Zetas Cartel Ravages Torreon, Mexico

By McCarton Ackerman 10/29/12

City leaders are so desperate to banish the ultra-violent Zetas that they may appeal to the Sinaloa cartel for help.

Relatives of the "disappeared" marching in
Torreon in 2011.
Photo via

Not long ago, the Mexican city of Torreon was on track to become a shining example of economic and cultural prosperity. But when the Zetas cartel arrived in the area in 2007, it turned the city instead into one of Mexico's most dangerous. Greater Torreon has seen 830 killings in the first nine months in 2012—compared with 62 throughout 2006—and its murder rate is second in the country only to Acapulco. In addition well-documented massacres at drug rehabs and gunfights at soccer stadiums, gangs also took control of the local police and invaded city hall in March 2010—demanding that Mayor Eduardo Olmos sack the army general he had hired to clean up the force. Now, several of the city's leaders are so desperate that they're considering reaching an agreement with the rival Sinaloa cartel to push the Zetas out of the area. "[The Zetas] act without any kind of principles," says Torreon's police chief Adelaido Flores. "The ones from Sinaloa don't mess...with the population." Local politicians have admitted that unspoken deals with cartels helped keep the peace at one point, but President Felipe Calderon's began a military-led crackdown against organized crime in 2006 that has seen over 60,000 deaths in the country since then. Still, Flores believes that the Zetas' power is declining even without the Sinaloa cartel's help: according to city estimates, over 90% of the hundreds of suspected gang members killed or arrested in Torreon this year have been Zetas.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.