Osiel Cardenas came from humble beginnings as a mechanic in Matamoros. He then began to sell cocaine on the side, and ultimately became a "madrina" -an informant- for the Policía Judicial Federal. Cardenas entered the Gulf´s Cartel by helping Chava Gomez (the Cartel’s leader) and he later took control by killing him. Osiel Cardenas-Guillen became head of a major Mexican drug trafficking organization that controlled large-scale marijuana and cocaine trafficking from Mexico to the United States. The Cardenas-Guillen organization, known as the Gulf Cartel, was responsible for the transportation of thousands of kilograms of drugs into the United States from Colombia through Mexico's Northeastern region. Cardenas also formed "Los Zetas". He is currently directing the Cartel in La Palma (a maximum security prison in México) where he is prisoner. He was one of the most wanted, feared, and violent drug traffickers in the world.

Cardenas was arrested on March 14, 2003 after a fierce firefight with Mexican soldiers. This arrest was hailed as one of the most important arrests to date because it sent a message to traffickers that violence and intimidation will not protect them from law enforcement. Also, President Fox has focused his attentions on crippling drug cartels since his election, and police have responded with several high-profile arrests. Have these arrests resulted in any changes? It is agreed that these arrests don’t solve much and Fox has much more to do. Scores of Mexican police have been arrested for protecting Cardenas over the years and Gerardo Vega, Defense Secretary General, confirmed cartel money bought the loyalties of some public officials. Mexico’s three maximum-security prisons have struggled with a wave of corruption and violence in the past year. Officials acknowledge drug lords operate freely from jail, using cell phones and teams of lawyers to direct their cartels. While in prison, he linked-up with Benjamin Arellano Felix, the powerful leader of the Tijuana Cartel. Investigators said Osiel Cardenas and Benjamin Arellano Felix had joined forces at La Palma, where both were serving time, and had formed a network of alliances at the Matamoros prison, as part of a plan to wage war against the rival Juarez cartel. The two were separated as part of the prison crackdown.

Los Zetas have been identified as a group of elite Mexican commandos, trained by the military of Mexico to combat the drug cartels. They were christened Zetas by Cardenas because it was a radio code used by federal police to locate military commanders. Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel recruited 31 of them. These 31 men brought a new level of capability and firepower to the drug war. These men are Mexican soldiers turned drug hit men have taken the border cities to chaos by infiltrating local police and threatening anyone who gets in their way. Although President Fox has sent federal officers to try to take back control of the city’s streets, the violence has not ended. Los Zetas are known to be extremely violent and have been blamed for an outbreak of violence along the border. They rule with fear, threaten police and city officials and extort money from businesses. Even their name implies a sort of arrogance that Los Zetas are known for. Cardenas’ arrest in March after a shootout in Matamoros has apparently not weakened the Zetas, who are locked in a gory battle with rival organizations to retain the Gulf Cartel’s territory.

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The lucrative drug trade on the Mexican border seemed up for grabs after Mexican authorities arrested Osiel Cardenas, the powerful leader of the Gulf Cartel, nearly three years ago. The wave of killings that followed has turned into an all-out drug war that had spread to almost every corner of Mexico. The drug war has moved to other parts of Mexico like Michoacan. The prize is the valuable land drug rotes that carry more than 77 percent of all the cocaine and about 70 percent of all the methamphetamines sold in the United States. The rise of young upstart men and their determination to fill the vacancies left by arrests, help explain the drug war. These men are the younger generation of heartless and brutal traffickers who are fighting to take over the drug trade after the Fox administration put a least a dozen of the older drug bosses in jail. The most experienced drug kingpins were more willing to reach peace among themselves, to respect one another’s territories and to stay out of sight in order not to cause trouble for local authorities. New operatives fight for all or nothing and they seem willing to keep up their fight, no matter what the cost. It is thought that the only leaders who can contain the violence are the ones who are in jail. The message of the corridos of Osiel Cardenas are the same as the message given by the new vicious traffickers, death is close if you chose to mess with the cartels.