Mexican Drug War

Mexico’s Guardia Civil Seizes Michoacán Gang’s Homemade Tank

The latest narco tank discovered by Mexican authorities
The latest narco tank discovered by Mexican authorities

Mexico’s Guardia Civil Seizes Michoacán Gang’s Homemade Tank

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The Viagras gang is thought to have been the owner of the combat vehicle

A genuine army tank may be hard to come by in Mexico, but cartels have got around that by producing their own, making improvised armored vehicles to give them the upper hand in battles with rival criminal gangs and the Mexican military.

The National Guard unveiled one such vehicle in photos posted to Twitter on Friday. It was found during a routine patrol in San José de Chila, Michoacán.

El Universal reports that the hulking black combat vehicle could belong to the Los Viagras cartel led by Nicolás Sierra Santana, alias “El Gordo,” which is known to operate in the state’s Tierra Caliente region.

Los Viagras are currently involved in a brutal turf war with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which released a video to social media showing its own convoy of armored vehicles in July.

Homemade tanks, which are often mounted with high-caliber weapons and turrets, baptized with names such as “Monster,” “Rhinoceros,” “Batmobile” and even “Popemobile.”

Over the past decade, cartels have even transformed trucks into narco tanks with Mad Max flare, affixing steel panels to the exterior that can be up to 25 millimeters thick. Some have had battering rams attached in order to plow through anything in their path, including police barricades.

One fortified vehicle found in Tamaulipas in 2011 was capable of speeds of up to 110 kilometers per hour and had space for 12 passengers with two openings for deploying rocket-propelled grenades and firing rifles. It was also modified to James Bond capabilities and could produce an oil slick or jettison nails onto the roadway to foil pursuit.

A narco tank factory containing eight vehicles that were being modified with anti-ballistic plates was discovered in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, in 2015. In this case, the armor was attached to the inside of the vehicles so as not to attract attention.

In late January, the Mexican military seized an armored dump truck in the same region of Michoacán as the most recent find. It was also suspected of having belonged to Los Viagras.

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