STRATFOR, an Austin-based think tank specializing in the Drug War and other national security measures, claims to have information shedding light on the disappearance and possible death of jet-skier David Hartley.
Here's the scenario they unveiled in a press release yesterday.
The truck Hartley and his wife used to put their Jet Skis in the water at the lake had Tamaulipas state plates, and the Hartleys drove the Jet Skis to the Old Guerrero area of the lake, a known battleground in the ongoing war the Los Zetas and Gulf cartels. Given the couple's license plate and method and direction of travel, anonymous sources tell them that it is possible that Zetas scouts identified them as a Gulf Cartel surveillance team.
The analysis goes on to state that Old Guerrero is the staging area for huge shipments of weed en route to the United States, and that some junior members of the Zetas didn't take kindly to Hartley's photography. They attempted to confront Hartley, and when he and Tiffany took off, the thugs started shooting. It was only after Hartley went down that they discovered he was an American and that their hit was a big mistake, the report claims.
The report goes on to say that senior members of the Zetas are currently in damage control mode, punishing those who engaged in this reckless killing. Hartley's body will never be recovered, as Zeta OGs have disappeared it -- they will see to it that there is never any proof of their involvement and thus a limited American backlash, the report theorizes.
Speaking to the San Antonio Express-News, STRATFOR's vice president of intelligence Fred Burton said that Zeta number two Miguel Treviño "is highly upset over the fact that these individuals shot and killed Mr. Hartley and it's our understanding that the cartel boss is hunting for the killers of Mr. Hartley so he can take care of them himself."
According to the STRATFOR report, the decapitation of Armando Flores Villegas, the Mexican cop heading the investigation in Tamaulipas, was "a stern signal to both the United States and Mexico that no body will be produced and to leave the situation alone."
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The report closes with a travel tip: "Traveling several miles illegally into Mexican territory at a time when the Gulf cartel and the Los Zetas organization are in a war is a recipe for disaster."
You would think that David and Tiffany would have known that, Hartley having just been transferred out of his home and job in Reynosa because of rising violence.
You also have to wonder why these little Zeta thugs would have spared Tiffany's life. Surely they would have known that their boss would not have been pleased. Mistakenly killing an American tourist is bad, leaving an eyewitness, especially one as telegenic and willing to talk as Tiffany, is infinitely worse. And they spared her...why? Out of a sense of mercy? That's a quality in short supply down on the border these days. Indeed, it has ever been scarce there.
STRATFOR (we imagine it being something like an Austin version of that sinister firm on AMC's Rubicon) is supposed to make an official available for interviews today, so perhaps some help with that second question is forthcoming.