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Feds question first sign of killer Mexican drug cartel in Seattle

Graffiti warning of the arrival of a deadly Mexican drug cartel has appeared in South Seattle. (Image courtesy Northwest Gangs)

Graffiti touting the coming of a killer Mexican drug cartel has shown up in South Seattle, reports a local website that tracks area gang activity. But the creator of Northwest Gangs tells the Seattle Weekly he's dubious the spray painted message that reads "Coming Soon Zetas," is legitimate.

"I am very skeptical," says the author, who only goes by the name Brad to protect his identity. He says he found the graffiti in the South Park neighborhood on South Cloverdale Street above Highway 509.

"I doubt it, but you never know I guess. It is the first drug cartel graffiti I've ever found in 8 years," he tells Seattle Weekly.

The Los Zetas cartel is known and feared for a wave of gruesome violence across Mexico. The cartel was formed by rogue members of the Mexican military special forces. It's blamed for a number of atrocities including beheadings and torture.

There is at least one local connection to Los Zetas. Mexican authorities arrested 34-year-old Washington native Martin Omar Estrada Luna, accusing him of leading the massacre of more than 200 migrant workers found buried in mass graves in the Zetas stronghold of San Fernando, Tamaulipas. Luna, nicknamed "El Kilo," was raised in the Yakima area and grew up a member of the La Raza street gang. He was deported in 2009, and later turned up in Nuevo Laredo.

While there have been several local drug busts with ties to other Mexican cartels, a spokeswoman for the DEA's Seattle office says the the "coming soon" message is unprecedented in the U.S. and likely not legitimate. "Although it is possible, we do not have any intelligence that graffiti is being used as such domestically by Mexican drug cartels," DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood tells Seattle Weekly.

About the Author

Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He covers everything from May Day riots in Seattle to the latest Boeing news.


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