Mexican drug cartels use sophisticated radio system
Mexican army has been regularly seizing equipment in raids
A shadow communications system, utilizing sophisticated radio equipment powered by solar power has allowed the Mexican drug cartels to coordinate drug deliveries, facilitate kidnapping, extortion and other crimes with the immediacy and precision of a modern military or law-enforcement agency. The Mexican army and marines have seized hundreds of pieces of communications equipment in three operations since September. What they have discovered is a surprisingly far-ranging, sophisticated infrastructure.
The Mexican army seized a total of at least 167 antennas, 155 repeaters, 166 power sources, 71 pieces of computer equipment and 1,446 radios earlier this month.
Zetas operatives were able to conduct encrypted conversations without depending on the official cell phone network, which is relatively easy for the Mexican authorities to tap into.
"They're doing what any sensible military unit would do," Robert Killebrew, a retired U.S. Army colonel who has studied the Mexican drug cartels for the Center for a New American Security says. "They're branching out into as many forms of communications as possible."
The Mexican army seized a total of at least 167 antennas, 155 repeaters, 166 power sources, 71 pieces of computer equipment and 1,446 radios earlier this month. The equipment has been taken down in several cities in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and the northern states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas.
The radio network was built circa 2006 by the Gulf cartel, a narcotics-trafficking gang that employed a group of enforcers known as the Zetas, who have since split from the Gulf cartel in 2010 and became one of the nation's most dominant drug cartels. The Zetas have since branched out with profitable sidelines such as kidnapping, extortion and human trafficking.
Jose Luis Del Toro Estrada, the network's mastermind was known as "Tecnico," later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine in federal court in Houston, Texas, two years ago.
Using millions of dollars worth of legally available equipment, Del Toro established the system in most of Mexico's 31 states and parts of northern Guatemala. According to Del Toro's plea agreement, the Gulf cartel boss in each drug-smuggling territory was responsible for buying towers and repeaters as well as equipping his underlings with radios.
Mexican authorities say that the cartel radio infrastructure, saying it was less monolithic than the one described by U.S. authorities. They say that military operations had been focused on a series of smaller, local systems that were not connected to each other due to technical limitations.
"It's not a single network," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic. "They use it to act locally."
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Mexican drug cartels, radio system, Tecnico, Jose Luis Del Toro Estrada
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