NY Daily News reports that when convoys of soldiers or federal police move through the scrubland of northern Mexico, the Zetas drug cartel knows they are coming.
The alert goes out from a taxi driver or a street vendor, equipped with a high-end handheld radio and paid to work as a lookout known as a “halcon,” or hawk.The radio signal travels deep into the arid countryside, hours by foot from the nearest road. There, the 8-foot-tall 2-meter-tall dark-green branches of the rockrose bush conceal a radio tower painted to match.
A cable buried in the dirt draws power from a solar panel. A signal-boosting repeater relays the message along a network of powerful antennas and other repeaters that stretch hundreds of miles kilometers across Mexico, a shadow communications system allowing the cartel to coordinate drug deliveries, kidnapping, extortion and other crimes with the immediacy and precision of a modern military or law-enforcement agency.