Zetas' New Tool in Mexico: National Radio Network

Military has seized huge amounts of equipment
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2011 10:45 AM CST
Zetas Drug Cartel's Radio Network Covers Mexico, US Authorities Say
In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, members of the Navy stand guard over seized telecommunications equipment, allegedly built by the Zetas drug cartel, during a media presentation in Veracruz, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

(Newser) – The Zeta cartel has secret weapons hidden in Mexican bushes and rooftops everywhere: radio antennas. Current and former US law enforcement officials tell the AP that the infamous cartel has a sophisticated, nationwide radio network that helps them coordinate their movements and keep tabs on law enforcement. “They're doing what any sensible military unit would do,” explains a former US Army colonel. “They’re branching out into as many forms of communications as possible.”

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In a plea deal, Jose Luis del Toro Estrada, aka “Tecnico,” testified that he’d used legally-available parts to build the system across most of Mexico’s states, employing communications specialists to run it. An intelligence firm says computers control the network, directing signals to specific radios with pinpoint accuracy. The Mexican military has begun attacking the network, this month seizing 167 antennas and 1,446 radios. But it disputes the US account, saying the Zetas have only a series of local systems, not a single national network. Nevertheless, says a former law enforcement official, "By going after command and communications you disrupt control." (Read more Zetas stories.)

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