Sunday, February 6, 2011

Teen Thrill Kills

“You know, it’s the money, cars, houses, girls,” he said, pausing, “and you know that ain’t going to last a lifetime, that it’s going to end.”
Rosalio Reta

Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio ‘Bart’ Reta are American citizens from the border town of Laredo, Texas. Born into poor families, they drifted out school in their early teens and into organized crime, working as sicarios – hitmen – lured by the promise of high pay, fancy cars and sexy women. Cardona made his first kill when he was 14. A random shooting outside a club on the Mexican side of the border in Nuevo Laredo, just for thrills. Apparently he felt bad for a week or two, but was never caught, and soon after killed again. Eventually his proclivity for murder drew the attention of Los Zetas who recruited and trained him.
His childhood friend Reta made his first kill when he was 13 at a safe house, also in Nuevo Laredo. A Zetas big wig Miguel Treviño challenged him to shoot a man that had been bound and was kneeling before him.

Reta asked for Treviño's gun, which was decorated with diamonds along the handle that spelled out Treviño's nickname, El Cuarenta (40).

"I shot him four times in the chest and five in the head," Reta says in a videotaped confession, smiling.

"How did you feel?" an investigator asks.

"I felt like Superman. I felt like James Bond."

Reta showed promise. When he was a couple of years older Los Zetas picked Reta up in Laredo and, blindfolded, took him to a remote ranch in Mexico. For six months he trained in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and surveillance. When he was done he had become one of the most prized Zetillas.

Cardona, Reta and a third Jesse Gonzalez were kept on retainers and lived in safe houses. On order they would carry out kills on either side of he border earning as as much as $10, 000 and 2 kilograms of cocaine per hit, as well as perks such as a $70 000 Mercedes for a job well done.

Cardona was brought in Texas in April 2006 in an operation lead by Laredo detective Roberto Garcia. Cardona admitted to his role in seven murders and implicated Reta, Gonzalez and Treviño. Reta and Gonzalez went on the run to Mexico.

Cardona also pleaded guilty to kidnapping two American teenagers whom he later tortured, stabbed and killed with a broken bottle. In a tapped phone conversation with Reta he describes how he collected their blood in a glass and raised a toast to Santa Muerte, a deity of death, before he dumped their bodies in a 55 gallon drum of diesel and set them alight. He is currently serving eighty years for five murders, after which – if he’s still alive – he will serve a life sentence for the kidnappings. Whilst awaiting trial Cardona received tattoos from another inmate, two eyes that stare out from his closed eyelids.

A month later, Reta was arrested in Mexico in conjunction with a botched hit in a nightclub in Monterrey. He’s alleged to have killed four and injured twenty five after he opened fire and tossed a grenade into a crowded bar, and still didn’t hit the target. Los Zetas wanted him dead. He contacted Roberta Garcia from goal and pleaded to be extradited to the US. There in a taped confession in he admits to 30 (unverified) murders. In 2008 he was sentenced to 70 years for two killings in Laredo. Like Cordona, he had a prisoner tattoo his face with flames and horn shapes.

Jesse Gonzalez was arrested and jailed in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in February 2009. Fearing for his life, his family pleaded with U.S. officials to be extradited. A few days later was stabbed to death in a prison brawl.

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