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Los Zetas Still Not Seizing Laredo Ranches

By Larry Keller on August 12, 2010 - 8:29 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino

There’s an old jest in the news business: Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. Some anti-illegal immigrant zealots in the blogosphere are taking the joke to heart. Two-and-a-half weeks after reporting with no factual basis that members of a dangerous Mexican drug gang had seized two Americans’ ranches near Laredo, Texas, the bloggers still insist their fairy tale is true.

As Hatewatch reported earlier, Pennsylvania anti-immigration blogger Dan Amato wrote last month that members of Los Zetas — Mexican gunmen involved in the international drug trade and other crimes — had taken control of the ranches. When skeptics questioned the story, Amato said that he got the tip from San Diego Minutemen leader Jeff Schwilk, who in turn learned of it from his fellow San Diego anti-immigration enthusiast, Kimberly Dvorak of

The potential “act of war,” in Dvorak’s words, produced no actions by the U.S. government to protect its citizens. There were no arrests. And those residents of the two ranches forced to flee? One would think they’d be doing interviews with every news organization around — or at least with those savvy sleuths, Amato, Schwilk and Dvorak. Alas, they remain mute and unidentified. Rather than be embarrassed by this, Amato and friends insist they’ve been proved right. The proof: A supposed police blotter reproduction Dvorak claims to have obtained reporting the incident.

The blotter item states that a local, unnamed ranch owner called the sheriff’s office to say that Los Zetas had taken over his ranch. It also says that the sheriff’s SWAT team went to the area. A real reporter might have questioned why the blotter referred to the “Laredo Sheriff’s Office.” Laredo is a city in Webb County, so it’s actually the Webb County Sheriff’s Office.

That detail aside, the events described in the purported blotter entry aren’t at odds with facts acknowledged by authorities. The sheriff’s office did in fact receive a tip about two ranches being seized by Mexican gang members. The office did send personnel to investigate. The Laredo Police Department also was advised of the tip and was on standby if needed, says Investigator Joe Baeza of that department.

After talking to the ranch owners and other residents at the site of the supposed Mexican invasion, authorities concluded there was nothing to the tip. That didn’t satisfy the anti-immigration bloggers. “They’re accusing the local authorities of being elusive, of there being a media blackout,” Baeza says incredulously. “I don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Now Amato is calling the so-called incident at the ranches “LaredoGate” on his “Digger’s Realm” blogsite, claiming there was media incompetence and a political cover-up. He offers a variety of theories as to the latter — without a scintilla of proof, of course. His five-part “exclusive” on the supposed ranches takeover is a mix of wild conjecture and complaining about individuals and organizations that have attacked his credibility, including the Southern Poverty Law Center.

For her part, Kimberly Dvorak wrote on her own blog Tuesday that the purported copy of a police blotter “proves that the alleged incident did in fact happen,” when it actually only shows that law enforcement checked into a report of an incident.

“I’ve been trying to appeal to people’s common sense,” Investigator Baeza says. “There would be no reason a cartel would take a stand on rural property.” There are many local and federal law enforcement agencies in the region because of its proximity to the Mexican border, he noted. “There are a million other venues available to [Los Zetas] that are less resistant. They’re not interested in being in your face about it like in Mexico.”

Still, the yarn has appeared on various websites, including that of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, as well as other anti-immigration forums. Baeza says he even got a phone call from a well-meaning U.S. Marine in Virginia who offered to come to Texas with his buddies to help rid the area of the Mexican gang takeover of ranches.

“It’s beyond tiring,” Baeza says.

What’s more, it may not end any time soon. Now that she claims to have proven there was a scary Mexican invasion, Dvorak is calling on local media to track down the events that followed. This, while complaining in the same blog post of a “media blackout.”

  • Sam Molloy

    Snorlax, Fox must be getting a little smarter. It would have been funny though.
    I hate it that they’ve corrupted the infamous Mark of Zorro and really hate that thy give our nut groups an excuse to persecute people looking for a better life.

  • ruben

    let me tell you something as i have stated i live in southern ca and i cross the border to tijuana often….i go sports fishing,camping on the beaches of baja and also just for the day to maybe eat lobster at the many sea food restaurants down the coast,and not once have i ever felt threatened or have i ever seen any type of violence what so ever!….yes i do believe that there is narco terror down there but i also believe that most if not all the victims of this type of crime are people that are involved in the drug trade in one way or another….get involved with mob type activities on this side of the border and see if you or one of your family members does not end up at the bottom of the river, its the nature of the business!….i believe that all this has been exaggerated by that right wing media too justify there anti mexican hysteria…i run into many americans that live down there and they tell me that thay fill perfectly safe down there and would not even think of moving back to the states….there is crime and good people and bad people every where in the world i don’t think that any country or ethnic group holds a monopoly on that.

  • beholder

    Carter I have spoken with experts on the matter regarding my similar experiences throughout Latin America (Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay very similar story everywhere you go). The one common denominator seems to be education. That is the one thing that will create opportunity to fight the poverty that lures kids to the gang and gives them so much power. The militaries are often poor themselves and sell their munitions and even armored cars, etc to the gangs for their own profit/and or corruption. One thing perpetuates another. But the basic issue is k-12 education with a square meal at school, then opportunities to study afterward either abroad or in the own country. It will take 20 years to fix this way, but I think it is the only way or it will just get worse and worse. This is based not only one what I’ve learned from others but what I’ve seen for myself throughout the developing world.

  • beholder

    Rev PM Corn aren’t Gulf and La Famila one in the same now after a power grab? I’ve heard that’s the case. Just curious.

  • Carter

    The Rev. PM Corn said some very insightful things & obviously does know from what he speaks.
    The issue of the Cartels is the essence of the “problems” that have many individuated complexities.
    It’s this phenomenon that makes it so difficult to address effectively.

    When money, of the magnitude of the cartels can be brought to bare upon politicians or law enforcement as graft or made to appear as “Manna from Heaven” to the needy, the impact is staggering.
    The level of violence is horrifying and real – but the violence is a secondary utility to the methods to maintain corruption, control, & exploitation.
    By no means is this endemic to Mexico. But since or Southern Neighbor is so much a part of our Southwest we see the problems & their impact very vividly AND they are easily exploited.
    Thus we have a multi-tiered set of problems. No one nation, leader, law, or collection of legislation will effectively address this. Only a unified front can begin to put a halt to the misery that is a cycle of poverty, exploitation, drug trafficking, corruption, & violence.

    The complication – is that by removing very few “spokes in the wheel” the Cartels can remain. And as they remain, they maintain power. This is the power that exploits & enslaves.
    It is more complex than the employer that exploits the individual – because it extends beyond the working area. WHAT is it that creates the NEED for that exploitation to exist?
    When funds that are supposedly destined for a social program is diverted to an off-shore bank account, the need does not diminish. When voting is swayed by “gifts” or graft to both the public & the politician, the significant & deeper needs go unaddressed.

    To simplify this issue is to do a disservice to it’s impact & complexity.

    Mexico desperately needs more educational opportunities, employment with a livable wage, infrastructure development, freedom from the violence & injustice that becomes a way of life!
    All these things are what is stolen. The results are the desperate need for them.
    A man or woman does NOT want to leave their home and family, nor do they want to leave their country but when their country is in the grip of such a complex fist; there is often few choices. This is not a problem that has affected Mexico alone. It has similar impact in Columbia, Peru & many other nations aside from South American itself. It also occurs in certain countries in Asia as well!
    To really understand this complexity is not easy. To deal with it effectively is MUCH more difficult.
    When an immigrant is desperate enough to risk death in a desert or in the cargo container of a ship at sea, (let alone the issue of breaking the law) the problem is NOT with the Immigrant but what they are fleeing from.

    In decades past when immigrants came to the USA in a legal, slow bureaucratic crawl, it was to better their opportunities & those of their family. When immigrants consistently risk death & imprisonment; there is desperation that goes FAR beyond the need to simply find a few more dollars an hour.

    It is the logic of this phenomenon that needs to be addressed: WHY is there that much desperation?

  • Rev. PM Corn contributors get paid by the number of comments an article receives. Dvorak is not a journalist. She is nothing more than a radical Tea Bagger and Minuteman groupie jumping on the bandwagon of anti immigrant fervor to scare the hell out of white folks, for fun and profit.

    I actually live in Nuevo Laredo, a town that has been described as constantly being in lockdown with wild west style gunfights 24/7.. Not true. More MSM sensationalism.

    I happened to be home when this occurred which is why my website was able to jump on it and immediately debunk the ridiculous assumption of an invasion.

    With SB-1070 on hold in Arizona, there are those who wish to see a similar law passed in Texas, despite our Governor’s indication that it is not needed, of which he is correct. So it appears the wingnuts conspired to spread a little fear and anti Mexican hysteria to create a need for this law. Didn’t work folks.

    People don’t realize the cartels, be they the Sinoloa, The Gulf, Juarez, La Familia or Los Zetas are a business. A multi billion dollar business at that. They don’t need to “invade” ranches. They could buy the whole of south Texas were they inclined, and indeed, they own ranches in the area.

    And something else people refuse to acknowledge is the cartels are an integral part of our border security.

    Think about it. Nothing crosses the southern border without the permission of the cartels. Be it humans, drugs are other contraband. Realizing this is a multi billion dollar a year business, does anyone really think that they would allow anything to cross that would do real damage to this country, and that would cause the border to be really sealed? Don’t think so.

    But it makes fodder for the Mexenophobes amongst us and fills the purses of those haters who have made a very profitable career of Mexican bashing.

  • Carter

    ANYONE who lives down here and knows what takes place on both sides of the Border knows how very sad and complex the situation is.
    Los Zetas is perhaps one of the most dangerous groups people can possibly comprehend. The general theme is the exploitation of the migrant, the Mexican families who live near the Boarder, & perhaps the political stability of our Southern neighbor in general.
    Please take my word for it that no group of Marines outside of a standing, organized military unit together with law enforcement as well as the total commitment of the political power-that-be could even hope to put the brakes on this issue. What’s more the political ramifications of anyone attempting to do so is monumental; not to mention potentially suicidal.
    Los Zetas is MUCH more than organized crime. It is organized crime together with [those] Mexican Army criminals who are outside the law & their own commitment to protecting their country. They are armed with the materials that are at the disposal of a standing army. They do NOT have a few pistols and rifles. They do NOT respect life or any lawful body. They are a true nightmare for all concerned.
    To underestimate Los Zetas is a fast way to learn a very terminal lesson.
    There IS NO easy answer to this issue. The Mexican Consulate is well aware of the complexities involved. The amount of “financial ammo” is beyond description. It can turn the head of the most committed authorities. – And those that may stand their ground must think of their families & friends.
    This is similar to what has occurred in Columbia in times past.
    It can easily be exploited by bigots and fools. But only so long as they stay in their cozy communities. Once they venture into “where they better not be”, they are very small fish in a ocean filled with sharks.
    This issue can only be addressed by a united front of both nations & the issues of graft & corruption can be overwhelming.
    In the past, some very wonderful, honest people have given their lives to fight this type of corruption. They were NOT some tough talking fellows with little idea of what they were facing.
    The lessons of Narco-Terror are all too vivid in the minds of many.They were examples of honesty & dedication that are all too rare.

  • Mommybrain

    Bryony1,, for which Dvorak writes, is not a regular paper with a newsroom. It’s an online presence and anyone can write whatever crap they like- the stories are usually wing-nut slanted. No journalistic standards apply. Why ruin a good conspiracy story with silly facts?

  • skinnyminny

    You are right! But, I think you forgot to list CNN. I am at the point I don’t know which MSM to trust. For example, here in the U.S. I’ve noticed that when talking about the story of the man walking across (through) the Amazon, they only mention and show a white man. However, if you view any news from Europe, they show and talk about both, the black man and the white man that took this journey together. So much for our news, huh!

  • dustup

    Its not about “Immigration” Is about violating the law….trespassing and goes down hill from there to the Navarro’s throughout America. Follow the U.S. Constitution and Laws of America or pasar página!

  • kilgore

    are you military, LEO, or just have your head stuck in the sand. you have little to fear from me other than words as long as you don’t instigate violence against me or my family. now the Marine who gets his distorted world view from a right wing hate site and offers to bring his buddys down for some fun shootings and fighting – he is a different story. he is an example of what our fine military has been allowed to become and no uniform makes him (or his defenders) anything but punks.

  • Jenelle

    Canada has 32.000,000 people. United States has 300,000,000 people. Both new legal and illegal immigrants are taxing the already overburdened government programs. It’s wonderful and noble to let people in the country, but only if you can handle them. We used to be the land of opportunity, but we are fast becoming a third world economy. Once our economy is fixed and unemployment isn’t epidemic, we will be able to welcome immigrants without destroying the country they have come to for help.

  • bryony1

    Jeff, are you new to this site? That’s the only reason I can figure that you seem unaware of the growing racist organizing in the U.S. military, certainly a “mainstream environment.”

    I really find it sadly humorous that this “tip” was passed along like a secret whispered from ear to ear by kids sitting in a circle.

    I’m a retired newspaperwoman. I can tell you that the police blotter beat is almost always given to the youngest, least experienced reporter or summer intern. Dvorak is probably one or the other. Desperate to stand out in the newsroom and probably get a promotion to a better beat, if she’s a real reporter, she seems to have let her imagination run away with her and interpreted a call to check as an outrageous scoop of major importance, then have passed it on to outsiders, a no-no if you’re a reporter and you do have a scoop.

    If there was anything to this passed-on- passed on-passed-on “tip,” there would definitely be massive newspaper and TV news coverage. The media doesn’t protect criminals with silence. In this case, all news organizations would be competing like mad to wring the most facts and “color” out of this event. The fact they aren’t means there’s no event to cover.

  • ruben

    the right wing nuts living in this country are the real people that americans should fear and be weary of!! i live along the border and grew up in this area in southern ca and i have yet too see all this violence and evil that all these right wing propagandists would like us to believe are ready to invade and burn down our homes and towns! what is even more ridiculous is that most of these stories are made up by people who don’t even live near the border… the right has resorted to lies and slander to justify there racial hate period! i am not saying that there is no violence in tijuana which is just across the border but it ain’t any worse then it is here.and most of the violence there is drug cartel on drug cartel or people involved in those types of activities….in america you can be slaughterd just by attending school or going to mcdonalds but the right will never bring that up because its usually gun toting armed to the teeth lunatic right wingers who commit those mass shootings…and there is plenty of seems that nowadays hypocricy and republican/right wing go hand in hand

  • Jeff


    I fail to see where offering to help law enforcement makes you a racist pig.
    Your use of the the term”is allowed in mainstream environments” is curious.
    If in your eyes police and military are by definition racist and should be isolated from the mainstream I am more frightened of you than Los Zetas.

  • kilgore

    toward the end of the article reference is made to the “well-meaning Marine”. this sugar-coating of racism because the racist is in the military or is a LEO or associated with some other organization that is afforded hands-off stance by the media and even the SPLC is at least in part why the presence of these people in ever increasing numbers is allowed in mainstream environments. the racist Marine is a pig and should be called as such.

  • beholder

    I happen to be pretty familiar with this area and situation near the border since I live here. The Zetas are young guys, some only sixteen or seventeen. There are actually about four big gangs operating in that area, but my understanding is that they keep their activities mostly on the Mexican side. They’re not nice people. The like to run motorists off the road from time to time as an act of individual bravado. A lot of them are extortionists as well, running “protection” rackets for local businesses in Mexico (pay or we kill you sort of thing). Maybe they cross the border, maybe not. But I’ve not heard of anything like this.

  • Larry Conley

    The virulent bigotry that is surfacing in this country hour after hour is a cause for genuine concern, In addition, credulous people accept these bigoted fictions as absolute truth and spread them like a rapacious disease.

    These remind me of canards spread during the “Redemption” era in the post-civil war south. Mobs of African-Americans were alleged to have attacked homes and towns only to be defeated by “heroic southerners”. In every case, the mobs were white and the victims were black, but the news sources reported the reverse.

  • Snorlax

    I’m surprised FOX “News” didn’t run with this story.

    Like they did with that poor lady at the USDA.

    FOX “News” never let the TRUTH get in the way of a good propaganda piece.