Although the goals of Los Zetas make them less of an international threat than Islamist terror groups, they are still a threat to watch; Grayson and Logan “describe their expansion into Central America and the United States”(Campbell, 2013, p.246), and Morris suggests that their presence “exacerbates several of the most intractable domestic issues facing the United States“ (2013, p.31).
Los Zetas do not employ weapons of mass destruction, however their actions result in mass victimization.“Some Los Zetas members are former Mexican Special Forces soldiers and maintain expertise in heavy weaponry, specialized military tactics, sophisticated communications equipment, intelligence collection, and countersurveillance techniques”(Longmire & Longmire, 2008, p.35).
Los Zetas use these tactics to present a threat to the civilian populace of their areas of operation. “A recent narcomanía ("drug banner") posted over two bodies hanging from a highway overpass in Nuevo Laredo sent a clear message: "This is going to happen to all of those posting funny things on the Internet.... I'm about to get you." (Morris, 2013, p.31). In addition, “Los Zetas broadened its role beyond protection and enforcement, extending its activities to people smuggling, kidnapping, extortion, and arms trafficking. In 2009, human rights and church groups claimed that the Zetas dominated both
human trafficking and migrant kidnapping” (Kushner&Martin, 2011, p. 649). Not all of these activities are directed by the leadership of Los Zetas, “The killing of 52 innocent patrons of a Monterrey casino in an August 2011 arson attack,the single deadliest incident of the Calderón presidency, was also the work of local Zetas commanders” (Corcoran, 2013, p.322).
Los Zetas shares some similarities with other terror groups. Their use of publicizing brutal acts to intimidate the population and the use of narcocorridors to propagandize their public role are similar to Islamist terror groups. Guevera describes the use of the narcocorrido, “Their use of propaganda is also intended to create immense fear among rivaling cartels and public/elected officials, defend their plazas, and provide a warning sign for those who dare cross their path” (Guevara, 2013, p. 133).Where Los Zetas differ is in a profit motive as an overriding goal.
The is some dispute about appropriate countermeasures towards narcoterrorist activities. The first approach is via law enforcement. “Law enforcement – particularly against terrorists, organized crime or international syndicates – inevitably raises troublesome questions of jurisdiction”(Allard, 2010, p. 90). Law enforcement becomes even more difficult considering the effect of corruption; “Bribery and corruption help neutralize government action against the DTOs, ensure impunity, and facilitate smooth operations” (Beittel, 2013, p.7). The corruption is to the point where Grayson and Logan can “explore the ways in which Los Zetas have established 'dual sovereignty' with state and local governments while laying claim to key territory” (Campbell, 2013, p.246). Corcoran asserts that this leads to the situation in which “the danger of Mexican gangs has often been described as one in which the gangs have grown more powerful than the state” (Corcoran, 2013, p.323). Coming at the law from the other side would involve the legalization of drugs. While this would be a step towards restoring personal freedom, it would not effectively end the power of Los Zetas. Morris states that because they “are dealing in far more than just illegal drugs, the disappearance of one revenue stream would not eradicate the cartels or decisively erode their power” (2013, p.32). Currently, the US and Mexico employ a “kingpin strategy”; “A kingpin strategy is the term US law enforcement uses to refer to the targeting for arrest of the leadership of drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s). The strategy can also be applied to counterterrorism; referring to the strategy of targeting terrorist leaders in an attempt to disrupt illicit networks”(Jones, 2013, p.157). Jones concludes “Kingpin strategies can effectively disrupt and fragment an illicit network, whether it be insurgent or profit-seeking. However, the consequences of that disruption can be dire for the society in which these illicit networks are embedded. “(2013, p.170). Considering the situation in Mexico is already dire, the kingpin stratrgy should be maintained, and expanded to targeting the lieutenants and logistics experts of Los Zetas