The Zetas reportedly take in more than $350 million a year from exporting more than 40 tons of cocaine into the US. This interesting revelation, among others, came during testimony by a former leader of the criminal organization to a US court.
According to Reforma, Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, alias "El Mamito", stated to a jury in Austin, Texas, that all of the money made by the Zetas from exporting cocaine to the US goes directly into financing its war against rival group the Gulf Cartel.
Rejon's statements came during the trial of Jose Treviño Morales, brother of Miguel Angel, alias "Z-40," and Oscar Omar Treviño, leaders of the Zetas. In January, Jose Treviño was found guilty by a US federal court in Austin of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was arrested last year as part of a wider crackdown against the Zetas' money laundering operations in the US, involving the use of a horse breeding company.
During his testimony, Rejon also implied that the Zetas enjoyed the backing of Mexican police and military during its struggle against the Gulf Cartel, stating that the authorities would take bribes in exchange for information and other services, among them kidnapping.
InSight Crime Analysis
In a rare peek into the finances of a criminal organization, Rejon Aguilar provided a glimpse into just how costly the drug war can be for the Zetas, and begs the question of whether it's more financially efficient for criminal organizations to simply cut a deal with one another and broker peace. That is, of course, if he's telling the truth.
According to the testimony cited by Reforma, Rejon later contradicted his previous statement that all of the Zetas' profits was funneled directly into paying for the war against the Gulf Cartel. He claimed that he'd made more than $50 million during his time with the Zetas. Some of these funds was kept by the Zetas, he said, while he kept about $2 million for himself.
The war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas is now in its third year, and both organizations have lost their top leadership during this time. And while the Zetas expanded faster than other drug cartels, they also seem to have been hit the hardest during Mexico's crackdown on criminal organizations.