando  |  February 7th, 2010 at 11:46 pm



    Whats even worse is that it was someone REALLY IMPORTANT! Why? because their were like 25 trucks going at a VERY high speed. We know this cause they say their usually like 3 to 6 trucks together but this time they were like 25 in which means someone in a very VERY “high level” of the cartel was exiting nv laredo cause they were going for the high way and everyone knows they have to takecare of HIM like if it was their “God”. SCARY MUCH? YESSSSS IT WASSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 19. Julio  |  March 4th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    7. jason | March 25th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    If the zetas were so tough and badass, they’d be in the US battling the dea, opening up the corridors to the most lucrative markets. big time shortage of quality mexican supply in the Northeast USA. Cowards, going for the easy battles.

    Your an Idiot – the Cartels are not as dumb as you jason if they cross over here the US will intervene with military force – You think the Zetas want that?

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