Zetas Member Linked to 2010 San Fernando Massacre Captured

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Mexican authorities have captured an alleged member of the Zetas implicated in the 2010 massacre of 72 immigrants, which arguably marked a tipping point in Mexico’s war against organized crime. 

Federal police arrested Jose Guadalupe Reyes Rivera, alias “Sasi,” on March 31, at a mechanic’s garage in the eastern state of Tamaulipas, local media reported. He is now reportedly being held in a federal prison there. 

Reyes is accused of participating in the killing of dozens of immigrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, with Mexico offering over $300,000 for information leading to his capture. 

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Jose Guadalupe Reyes Rivera, alias “Sasi”

In August 2010, Zetas members kidnapped a group of immigrants on a highway in Tamaulipas. The group was taken to warehouse and slaughtered — possibly for refusing to work for the Zetas. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Although particularly horrific, the San Fernando massacre was not an isolated incident for the Zetas. At the height of their power — around 2010 to 2012 — the group was synonymous with beheadings and bodies in the street. However, the killings in San Fernando put the international spotlight on the plight of immigrants journeying through Mexico, and helped turned the Zetas into Mexico’s public enemy number one. And after after the Zetas were implicated in the killing of a US agent in Mexico, they became public enemy number one for international law enforcement as well. 

SEE ALSOZetas News and Profile

Following the San Fernando massacre, the Mexican government committed large numbers of troops to areas where the Zetas operated and captured or killed much of the group’s top leadership. The result was an accelerated fragmentation of the Zetas into many smaller groups — these continue to operate under the Zetas name, but at a smaller scale than at the Zetas’ peak. 

In contrast to groups like the Sinaloa Cartel — which rely more on bribery than bloodshed — the Zetas’ business model is dependent on the use of violence and intimidation. Instead of primarily relying on transnational drug trafficking as their source of funds, the Zetas charge a “piso,” or tax, for any criminal activity in their territory. Those who don’t comply must be dealt with brutally, as a message to others. At the time, the San Fernando massacre was the most chilling indication yet of the kind of violence this business model could unleash. 

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