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Article posted Dec 11 2012, 5:23 AM Category: Commentary Source: Thomas L. Knapp Print

Los Zetas vs. "Your" Government: The Dreaded Comparison

by Thomas L. Knapp

“Could Mexico be the next Benghazi?” asks Greta Susteren of Fox News. “Congressman Michael McCaul is warning us because U.S. agents are helping Mexican police go after the most violent drug cartels, and yet our agents are not allowed to carry weapons in Mexico.”

Politicians and their pet pundits of all stripes and all nationalities love to wave around the bugaboo of “drug cartels” and “narco-terrorism” as an excuse for grabbing more money and power from their subjects. The “war on drugs” is a government monopoly disposing of tens of billions of dollars each year in the United States and proportionally similar proportional sums in many other countries. 185 governments have signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

But when you think about it, the existing drug cartels are actually quite similar to those same governments … except that they are significantly less demanding and deadly to most of us.

To demonstrate what I’m talking about, I’ll take the biggest bugaboo of the bunch, Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel.

The origins of Los Zetas, ironically, are within the Mexican state itself. They started off as special operations troops in the Mexican army — members of Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales — before being hired away as an internal security force for the Gulf Cartel, from which they eventually (and violently) split. They get their name from their first commander’s police radio call sign, Z1.

Los Zetas, according to Wikipedia (which in turn cites a US House Homeland Security Committee document), “operate through protection rackets, assassinations, extortion, kidnappings, and other criminal activities” … in other words, all of the same activities that “your” own government engages in, but on a much smaller scale. And through those activities, they allegedly “control” 11 Mexican states.

But let’s consider the nature of that “control.” Los Zetas is engaged in providing willing customers with useful products (drugs). While it’s true that they assert — and vigorously and violently enforce — a territorial monopoly on that kind of enterprise, just as “your” government does with respect to numerous enterprises (roads, mail delivery, pension plans, you name it), they generally seem content with a much smaller set of such monopolies.

To put it a different way, if you cross either Los Zetas or “your” government’s path, you’ll likely get put through the “protection rackets (i.e. taxes), assassinations (i.e. shot by police), extortion (i.e. fines and fees), kidnappings (i.e. imprisonment)” mill.

But to cross Los Zetas, you really have to work at it by competing with them in the drug business or attempting restraint of their trade in some way. Crossing “your” government, on the other hand, could consist of something as trifling as having “too many” cats, crossing a street against the light, or even just not falling to your knees and presenting approved gang … er, government … paperwork on demand.

To put it yet a third way, Los Zetas really isn’t very interested in running your life on a day-to-day basis. If you leave them alone, they’ll probably leave you alone.

Try getting “your” local city council, “your” national legislature, or “your” friendly Transportation Security Administration affiliated sexual assailant to butt out of your business and see how far you get.

To the extent that Los Zetas are bad guys (and I agree that they are), it’s important to remember that they are almost entirely a creation of even worse guys … politicians. The global “war on drugs” makes the cartels not just possible but inevitable, and guarantees that they operate in the same ways as the states which gave birth to them, for the same reasons. If I could instantly get rid of only one of the two types of organizations, the choice wouldn’t be a hard one to make.
Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst and Media Coordinator at the Center for a Stateless Society.

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Comments Add Comment Page 1 of 1
Howard L. Salter

Posted: Dec 17 2012, 7:03 AM

9619 I would argue that the cartels are not sub-national in origin an that their market demands are international, their distribution networks are international, and their methods of production are international as well. It is in this perspective that they behave less like a state with its various monopolies over public interests and more like a multi-national corporation who can not exist in its monopolies with out the consent of the state. A large part of its strategies are fiscally covert to avert the prying interests of the state's monopolies and its tax-free income is used largely to fund supra-national interests through out the globe to include wars, human trafficking, etc.

Furthermore, the biggest global sponsors of this multi-national corporatism have been the intelligence communities of the world's super powers. The British in the 1900's in order to trade with China imported Opium to get them hooked and started a war over this. In the 1960's the US was heavily involved in SE Asia and had been accused of running drugs through the adjacent countries surrounding Vietnam. During Iran-Contra in the 1980's it became clear that elements of our government were supporting the cocaine trade with FALN terrorists and the Panamanian government. In the 1990's the US supported the heroin dealers in the narco-trade with 25,000 troops on the ground. In the 2000's we've created a Narco-State in Afghanistan with our troops hands largely being tied to not interfering with their 'economics'....

This has been an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars over the years to create tax-free dollars to reinvest and launder into the economic super-engines of the world.

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