Remaining cartels have splintered into smaller competing gangs or have been swallowed up by the Sinaloa and the CJNG.
The botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation is big news in Washington today, with Attorney General Eric Holder waiting to find out whether he will be held in contempt of Congress.
The two most important criminal organizations in Mexico are engaged in all-out war, and the most spectacular battles are being fought for the cameras as the combatants pursue a strategy of intimidation and propaganda by dumping ever greater numbers of headless bodies in public view, the victims most likely innocent.
When a top Mexican or Colombian drug lord is captured, events normally go something like this: He gets extradited to the U.S. and makes a closed-door deal with prosecutors to give information on the drugs trade while getting a reduced sentence in return. The public finds out little to nothing of the details.
In the grotesque wars that pit Mexican armed forces and drug cartels against each other and civilians who get in their way, the Zetas cartel plays a fearsome role.