The Executioner's Men

The Executioner's Men

Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs, and the Shadow State They Created

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ISBN: 978-1-4128-4617-2
Pages: 294
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 04-24-2012
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A new generation of ruthless pragmatists carves a parallel state across Mexico and Central America. Most powerful among them is Los Zetas, ruled over by Heriberto Lazcano, known as The Executioner. Lazcano and his men have forced a tectonic shift among drug trafficking organizations in the Americas, forever altering how criminal business is conducted in the Western Hemisphere. This narrative brings an unprecedented level of detail in describing how Los Zetas became Mexico’s most diabolical criminal organization.

Criminals control networks of police, politician, and businessmen spanning the American continent. The Mexican government is losing its “war on drugs,” despite the military, technical, and intelligence resources provided by its northern neighbor. Subcontracted street gangs operate in hundreds of US cities, purchasing weapons, delivering product, executing targeted foes, and bribing the US Border Patrol.

Despite suffering severe losses that would cripple any major corporation, Los Zetas continues to operate internationally in criminal markets. Many of the poor and destitute across the region cooperate with Los Zetas, sometimes for money, often because of coercion.

Editorial Reviews

“Embroiled in multiple turf wars around the country as well as a battle with the nation’s armed forces, Mexico’s dozen-odd drug cartels all seek to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, but none have cultivated a name for being cruel, ruthless and cold-blooded warriors quite so assiduously as the Zetas…. [This book] provide[s] us with the first hardnosed dissection of one of the most spine-chilling criminal organizations that has ever existed…. [E]ssential reading.”

—Jo Tuckman, International Affairs

“[T]his is the first authoritative book ever written solely about Los Zetas… The authors cover how Los Zetas are organized, financed, armed, and trained, and these sections contain information that is a researcher’s dream… Bottom line, if you do any work or research related to Mexico’s drug war, this needs to be in your book collection.”

—Sylvia Longmire,

“George Grayson and Samuel Logan provide the most detailed analysis to date of the Zetas, Mexico’s most brutal criminal group. The Executioner’s Men captures the sophisticated nature of the Zetas’ organizational structures and operations as well as the depraved flavor of the Zetas’ lives.”

—Vanda Felbab-Brown, fellow at the Brookings Institution; author, Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs

“[A]n astonishing tale with detail that Mickey Spillane would have envied. Vividly written, meticulously documented with footnotes that can serve as tools for other academics and journalists, this is a crime story that must be read and understood on both sides of the bloody border.”

—Jerry Kammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

“Carefully researched and vividly written, The Executioner’s Men provides the most detailed analysis currently available of the ‘Zetas,’ Mexico’s most violent and aggressive criminal organization. The book will be essential to scholars, policy-makers, and the public in their efforts to grasp the dimensions of the challenges posed by a new breed of organized crime to Mexico and the United States.”

—John Bailey, professor of government and foreign service, Georgetown University

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    

1    Origins and Establishment of Los Zetas    
2    Leadership, Organization, and Training
3    Resources
4    A “Shadow Government”: Dual Sovereignty    
5    Esprit de Corps    
6    Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana
7    “Zetanization” of Mexico
8    Psychological Operations
9    Zetas in Central America
10    Zetas in the United States
11    War in the North
12    Conclusions

Appendix 1    Original Zetas, Their Specialities, and Status    
Appendix 2    Suspected Zeta Recruits    
Glossary of Key Terms    
Selected Bibliography