A brutal Mexican cartel has become a “greater force” than El Chapo’s criminal empire, an expert has claimed.
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), led by Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera Cervantes, a former ally of Chapo, operates in at least 35 states across Mexico and Puerto Rico.
In July, authorities estimated the gang oversaw one-third of all drugs being transported from Mexico into the US.
Its illicit products have also been sold in Europe and Asia.
Dr Robert J Bunker, Director of Research & Analysis, C/O Futures, LLC, believes the Sinaloa Cartel – led by Chapo's sons and former partner Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada after his imprisonment last year – is now operating in its shadow.
He told Daily Star Online: “The federal Mexican forces have far more military capacity and firepower than the cartels.
“The issue is that they are stretched thin across the county containing the 'criminal insurgency' taking place and now having to respond to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in Mexico.
“The CJNG presently appears to be a greater force than the Sinaloa Cartel throughout Mexico and overseas is now eclipsing it.
“Still, the Sinaloa Cartel is stronger in some of its core territories such as Culiacan and extended regions.
Back in July, dozens of armed CJNG members shouted Mencho’s name and showed off military-grade weapons along with armoured pickup trucks in disturbing propaganda footage, believed to have been recorded in the state of Jalisco.
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At the time, Alfonso Durazo, secretary of security and civilian protection, said the video was being analysed and vowed “there is no criminal group with the capacity to successfully challenge the federal security forces”.
Responding to the footage, Dr Bunker added: “The video is accurate.
“I’ve been tracking CJNG propaganda videos for some years now with their kill teams/enforcers getting more and more sophisticated in terms of training and equipment.”
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Mencho's cronies have targeted members of the public, soldiers and police officers in brutal displays of violence.
The CJNG has downed an army helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, killed dozens of state officials, and has even been known to hang the bodies of its victims from bridges to intimidate its rivals.
One man, identified only by the alias Francisco, claims he was tricked into joining a CJNG training camp in the mountains of Guadalajara after being offered a job as a security guard.
While there, gang members executed one man for failing to put together a gun.
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Francisco was then forced to cut off his hand and ordered to eat part of the corpse.
He said: “I had to do it, you have no choice. I remember the fear, the blood.”
Last month, a group of armed citizens in the Mexican city of Tepalcatepec, Michoacan, discovered two drones with C4 explosives and ball bearings belonging to the CJNG.
The cartel has reportedly been experimenting with drone warfare since 2017.
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