On the Instrumental Role of Excessive Violence in los Zetas' Emergence as a Drug Cartel
Koster, A.C. de
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Since the War on Drugs started in 2006, violence has skyrocketed in Mexico. The exact number of drug-related deaths is unknown, but estimations vary from 50,000 to over 60,000, with the Mexican government presenting lower estimations than human rights organizations. One thing about these deaths is confirmed by all sources: their amount grows every year. An increase in both violence and cruelty has also taken place in the last ten years. Drug cartels have their own vocabulary to describe different torture techniques, most of them referring to so-called ‘torture-killings’. A 2010 calculation also shows that eighteen percent of the people who died a drug-related death in Mexico were tortured before dying. Here, the most prominent cartel is los Zetas. Los Zetas hereby form a considerable threat to Mexico’s security because of their rapid economical and geographical expansion: in a few years, los Zetas managed to grow out to be the second most powerful Mexican drug cartel. They have shown great resistance to attacks from both other cartels and the state. Although quite some academics have published articles and books about los Zetas and Mexico’s drug-related problems the last few years, most literature only presents a contextual analysis. Very little is written about the ‘why’ of los Zetas’ use of excessive violence. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the academic debate about this. The main focus will be the instrumental role of this violence: There will be sought for an answer to the question why this violence is used. The leading question will be: What are the functions and motives of the excessive violence used by Mexican drug cartel los Zetas, looking at the context in which the violence is committed, los Zetas’ relationship with other actors, and the group dynamics within the cartel?