Commandate Diablo and the Gulf Cartel Spread Terror in Tamaulipas

commandante diablo sicarios

Video File Title: Sicarios muestran sus acciones en Tamaulipas

Ostensibly Produced by: Gulf Cartel

Targeted Organization: Los Zetas

Released: as late as May 7, 2012.[1]

Warning: Video contains images of extreme violence. Viewer discretion is recommended.

(click link below to view video)

Commandante Diablo Spreading Terror in Ciudad Victoria


This video was allegedly produced by “Comandante Diablo”, who was believed affiliated with the Gulf Cartel, to publicize his incursion into Ciudad Victoria, a stronghold under the control of Miguel Treviño Morales, alias Z40 (at that time, co-leader of the Zetas). The video implies that Comandante Diablo and the Gulf Cartel appear to be logistically supported by the Sinaloa Cartel, also an enemy of the Zetas. This video quickly made Comandante Diablo infamous. It contains three segments.

The first segment begins with a text message declaring that Comandante Diablo and El Chapo spread terror (literally, “terror”) in Ciudad Victoria.[2] It features a drive-by shooting of a guard post – an example of “heating up” a plaza.[3]

The second segment is an interrogation video with an alleged Zeta prisoner who is lying on his side with his hands secured behind his back. He appears to be in the back of a pick-up truck. A masked operative kneeling behind him appears to be the primary interrogator. He continually intimidates the prisoner by holding it by his neck, brushing his hair from his face with it, and slapping him with it. The interrogator begins by addressing Z-40 directly. “This is what will happen to your people,” he states to the audience. “He is mine… his family is with me.” The interrogator becomes angrier, and threatens to chop up his wife. The prisoner, who is clearly terrified, begs repeatedly, and appeals to his captor to verify with his wife that he knows nothing. The Gulf operative commands a subordinate to bring his wife. The video is quickly edited, and the audience does not see or hear the prisoner’s wife. The video is edited again to omit the prisoner’s execution, but the audience sees an operative shooting his already mortally wounded body.

The second interrogation begins in a similarly wooded area. A kneeling prisoner is surrounded by three masked operatives armed with assault rifles. The original interrogator stands to his left, slapping him with the knife to intimidate him. The interrogation established a tenuous association with the Zetas: His uncle knew somebody (presumably of significance). The Gulf operatives display a bag of marijuana allegedly found on his person and threaten the dealer who sold it to him. They also threaten Z-40. The prisoner is made to lay face down and is shot in the back with an assault rifle.

The video was full of Name Calling. Expletives such as “fucker” or “son of a bitch” were directed toward the leader Z-40, who was not a prisoner. Insults such as “asshole”, “bitch”, and “pussy” were directed personally at the prisoners, reflecting their terror and powerlessness.  The Testimony technique was utilized, though not very effectively due to the apparent lack of valuable information yielded from the interrogations. The first prisoner appeared to be a low level Zeta, one who would know little of value. The second prisoner appeared related to a Zeta associate, making him even less credible as an informant. Ironically, their average appearances may actually facilitate the spread of terror through the lower ranks of the Zetas, as well as the regular people who purchase their marijuana, a common drug (an example of the Plain Folks technique). It seems that the primary concern of Diablo was to terrorize the Zetas and threaten their clientele base, which in turn would hurt their drug sales within a territory disputed by the Gulf Cartel. Yet to kill family members of enemies is considered dastardly even by cartel standards. Family remains a Glittering Generality within Mexican culture, and Diablo’s violation of it threatens to bring hatred upon him even from those who despise the Zetas.

In comparison with previous videos in the Gulf-Zetas propaganda volley, this one is more action-focused, and violence-focused, than its predecessors, which devoted more time to ostensibly incriminating testimonies and sometimes concluded with violence. The Gulf Cartel and the Zetas have committed acts of ultra-violence upon one another at least as early as their schism in 2010, but this video escalates the trend of rising levels of violence displayed in narco-videos aimed the other organization.



[1] Originally accessed May 7, 2012:

Update: Accessed July 20, 2013:

Accessed July 20, 2013:

[2] “El Chapo” is the alias of Joaquin Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

[3] “Heating up a plaza” is a method of manipulating state authorities against a rival cartel. An invading cartel will attack civilians, police, military, or state authorities in an area controlled by an enemy cartel with the intention of provoking an influx of military and police into the area, which is intended to result in more pressure against the cartel attempting to maintain the territory than for the invaders who actually launched the attacks. These attacks frequently are labeled as “terrorism” by citizens, police, military, politicians, and defending cartels, including car bombs, IEDs, grenade attacks, and public mutilations. By extension, the organization deemed responsible in the public eye becomes regarded as “terrorists”. This public perception, in turn, pressures a response from the state against that group, regardless of whether authorities believe they were truly responsible for the attacks.

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