Arrests Point to Zetas in Mexico Musicians Massacre

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Mexico has announced the arrest of an alleged Zetas member linked to the massacre of 17 musicians, in a case that highlights the struggle for social, as well as physical, territory between cartels in Mexico.

The Attorney General’s Office Special Kidnapping Unit captured Edgar Alberto de la Garza Treviño on September 27 for his involvement in the murder of 17 members of Kombo Kolombia — a Mexican group that played Colombian “vallenato” music — in Nuevo Laredo on January 25, reported Milenioedgar

Authorities believe the murders took place because the group had begun playing in places that had been controlled by the Zetas, but which later fell under the rule of their fierce rivals, the Gulf Cartel, reported Proceso. Among the murdered were thirteen musicians, three assistants and a sound engineer, reported El Universal.

According to Nuevo Leon security spokesman Jorge Domene, de la Garza Treviño initially acted as lookout and later aided in the kidnapping, but was not involved in the murder. Police are currently searching for six more people wanted in connection with the crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

The fight between the Mexican drug cartels for control of sections of territory, known as “plazas,” is the main driver of the country’s drug war violence. This struggle has been taken to a new level by the Zetas, whose military approach and focus on seizing and controlling territory over establishing criminal infrastructure has helped them expand rapidly in both Mexico and some Central American countries.

SEE ALSO: The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Groups battle for control of plazas because it gives them control over the criminal activities in the area, in turn providing profits either through taxes or through directly running these activities. However, as illustrated in the case of Kombo Kolombia, control of an area often goes beyond the physical and can also incorporate social space, which is important to criminal groups as a means to project power in a given area. In many of the most fiercely contested cartel wars, the control of social space has become a key component of territorial control, even if it does not directly involve economic gain. 

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