Zetas Recruit Nicaraguan Farmworkers: Reports

Reports that emissaries of the Zetas tricked 22 Nicaraguan farmers into coming to Mexico to work for them suggest the gang might be getting increasingly desperate for recruits.

According to a report in El Nuevo Diario, the 22 farmers were recruited by Nicaraguan emissaries of the Zetas under the pretence that they would be transported to Mexico to work in construction or as security guards. Once there, they were told, they could earn up to $1,000 every two weeks.

When the group made it to Mexico, they were split up and sent to the cities of Monterrey, San Luis and Saltillo and informed they were joining the Zetas and would be trained in the use of arms to fight for the gang.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Zetas’ move to recruit farmers with no experience in the handling of weapons is curious. The three accused of carrying out the recruitment, Julio Cesar Leiva Davila, Walter Jose Morales Garcia and Asuncion Perez Castillo, were arrested last year, and reports stated that they had been charged with identifying and recruiting Nicaraguans with military experience.

Moves to incorporate farmers into the drug gang could be a sign that the group is getting desperate for recruits, and is unable to attract higher-level members.

So far, Nicaragua has avoided the spike in violence experienced by its northern neighbors such as Honduras and El Salvador, with a homicide rate of 13.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. The evidence of the Zetas’ increasing interest in the country is a worrying sign.