MEXICO CITY, January 16 .- The drug cartels in Mexico used armored vehicles made by hand, so-called “monsters” to protect their drug shipments from rival groups, a military source said today.
“The organized crime groups use these vehicles to guard their drug routes racking,” he told Efe an officer of the Eighth Military Zone, based in Tamaulipas, northeastern state of the U.S. border.
Army members in this region have seized about 110 armored vehicles, including more than 30 “monsters” that inevitably evoke see scenes from the movie “Mad Max”.
Most are heavy-duty trucks that have been plated with armor in sweat shops, mainly in Tamaulipas. Some of them are able to carry on board 12 shooters, the source explained.
During an operation in June 2011 a workshop was dismantled in the town of Camargo, where they seized two units had been completed and is ready to be shielded 23 trucks, seven trucks and two trailers, among others.
One of the “late model”, seized last year, exceeds 30 tons since it was covered with thick layers of steel and its defenses were reinforced with railroad ties.
Also highlights the “Pope-mobile,” a pickup truck in the rear cabin has a very similar to the vehicle using the Pope, only instead of glass has metal plates.
“The vehicles are built with steel plates at least one inch. The small-caliber projectiles, like bullets from assault rifles, hardly able to penetrate the shield. Only heavy weapons or antitank shells can be destroyed,” the military.
In some cases the defenses of the modified vehicles ending in a point to break down barriers. The cargo area is the most relevant, because that is where cabins are built with peepholes to accommodate shooters.
“Not on the road or in the cities, but operate on roads, which are the routes used to bring the drug to the U.S. border,” the military source.
The nickname of “monsters” is that they move at night and looks sinister, that only highlights their lights, which usually are on the top front eyes and simulate real monsters that move through dark paths loud.
The source said that Tamaulipas has large semi-desert plains, with hundreds of gaps and roads where the drug dealers move in light vehicles, which are escorted by the “monsters”.
One of the most popular routes to move drugs from Central America is an unpaved local road alone starting at the Laguna Madre from the Gulf of Mexico and reaches the town of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, the official said.
On that road is the abandoned warehouse where they were killed in August 2010, 72 migrants, mostly from Central America by a group of hitmen for the Zetas.
“The cartels are fighting to control and protect these routes, both for the smuggling of drugs to human trafficking, and conversely for the smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and to bring lots of illegal goods,” concluded source.
- Narco Tanks: DIY Armored Vehicles of the Mexican Drug Cartels (neatorama.com)
- Homebrew narco-tanks of the Mexican drug war (boingboing.net)