Gulf-Zeta Cartels Split
In the late 1990s, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the former leader of the Gulf Cartel, began recruiting members of the Mexican Army to protect his territory, personnel, and drug trafficking operations. These original deserters, who were known as Los Zetas, came from the Special Forces squadron of the army, arguably the best trained branch of the Mexican military. Upon the arrest and extradition of Cárdenas Guillén in 2003 and 2007 respectively, Los Zetas strengthen its role in the Gulf cartel, but managed to retain its alliance. Nonetheless, that alliance lasted until early 2010, when disagreements reached a turning point. On 18 January 2010, several members of the Gulf cartel kidnapped Víctor Peña Mendoza, a leader of Los Zetas nicknamed Concord 3 and a close associate and friend of Treviño Morales, alias Z-40. When he was held captive, Peña Mendoza was asked to switch alliances and join the Gulf cartel, but he refused, earning a beating and an execution, presumably carried out by Samuel Flores Borrego.
Treviño Morales heard about the incident and issued an ultimatum to Flores Borrego and Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez:
"Hand over the assassin of my friend, you son of a bitch ... You have until the 25th, if you don't comply, there will be war."
Both of the Gulf cartel leaders ignored the command, and Treviño Morales did not wait to avenge the death of his friend. On 30 January 2010, Treviño Morales kidnapped and slaughtered 16 Gulf cartel members in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, marking the start of the cartel war between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, and Veracruz that has left thousands of people killed. Los Zetas used violent and intimidatory tactics to expand, emerging with a notorious reputation as Mexico's most violent drug trafficking organization. It managed to take control of most of the territories owned by the Gulf cartel when they had essentially served as a single organization.
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