HomeThe LatestBorder Officials Warn About Modified Vehicles

Border Officials Warn About Modified Vehicles

In Mexico, drug cartels are taking the “monster truck” concept to a whole new terrifying level, retrofitting popular pickups with four-inch-thick steel plates, turrets for firing machine guns, and battering rams. Referred to as monstruos (monsters), rinocerontes (rhinos), and narcotanques (narco-tanks), these modified vehicles are often emblazoned with the initials of the cartels that make them – giving the warring gangs a terrifying, post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” vibe.

The armoring of these trucks is a $117,000 process conducted in rural workshops that takes 60-70 days and involves 5-6 welders and mechanics. Some extra features like turrets, bulletproof tires, and battering rams can run up the bill even higher.

Though the trucks first began appearing in Mexico a little over a decade ago, they seem to be multiplying and becoming ever more sophisticated. This worrying trend, according to security expert Romain Le Cour,” is a result of the “elite solider[s]” being recruited into the cartels. It’s an indication of the cartels’ desire “to emulate and compete with the country’s elite forces,” said Jorge Septién, a Mexico City-based expert on ballistics and armaments.

In June, Mexico’s federal attorney general’s office in the state of Tamaulipas announced the capture and destruction of 14 ‘ monsters,’ and the state prosecutor’s office cited the “danger to the safety of the community” posed by these modified vehicles. More than 260 armored trucks have been destroyed by the authorities in Tamaulipas alone since 2019, but it’s difficult to provide a national figure since various federal and state agencies are involved in confiscating and demolishing them.

The trucks have gained prominence in 2020, when a video surfaced showing the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, parading his private army on the border of the states of Michoacán and Guanajuato. And now, these grotesquely modified vehicles often feature in TikTok videos of narco rap songs and folk ballads extolling cartel exploits – highlighting a worrying trend.

The trucks do, however, have some downsides. They are “too slow, too heavy,” to be truly effective in urban settings, according to Alexei Chévez, a security analyst based in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Furthermore, the retrofitting of the vehicles makes them prone to malfunctioning. “We see them constantly breaking down and being abandoned,” said Chévez.

Despite this, their strategic and symbolic importance seems to be clear. The Mexican government is attempting to take steps to combat these armed groups, but it seems like they will need something more than just rocket launchers to take down the “monsters” that stalk their streets.

The post Border Officials Warn About Modified Vehicles appeared first on Steadfast Clash.

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