A team of rogue Mexican commandos blamed for dozens of killings along the U.S.-Mexico border has carried out at least three drug-related slayings in Dallas, a sign that the group is extending its deadly operations into U.S. cities, two U.S. law enforcement officials say.I think we can assume that these people are illegal aliens who use prohibited weapons. Dealing with themis not a matter of finding legal reasons to detain them. It just requires being serious about enforcing the law. That is something that few have been willing to do when it comes to immigration laws. If these guys were in the Mexican military then we should be able to get all sorts of identification data including photographs and finger prints. Presumbable the Mexicans know who left the military to join the drug dealers. Get their pictures and post them on the internet.
The men are known as the Zetas, former members of the Mexican army who defected to Mexico's so-called Gulf drug cartel in the late 1990s.
"These guys run like a military," said Arturo A. Fontes, an FBI special investigator for border violence based in Laredo, in south Texas. "They have their hands in everything and they have eyes and ears everywhere. I've seen how they work, and they're good at what they do. They're an impressive bunch of ruthless criminals." Dallas and federal officials said that since late 2003 eight to 10 members of the Zetas have been operating in north Texas, maintaining a "shadowy existence" and sometimes hiring Texas criminal gangs, including the Mexican Mafia and Texas Syndicate, for contract killings. The Texas Syndicate is a prison gang that authorities blame for several murders statewide.
The Zetas' activities in North Texas were described in interviews with two U.S. federal law enforcement agents, two former Drug Enforcement Administration officials, a former Dallas undercover narcotics officer and two undercover informants.
"We're aware of the Zetas' threat to U.S. cities, and we consider it a growing threat," said Johnny Santana, a criminal investigator for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Office of the Inspector General. "We're conducting investigations into several cases statewide to establish evidence. We still don't have those links yet, but the telltale signs are there, and they point to the Zetas." The Zetas' presence in Dallas represents a sharp departure from standard practice for Mexican cartels, which traditionally have kept a low profile on U.S. soil and have sought to avoid confrontations with U.S. law enforcement.
The Zetas, who are accused off carrying out killings and acting as drug couriers for the cartel, are regarded by U.S. law enforcement officials as expert assassins who are especially worrisome because of their elite military training and penchant for using AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles.
"The Zetas are bold, ruthless and won't think twice about pulling the trigger on a cop or anyone else who gets in their way," said the former Dallas narcotics officer, who asked not to be identified.
They are extending their reach and violence beyond the Nuevo Laredo-to-Matamoros border area into Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, where they blend into burgeoning Mexican immigrant communities, state and federal officials said.
The group may have ventured as far as Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga., the officials said.