The FBI defines international and domestic terror under two basic components.
-Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
-Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping;
Under this large blanket, it is safe to assume that many criminal organizations fall under this definition. The spread of terror amongst a population seems to be what defines who or what is a terrorist organization amongst the public. I wouldn’t put the traditional mafia under this definition as the general population may not know about this underground organizations. The ability of a violent organization to publicly exist without fear of being caught allows them to have the equivalent say as the governing body. An organization that does has power that isn’t given to them by the people but has it through the threat of violence is in my opinion a terrorist organization.
The Los Zetas is undeniably the most violent and brutal gang in the Mexican drug cartel world. What sets them apart from other cartels is not their existence in the public eye, but their methods of activity. Generally the cartels are known to bribe and threaten via coercion. The Zetas throw all caution to the wind and either threaten and execute, then make an example of the victims by publicly displaying the corpses with warnings of their power. Normally if the Zetas were a smaller group of criminals this type of behavior could be chalked up to psychopathic members or maybe a thirst to prove themselves amongst the bloody cartel sector. The Los Zetas are in fact the largest cartel in geographical senses. Only 50% of their actual profit comes from drug dealing, the remaining comes from their conquests of local cartels and extortionist methods. I find it ironic that we find ISIS and Al-Queda to be the more threatening organizations even though they are closer to our borders, and their main outpost in america is known to be Laredo, Texas, a mere 235 miles from the University of Texas