Mexican Drug Cartels Adopting Military Tactics

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 8 months ago

We have discussed the notion that the Mexican cartels, rather than being simply related to drugs and drug trafficking, should be seen as warlords and insurgents.  Warfare has come to Mexico and the border states of the United States.  Their reach now goes all the way to Idaho.  But the degree of militarization of the cartels and their armies is still relatively unknown to most Americans.

Mexican drug cartels are using military weapons and tactics while also recruiting Texas teenagers to carry out their operations, which are evolving into full-blown criminal enterprises, experts said.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said last week in a report given to Congress that the cartels “incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.”

[ … ]

“Cartel-run training camps are typically located in Mexico,” testified Zapata County Sheriff Gonzalez. “However, in 2008, law enforcement authorities discovered a training camp in South Texas that was operated by members of the Gulf cartel’s (former) enforcement arm, Los Zetas.”

The Sinaloa cartel, which is waging a bloody battle against the Carrillo Fuentes cartel for control of the Juárez-El Paso corridor, also employs a military-type approach.

According to another U.S. government document, “the Sinaloa cartel uses military-style training camps high in the Sierra-Durango mountains.”

[ … ]

McAllen’s police chief said there is a war going on between drug-trafficking organizations. “It has taken the form of direct challenges and firefights with authorities in Mexico,” Rodriguez said. “If they, the drug trafficking organizations, were forces from another country, Mexico could be seen as being at war and not winning.”

The cartels aren’t simply drug cartels, and are now engaged in human trafficking.  This isn’t about the war on drugs.  This is about warlords and insurgents across the border in Mexico … and indeed, here in the United States.  War has come to America, and unless it is fought like a war, we will lose it, and not just in the border states.

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  1. On August 10, 2011 at 9:17 am, Warbucks said:

    We are always so predictable as a people. This  reaction (“….should be seen as warlords and insurgents.” ) is but one possible response. It of course harbors the full reactive momentum of our considerable governmental departments, playing to our patriotic sense of sovereignty, and encased in political purpose served by unquestioning mainstream media that solves nothing. The only outcome is: “let’s righteously kick some butt.” The ring in our nose with a rope that can be pulled by others at any time seems to be as strong as ever. And a great way to divert attention away from our domestic program failures, as always.

    We create the demand for the drugs and the women and keep it illegal. The drug wars do not work. 40,000 murdered Mexicans along the boarders and we accept no moral responsibility.

    We are so predictable! The next step in our predictable response is to “do something” just before election time … like loan two Army Apachie Attack choppers to Mexico for a “clean up” operation, esculating the war. Boy, that will solve the problem!

    Meantime, back home on the farm, our churches continue preaching the same sermons, we see ourselves as not part of this problem, and government recycles the same stuff they do so well and so predictably.


  2. On August 10, 2011 at 9:45 am, Herschel Smith said:

    You can see it however you wish. You think that this is all related to the war on drugs, I say it isn’t. I say, as I said above, and as I have said in articles before, that this is related to war against warlords and insurgents. If this is all related to drugs, then why are the cartels engaging in human trafficking now? Remove the drugs, and the war on drugs, and the reason for drugs, and everything else associated with such a notion, and the warlords and insurgents will still be there. It’s about money, power, authority, and more power.

    I advocate discrete military operations against the cartels by SOCOM and the USMC (just like I advocate a program of assassinations against Iranian rulers). You may not like what I advocate, but calling me “predictable” seems very out of place … and strange.

  3. On August 10, 2011 at 11:44 am, Warbucks said:

    Herschel, I’m sorry. I see that my comments clearly can infer “you.” I will in the future try to write in a style less open to misinterpretation and less as the preacher who while making a point seems to be talking directly to me not anyone else in the congregation.

  4. On August 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm, JAPETERS said:

    There is a confluence of techniques and activities that begs comparison. Some of the operations in Mexico seem to be duplicates of those of powerful criminal gangs of Brazil. The similarities are just too detailed to be accidental.
    Mexican authorities and analysts indicate that a very large portion of the weapons recovered in Mexico have their origin in Venezuela and Central America.
    I observe that this new level of sophiticatn in planning and operatiosn roughly coinsides with the introduction of Iranian military/intelligence personnel into South America by Cuba and Venezuela. My conjecture is that we are seeing the results of training by these Iranian personnel. There have been a number of reports of this activity.
    I and other observers have noted that the trend in oil and gas usage in Mexico indicates that Mexico will need to begin rationing fuels in 2013-14. When this happens we may see the collapse of the Mexican state in large parts of that country. For various reasons it should be anticipated that the U.S. border states are going to be in real trouble, as a result.
    I also note that a substantial number of the U.S. Army units returning from Iraq have been headquartered withing striking distance of our southwestern border. Fort Bliss has been tremendously upgraded and Fort Huachuca somewhat less so.
    A couple of years ago it was the published opinion of the JCS that Mexico and Central America constituted the greatest threat to the U.S. homeland.

  5. On August 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm, DirtyMick said:

    Herschel, would you recommend counter insurgency type warfare? Setting up COPs, mounted/dismounted patrolling, LP/OPs, no shit patrol bases etc. I mean our military is kinda stretched thin but if the government started specifically hiring Infantry vets into border patrol and gave them that tasking it would definitley make a difference

  6. On August 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm, Warbucks said:

    Our energies are governments not people. Our enemies would be better targeted by our helping the citizens of Iran liberate themselves from their theocracies. But we could be most open about our intentions when openness breeds popularity.

    If there is a war to be fought let it be a war for videos, t.v., radio, internet and alternative media to penetrate the quarantines of the theocracies and tyrannies.

    The first casualties of open conflict we send into Mexico will be a swarm of violence inside our boarders reaching inland several hundred miles:

    And for what? These good people are not our arch enemies. They’re heading North (if they can) to adopt our life styles, such as they perceive them to be. They are our brothers, friends, workers, family, and relatives. We share much the same cultural identities and values in every respect starting with family.

    We need to first work on changing our own war on drugs. 2500 prostitutes encamped along the Alaskan Pipeline during its construction did not bring down the USA. I doubt 10,000 prostitutes in, where was it, Idaho?… will either.

    Change the war on drugs to something humane and then let’s discuss the “mounting evidence” of great warlords South of the Boarder.

  7. On August 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Because I take a classical, orthodox Christian view of mankind and you don’t, I see your view (be humane to criminals and they will behave differently) as fundamentally naive. Furthermore, NO ONE who violates the sovereignty of my nation, uses the wealth of my country (paid in taxes from my hard labor) for medical care, food, automotive insurance, etc., without themselves contributing to that same wealth when they in fact find labor, is my “friend” or “brother.” He is a criminal and a thief (Eph 4:28, 2 Thess 3:10).

  8. On August 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    GREAT question. We’ll be addressing that shortly. I don’t have any answers, but I do have some questions and suggestions.

  9. On August 11, 2011 at 8:06 am, Warbucks said:

    Domestically, I think our attentions are better targeted when we focus them on reducing the profit margins and upon acts of public relations that are meaningful to indigenous Mexicans and US citizens. Mexico is almost our 51st State. Most of our government institutions otherwise do seem to agree with you. Of that there is no doubt. We have become all too predictable as a result…like a Hollywood Stevan Seagal movie, there’s gratuitous killing in every direction by the hero. It never seems to occur to the hero their might be another path. Your path is respected. Your path is honorable. Your path is honest. Your path is noble. But it seems to validate itself only as assuring me an endless recycled loop of fear-based response that never solve the problem without reaching the hero’s one perfect moment of unconditional surrender. Your path is a last resort if at all.

  10. On August 11, 2011 at 8:43 am, Warbucks said:

    There are risks in my “fundamentally naive” approach which you are right to point out. “THE PLAN,” unfolding domestically all around us seems to be the perfectly executed plan of One World Government, and its domestic secularized element of “Agenda 21,” the details of which, we all know. In this larger plan (Agenda 21) we are all being guided perfectly so far to fall into our places in the line-up, your pat and my path seem to share a similar fate in that regard perhaps.

    The next step under Agenda 21 is to extend our defense perimeter to include Canada and Mexico. It’s part of their over arching plan to implement the North American Economic Zone without calling it the USA. Try as each of us might to avoid the ramifications, we are both asserting exactly the right sentiments to launch us into the next phase. At some point we will see each other’s paths as mutually required allies in the process most likely.

  11. On August 11, 2011 at 10:50 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Your comments about another path never seeming to occur to some hero who is shooting everything and everyone up seem rather insulting, and this exchange has become tiresome.

    My writing is much more complicated than you are crediting, and my advocacy much less supported by the “government institutions” than you indicate. Do you really believe that any government institution supports my approach? Really? Seriously? The border guards must use non-lethal means to stop criminals who have automatic weapons. They must put water out to save those crossing the border from dying of heat stroke.

    They are restricted by Tennessee v. Garner in the use of their firearms. They are put in prison if they shoot illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants file complaints with the EEOC if we refuse to hire them. Now, Obamacare will apply to illegal immigrants just like Joe Wilson charged.

    The cartels are at war with each other and the Mexican government, and the police force for an entire town resigns in fear of the cartels.

    When the National Guard were sent to the border, they weren’t even allowed to fire warning shots because of their rules for the use of force, and an entire post of NG troopers was overrun by cartel fighters.

    Illegals use our medical benefits and facilities, use our roads, use our food stamps, and on and on, and don’t pay taxes, while La Raza wants Arizona and New Mexico back, and millions of illegals march through the streets of America waving the flag of Mexico.

    We won’t build the fence because the democrats want the illegals’ vote, and ranchers in Arizona have no choice except to go out of business because of the violence on their own ranches.

    And you … want to be kinder and gentler, and compare me [us] [someone] to Steven Seagal shooting everyone and everything up, too dense and stupid to understand that there’s another way?

    I understand that you believe what you say you believe, but this has become tiresome, and you’re saying the same thing over and over, in increasingly insulting tones each time.

  12. On August 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm, Warbucks said:

    I will pray for a better understanding and your tolerance through our discourse.

  13. On September 4, 2011 at 10:19 pm, Cesar said:

    Puedes ver los sesos y la sangre de los sicarios sobre las pickup de lujo que usan los carteles para combatir al ejercito Mexicano, todo lo puedes ver en la red, tu cres que estas pickup de lujo son un equipo militar efectivo para combatir?, cuantos sicarios han muerto por un soldado?, has visto ha los sicarios cargar en los hombros un equipo RPG cuando circulan en sus autos de lujo?, los sicarios no tienen entrenamiento militar para combatir el ejercito mueren en los combates por 200 dolars a la semana, los sesos no les sirven para pensar solo para pelear sin tecnica alguna.
    Inteligencia americana ve la situacion en Mexico tan lejana de la realidad como lo esta Irak y Afganistan de los U.S.A., el problema no es de entrenamiento militar sino de una terrible corrupcion, cuando los militares capturan un narco al otro dia un juez corrupto lo libera,los individuos que incendiaron el casino en la ciudad de Monterrey tu piensas que son comandos terroristas entrenados para matar?, basta ver sus caras y sus edades para ver que son individuos que no usan los sesos para pensar solo para destruir por unos cuantos dolares de paga a la semana.
    Un helicoptero de ataque Apache seria buena ayuda para el ejercito mexicano
    el ultimo jueves me toco transitar por la zona de guerra del rio Bravo cerca de Zapata Texas soldados estaban en todas las poblaciones cercanas y un helicoptero militar hacia vuelos de reconocimiento buscando las facilmente identificables camionetas de lujo que usan los criminales, en esta zona de guerra los ciudadanos mexicanos vivimos con el peligro, pero no tenemos miedo y queremos que los criminales sean aniquilados y vuelva la paz a nuestras tierras..Inteligencia americana debe usar su experiencia y tecnica para encontrar los autores intelectuales y responsables de esta guerra y no desperdiciar su dinero y conocimientos en catalogar como terroristas islamicos a los sicarios que solo sirven para tirar sus sesos en las calles.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Mexican Cartels and was published August 9th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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