For many children, when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up you would probably get firefighter, doctor, police officer, singer, and maybe even mailman or woman for an answer. But for children living on the border of the Rio Grande between Mexico and the United States you may find the occasional child who wants to be a Zeta when they grow up. A Zeta happens to be a member of an organization of assassins with one of Mexico’s drug cartels.
Infamous for exporting cocaine into the United States, The Gulf Cartel is an organization based in the Mexican states of Matamoros and Tamualipas who use the Rio Grande, an area of land that divides Mexico and the US, as its bridge to traffic drugs into American counties that border the Grande. As part of a series concerning the drug wars in Mexico, the New York Times published a shocking discovery concerning the drug lords and the teenagers they use in their drug war.
According to officials, the Zetas are a notorious organization of assassins within the Gulf Cartel renowned for murdering opponents who challenged the Gulf Cartel. Along improvised counties like Laredo, Texas which borders the Rio Grande, Zetas recruit young Latino Americans into the organization. During his interview with the New York Times, Rosalio Reta, a 19-year-old Zeta member serving 70 years in a Texas prison for murders he has been connected to, gives an insight in the world of a teenage contract killer.
Like Zeta, who was recruited into the organization at aged 13, teens are lured into joining because they are promised a new lifestyle with fancy cars, sexy women, and access to more money they could ever image. In a videotaped confession made by police authorities, Reta confesses, “I like what I do, I don’t deny it.” Once within the organization, these teenagers are taken to training camps within Mexico and trained to become contract killers who act within both the United States and Mexico. These teens endure six months of learning hand-to-hand combat and how to shoot assault rifles. After their training has been completed, the teens are taken to expensive houses in the US where they await to be called on and act on a contract.
According to trial records, while free Reta took directions from a man named Lucio Quintero “El Viejon”, a capo who lived within Mexico and received a weekly retainer of $500. When given a contract, they are expected to receive somewhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Despite taking orders from Quintero, Detective Roberto A. Garcia Jr. from the Laredo Police department reports that all Zetas work for Miguel Trevino, the leader of Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico City which is across from Laredo, Texas.
With a bridge connecting Nuevo Laredo to Laredo, recruitment is easier when American teens in Laredo venture to a nearby club, The Eclipse, which is on the main square of Nuevo Laredo. While enjoying drinks and dancing, the teens become targets of the cartel members who hunt these grounds for new recruits. According to Detective Garcia, the cartels “just seduce you…they have that power, that cash, the cars, the easy money,” which is enough bait to hook young and easily influenced teens into a life they think will be better and all they have to do is commit murder to keep it.