TOP-SECRET – FBI Bulletin: Los Zetas Recruitment of Non-Traditional Associates in the United States


(U//FOUO) Recent FBI intelligence from multiple FBI HUMINT sources indicates a shift in Los Zetas recruiting methods and reliance on non-traditional associates. Past, accurate FBI reporting indicated Los Zetas previously focused its recruitment on members with prior specialized training, such as ex-military and ex-law enforcement officers, and not on US-based gangs or US persons in order to maintain a highly-disciplined and structured hierarchy. This hierarchy, which resembled a military-style command and control structure, facilitated drug trafficking operations and maintained lines of authority. However, current FBI reporting indicates that Los Zetas is recruiting and relying on non-traditional, non-military trained associates—US-based prison and street gangs and non-Mexican nationals—to perform drug trafficking and support operations in Mexico and in the United States. The FBI judges with high confidence that Los Zetas will continue to increase its recruitment efforts and establish pacts with non-military trained, nontraditional associates to maintain their drug trafficking and support operations, which may increase violence along the Southwest border posing a threat to US national security.

(U//FOUO) Current FBI reporting has indicated an increase of recruitment and contracting of US-Based gangs to conduct daily drug trafficking activities and support operations in the United States.

( U//FOUO) As of October 2010, a corroborated collaborative FBI HUMINT source with excellent access showed that Los Zetas had contracted the Texas Mexican Mafia, a Texas-based prison gang, and tasked them to collect drug debts, carry out hits, and traffic drugs in and through Laredo, Texas.
(U//FOUO) As of September 2010, a corroborated collaborative FBI HUMINT source with excellent access indicated that Los Zetas attempted to recruit US-based members in Houston, Texas, to join Los Zetas’ war against the Gulf Cartel on both sides of the border.
(U//FOUO) A corroborated collaborative FBI HUMINT source with indirect access indicated that as of August 2010, Los Zetas was buying AK-47’s from the Tango Blast Gang, a Houston, Texas-based street gang. The weapons were moved from Houston to Laredo, Texas, and were subsequently smuggled into Mexico.
(U//FOUO) As of April 2010, an established source with excellent access, much of whose reporting has been corroborated over the past ten years, indicated that the McAllen, Texas Los Piojos Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) procured vehicles for Los Zetas through thefts, carjackings, and auto auctions held in McAllen, Texas. Los Piojos also operates a street gang in Mission, Texas who assisted with the acquisition of vehicles and vehicle parts for Los Zetas, and in some cases those parts were used to build armored vehicles for them.

(U//FOUO) FBI reporting indicates that Los Zetas is also recruiting or contracting US person Mexican nationals to conduct drug trafficking operations in the United States.

(U//FOUO) As of October 2010, a corroborated collaborative FBI HUMINT source with indirect access indicated that US person Javier Medina, a resident of Zapata, Texas, is an alleged Los Zetas recruit. Medina worked for Juan Pedro in Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Juan Pedro was allegedly affiliated with the shooting of the US person on the Jet Ski at Falcon Lake near Zapata, Texas.
(U//FOUO) As of September 2010, a corroborated collaborative FBI HUMINT source with excellent access indicated that Los Zetas contracted a US person, identified as Alejandro, to steal vehicles in Laredo, Texas, and transport them to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico to use for its operations.
(U//FOUO) As of March 2010, an FBI contact with excellent access whose reporting is limited and whose reliability cannot be determined indicated that Los Zetas contracted US person Alma Delia Martinez to collect smuggling fees from smugglers crossing illegal aliens across the Rio Grande River.

(U//FOUO) The FBI San Antonio judges with high confidence that Los Zetas will continue to increase their recruitment efforts and establish pacts with other Mexico and US-based prison and street gangs, as well as non-Mexican nationals to maintain their drug trafficking and support operations. FBI San Antonio believes the Los Zetas’ shift in recruitment efforts will most likely not increase its membership numbers drastically, as recent reporting has indicated that these new members lack the training and skills to elude GOM law enforcement and military, which result in many Los Zetas casualties or captures.

(U//FOUO) FBI judges with moderate confidence that Los Zetas will likely pose a higher national security threat to the United States, based on their demonstrated capabilities for violence, their recent murders of US citizens, increased kidnappings of US citizens on both sides of the border, and their continued participation in the US drug trade. With the GOM military counter-narcotic operations and turf battles against other DTOs, Los Zetas violence and criminal activity will most likely increase.

(U//FOUO) In order to adequately assess the threat to the United States, FBI San Antonio would need information that indicated larger-scale or multiple plans to attack are being planned. With the recruitment of new members, Los Zetas have lost part of their disciplined command and control structure needed to maintain order within the organization, which is likely to hinder their ability to carry out complex attacks and could increase the likelihood that GOM officials may learn of planned attacks or operations. High-level Los Zetas members with minimal command and control authority have hindered their operations, and caused countless casualties and captures. Furthermore, new members are often undisciplined, which has led to recruits failing to follow orders and has gained the Los Zetas unneeded attention, as evidenced in the Falcon Lake shooting.


TOP-SECRET – California State Prisons Mexican Mafia (La eMe) Membership Chart

The following chart was compiled by the Institutional Gang Investigators at Pelican Bay State Prison, California State Prison – Corcoran and San Quentin in November 2011.



SECRET – California State Threat Assessment Center: How Male Gangs Leverage Female Supporters


(U//LES) This bulletin provides information regarding the role females, who are not members, play within California gangs. Because females often avoid detection by law enforcement, to mitigate detection, male gangs leverage females to further their criminal activity.


(U//FOUO) The STAC assesses with high confidence that gangs will continue to use females to conduct criminal and non-criminal activity on their behalf because females tend to be overlooked during police encounters with male gang members.

(U//FOUO) In some gang cultures, females are viewed as inferior to their male counterparts or as property; in other gang cultures, females may hold positions of esteem or act on behalf of a “shotcaller.”


(U//LES) Females usually start their association to earn respect but often find themselves being used for sex, drug or weapon couriers, and as the admiring audience of the male gang members.1 Female supporters serve additional purposes within gangs, including intelligence gathering. Sometimes they have legitimate sources of income but they may also commit crimes to provide additional financial support for the gang. Gangs commonly employ women to conduct the following:

  • courier weapons, contraband or drugs;
  • facilitate communication among gang members in jail, in prison, or on the streets;
  • smuggle messages, narcotics, or money into jail or prison during visits;
  • launder money;
  • sell counterfeit goods;
  • commit identity and credit card theft;
  • petty or grand theft;
  • prostitute themselves.

As a communications facilitator, females may use their address or a Post Office Box as a central mailing destination where mail then gets repackaged and rerouted to other male gang members. They may also redraft letters on behalf of one gang member and send it to another.


(U//LES) Predominantly Hispanic gangs often give their females, wives, or girlfriends much more latitude than other gangs. Women are typically given the power to run things on behalf of their “man.” They might be used in lieu of the actual shotcaller. The wife of a Mexican Mafia (EME) shotcaller is often referred to as “La Senora” – Mrs. or “La Madrina” – Godmother. A sister or biological daughter might also hold this title. While they are not involved in the commission of criminal acts, they can order gang members to commit the deed. An order given by “La Senora,” is considered equivalent to an order coming directly from the EME shotcaller; a soldier (gang member) cannot disobey her. The wife/girlfriend will often act as a liaison between street members and an incarcerated EME shotcaller to keep him apprised of what is happening on the streets. She also usually controls the gang‟s money (taxesb paid by gang members) and bank account(s).

(U//LES) Among skinhead gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs), women do not typically hold as much prestige as their counterparts associated with Hispanic gangs. OMG women are typically considered to be, referred to as and treated as property. A girlfriend may be shared among members; however, as a wife, she is no longer shared but earns the privilege of patching her riding gear with “Property of” her husband. Another term used by OMGs and skinhead gangs to refer to their girlfriends or wives is “old lady,” indicative of their perceived inferiority. OMGs also use their women to carry weapons or drugs.

(U//LES) In some instances, female skinhead supporters are more dedicated or “down for the cause” than male skinheads, but they are still considered to be disposable.. In one case, an Aryan Brotherhood gang member used a gun, which he borrowed from a female supporter, in the commission of a robbery. When the female confronted the gang member about his illegal use of her gun, he killed her.

The Public Intelligence – National Gang Intelligence Center Street Gangs Involved in Tax Fraud Schemes

(U//LES) The National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) assesses with medium confidence that street and prison gangs are expanding their criminal activities to include schemes to obtain illegitimate tax refunds, as it has proven to be very profitable and a low-risk crime.

(U//LES) According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), incidents of tax return fraud have increased in recent years, and gang involvement in this criminal activity mirrors that trend. Gangs perpetrate tax return fraud by utilizing facilitators, such as employees of tax preparation companies. Prison gangs often employ females or other facilitators on the street to assist them, and communicate by legal mail to avoid law enforcement detection. While some of the fraud is committed using gang members’ information, gangs are also threatening and/or paying individuals a fixed amount for the personal identifying information and committing identity theft. The illicit revenues from these schemes are subsequently used to supplement traditional criminal activities and in overall furtherance of the gang.

• (U//LES) According to FBI source reporting in July 2011, new inmates are constantly threatened by the Arizona Aryan Brotherhood (AAB) to provide their social security numbers and other personally identifiable information to file fraudulent tax returns. Female counterparts on the streets file the returns on their behalf, and they use legal mail to avoid detection. The source also reported that the AAB will continue to perpetrate income tax fraud schemes because it generates significant revenue for the gang.
• (U//LES) According to FBI source reporting as of June 2011, money derived from an income tax fraud and identity theft ring in Statesboro, Georgia is being used to purchase guns and drugs for the Bloods street gang. Individuals involved in the scheme are collecting personal information of people they encounter in their places of employment and storing it until the following tax season, when a tax return is filed using the stolen information.
• (U//LES) According to FBI source reporting as of May 2011, income tax fraud is widespread amongst Gangster Disciple sets in western Tennessee. Gang members work with at least one outside employee of a tax filing company to submit fraudulent federal income tax statements despite having no legitimate work history or earnings.
• (U//LES) In December 2010, prison staff at California State Prison-Corcoran found a Black Guerilla Family (BGF) gang member at disseminating information to other inmates outlining the process to file fraudulent tax returns. The inmate was also directing that they use the “legal mail” process to avoid detection by staff.
• (U//FOUO) In May 2010, an FBI source indicated that a member of the AAB was committing fraudulent income tax schemes for members of the AAB and Arizona Mexican Mafia (AMM), by creating false W-2 forms and placing tax refunds on prepaid credit cards to be used by AAB and AMM members accordingly.
• (U//LES) According to source reporting as of April 2010, inmates at Clallam Bay Corrections Center with ties to the Aryan Family are funding drug purchases with money obtained by committing federal income tax fraud. To perpetrate this criminal activity, inmates’ personal information and power of attorney forms are mailed to outside facilitators to file the tax returns and cash the refund checks. The proceeds are split between gang members and facilitators and are subsequently used to smuggle methamphetamine into the facility through legal mail to avoid monitoring by corrections personnel.

(U//LES) Outlook

(U//LES) Instances of tax return fraud committed by gangs will likely increase as they seek out opportunities to commit low-risk crimes and as they become aware of the fraud’s potential profits. Gangs may initially perpetrate this crime by filing returns for themselves or other gang members; however, once it is determined to be a financially viable endeavor, gangs will likely resort to intimidation tactics, committing identity theft, and forming alliances of opportunity with individuals and other criminal enterprises to continue to receive illegitimate refunds. Furthermore, gangs may seek out individuals such as employees of tax preparation companies to use their tax knowledge and expertise to identify and exploit new methods and tactics to commit tax fraud.