Mexico: Military tackles narco telecom network
Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas reportedly runs a vast telecommunications network with antennas in remote spots across the country. (Photo: Bieno blogspot.com)
It looks like there’s more than just one telecommunications network in Mexico.
According to an article published this week by the AP, the Mexican military has been working hard to break down a sophisticated and perhaps national network of undercover antennas run by the Los Zetas drug cartel.
The news agency reports that since September, the army has seized 167 antennas, 155 repeaters, 166 power sources and an impressive 1,446 radios, in the northern and Gulf Coast states.
Drug traffickers use the equipment to communicate with each other in radio frequencies that are difficult for the military to detect. They also hire “hawks,” lookout men who tap into the network with their radios, and warn drug gangs about the movements of the military and police.
According to experts consulted by the AP, the seizures of the antennas and communication equipment, represent a significant short term victory for the military in its war against Los Zetas, who inherited the telecom network from the weakened Gulf Cartel.
The antennas are sometimes located in remote locations and cleverly camouflaged among bushes and trees, which makes them challenging to find.
However, they can be replaced by drug gangs with relative ease, especially in cities, where cartels set up antennas in the rooftops of private homes.
Other major drug gangs, such as the Sinaloa cartel, are also thought to run their own undercover telecoms networks.
In Brazil, where drug cartels are less powerful but still active, drug bosses in Rio’s favelas are known to pay kids to set off fireworks, to warn them of approaching police officers.