"Coming Soon Zetas."
That's the warning that was found spray-painted on a concrete bridge over the weekend, possibly left by gang members affiliated with the ruthless Zetas drug cartel in Mexico. But the message wasn't found in some remote Mexican city somewhere south of the border, it was found in southern Seattle, right here in the United States.
A local gang violence blog, Northwest Gangs, posted a picture of the Zetas message earlier this week. Take a look:
A spokeswoman for the DEA's Seattle office told Seattle Weekly the "Coming Soon" message is extremely uncommon in the U.S., seemingly hinting that drug cartels do most of their business in Mexico.
"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 said in a written statement.
The Seattle Weekly has more details on the Zetas ties to the Pacific Northwest:
Several Mexican drug trafficking organizations do, however, have documented ties to the Pacific Northwest. A series of meth and cocaine busts earlier this year targeted dealers reportedly supplied by the Sinaloa, La Familia, and Beltrán-Leyva cartels.
As for Los Zetas, in April 2011 Mexican authorities arrested a 34-year-old Washington native named Martín Omar Estrada Luna and accused 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.
Los Zetas operate throughout Mexico, but their power is reportedly concentrated in northeast Mexico, Guatemala, and areas along the Atlantic coast -- all places far, far away from south Seattle. So while there's a slim chance the South Park tagging is a warning left by some bonafide Zetas henchmen, it's more than likely the handiwork of some trifling wannabes. And that's a good thing. With all the gun violence lately, the last thing Seattle needs is a vicious Mexican turf war.
The creator of the Northwest Gangs website also told Seattle Weekly that he questions the authenticity of the graffiti. He reportedly found it on South Cloverdale Street above Highway 509 in Seattle.
"I am very skeptical," says Brad, the site's author, who chooses not to reveal his identity for security reasons. "I doubt it, but you never know I guess. It is the first drug cartel graffiti I've ever found in 8 years."
The Los Zetas cartel was created by rogue members of the Mexican military special forces. The Zetas are considered one of the most deadly cartels in all of Mexico and have carried out gruesome acts of violence against rival cartel members and innocent civilians.