The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

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The initiation ritual of Los Zetas


Sedena said that Galindo Mellado Cruz signed up for federal forces on September 1, 1992

Galindo Mellado Cruz, aka "El Mellado", was among the first generations of special forces to defect from the Army to form an armed arm of the Gulf Cartel and then become one of the bloodiest cartels in Mexico, known as Los Zetas

Who was the alleged founder of the Zetas, died during a shooting in Reynosa in 2014, confirmed the National Security Commissioner at the time, Monte Alejandro Rubido.

According to AP, a state official who does not reveal his name for security, acknowledged that Mellado escaped twice from penalties in Tamaulipas, where he was confined for rape, armed robbery, homicide and crimes against health.

For more than a year and a half, writer and journalist Ricardo Raphael visited Galdino Mellado Cruz, a founding member of Los Zetas, in Chiconautla prison. Based on his conversations, he wrote Son of War, a book that “debates between fiction and reality” and that “reconstructs the great tragedy of a nation in which uncertainty, drug trafficking and corruption were the breeding ground perfect for elite military to become the largest criminal group ”in the country. Fragments of the first chapter are reproduced with permission from the author and the Grupo Planeta publishing house

I went down to breakfast early, I was among the first to enter the restaurant. Gradually our race arrived, but nobody spoke. The bosses noticed the circumstance of silence. Then El Cos was encouraged to ask:

- What do you have, you bastards? Are they badly caught or did the devil appear?

We wait to see who spoke first. The M got up and interrogated again:

"Let's see, you, Galdino." He talked to me like that because I was his driver. What the fuck happens?

–Nothing, my lord.

-I don't know how to say it ...

- Is there any discomfort? Do they lack money? Did you see abuse?

"No, no," I replied, not wanting to talk about more.

"Let go, so we can talk," insisted El M, addressing the ball of culeros that were leaving me alone.

"Excuse me, my lord ..." I dared to open my mouth, although my voice was very small. Sorry to mention you, but yesterday, when everyone was here at the hotel, we saw that you and other people went on television, accused of ... They said in the news that they are looking for you, boss ... for drug trafficking

A laugh of the M broke the silence in the dining room.

- Before they suspected nothing?

"Do you know my name, Galdino?"

–Now yes, my lord.

- What do you think, gentlemen? –He interrogated the rest.

"Hey, boss ... and why hadn't they told us the whole truth?" - Oscar Guerrero intervened.

"I left that responsibility to Decena and Lazcano," El M defended, who continued to laugh and laugh while it was clear that, because of his reaction to us, only Lazca was uncomfortable.

Osiel proposed that we go out to the hotel parking lot, and we all follow him.

"Choose a truck, Betancourt, whatever you want," he ordered as soon as we were outside; Betancourt walked to the Escalade that Rejón brought that day. Open the driver's door - he instructed again and Betancourt obeyed.

From the pocket of his jacket the boss took out a razor and with it he tore the skin from the back of the seat; without much effort, he extracted a wide plate covered with synthetic fiber that was part of the skeleton, and several packages covered with plastic and cinnamon tape appeared inside the hole. He withdrew one to show that cocaine was inside. According to El M, each front seat contained 30 kilos and the two rear seats about 120 more.

"Choose another truck," the boss asked, now addressing Guerrero Silva. Oscar pointed to a gray Suburban, parked in front of the Escalade.

The man repeated the operation in one of the front seats and removed the plate again, which we explained later, it was lead to avoid X-rays; however, there was no drug inside the compartment, but packages with green bills. According to the pattern, the other trucks were carrying, each, 750 thousand dollars (...)

We returned to the hotel restaurant. No one outside of us could have entered or left the place; We occupied the chairs where we had been before. The Cos, Trevino and Tony Tormenta had not moved. Osiel Cárdenas took the floor again.

- Well, guys, now that there are no more secrets and everyone has the same information, I want to ask if they will continue to serve the company.

An incomprehensible spokesman ran inside that place.

- Speak freely, nothing will happen to you. Tell them, Heriberto, ”the patron insisted.

Heriberto Lazcano threw himself into the ring with some difficulty because he knew that with his silence he had dented trust:

- Look, compas, whoever does not want to follow you, better say it at once; There is no fart, I swear. Whoever wants it, leaves. But it must be said right now, not until the night or tomorrow.

I looked for the Hummer's look, because I was surprised that this guy didn't say a word. It was the turn of Arturo Guzmán Decena to intervene:

–Think it before answering. Now they have a good salary, respect, identification, nobody stops them; Each time they release a new truck, bring chingon cloths and walk with good old women. Whatever you want, you guys, you are the envy; They all give their asses to a voice and don't tell me it's because of their little face. Analyze it and, if you don't want to, then you roll once!

As if playing football, Decena passed the ball to Heriberto:

- The situation is this: if they stay, they will earn 120 thousand pesos a month, which they will not spend because we will be giving them per diem all the time

- Look at your clothes, bring a good watch, fine jewelry, carry the weapon you want; If they enter a restaurant, the most expensive in the country, they don't have to worry about the price. The M spares no resources when it comes to you - he resumed the word Decena.

–As Arturo says, reflect on that too: how does your family live? Remember the salaries that are paid out there. When we were only military, how much did we earn? There is no comparison with what the employer is offering us, ”said El Lazca.

With those arguments El Lazca, Decena and El M got into our heads. But there were also other powerful reasons to consider: where were the other twenty-four fellow Zeta Group who also went to Fort Hood? We had heard rumors. That he was raised, that another died in a car accident, that his family was not seen again by the guy. For me that those bastards didn't want to work for the company and that's why they were no longer among the living (...)

Finally The Hummer decided to speak:

- But things have changed, employer. The police are looking for you, and even if we stay, because the desire with so many people against us will be of little use.

- That's why they don't have to be alarmed. You must understand that the media, reporters, must do their job; Do not be angry with them and ignore them. We are well arranged, ”said Osiel Cárdenas.

- Fixed? -I asked for.

- Yes, Galdino, fixed. I repeat that reporters do their job, and well, some are with us, others are not. But you as if nothing, walk straight and nobody will bother you, I assure you. Do you think I would be here so calm if I was afraid of being caught?

-And the government? Is the government with us? - Betancourt asked.

- Quiet, everything is in order; We work with the government. You are still part of the government, or what, have you already been cut off from the Army payroll? The fortnight girl is coming: when they have their payment, they remember me.

"I'm going," I answered in a louder voice than the rest.

In the end none cracked. The 21 of us who were there meeting with the bosses accepted the new reality.

"Think, think," ordered Osiel Cárdenas. This is a new family contract, so I want to hear everyone accept it.

Guzmán Decena, who was standing in front of the M, took a military step and said: - I will be the Zeta 1.
Alejandro Lucio Morales Betancourt got up: –Zeta 2.
Heriberto Lazcano joined: –Zeta 3.
Then Jaime González Durán: –Zeta 4.
And so the others continued.
Mateo Díaz López: –Zeta 6.
And Jesús Enrique Rejón: –Zeta 7.
Óscar Guerrero Silva: –Zeta 8.
My turn came: –Zeta 9.
Omar Lorméndez Pitalúa: –Zeta 10…

It is not necessary to believe what the press later said: that numbering of Los Zetas never had to do with the hierarchy of command within the organization, they were keys to identify among us and were assigned by chance (...)

"Don't retire so quickly," Mr. Osiel told us. Before you have to separate the bad wheat from the good one.

We all turn to see the patron.

- Ciro Justo Hernández, you leave the formation - ordered the M.

The Cos and Treviño advanced towards that compa and flanked it.

"This son of the fuck was talking about more," they informed us. Because of him, the police investigate the old woman's employer and the DEA knows things that should not be known (...)

"All this Judas will take care of you," ordered El Cos.

Ciro Justo Hernández was a corporal who was always silent, he carried her with few and was only a friend of Oscar Guerrero; That morning we found out why.

- Did you know that Ciro changed his name when he was sent to Fort Hood? –Asked the M.

Oscar looked down.

- Did you know, Oscar? The real name of this traitor - he pointed with his finger - is Ciro Guerrero Silva. How do you see that Ciro and Óscar are brothers, children of the same mother and the same father?

No one dared to move from his place.

- But Oscar is clean, we already investigate and there is no problem with him. On the other hand, Ciro does not deserve to work for the company. He delivered our radio codes and provided information on what we do and do not do; because of him we got into trouble with the DEA, but that fart is already resolved. Now what is missing is that we settle accounts here.

Ciro Justo Hernández was not the only one of the Zeta Group who had a false identity and Oscar told M; He wanted to save his brother's skin.

- Excuse me, boss, I'm going to make sure you don't screw it up again.

Osiel thundered:

- Here the one who shit, cleans it! That is the rule and all of you are going to clean it, if you really want to stay with me. That includes you, Oscar. It's your decision: do you stay with your brother or do you come with us? (...)

After El Cos and Treviño took him away, El M ordered us all to go to a safe house 20 minutes from the hotel (…)

When we arrived at the house there were El Lazca, Decena, El Hummer and Betancourt; Minutes later, nobody was missing. We had met again the 20 Zetas, 21 counting Ciro Justo, and the four main ones: Osiel, Tony, Trevino and El Cos. Oscar's brother was completely naked, tied to a metal chair; others started the work without waiting for us, blood was coming out of their mouths because several teeth had been thrown out of their holes. As soon as he heard us, he called his brother to defend him.

"Brother," said Oscar.

With courage, he approached the M to insist on the argument that several of us had the names changed.

The employer hurried to clear the mistake. Cyrus was not a traitor for using a false identity, but for passing information that he should not.

"First of all, he betrayed you," he said to Oscar. You, who put him in the Army and then helped him to be bad. You proposed to go to Fort Hood. You are the first betrayed (…)

–There is only one way to treat them, you understand?

Oscar looked straight at the M and sideways at his brother. The Lazca approached Ciro Justo and struck him a blow on the head with his palm open; Guey's skull thundered dry.

"Because of you, the operation may have been lost," added Heriberto. Because of you now the boss is in the news. It cost the employer many millions to build this organization so that a fool like you comes to spoil everything.

When Oscar saw that there was no remedy, he tried to become strong:

- I understand, sir, I understand what you explain. If my brother went over as a cock, I am not the one who can defend him.

–Then, are you with me? Asked Osiel.

-Yes sir.

The others nod together with Oscar.

- Even if it's your brother?

–If you can't help me, neither can I.

Lazca knelt by the chair where Cyrus was and with a hammer slaughtered his bare toes until they became small fragments of busted flesh; Then The Hummer approached and put a tremendous kick on the chest of the unfortunate. Ciro flew out with everything and chair. Betancourt took charge of lifting it so that the others could continue.

"Brother, help me, please, help me," Ciro stammered, trying to find his brother's face in the meantime that he wanted to be part of the madriza. Oscar stayed with the employer without getting involved, but without opposing punishment. Mercy, friends, mercy. Oscar, brother, help me!

The screams inflamed the mood of the group; Several began to enjoy torture. The Hummer took out a saw knife and, crossing his upper lip, tore off a piece of his cheek: I could see the pelon bone above the molars (...)

"Make sure you suffer a chingo," El M. said.

Twenty bastards participate in skinning. Betancourt and I took care of keeping him alive while the others took each one his trophy.

That was the first death culera in which I participated: a mother of those makes you feel powerful (...)

Every time Ciro confessed something, the rigor came worse: The Hummer castrated him and Decena tied a firecracker to blow his cock. It is not easy to describe the emotions generated by getting involved in such a party; You feel fear, but it is not an unpleasant fear because it is loaded with adrenaline. You want to see more, more blood, more blows, you want to hear more screams and give it to you too, give the güey a slap. It is not sexual arousal, because I am not fucking, but you do get excited and do not want it to stop.

In the end, Osiel decided to end the show: he handed Oscar the Colt nine millimeters he always carried and ordered him to give him the coup de grace (...)

When it was all over, the patron gathered us around him again, recovered the weapon that came from using Oscar and hugged him tightly telling him that he regretted his loss.

–Warrior, today you lost a brother, but you won a family, 20 brothers and I who are now part of you. With this betrayal a brotherhood is born, and so it will last. Think of it as a ritual that unites us forever.

The blood that circulated in our veins had us very alert, more than any drug. That day a legion of soldiers willing to do anything to survive (...)

Fragment of the book Son of War, by Ricardo Raphael © 2019, Seix Barral. Courtesy granted under the permission of Grupo Planeta México

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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

Fascinating article.  Sounds like a really good book.
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

In reply to this post by MaxiMillian2k19
Wow. What a crazy story. Óscar Guerrero Silva committed suicide years later, so it makes me wonder if killing his own brother was too much to bear for him.
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

The only one thing that I want to understand is that Oscar and his brother Cito were both Corporals?
The event might happened somewhere in the early 2000s after the Nov, 1999 Matamoros standoff and before arrest of Betancourt in the Nov, 2001
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

It could have been earlier than the November standoff in Matamoros, though unlikely as you suggest. Undercover US agents met with Osiel twice prior to the incident, including one in May/June 1999, when he met with undercover Cameron County police officer Abraham Rodriguez. Osiel knew the DEA and FBI were after him since then. The DEA was investigating Osiel since 1996, but I don’t think he was aware of it that early.

Many of the gunmen involved in the standoff were policemen, like Baldomero González Ruiz, Juan Carlos de la Cruz Reyna, Adán Medrano Rodríguez, José Manuel Garza Rendón, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, Alejandro Estévez García, Arturo Meléndez Reta, Gregorio Sauceda Gamboa, and Rogelio González Pizaña.

In reality, the military guys like Lazcano, Z-1 and others were with El June and Don Zefe in Miguel Alemán. After El June’s capture in April 2001, Osiel took them under his reign. The media for a very long time thought Osiel hired them in the late 1990s. But now we know that it happened much later and that El June and Don Zefe were the guys who laid the foundation for what later would be known as Los Zetas.
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

In reply to this post by MaxiMillian2k19
Interesting story. Hard to imagine what was going through Z-8's head seeing his own brother castrated and then being ordered to kill him.

Probably a stupid question but who is 'El M'? I don't think Ive come across that nickname before.
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

In reply to this post by MaxiMillian2k19
This is probably the key word in this story: “se debate entre la ficción y la realidad”, which means it is fiction.
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

In reply to this post by coetzeefan101
coetzeefan101 wrote
Interesting story. Hard to imagine what was going through Z-8's head seeing his own brother castrated and then being ordered to kill him.

Probably a stupid question but who is 'El M'? I don't think Ive come across that nickname before.
Comandante Mateo or Z-10 maybe?
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Re: The initiation ritual of Los Zetas

Thanks Ivan,

Commandante Mateo makes sense I think.