Killing 'for amusement' Cartels have taken cruelty up a notch, says one drug trafficker: kidnapping bus passengers for gladiator like fights to the death
Former and current federal law-enforcement officers in the U.S. said that while they knew Mexican bus passengers had been targeted for violence, they'd never before heard of forcing passengers into death matches.
But given the level of violence in Mexico — nearly 40,000 killed in gangland warfare over the past several years — they didn't find it tough to believe.
Borderland Beat, a blog specializing in drug cartels, reported an account in April of bus passengers brutalized by Zeta thugs and taunted into fighting.
"The stuff you would not think possible a few years ago is now commonplace," said Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who built his career focusing on Mexico's cartels. "It used to be you'd find dead bodies in drums with acid; now there are beheadings."
Even so, Hanna noted, killing people this way would be time-consuming and inefficient. "It would be more for amusement," he suggested. "I don't see it as intimidation or a successful way to recruit people."
Hidden behind designer sunglasses and a whisper of a beard, the trafficker interviewed by the Houston Chronicle talked at a restaurant's back table. He had silver shopping bags filled at Nordstrom, but seemed anything but a typical wealthy Mexican on a Texas shopping trip.
As a condition of the interview, he asked that he be referred to only as Juan.
He has worked as a drug-trafficker in Northern Mexico for more than a decade, he said, but has grown tired of gangsters running roughshod over each other and innocent civilians.
Juan, who has worked with the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the two major drug organizations that control territory along the South Texas-Mexico border, said that back home, he sleeps with a semiautomatic rifle by his bed and a handgun under his pillow.
"It is like the Wild West. You can carry a gun and you are Superman," he said of gangsters and killing at will. "Like everybody says, it is out of control now. We have to put a stop to it."
A recent U.S. Senate report contends the Zetas are the most violent of Mexico's cartels. Its members are believed to be responsible for the recent killing of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot on a Mexican highway.