Taxis often serve as lookouts for criminal groups, warning of
police deployments. If drivers were working for a cartel, they could
be targeted by rival gangs, writes a guest blogger.
- A version of this post ran on the author's site,
Insightcrime.com. The views expressed are the author's own.
The murder of eight taxi drivers in a Monterrey suburb appears to
be the latest assault by organized criminal groups against transport
workers in Mexico, with the Zetas fingered as the killers.
The drivers were killed by a group of gunmen in two attacks on
taxi service stations in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, on Tuesday
afternoon. Two others, including a minor, were injured in the
attacks. Local and federal authorities mobilized in response to the
killings, but no suspects have been located so far. The two
shootings occurred roughly 6 miles from one another, in a marginal
section of Guadalupe that relies on pirate taxis to connect
residents to the city center.
Long considered to be among Mexico's safest and most cosmopolitan
cities, Monterrey and the surrounding region has turned into one of
its most notoriously violent over the past two years. In 2010, the
number of murders leaped to 828 across Nuevo Leon, up from 267 the
previous year. The figure jumped once more in 2011, to a total of
2,003. While much of Mexico has grown more violent in recent years,
Monterrey's status as Mexico's industrial capital, its third largest
city, and home to some of its wealthiest neighborhoods made its
decline particularly alarming.
The violence has been driven by a split between two powerful
former allies, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, who operate in the
region. The fight originally began in Tamaulipas, which borders
Nuevo Leon, after the Gulf assassinated a Zetas boss and refused to
hand over the perpetrators. The battle spread across Mexico's
northeast, and Monterrey has been the site of some of the most
notorious acts of violence in recent years.
Perhaps the most infamous incident was the murder of 52 casino
patrons in August 2010, the result of a fire set by the Zetas as
punishment for an unpaid extortion fee. It was the most deadly
single attack in recent Mexican history. The outcry over the mass
murder was heightened by the emergence of a video showing the
brother of Monterrey Mayor Fernando Larrazabal apparently collecting
an extortion payment from a Monterrey casino.
It remains unclear precisely why the taxi drivers were targeted,
but initial reports fingered the Zetas. …