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Cartel Leaders Adopt Bestial Nicknames

Grittier gang monikers like "The Dog Killer" reflect the changing nature of Mexico's drug war.

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"The Dog Killer" after his January capture.
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By McCarton Ackerman

08/10/12

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Mexico's drug traffickers are adopting grittier nicknames in a reflection of the bloody, inhumane nature of the war they're fighting. Until recently, many high-ranking drug traffickers possessed such regal-sounding monikers as "The King" (Jesus Zambada Garcia), "The Lord of the Skies" (Amado Carrillo Fuentes) and "The Boss of Bosses" (Arturo Beltran Leyva). But these days gang leaders are go by such nicknames as "The Rat," "The Dog Killer," "The Worm Eater" and "Garbage," among others—in a symbolic shift that reflects the ruthless, animalistic style of violence prevalent today. Experts say the killings and arrests of top cartel capos have left lowlier figures in charge of drug-running, kidnapping and extortion business—which has led to a less skilled approach with more gruesome killings. "[The nicknames show] a trace of cynicism, of mockery," says Pedro de la Cruz, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who specializes in security issues. "These nicknames reflect the fact that even they do not take themselves seriously as cartel leaders of the past did." Nicknames aside, the violence in Mexico remains every bit as severe. Just yesterday, another 14 bodies were found in an abandoned van.

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