Mexican drug war uses drones, human shields and gunships


Aguililla, Mexico (AP) —The Mexican government is rapidly running out of tools to control the expansion of the Harrisco cartel, feared at the forefront of the Mexican drug war in western Michoacan, and stagnant ground efforts. More and more sophisticated aerial conflicts.

Jalisco, Mexico’s most military-powered drug gang, has now begun organizing its townspeople to act as a human shield against the army trying to separate its rival cartel.

“When they try to come here again, we will place 2,000 people here to stop them,” said Habacuc Solorzano, a 39-year-old farmer who leads a cartel-related civilian movement. His remarks, like most of what comes from the Jalisco side, are not just bragging rights. Already last week, about 500 locals marched to confront troops blocking the dirt roads leading from Jalisco’s territory last week. ..

Residents of Aguililla are fed up with the military strategy of simply separating the Jalisco and Michoacan-based Viagras gangsters. Military policy effectively allows Viagra, best known for kidnapping and blackmail, to set obstacles and checkpoints that interfere with all commercial transactions with Aguilya. Outgoing limes and cows, or outbound supplies, must pay Viagra a war tax.

“We want you to be killed by you rather than by those criminals!” One demonstrator was a demonstrator and a twelve army hiding behind a car tire barricade. Yelled at the soldiers during a tense, hour-long conflict with the squad. Many of the demonstrators had rocks and powerful slingshots, but did not use them.

Residents want the army to fight both cartels or at least two gangsters.

“Let’s two cartels fight it and kill each other,” exclaimed another demonstrator. “Jalisco is going to beat everyone!”

That view is widespread. “What we need is one cartel to take control, stop the fight and give a calm atmosphere,” said the local priest. “Everything shows that the group is a Jalisco New Generation Cartel.”

Above all, the inhabitants want to clear Viagra checkpoints and reopen the road. None of the inhabitants wanted to give their name for fear of retaliation, as they sometimes have to go through those obstacles.

But one explained it to the Army Squad: “The only way to Agilia is blocked and controlled by a cartel just 500 yards from you,” he said. “I don’t know how difficult it is to pay the war tax used to kill us.”

This is, in fact, a fairly accurate explanation of government policy. Keeping the status quo and keeping each cartel in its own territory.

However, Jalisco does not accept the government as an arbitrator in the territorial sector of drug cartels. Local Harrisco cartel leaders say the military is only trying to protect the weaker of the two gangs, Viagras, because of corruption.

Jalisco is everywhere in Aguilya, from pickups with cartel initials and homemade armored cars to small trampolines set up by gangsters for children in all villages.

Some residents say they are under strong pressure to participate in the opposition movement and are afraid that water and electricity will be cut off if they do not participate. Some are tired of paying Viagra’s war tax and being separated from the outside world. A female protester explained how her father died in early 2020 because Viagra did not allow her to go to the hospital in the past.

Dozens of cartel gunmen openly wear bulletproof vests with the group’s Spanish initials “CJNG” (Jalisco New Generation Cartel) adorned with “FEM” (“Mencho Special Forces”) on the back and front. increase. Cartel leader Nemesio Osegera.

Jalisco is the only cartel in Mexico that does not hide what it is and does not affect the politics of press or detention.

“We are Narcos,” said the local Jalisco leader who did not give his name. “Everyone needs to care about their business.” His beef with Viagra and other local gangsters he’s fighting says, “They want everything for themselves.” That is.

As Jalisco transports fentanyl and methamphetamine to the United States, the cartel continues to run a significant number of troops with a large amount of money and a powerful mixture of cocaine flying from Costa Rica.

When the local boss stands at the improvised command post on the street side, a pickup full of Jalisco gunmen with an AR15 assault rifle is pulled up. The driver said, “Scorpion said he needed something,” and the boss reached for his truck and gave the co-pilot a plastic bag that looked like a kilogram of cocaine bricks.

Jalisco understands brute force. For now, the inhabitants of Aguilya don’t have to worry too much, so they don’t. However, if a resident who is actively working for Viagra or passing information to Viagra is suspected, that person’s life expectancy can be very short.

Local bosses shrug the government’s claim that cartels like Jalisco are struggling to find young recruits for the current administration’s youth employment and training programs.

“It depends on the type of youth,” he says. “I think the people sleeping under the bridge are here and in Paris. There is food here.”

“I make it clear to my people that they are coming here to fight,” he adds.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel offers a kind of family structure for young infantry, in addition to food, regular wages and unlimited narcotics. Everyone, even local bosses, calls their direct boss “Apa”. This is how children say “daddy”.

Both cartels have developed bomb-carrying drones, and the most feared warriors on these battlefields are the “Dronero”, or drone operators. Initially crude, dangerous to load and operate, and still worrisomely indiscriminate, the drone battle has improved, and the effects of the drone’s explosion open the roofs of metal barns and sheds like tin cans. Is not uncommon.

Locals also claim that cartels are starting to use mines — with little evidence other than a few craters on the road.

To deal with the increasing firepower in the conflict, the Mexican government used powerful cards to defeat the Jalisco cartel. A Blackhawk helicopter gunship with a rotating barrel electric machine gun capable of firing 6,000 shots per minute.

This is a weapon that almost defines “indiscriminate full-scale fire” and is banned in civil war in most countries. It’s the kind of weapon that President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador says he no longer wants.

But so far, only such a huge firepower is blocking Jalisco.

“They shot and killed two of our trucks,” said the local gangster boss about gunship. “When a soldier arrives with a helicopter, there is nothing you can do. You just don’t get in the way.”

It’s not clear if that’s the case for a long time. Jalisco is known to be the most armed cartel in Mexico and the only cartel that shot down a military helicopter.

In 2015, Jalisco’s cartel gunman dropped a Eurocopter transport helicopter carrying a rocket-propelled grenade, killing eight soldiers and one police officer. The chopper that Jalisco is currently facing is the Blackhawks, but there is no doubt that the cartel can come up with something more punchy.

Newspaper El Univers releases a copy of an intercepted cartel communication where you can hear the leader instructing a sniper with a .50 caliber rifle to fire armor-piercing shells from a helicopter door. bottom. The Mexican Army did not respond to requests for comment on this or other issues.

In the past, Jalisco has obtained squad machine guns, .50 caliber sniper rifles and 40mm grenades and launchers.

Fearing this kind of bloody government, which began in 2018 when the Jalisco New Generation Cartel moved to neighboring Guanajuato, the government is now infeasible to defend the gang’s territorial division and its narrower military advantage. The sex is left.

An unnamed Army captain who tried to talk to Aguilya protesters expressed his predicament.

“Why are Mexicans killing other Mexicans?” Said the captain. “I can’t do this.”