Mexico’s government upped its offensive against the Zetas with the announcement that five new military bases will be installed in the group’s primary areas of operation.
Four bases will be located in Tamaulipas and another one in Nuevo Leon, which are both among the northern border states most affected by drug violence.
Seven military bases will be created in total, but two of these will be based in municipalities where the government says the Zetas do not operate, according to Excelsior.·
The initiative comes as part of the government’s drive to reinstate control in areas where criminal groups have, in some cases, overrun local authorities The Mexican Department of Defense stated that installing greater military presence in these areas will help return the rule of law, reports Excelsior.
InSight Crime Analysis
The expansion of military bases in northern Mexico follows a recent report by Stratfor that argues the Zetas have become Mexico’s largest drug cartel in terms of territorial presence, operating in 17 out of Mexico’s 31 states compared to the Sinaloa Cartel‘s 16.
This apparent expansion has meant the group has become more of a focus point for authorities both in Mexico and the US. President Felipe Calderon previously described the group as Mexico’s principal security threat, and there have been reports that the government formally made the Zetas the primary target of the security forces. The US, meanwhile, imposed greater sanctions against the group last year, in an attempt to hurt their financial assets.
More military bases could also prompt further concerns that Mexico’s militarized approach to fighting crime does not lead to reduced violence. As laid out by a Human Rights Watch report last year, the security forces frequently committed abuses in the states most affected by drug violence.