Translated by Chuck B Alamada for Borderland Beat from a Diario de Yucatan article
Thursday 29 September, 2016
CJNG is becoming the most Powerful
On May 1, 2015, CJNG changed the paradigm of the 40 year old battle between the Mexican state and organized crime; it used a rocket launcher to take down a Mexican Army helicopter. Prior to that, Carteles had demonstrated that their combat power was strong enough to resist, but not to overcome, that of the Federal Government, this according to an investigation conducted by “Animal Politico.”
The Mexican Armed Forces recognized that they had never before witnessed an attack of that magnitude, in which eight military members died. But taking down the helicopter in Guadalajara, Jalisco was not the only thing that this criminal group accomplished that day. CJNG also placed 39
roadblocks in 20 municipalities in three different states with the goal of stopping the federal forces. Additionally, it authored four gun battles against police and military, and most importantly, it prevented the capture of its founding leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, better known as El Mencho. It was just in 2011 that this group had been included as one of the nine drug cartels that operate in the country.
This wasn’t the first time that this criminal group reacted with high levels of violence and great strategy against the federal government. A month prior, this group executed an ambush against police; on April 7, 2015, members of the Police in Jalisco were returning from conducting community work in the coastal area when a vehicle blocked their path in the town of Soyatan. An armed group of men opened fire and killed 15 officers while injuring five others. The State’s Security Commissioner, Alejandro Solorio Arechiga said that the ambushed was in response to the arrest of Heriberto Acevedo Cardenas AKA El Gringo who was considered as one of the regional leaders of CJNG.
Information provided by Mexican and American authorities report CJNG activities in 14 states, almost half of the Mexican territory. CJNG presence increased during the Peña Nieto presidency. This criminal organization was recognized as a drug cartel with the ability to traffic at the national and international level as early as 2011, this according to the PGR. Five years later it is considered the criminal group with most presence in the country with operations in 14 different states even surpassing those of the Sinaloa Cartel (historically, Sinaloa Cartel had dominated the business).
The Department of the Treasury and DEA agree that one of the main factors behind the rapid expansion is due to them sharing operations with Los Cuinis who are experts in the trafficking of cocaine and meth, but most importantly in money laundering. The former member of the now defunct Milenio Cartel and now leader of Los Cuinis, Abigael Gonzalez Valencia who was arrested in Mexico in February of 2015 is also the brother-in-law of El Mencho. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) included them both in their April 2015 list of Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Jalisco died on July 29, 2010 as a result of an operation on behalf of the Mexican Military. In addition to controlling the Pacific Zone, during the last years of his life, Nacho Coronel created an armed group with the mission of preventing the entry of Los Zetas, the criminal organization with more presence in Mexico during the Felipe Calderon administration. Nacho Coronel’s armed group became known as Los Mata Zetas (The Zeta Killers). In the beginning, Mexican authorities identified this group only as a cell of the Sinaloa Cartel, but a year after Nacho’s death, its independence was recognized as the 9thcriminal organization that operated in the country along the following cartels: Tijuana, Sinaloa, Golfo, Beltran Leyva, Zetas, La Familia, and Caballeros Templarios.
According to DEA, CJNG’s expansion started in 2011 after taking over Michoacán and Veracruz which previously belonged to Los Caballeros Templarios and Los Zetas, respectively. Security expert, Alejandro Hope argues that at least on two occasions, the actions and/or omissions on behalf of Auto Defensas had favored the consolidation of this cartel. The first was between 2011 and 2013 when in Veracruz Los Mata Zetas confronted Los Zetas: “There was an official tolerance to strike against Los Zetas that had become an extremely violent group.”
This past March, the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana reported in its Northeast Crime and Security report that in its quest to dominate the main drug trafficking routes, CJNG is facing old cartels on the border. Tijuana has been historically dominated by the Arellano Felix Cartel, but also has the presence of other organizations. Tijuana has also been fought by Sinaloa Cartel and or Juarez due to it being an important route.
According to OFAC director, John E. Smith, “CJNG has relied on violence and corruption to become one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.” Seven months later, the administrator said that the U.S. is making every effort to destroy the money laundry operations of this powerful criminal organization. UNAM professor and national security expert, Javier Olea has said that this cartel has become stronger after acquiring members from Los Caballeros Templarios and of La Familia Michoacana. In less than five years, CJNG entered the U.S. black list of most important drug organizations. With the Sinaloa Carte’s Leader, El Chapo in prison since January 2016, CJNG leader, El Mencho is now a priority objective.