The rapid growth of organized crime in Mexico and the government’s response to it have driven an unprecedented rise in violence and impelled major structural economic changes, including the recent passage of energy reform. Los Zetas Inc. asserts that these phenomena are a direct and intended result of the emergence of the brutal Zetas criminal organization in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. Going beyond previous studies of the group as a drug trafficking organization, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera builds a convincing case that the Zetas and similar organizations effectively constitute transnational corporations with business practices that include the trafficking of crude oil, natural gas, and gasoline; migrant and weapons smuggling; kidnapping for ransom; and video and music piracy.
Combining vivid interview commentary with in-depth analysis of organized crime as a transnational and corporate phenomenon, Los Zetas Inc. proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding the emerging face, new structure, and economic implications of organized crime in Mexico. Correa-Cabrera delineates the Zetas establishment, structure, and forms of operation, along with the reactions to this new model of criminality by the state and other lawbreaking, foreign, and corporate actors. Since the Zetas share some characteristics with legal transnational businesses that operate in the energy and private security industries, she also compares this criminal corporation with ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and Blackwater (renamed “Academi” and now a Constellis company). Asserting that the elevated level of violence between the Zetas and the Mexican state resembles a civil war, Correa-Cabrera identifies the beneficiaries of this war, including arms-producing companies, the international banking system, the US border economy, the US border security/military-industrial complex, and corporate capital, especially international oil and gas companies.
About the Author
GUADALUPE CORREA-CABRERA is an associate professor of public affairs and security studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She is the author of Democracy in “Two Mexicos”: Political Institutions in Oaxaca and Nuevo León and a frequent commentator in national and international news media on drug trafficking issues and drug violence in Mexico.
"Correa-Cabrera’s book approaches the Mexican Drug War through an analysis of the Zetas—the most powerful, well-armed, and technologically-advanced criminal corporation in Mexico. . . . This impressive contribution reveals the horrific realities, complexities, and products of neoliberal capitalism—though it is not so much of a “new” violence as much as an evolution of existing forms of it."
— NACLA: The Report on the Americas
"The strength of Correa’s book is that she links security and political economy outcomes in Mexico in a way that is not reductionist. That is, she avoids ascribing the economic outcomes of the Mexican drug war to the logic of neoliberalism or of capitalism more generally, but rather considers the complex political mediations between the calculations of political elites and the expansion of transnational extractive activities in Mexico."
— Yerepouni News
"Los Zetas Inc. is a state of the art study of organized crime and drug trafficking studies in Mexico...It is a major book that should be required reading in social sciences classes on contemporary Mexico."
— Mexican Studies
"This book is most assuredly a strong contribution…[Correa-Cabrera] develops a fine-grained analysis of what is taking place in Tamaulipas much more thoroughly than anyone before, and the reader can easily appreciate what goes into making what is happening here a security crisis that goes far beyond the state."
— The Americas
"Timely…useful for students and scholars interested in Mexico's Drug War, or, more generally, in the relationship between 'development' and the violence that so often accompanies natural resource booms."
— Journal of Latin American Studies
"[Correa-Cabrera] not only provides great historical detail on the formation, evolution, and internal organization of the Zetas, but also offers a careful review of Mexico's most recent political and economic reforms, which are deeply related to changes in the criminal organization...the many thought-provoking concepts, analyses, and new forms of evidence Correa-Cabrera presents should push Mexican policymakers and organized crime experts alike to formulate and answer new and urgent questions to better understand, and hopefully help resolve, a reality that has led to the deaths and disappearances of tens of thousands of people across the country."
— Latin American Politics and Society
"[Los Zetas Inc.] provides new arguments and fresh perspectives on the already existing works about transnational criminal organisations, how they work, links to energy firms, and paramilitary characteristics of drug cartels in Mexico. The book shows extensive research as well as concrete evidence which demonstrates that Correa-Cabrera’s main aim is to depict Los Zetas as a criminal enterprise that has roots in a business corporation model, and the widespread power a drug cartel can achieve within a country."
— Bulletin of Latin American Research