Video: A Deadly Vigilante Group Targets Mexico's Zetas Cartel

By Will Godfrey 09/30/11

While Mexico's "Zeta Killers" are claiming to avenge the murder of the country's beleaguered innocents, police claim the gang may be no better than its enemies.

Given the Zetas' reputation as possibly the bloodiest of all Mexico's terrifying drug cartels, it seems unlikely that ordinary citizens would issue a public challenge to them. But an apparent vigilante group calling itself the "Zeta Killers" has already been doing exactly what the name suggests, reports the Huffington Post—claiming responsibility for 35 tortured bodies that were dumped on a highway in Veracruz state last week. Although the bodies included 12 women and two children, both a Mexican armed forces official and the five masked "Zeta Killers" who appeared in a Spanish-language YouTube video claimed the dead were all "linked" to the Zetas cartel. Ironically, given the grotesque killings, the Zeta Killers claim in their video that their "ethical code" prevents them from carrying out kidnappings or extortion. Their spokesman praises the work of Mexican law enforcement and announces, "We are the armed wing of the people, and for the people." But many doubt that. A "vigilante" group called "New Generation" that emerged in 2007 was said by US officials to be a front for the rival Sinaloa cartel. A threat-laden banner bearing the initials GN (Gente Nueva) left with the 35 bodies would seem to link New Generation with the Zeta Killers. But whatever the truth about their identity, there's no chance that their emergence will provide any relief for Mexico's innocent civilians.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.