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Mexican gangs using armored trucks to move contraband through desert

In scenes making the Road Warrior films seem prophetic, Mexican gangs are battling for control of desert back roads in the North Eastern border state of Tamaulipas, using armored trucks with inch thick steel plating.
Posted: January 19, 2012 - 5:36PM
Author: Don Bain

Such vehicles are impervious to standard rifle or pistol fire, requiring anti-tank weaponry to have any effect at all. We have reported the garages discovered to armor trucks like this before. but this is the first report on how these vehicles are utilized once reinforced and handed over to the gangs. Some can carry up to 12 personnel on board.

Interestingly, the battle is between the The Gulf and Los Zetas gangs. The Zetas are all deserters from elite Mexican Special Forces who apparently noticed the other side getting better pay while they lived, with heavy attrition on both sides. If you’re sacrificing yourself for the benefit of others, as many Mexicans must, the higher income is an obvious plus in a profession with no assurance of longevity. More money to send home to family – at least while it lasts.

Another surprising fact is some of Mexico’s Special Forces are highly trained rapid deployment and anti-terrorist troops. It is not clear how many of the Zetas came from these highly specialized units. At first the Zetas were the armed enforcers for the Gulf gang, but after a falling out in 2010, went into business for themselves.

Now the two opposing forces use heavily armored trucks to support the movement of lighter vehicles full of contraband in the form of drugs and people exiting the Northeastern state and guns and munitions coming back.

"The cartels are fighting to control and protect these routes both for drug- and people-trafficking and in the opposite direction for the smuggling of weapons to Mexico, as well as to bring in a large quantity of merchandise illegally," an unidentified Federal officer assigned to the 8th Military Zone told the Spanish Newswire EFE, according to Fox News Latino.

One of the armored trucks captured last year weighed in excess of 30 tons due to the heavy steel plating backed with train rails. One heavily plated cargo van was dubbed the “pope-mobile” because of a steel observation port rising out of the top like the bulletproof bubble in the Pope’s parade vehicle.

"The vehicles are built with steel plates at least an inch thick,” the Federale added. They can only be destroyed with heavy weapons or anti-tank shells. They don't circulate on roads or in the cities, but instead operate on back roads, the routes used to take drugs to the border with the United States."

The death toll of this gang rivalry has reached the hundreds. In related news Mexican police have just arrested the man alleged to be Mexico's most successful smuggler of firearms, ammunition and explosives, 34-year-old Eduardo Avila Ojeda He was arrested yesterday in the northwestern city of Culiacan, capital of the state of Sinaloa, pursuant to the Dec. 30 apprehension of Ramiro Rendon Rivera, another suspected gunrunner

Mexico is waist deep in a battle with organized crime, leaving 47,515 dead between President Felipe Calderón taking office December 2006 and Sept. 30, 2011, based on official statistics.

It is now being fought by Mad Max and the Road Warriors on the deserts of the Mexican Outback. Fortunately, it is mostly the gangs killing each other, but there are always innocents that get caught in the crossfire.

¡Lo muy siento!