Mexico’s drug war uses drones, human shields, and helicopter gunships

Acquilia, Mexico (AP)-The Mexican government is rapidly running out of tools to control the terrifying expansion of the Jalisco Cartel on the front lines of the drug war in Michoacán, western Mexico, while stagnating Ground efforts are being supplemented more and more. Complicated air conflict.

Jalisco, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking gang, has begun to organize citizens to act as human shields against the army, and the army is now only trying to separate the rival cartels.

Habacuc Solorzano, a 39-year-old farmer, said: “If they try to enter here again, we will send 2,000 people here to stop them.” His statement was like Harris Much of the content on the subject is the same, not just bragging: last week he had about 500 local residents marching-and then wading across the river-against an army squad who blocked a road leading to the territory of Jalisco. Dirt road.

Residents of Aquililla are fed up with the military’s simple strategy of separating Jalisco from the Viagra gang headquartered in Michoacan. Army policy effectively allowed Viagra-known for kidnapping and extorting money-to set up roadblocks and checkpoints, blocking all trade with Aquilia. If you leave the country with lime and cattle, or enter the country as supplies, you must pay a war tax to Viagra.

“We’d rather be killed by you than by those gangsters!” During an hour-long tense confrontation between the demonstrators and a dozen soldiers hiding behind a car tire barricade, a demonstrator shouted to the soldiers Yelled. Many demonstrators carried stones and powerful slingshots, but did not use them.

Residents want the army to fight either two cartels or at least two gangs.

“Let the two cartels fight and kill each other,” another demonstrator shouted. “Jalisco will beat everyone!”

This view is very common. A local priest said: “What we need is a cartel to control, stop fighting and impose some superficial calm.” “Everything shows that the organization is the Jalisco Cartel.”

Most importantly, what the residents want is to clear Viagra’s checkpoints and reopen the roads. Because they have to pass these roadblocks occasionally, no resident is willing to say his name for fear of retaliation.

But someone explained to the army team in this way: “The only way to Aquilia was blocked and controlled by a cartel that was only 500 yards away from you. You (the army) did not take any action to protect our right to travel freely., ” He said. “You don’t know how difficult it is to pay the war tax that was used to kill us.”

This is actually a fairly accurate description of government policy: maintain the status quo and keep each cartel in its own territory.

But Jalisco will not accept the government as the arbiter of the division of drug cartels; the local cartel leader in Jalisco said that for corruption reasons, the army just wants to protect the weaker of the two gangs. , Namely Viagra.

Jalisco can be seen everywhere in Aguilia, from pickups and self-made armored vehicles with Cartel acronyms to the small trampolines that the group installs for children in every village.

Some residents said they were forced to participate in the protests, fearing that if they did not participate, their water and electricity might be cut off. Others are just tired of paying Viagra’s war tax and being cut off from the outside world. A female protester described how her father died in early 2020 because Viagra did not allow them to go to the hospital.

Dozens of cartel gunmen publicly wore bulletproof vests with the organization’s Spanish acronyms printed on the back, with “CJNG”-Jalisco’s new-generation cartel printed on the back, and “FEM”-“Mencho’s Special Forces” printed on the front. , Refers to the nickname of the organization. Nemesio Oseguera, the leader of the cartel.

Jalisco is a cartel in Mexico. It neither conceals the truth nor plays a role in news relations or restrained politics.

“We are drug dealers,” said the local leader in Jalisco, who did not give his name. “Everyone should take care of their own affairs.” His dissatisfaction with Viagras and the other local gangs he is fighting against is that “they want everything they own.”

Jalisco keeps its large army running, which contains a lot of money — cartels have a lot of money, from trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine to the United States — and cocaine airlifted from Costa Rica.

When the local boss stood at the temporary street command post, a pickup truck full of Jalisco gunners with AR15 assault rifles stopped. The driver said, “Scorpion said he needs something.” The boss reached into his truck and handed the co-pilot a plastic bag containing one kilogram of cocaine, apparently for the “troopers.”

Jalisco understands brute force; currently, it does not cause too much trouble to the residents of Aquilia because it is unnecessary. However, if it is suspected that a resident is actively working for Viagra or communicating information to Viagra, the person’s life expectancy may be very short.

Because of the current government’s youth employment and training programs, local bosses ignored the government’s statement that cartels like Jalisco would find it difficult to find young new employees.

“It depends on the type of young people,” he said. “Those who sleep under the bridge, they come here, they think they are in Paris. There is food here.”

“I made it clear to my employees that they are here to fight,” he added.

In addition to food, fixed wages and unlimited drugs, the Jalisco Cartel also provided a family structure for its young infantry. Everyone, even the local boss, refers to their immediate superiors as “Apa”, just as a child says “Dad”.

Both cartels have developed drones that carry bombs, and the most frightening fighters on these battlefields are “drones” or drone operators. Although the initial loading and handling was rough and dangerous-and still worryingly indiscriminate-drone warfare has been improved, and metal barns or shed roofs have been seen to resemble tin due to the effects of drone explosions. It is not uncommon for the cans to open likewise.

The locals also claimed-although there is little evidence other than a few craters on the road-cartels started using landmines.

In response to the increasing firepower during the conflict, the Mexican government played a powerful card to defeat the Jalisco Cartel: The Black Hawk gunship is equipped with a rotating barrel electric motor gun that can fire 6,000 rounds of ammunition per minute.

This is a weapon that can almost be defined as “indiscriminate all-out firepower”, and it is banned in most countries’ internal conflicts. This is the kind of weapon that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he no longer wanted.

But for now, such a powerful firepower is the only factor hindering the advancement of Jalisco.

“They shot and burned our two trucks,” the local gang leader said of the gunship. “When the soldiers arrived in a helicopter, there was nothing you could do, but to get out of the way.”

It is not clear that this situation will last for a long time. Jalisco is famous for two things: Mexico’s heavily armed cartel, and the only one that has shot down a military helicopter.

In 2015, the Jalisco cartel gunner shot down a Eurocopter transport helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades, killing eight soldiers and a policeman. Although Jalisco is now facing the Blackhawks, there is no doubt that Cartel can come up with some more powerful methods.

El Universal newspaper published a record of intercepted cartel communications, in which a leader can be heard instructing a sniper to use a 0.50 caliber rifle to pass armor-piercing shells through the door of a helicopter. The Mexican army did not respond to requests for comment on this or other issues.

In the past, Jalisco was given plane guns, 0.50 caliber sniper rifles and 40mm grenade and launchers.

The government is afraid of the bloody carnage that began when the Jalisco Cartel entered neighboring Guanajuato in 2018, and now faces an infeasible policy of defending the division of gangs and a shrinking military advantage.

An army captain who tried to talk to the Aquilia protesters on condition of anonymity expressed this dilemma.

“How can Mexicans kill other Mexicans?” the captain said. “This is impossible.”

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