Special to CNN
(CNN) - The suspected shooting death of an American by gunmen linked to a Mexican drug cartel has brought unwanted attention to a cartel known as Los Zetas and may have resulted in a death sentence for the killers, security experts said.
"It's more likely than not that more senior people in the organization are unhappy about what happened here because this brings pressure from the United States and Mexican authorities," Robert Chesney, a terrorism and national security expert at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, told CNN on Friday.
"Let's face it," he added, "none of these cartels have any strategic interest in bringing more attention to their operations. That cannot be good for them. If anything, they are going to try to avoid situations like this."
Howard Campbell, University of Texas at El Paso professor and author of "Drug War Zone," said the suspected killing is most likely the work of cartel-connected young thugs - and a grievous mistake.
"There are reports that recently the Zetas have become a bit desperate and have been using ill-trained, reckless teenagers which can lead to mistakes of this kind," he told CNN in an e-mail Friday. "The leaders of Mexican drug cartels try to minimize attacks on Americans because they know this would bring pressure on their organizations."
Tiffany Hartley, the wife of David Hartley, has told authorities that Mexican pirates shot and killed her husband September 30 on Falcon Lake, a popular fishing destination that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.
In comments that aired Thursday on CNN's "American Morning," Hartley said that she met with Rolando Armando Flores Villegas, the lead Mexican investigator in her husband's case, days before the police officer was killed and his severed head delivered to authorities in a suitcase.
"I met him. He sat right next to me," Hartley said.
Zapata County, Texas, Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, whose news conferences have drawn national attention to the case over the past two weeks, said Hartley's suspected killers may be already dead.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with