A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Los Zetas and Proprietary Radio Network Development

Los Zetas and Proprietary Radio Network Development


The years from 2006 through 2011 were very active years for a number of Mexican drug trafficking organizations. However, the group that probably saw the most meteoric rise in this period, Los Zetas, had a unique and innovative tool at their disposal. It was during these years that the group constructed and utilized a proprietary encrypted radio network that grew to span from Texas to Guatemala through the Gulf States of Mexico and across much of the rest of the country. This network gave the group an operational edge. It also stood as a symbol of the latitude the group enjoyed across vast areas, as this extensive illicit infrastructure stood, in the face of the government and rival cartels, for six years. This investigation explicates the process by which Los Zetas constructed, concealed and utilized this network and attempts to draw conclusions about the motivations and organizational dynamics that brought the network to be, with attention paid to what this case says about the complex engineering capabilities of non-state entities in general.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Halverson, James. 2016. "Los Zetas and Proprietary Radio Network Development."  Journal of Strategic Security 9 (March): 70-83. http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jss/vol9/iss1/7/

Publication URL: 
Visit Website

Additional Info

Research Area: