There is something very strange about the picture below – the cops are hiding behind masks while the prisoner, Mexican Drug Lord Vicente Zambada, stands in calm defiance, showing his face to the cameras. As a forecaster, I look for “inversions” – events that turn the expected upside down – as powerful indicators that a fundamental shift is about to unfold.
Zambada’s image represents an inversion from a time when the bandits wore the masks, and the square-jawed cops proudly showed their faces to the world. And how very different this picture is from the usual perp walk of the prisoner hiding their face under a jacket or behind a newspaper as they are shuffled from courtroom to patrol car.
This picture tells us that Mexico has become a place where the cops are fearful and the crooks are defiant, where the government is weak and the cartels are the innovators. It is an indicator that Mexico’s lurid drug war is just beginning and is certain to become much more widespread and violent.