Yesterday the army arrested the Monterrey-area boss of the Zetas, known as El Tory, and, in an effort to free him, his Zeta operatives set up 30 roadblocks all over the city which completely shut it down. I had spent the whole day in Monterrey and, fortunately for me, I’d just left the city when the blockades started at around 5:00 pm. The desperate attempt to catch the army convoy in bumper to bumper traffic failed, however, and the army got their big fish back to the safety of the base.
While the operational capabilities of the Zetas to set up thirty roadblocks so quickly is somewhat impressive, to me it only reveals that they have a hidden army of street rateros (punks) in place all over the city who, at a moment’s notice, can be ordered to hijack city buses and tractor trailers
Consider the Zetas’ attempt to free their boss described above. If we look narrowly at this operation, it looks like a Zeta failure; the Mexican Army convoy carrying El Tory managed to escape the Zetas’ blockade. Nonetheless, if we conceive of the blockade as a bandh, and not merely as an effort to free the boss, the Zetas’ chances for continued success in this city increase. The Zetas have used such blockades for this purpose before.
The Bandh concept comes from the Indian Naxalite insurgency (as covered by Shlok Vaidya). A bandh is the systemic shutdown of a particular area. A criminal insurgency that can repeatedly shut down a local economy will be hard to defeat.