Zetas Interrogate and Behead Gulf Cartel Lookout (Los Zetas Interrogan y Decapitan a Halcon del Cártel del Golfo)
Video File Titles:
Los Zetas Interrogan a Halcon del Cártel del Golfo en Reynosa
DECAPITAN a Halcon del Cártel del Golfo
Ostensibly produced by: Los Zetas
Targeted Organization: Gulf Cartel
Warning: Videos contain images of extreme violence. Viewer discretion is recommended.
(click links below to view videos)
The interrogation video focuses on the prisoner, who is dressed in military fatigues and kneeling with his hands cuffed in front of him. He is surrounded by three presumed Zeta operatives dressed in denim jeans and bullet-proof vests. Their faces are covered and they are armed with assault rifles. The scene occurs in or near a forest area, as foliage is visible in the background.
The interrogator’s questions establish the prisoner’s name and place of origin. When asked what he does for a living, the prisoner hesitates and stumbles for an explanation. Describing himself as a tire-repairman, he then acknowledged working as a lookout (halcon) for about three weeks, but claims he quit after not being paid. The account would appear inconsistent with his military fatigues; he dressed (or was dressed by his captors) in a manner resembling that of an enforcer. Whether forced to wear the fatigues for visual effect or simply a bad liar, the interrogator does not contest the issue onscreen. The interrogator asks for whom he used to work in the Gulf Cartel. The prisoner gives a name and indicates the plaza that person allegedly manages.
The second video is devoted to beheading the prisoner. It begins with the prisoner lying face-upwards on the earth. He is gagged and stripped to his underwear. His hands are outstretched to his sides. There are signs of physical injuries on his torso and face. He appears to already have sustained a gunshot to the head. A small pool of thick blood has already emerged from under his head. A zeta operative holds a long machete at his throat and begins to saw. There is no reaction from the prisoner. After quite a bit of work to sever the head, it was placed upon his stomach facing the camera.
This first video (encompassing the interrogation) relied almost entirely upon the Testimony technique, which in turn requires the perception of the prisoner as a reliable informant. Although the prisoner’s denial of current employment in the Gulf Cartel is of dubious credibility, it still presents a potential problem for the interrogators. Audiences may look unfavorably upon the Zetas murdering a “former” Gulf Cartel operative as an illegitimate killing. In turn, this could inadvertently perpetuate the Zetas’ public image as the most hated cartel in Mexico. The second problem was that by showing their difficulty beheading a dead prisoner, these particular operatives may have inadvertently advertised their lack of experience with that type of work.
The second video was released to terrorize the Gulf Cartel and the public from interfering with Zetas operations. The separation of a decapitation into its own video segment represents a continuation of the theme identified in previous analyses from El Blog de Propaganda with regard to the Zetas-Gulf Cartel volley, namely the intensification of violence that appears on the videos with each other’s prisoners. Both videos portrayed the Zetas as more powerful than their Gulf Cartel enemies, but certain details may have lessened the the psychological impact of these displays upon those enemies.While such a scene would seem more than sufficient a motive for revenge, some sicarios also will recognize that the prisoner was mortally wounded prior to the beheading. While the beheading is obviously vile, the video also displays a degree of restraint, at least for those with the eye to recognize it. The general public probably would not recognize anything merciful about a mortal gunshot prior to beheading. It is likely that such propaganda would have agitated the general public more than the enemy organization. This, along with the fact that an alleged lookout would be unlikely to have the insider’s knowledge portrayed in the video’s testimony, may have detracted from the credibility of the videos and their producers. These videos may have succeeded primarily in drawing negative attention to the brutality of the Zetas as the ostensible producers, thereby invoking public disapproval and increasing the chances of state repression against their own organization.