Between March and April of 2011, the towns of Allende, Piedras Negras, Nava, Zaragoza, and Nava in the Mexican state of Coahuila, were under constant brutal and devastating attacks by the Zetas cartel. It is believed that in the course of two months, hundreds of people were disappeared or killed. In what is referred to as a forgotten massacre, members of the notorious cartel took control of towns close to the U.S.-Mexico border and killed anyone who questioned or defied their authority.
Six years later, National Geographic went back to the scene and interviewed people connected to the massacre, including Mexican government officials, Drug Enforcement Administration authorities, and the family members of victims. In the report, National Geographic makes mention that the massacre took place, in part, because of the way U.S. drug enforcement officials handled information they were given.
The story by National Geographic highlights how highly sensitive information about the Treviño brothers, both high ranking members of the Zetas cartel, may have sparked the attacks. When the DEA, the organization that initially collected the information, decided to share it with the Mexican government, it was immediately leaked directly to the Treviño brothers.
What followed was a retaliation that cost the lives of many innocent people. The Zetas descended upon the town of Allende, where they sought revenge against the people who gave government officials the information and anyone connected to them. Ranches were seized. Homes were burned. People were rounded up on the farms where they were working and were killed, the bodies burned. Parents lost children. Wives lost husbands. Adults lost parents. The scars of the attack are still visible in Allende, according to National Geographic.
In the report about Allende by National Geographic, the reporter spoke with U.S. officials, Mexican officials, survivors, and the family members of victims to get an account of what happened and when during that attack. They traced back the beginning of the attack and how the handling of the situation by both U.S. officials and local government officials in the border towns led to the widespread devastation of the communities impacted.
“As far as what happened in Mexico and the aftermath of the compromise, the DEA’s official position is: That’s squarely on Omar and Miguel Treviño. They were killing people before that happened, and they killed people after the numbers were passed. DEA did our job to target them and to try to focus and dedicate our resources to put them out of business. We were eventually successful in that regard,” Russ Baer, a DEA spokesman, told National Geographic. “Our hearts go out to those families. They’re victims, unfortunately, of the violence perpetrated by the Treviño brothers and the Zetas. But this is not a story where the DEA has blood on its hands.”
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