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The Mexican Drug War / February 28, 2010
By Pancho Montana


“Raise your hand if you like weed,” the gang leader asked the raver crowd. But nobody raised a hand or so much as moved. They were too scared. So he repeated his question, this time while firing a quick burst from his R-15 into the air. “I said who likes fucking weed?!!” Naturally, a lot of hands went up.

MONTERREY, MEXICO— La Letra (what we call the Zetas these days because we’re too terrified to call them by name) is at it again. It’s getting worse than ever, thanks the lower ranks of the cartel business–made up of young, impressionable school dropouts and assorted jobless little motherfuckers. Now, these scumbags are letting their presence be known like never before. In Monterrey, the Zetas have started using them to police the drug use of the general population to make sure that people are consuming the right drugs and buying them from the “right sources.” As in: them.

These junior squads have started doing rounds at parties like some sort of narco-security. If they see someone smoking weed, they approach and inquire about the source of the weed, breaking off a little from the joint and inspecting the mary jane (they know exactly what their product looks like and can recognize their product from the others). If it’s not from one of their tienditas (remember those neighborhood drug stores I wrote about about a year back?), they just take him backstage to introduce the kid’s naked ass to their little friend “la tabla,” which’ll leave them with welts for the next few weeks and mental scars for the rest of their lives.

The Zetas kicked off this trend when they started recruiting among young pandilleros (aka gang-bangers) from poor neighborhoods at the start of the Cartel War, somewhere from 2005 to 2006. Now the fashion has been catching on with other cartels, too. That’s the way it is these days. Nobody likes competition from independent operators anymore, not even the drug cartels. The anti-capitalist bastards!

This has been screwing everything up, and I don’t mean just for local businesses or for the freelance dealers who have been left without income or heads. It’s been just as bad for the little people, especially kids. You can’t even smoke a joint at a rave without being bothered anymore. To get hassled like that when you’re all soft, tripping on acid or ecstasy or mescaline—it’s just brutal.

Let me tell you about one that just happened in mid-February:

Raves have always been big here in Monterrey. They are bigger and better in Guadalajara, I hear, plus the girls from those parts are nicer-looking and have a rep for getting really fucked up at the raves. So you can talk one up, take her behind the porta-potties and fuck her. The next day, most likely she’ll be too out of her mind to remember that she had boned a stranger and probably so will you. So I always arrive armed with rubbers. PM is all for protection, be it a bullet-proof vest or a rubber.

So anyway, there was this big rave in La Huasteca, a beautiful place surrounded by the Sierras. At the last minute I decided that it may not be a good idea since all week I had been hearing that the Zetas were going to be there.

I pussed out and went to another party, a regular one with fewer hippie-looking and drugged out girls. Coincidentally, this party was also busted by the Zetas. They arrived in a black SUV, told the bouncers in the front to fuck off and get the party’s organizer, who gave them all the money from the til on the spot, just so they’d leave and stop scaring people away. It was quick, clean and nobody got pistol-whipped.

It was very professional compared to what they did at the La Huasteca rave, which I can only describe as robbery on a massive scale. Around 4AM, when the main DJ was starting to play, his crappy psycho music was suddenly interrupted by machine gun rapid-fire– and it all screeched to a halt like air blowing out of a balloon.


The ravers found themselves surrounded by about 50 thuggish kids armed with machine guns, sent courtesy of the Zetas. They were 19 to 25 years old at most, and acted all tough strutting around with their R-15s, rounding up the crowd like sheep dogs, sporadically firing bursts into the air from their black rifles just to keep people on their toes.

When the thugs had all the ravers assembled into a flock, the little bastards proceeded to rob everyone. Going person to person, they took cell phones, cameras, jewelry, cash, and anything else shiny that got their attention. They were like little ravens with automatic weapons. They even stole the DJ’s passport and credit cards. Fuck, they even took his headphones.

But that was all just collateral. The main purpose of their visit were the drugs. With flashlights in hand, they scouted the floor for baggies of weed, pills, LSD, coke, anything… They must have felt like they were on an easter egg hunt.

The leader then addressed the people: “Raise your hand if you like weed,” he asked the crowd. But nobody raised a hand or so much as moved. They were too scared. So he repeated his question, this time while firing a quick burst from his R-15 into the air. “I said who likes fucking weed?!!” Naturally, a lot of hands went up.

“Good, now, who likes pills [ecstasy]?” he continued. A few hands went up. “Great, great,” he said, satisfied. “But if you like them so much why aren’t you buying them at the right place?” he asked the crowd, like some kind of TV salesman.

The meaning was clear to all involved: you better buy your drugs from the Zetas’ tienditas.

He finished with a brief, somber, almost grandfatherly speech: “We apologize to everyone. We know this is a party but we are only doing our jobs, so that you won’t buy your loquera [drugs] from other sources. The plaza belongs to the compañia and we are going to come to these parties every time that we want to. We are taking your cellphones and cameras to erase any evidence.”

Before taking off, the thugs started calling out cars like they were valets. Like this:

“Who owns the blue Mazda truck?” a Zeta kid who looked like he was sponsored by Ed Hardy would shout. After some frightened girl somewhere in the back would raise her trembling hand, he’d yell: “Give me your keys.”

Nobody gave me an exact number of just how many cars Zetas took that night from the rave, but it was somewhere between 10 and 20 cars. They weren’t doing it just to be dicks. No, the stolen cars had a very specific purpose. They’d be used in levantones (kidnappings), executions, moving drugs and/or insurance company fraud.

After that, the comandante said his goodbyes to his captives and warned: “Now putos, everyone is gonna get on the floor face down for 20 to 30 minutes. And if anyone stands up or walks outside the big tent area, I got men outside who will kill you just like that. So it’s up to you.” He added that they shouldn’t even think about going to the police because the cops worked for them.

I’m still a little shocked by this story because nothing like it had ever happened before.

Why are they doing this? Well, I figure it has to do with Mexico’s war on drugs. The government has been pushing the narcos so hard that now we are entering uncharted territory.

A few years ago, before the bodycount started piling up, the Zetas stayed out of sight, and their activities were largely accepted by the masses. They never messed with us civilian types—it was a matter of honor for them.

But now that’s all changing. Shaking down kids and slapping chicks around at parties is not only screwed up and vicious, it’s stupid from a business perspective and bound to turn the general population against the Zetas and their narco buddies very quickly.

But their reign of terror and error might end very soon. For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing about a huge Marines build up in Monterrey. They’ve been setting up camp and coming in ready for to do massive air raids with an interesting combination of Mi-17 and Blackhawk helicopters—the former Russian, the latter American. Can’t we all just get along?

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.


Add your own

  • 1. FrankMcG  |  February 28th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    That photo looks like some teenagers’ backyard wrestling video.

  • 2. wYSeGuy  |  February 28th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Government Forces Build Up? This should get interesting…

  • 3. Alex_C  |  February 28th, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    The FDA and the DEA all in one!

  • 4. LordLeckie  |  February 28th, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Im wondering if the government presence does anything at all, the government in this sits relies on overwhelming force and the Narcos can match them in firepower and on the defence they can do some damage.

    Either way if it does end up coming to head on assualt it will be a bloodbath like always.

  • 5. Mike  |  February 28th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Fantastic writing dude. Stay safe.

  • 6. fajensen  |  March 1st, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Thats how Escobar got himself killed: Pissing off normal people so much that the government looks good in comparison. Rumor was that he was shot fleeing from a lynch mob – by the mob, not the security forces.

  • 7. Mx?  |  March 1st, 2010 at 5:30 am

    the Zetas are on the crosshairs of every cartel sicario from Mexicali to Cancun.

    I dont want to sound overly optimistic but the extermination of the zetas appears to signal the end of hostilities between the various cartels and the Federal Goverment, hope it is.

  • 8. motorfirebox  |  March 1st, 2010 at 6:17 am

    I’m trying to decide if this is good news or bad news. If the government crackdown works, that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t, well, have you ever stomped on an oil fire? I don’t want to see this kind of violence spread all the way up here.

    So, yeah. Hopefully the crackdown works.

  • 9. DarthFurious  |  March 1st, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I can’t wait until they get the balls to bring their show across the border and start showing up at clubs in Houston and San Antonio.
    Welcome to the 21st century pendejos!

  • 10. Joe Stack's Financial Advisor  |  March 1st, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Sends a shiver up my spine. I think everyone knows that the CIA and other black hat Federal organizations have, at the very least, been steering the drug trade for the past decades. They are more involved in the economy/logistical side however, and don’t really control the domestic violence end of the drug trade (Mexico, Colombia, transport countries, etc.). As long as there are secret shadow groups in the U.S. and elsewhere, there will be a manipulated drug trade coming out of South and Central America.

  • 11. Hey Mark  |  March 1st, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Yo, Yasha Levine – another CA water theft article for you from the front page of the Contra Costa Times:

    Redwood City Saltworks developer poised to become major Bay Area water baron

    “DMB Associates, an Arizona-based company that specializes in upscale mixed-use developments close to wilderness, plans to pipe 591 million gallons per year from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to as many as 12,000 homes on the Redwood City Saltworks site via a series of complicated and unprecedented water exchanges that originate 300 miles to the southeast in Kern County.”

  • 12. Zirb  |  March 1st, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    All drugs should be legalized to remove the financial incentives of the cartels. Capone was caused by Alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s, it’s nothing new. Portugal in early 2000s decriminalized all drugs and drug use did not go up. Why is this so difficult?

  • 13. Fuego de Puta  |  March 1st, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Muy bien, Panchito. More articles like this and I’ll let you chinga my seester.

    If you could post these articles in Spanish as well, that would be sucre.

    Raise your hand if you love weed. Hmm I would have hesitated too.

  • 14. Rubicon  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 10:02 am

    My lesson from this would be to not attend any raves in freaking Mexico. If you get your ass held up (even getting your car stolen) and you EVER show up to one of these again, you might as well buy yourself a Darwin Awards t-shirt right now.

    As for the overall drug war, it sounds like it will be various rounds of “Kaiser Sose” treatment (See “The Usual Suspects”) on the players.

  • 15. FrankMcG  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Uhh…wouldn’t the “Kaiser Sose” treatment be “the usual suspects” treatment? I’m pretty sure Casablanca came out first.

  • 16. Necronomic.JustIce  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    @14 I have heard word of mouth stories from the USA, where rave promoters were held hostage, shotguns to the heads while driving around in a jeep, by tribal police when the promoters hosted a rave on an Indian reservation in an attempt to subvert US laws.

    Late 80’s early 90’s – South West US, probably Los Angeles county.

    i would attempt to google more information and documentation, but it’s probably not at all interesting.

  • 17. Jorge  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I’m from Monterrey, Mexico, but currently living in the capital of my country. I’ve heard wild rumours called “la psicosis” by the local newspapers day back and my family, that there is a current war between cartels right now in Tamaulipas an adjacent state to Nuevo Leon, in which Monterrey is located. At first, I didnt believed the rumors that much but upon checking a little bit on the internet I found videos of shootouts between the cartels in little towns like Camargo, Tmps, and small cities like Reynosa. Were the battles lasted for more than six to eight hours, something unseen in urban areas.

    Word is, the war is spreading westward towards Monterrey, already panic is ensuing via social networks and e-mail, so far I’ve recieved five e-mails advising to stock up on supplies and stop going out, going to the extent as to point out a date when the war is arriving to Mty. (10 to 20 days) Newspapers have stopped commenting about it.
    So I have no idea. There’s no use in believing rumours but they say something about the feeling of the general population. Theres widespread fear, I only hope it turns into uncontrollable anger so we can kick their asses out of our country. Either that or they start behaving as true businessmen and keep a low profile.

    Also, what about Cd. Juarez and the indiscrimate killings of young people at parties, news scarcely say what happens but never why, there seems to be no connection with the young kids massacred (sometimes in the 13 to 20 age range) and the “narcos”.
    Here in the capital people live as if there’s no war going on, self centered on their lives and daily activities.

    Any reasonable predictions on whats going to happen? Is this thing going to blow up into some kind of civil war? or am I being too paranoid?

    We need some kind of Exiled News on Mexico, there’s some much going on and nobody is speaking up. Maybe it has something to do with the fact the Mexico is the most dangerous country for reporters in America.

  • 18. Mx?  |  March 3rd, 2010 at 6:20 am

    You are right jorge, there´s too much shit going down in Mexico for it all to fit into a single column..and yes, believe it, the war is reaching Monterrey (or has if you believe the rumours about 10 cops being executed on different bars in the city while their were off-duty.)

    The first signs are multiple car thefts every day, the zetas are stocking on vehicles for their operations and with every cartel gunning for them you can expect Monterrey to start the Bicentenario and Centenario celebrations a little earlier to follow on Tamaulipas example.

    Tamaulipas´ 10 border towns/cities have all been witnesses to massive gunfights between rival narcos but I see it this long as they kill every zeta I can live with the other cartels, they just need to turn their war-mode off, pull their tentacles back from other criminal activities and redirect them north to focus on pushing narcotics up the border.

  • 19. jason  |  March 3rd, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Why am I jealous of a Mexican? Or to be fair: why does being an American mean I have to have such a shitty life, joyless life?

  • 20. J.P.  |  March 3rd, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Holy shit! I had a nasty experience once when gangsters invaded a packed club I was in, but this kind of puts it into perspective. Be careful out there.

  • 21. Rubicon  |  March 4th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    @15 Frank
    The Kaiser Sose treatment would be like that scene where the hungarians think they can get Kaiser to back down out of their turf when they hold his family hostage. Of course, Kaiser shoots his family and all but one of the hungarians. Then he shoots all of the remaining hungarians, their families and friends.
    This is the level of “thorough” and “committed” that will likely turn out here. It’s very sad to see.

  • 22. aleke  |  March 9th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Mexico is just itching for a Maoist insurgency

  • 23. Marie  |  March 18th, 2010 at 8:24 am

    “Why am I jealous of a Mexican? Or to be fair: why does being an American mean I have to have such a shitty life, joyless life?”

    Jason, you could just move to Mexico. Why not? I lived and worked there illegally. So I know it’s possible. If you moved to Mexico then you wouldn’t have to feel jealous of any Mexicano. But I bet you won’t, because while your American life might be shitty & joyless it’s safe–a lot safer than living in Mexico.

    Let us know when you’ve moved to Mexico!

  • 24. Skinbad  |  March 22nd, 2010 at 4:05 am

    Dr&Quinch would never have let this happen on his watch.

  • 25. Like yah!  |  March 22nd, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Gathering winds… If you think it has been bad, wait: The hungry ones will be worse than the narcos.

  • 26. TotallyWired  |  June 9th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Fuck it, just nuke ’em.

  • 27. DrogasH8r  |  June 11th, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Alligators are docile when they have full belly. When they are hungry or you threaten their nest they will snap at anything that moves.

    The notion in Mexicans head that the cartels were some kind of robin hood organizations who cared about the little guy was always a lie.

    However the Cartels had so much money they had the money to spend on ‘advertising’ to perpetuate that lie with the peasants.

    Now the US government and to a lessor degree the Mexican government are coming down like a hammer on the cartels.

    The cartels true colors are going to come out more and more as they get more and more desperate. The only tragedy are innocents are going to get caught in the crossfire.

  • 28. Jose Angel de Monterrey  |  July 20th, 2010 at 12:53 am

    If only americans would stop smoking so much mariguana and consuming so many other drugs, if only they could slow down their own party, then we wouldn’t have to deal with so many cartels. they wouldn’t have so much money and power and wouldn’t be able to challenge latiamerican governments for authority and terrorize so much our societies. The sad thing is that the money with which these drug lords finance their mafia operations in Mexico, comes from the united states, and also most of their weaponry too, which anyone can buy at any san antonio or houston pawn shop or store.

    So the next time you are ready to have a joint or to take a line of coca, just remember how many colombians, mexicans, centralamericans had to die so that you could have your little harmless party.

  • 29. arrowrod  |  August 22nd, 2010 at 4:33 am

    How’s it working out? Haven’t seen much in the news lately.

  • 30. Ethan Monterise  |  February 17th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Your, stupid idiots, what its the diference betwen a Stupid American blonda thah drink alcohol and fuck with all that ask him.. and the weapons.. pfff .. all arms being purchased in the U.S. where it is easier to buy a gun to have a job, this is double morality….please …

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