In barely four years, a little-known criminal gang has grown to challenge the world’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, for domination of Mexico’s narco underworld, unleashing a new tide of violence.
Once underlings in Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel, traffickers of the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG) have turned on their former masters, seizing territory and buying off thousands of corrupt police, according to UK based news website UK Business Insider
Led by former policeman Nemesio Oseguera, aka “El Mencho
,” the gang has carved out an empire at the expense of weaker rivals.
The speed of its ascent shows how quickly power can shift in Mexico’s multibillion-dollar drug trade.
DEA/Eames Yates/Business Insider
The group that won out eventually became what is now the CJNG, assuming control of drug operations in the area. Juggling interests from China to North Africa and eastern Europe, the CJNG’s bloody advance has helped push homicides to their highest levels under President Enrique Peña Nieto, who vowed to restore law and order when he took office in late 2012.
All but four in a 2009 list of Mexico’s 37 most wanted capos are now dead or in jail, according to Reuters, and the outset of Peña Nieto’s term did see a reduction in violence
, particularly of homicides.
But a resurgence that led to 3,800 murders between July and August highlights the government’s failure to beat down cartels without new ones springing up in their place.
Peña Nieto recently sought to allay security concerns by announcing a plan to step up crime prevention
in the worst-hit areas. He did not set out the details of his plan, but urged states to speed up efforts to put local police under unified statewide command.
Mexican President Nieto gives a speech during his proposal for energy reforms in Mexico City on August 12th. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Intimidating, paying off, or eliminating police, CJNG leaders have ruthlessly applied lessons learned during their apprenticeship under Guzmán’s cartel to muscle in on battered rivals and snatch trafficking routes, security experts say.
Interviews by Reuters with over a dozen serving and former officials underlined how collusion between gang members and law enforcement in the CJNG’s stronghold, the western state of Jalisco, laid the foundation for the gang’s advance.
“People stopped trusting the police. People believed the police in the state were working for a criminal gang,” said Jalisco’s attorney general, Eduardo Almaguer.
Bearing the brunt of the chaos are the ports, trafficking centers, and border crossings that light up the multibillion-dollar trail of crystal methamphetamine from Mexico to the US, the CJNG’s main source of revenue.