Los Zetas, or “The Z’s,” is a Mexican drug-running organization that is located in approximately 17 Mexican states. It is among the most violent and technologically sophisticated criminal organization in Mexico, utilizing advanced weaponry and disciplined training to carry out its operations.
Los Zetas can be traced back to the 1990s when members of the Mexican Army's elite Airborne Special Forces Group deserted to work for the Gulf Cartel and its leader, Osiel Cardenas Guillen. Throughout its years of operation, organizational infighting eventually led to Los Zetas breaking off from the Gulf Cartel and forming a separate syndicate in 2010.
Los Zetas differs from other cartels in its method of operation, relying less on bribery and other financial incentives to forge alliances, and more on terrorist tactics, such as torture and brutality. As of 2015, Los Zetas remains a feared organization, but it has become fragmented and broken into a number of small groups with varying alliances and goals.