Mexico Drug War Creating Vigilante Paramilitary Groups

Officials fear paramilitary groups could undermine government

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 29, 2011 4:49 AM CDT | Updated Sep 29, 2011 5:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – A vigilante group calling itself the "Zeta Killers" has surfaced and claimed responsibility for the slaughter of 35 drug cartel members in Veracruz last week. The group—which describes itself as "anonymous warriors" working for the good of the Mexican people—appears to be connected to a rival drug cartel, the New Generation, creating fears that Mexico's drug gangs are creating paramilitary operations that seek popular approval by confronting violence that the authorities seem helpless to fight, reports the Wall Street Journal.

"Our only objective is the Zetas cartel," says a hooded man in a video claiming responsibility for the Veracruz killings. The government has vowed to hunt down any such vigilante groups, fearing paramilitary groups could further escalate the violence killed 43,000 people since President Felipe Calderón took power in 2006. The emerging paramilitary groups "are outlaws, but if they kill Zetas, they could find a following among some of the Mexican political and military elite," a Latin America expert says. "It bodes very badly for the rule of law in Mexico."

Screegrab from a video released by of a paramilitary group which has vowed to 'eliminate' the Zetas cartel.
Screegrab from a video released by of a paramilitary group which has vowed to 'eliminate' the Zetas cartel.   (Getty Images)
The bodies of 35 people were found under this bridge in Veracruz last week.
The bodies of 35 people were found under this bridge in Veracruz last week.   (Getty Images)
Veracruz State police and Mexican army soldiers guard the perimeter around the site of a state prosecutors convention in the Gulf port city of Veracruz, Mexico Thursday Sept. 22, 2011.
Veracruz State police and Mexican army soldiers guard the perimeter around the site of a state prosecutors convention in the Gulf port city of Veracruz, Mexico Thursday Sept. 22, 2011.   (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
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