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The tools of Mexico's drug cartels
November 30, 2012 6:01 PM   Subscribe

The tools of Mexico's drug cartels
posted by Egg Shen (39 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought it was going to be a picture of U.S. citizens.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:11 PM on November 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


They are like little parasitic states within the state with their own armies, infrastructure, radio networks, etc.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:15 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


That gold plated AK. Geez. Also, the cartels are using submarines now.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:20 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's a very long thread focused on pictures of the drug war seizures.

Guns, grenades, phones, equipment, vehicles, and (obviously) drugs galore.

Edit: Should probably note that there is some censored and uncensored gore in the mix, so beware.
posted by timfinnie at 6:30 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


In other news, Maria Santos Gorrostieta has been assassinated. While the Daily Mail has published a pretty good story on her, it also features a lot of brutal photos; if you haven't heard of her before, Wikipedia has a good summary of her amazing, short life.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:32 PM on November 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, the cartels are using submarines now.

Not just any submarines, either... "Underwater" submarines, even. (Aren't non-underwater submarines called something else? Oh, yea. 'Boats'.)
posted by Bartonius at 6:33 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, that line of vehicles didn't just circle the block and show up again? The only variation I noticed was a scooter thrown in towards the end.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:36 PM on November 30, 2012


The only variation I noticed was a scooter thrown in towards the end.

Really? I saw two or three with roof-mounted machine guns, some with guys in the back, and a mix of SUVs and pickups.
posted by Forktine at 6:54 PM on November 30, 2012


Diesel powered submarines? Are they planning to convert to waste veg oil?
posted by mannequito at 6:56 PM on November 30, 2012


Blinged out AK aside, that group shot has a bunch of relatively modern weapons like those P90s.

Anyone know how drug cartels get their hands on arms? Were they at some point retail weapons or do they have a middleman buy directly from the manufacturers?
posted by porpoise at 7:15 PM on November 30, 2012


Whether you'd like to think so or not, we as Americans have created this situation in our neighbors to the south.

Moral opinions of drug use notwithstanding we as Americans and our appetites are the fuel for the disintegration of even corrupt governments and societal order.

To speak to porpoise I don't know how they get those weapons, although Arizona's lax gun laws come to mind, but there is a UN small arms treaty that is actively opposed by the NRA because it will track weapons bought and sold in the international market.
Including U.S. purchased weapons.

What price happiness? Who controls ours actions? These are questions to be raised by both anti gun advocates and 2nd amendment die hards.
posted by Max Power at 7:26 PM on November 30, 2012


The long barrels mean that they are actually semi-auto PS90 versions sold in US gunstores just like any other rifle. The barrels also have different twist ratios so just sawing off the barrel would result in drastically worsened accuracy.
posted by Authorized User at 7:46 PM on November 30, 2012


The ATT, which I'm sure you're referencing, Max Power, has little to do with traditional sales in the US -- including those conducted by US arms manufacturers. It is concerned with 'conventional weaponry', which encompasses things "from warships and battle tanks to fighter jets and machine guns". These are not the main weapons the Mexican cartels are using. The scare tactics from the NRA aren't aimed at anything except an increase in their donation pool.

Where Mexican cartels get their weapons is a subject of a great, international, intractable debate. There is the US, where we can prove that guns purchased over the counter (maybe not completely legally and 'sometimes-maybe' with the knowledge of the ATF) made their way to Mexico (without anyone who might know ever telling Mexican authorities they were coming). Otherwise you have Cold War era guns and munitions going from South America back north. You also have to take into account that China is in play, and have been producing quality small arms since forever. Given the Chinese origins of precursor chemicals shipped to Mexico for drug production, it's not unreasonable to think that perhaps some rifles and RPGs also make it through.

Even beyond all that, it's well past the time for people to stop acting like Mexico can't have world-class gunsmiths (aka people who do gold-plated guns on the side).
posted by timfinnie at 8:01 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


/Anyone know how drug cartels get their hands on arms? Were they at some point retail weapons or do they have a middleman buy directly from the manufacturers?/

Most of the stuff in that pic seems to be civilian versions (PS90, FS200, etc- can't tell from the pic if that's a real MP5K or just an SP89 made up to look like one). That would seem to indicate simple straw purchases smuggled in from the US than a scam to buy from the manufacturers, since the cartels definitely have enough money to just buy the military versions if they were going to go through enough trouble to fool the makers into it.
posted by hamida2242 at 8:03 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]



Whether you'd like to think so or not, we as Americans have created this situation in our neighbors to the south.


Damn, and here I kept thinking people are responsible for their own actions.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:51 PM on November 30, 2012


Those RPGs, M72, Claymores and C4 aren't coming from American gun stores.
posted by wuwei at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2012


I think it's fair to say that we as Americans have contributed to the situation.
posted by Justinian at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2012


We sure are. Because it's people in the USA who are buying the dope that powers this war.

We could make this stop by legalizing cocaine and heroin as a way to cut the legs out from under this. But we won't.
posted by wuwei at 9:35 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


We could make this stop by legalizing cocaine and heroin as a way to cut the legs out from under this. But we won't.

Because if there's one thing worse than people getting horribly tortured, maimed and murdered, it's people on drugs.
posted by dazed_one at 9:42 PM on November 30, 2012


Legalization seems like a simplistic solution to the problem. On the other hand, War on Drugs has been a massive failure, and is obviously responsible for the instability and hyperviolence.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:47 PM on November 30, 2012


Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
posted by dazed_one at 9:52 PM on November 30, 2012


We sure are. Because it's people in the USA who are buying the dope that powers this war.

The people in the USA also buy the consumer electronics that are extremely lucrative for most of Asia. And the clothing that is extremely lucrative for most of Asia.

To my knowledge most of the countries in Asia do not currently feature roving gangs that can go toe to toe with the army and who claim entire swaths of the country for themselves. It would seem that mass consumption by Americans by itself is not enough.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:19 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not illegal to make and sell consumer electronics and clothing. The makers of those products have no need to go toe-to-toe with the army.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:30 PM on November 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Looks like a fucking GI Joe catalogue. Actually I think diversifying into the branded action figure market is on the Zetas' agenda for next quarter. Seems they're already into everything else.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 10:37 PM on November 30, 2012


The article says 68% of guns used by cartels originated from the US, the remainder largely from Cold War-era stockpiles in Central America. What would be the consequences of simply banning US companies from selling munitions/weaponry to anyone related to Mexico (excluding the Mexican army)? There's really the possibility of a three-pronged approach.

1. Legalize drug(s) on our end. This reduces cash flow to cartels. A lot of people argue for this one.

2. Ban gun sales to Mexico. This directly reduces violence.

3. Give the Mexican military/police help. We already have drones/planes over Iraq and Afghanistan. Mexican civilians may be against it. But if the cartels are brazen enough to travel in convoys and souped up monster trucks, wouldn't they make easy targets?

Really though, what Mexico needs is a stronger economy. If you're happy and employed, there's no reason to join a cartel. I think we really have to look at the underlying reasons why this violence exists in the first place.
posted by o310362 at 10:44 PM on November 30, 2012


o310362: One big reason is, we stopped the water flowing there. This destroyed subsistence agriculture that had been the local practice in a bunch of northern Mexico. We needed our iceberg lettuce and tomatoes.
posted by Goofyy at 11:08 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


What would be the consequences of simply banning US companies from selling munitions/weaponry to anyone related to Mexico

IIRC, it's not companies that sell weapons to drug cartels. I recall the weapons are purchased through gun trade shows, where there is no mandated waiting period to receive their weapons. They are done with "straw purchases", that is small amounts done by a middle man that in turn sells it to the cartels.

Legalize drug(s) on our end. This reduces cash flow to cartels. A lot of people argue for this one.

I see this as probably reducing problems for the US, but not have any permanent affect on cash flow for the cartels. If you legalize drugs in the US, then there will be a business opportunity to buy them here and take them to other places where people have money and drugs are illegal. So I'm thinking places like China, Japan, and South Korea will suddenly have increased pressure as the US shifts from a consumption point to a transit point. I think a real life example is the Netherlands is still a major transit point even with their more open drug laws.
posted by FJT at 11:09 PM on November 30, 2012


1. Legalize drug(s) on our end. This reduces cash flow to cartels. A lot of people argue for this one.

That was the clear solution 15 years ago. Now the cartels have metastasized into such absurd, post-apocalyptic pseudo-states that removing their drug revenue wouldn't affect them much at all. 'Drug runner' is the entry-level position teenagers get for the summer.

2. Ban gun sales to Mexico. This directly reduces violence.

They'd just proxy the deal, as in all international arms sales. BAE can't sell fighter jets directly to East Timor, but it can to South Africa. What South Africa do with them is their business, and BAE can in no way be held responsible for any of their planes seen strafing impoverished Asian villages. Same with North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, and every other fucked up loony state that wants snazzy western arms to bling out their arsenals.

3. Give the Mexican military/police help. We already have drones/planes over Iraq and Afghanistan. Mexican civilians may be against it. But if the cartels are brazen enough to travel in convoys and souped up monster trucks, wouldn't they make easy targets?

Like in Colombia? And El Salvador? And Panama? The list goes on. All of them feature paramilitary death squads and hair-whitening tales of indiscriminate slaughter. It has never worked. And drone attacks haven't proven any more surgical or humane in the Middle East than US-funded mercenaries with M16s and machetes did across Latin America throughout the past 40 years.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 11:11 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


"What would be the consequences of simply banning US companies from selling munitions/weaponry to anyone related to Mexico (excluding the Mexican army)?"

They'd probably start buying from American middlemen, if they don't already.

Drug legalization will cut the cartel's profit margin - but sadly, it won't be enough to make them go away entirely, any more than the end of prohibition in the 30's eliminated the mafia. Once the gangs come into existence, they actively continue that existence by shifting into whatever kind of crime is currently the most lucrative.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:16 PM on November 30, 2012


o310362: re: point 2: straw purchase
TNI: The Drug War's Colombia Model
The Economist: Mexico Rising
EFF: Homeland Security Wants to More Than Double Its Predator Drone Fleet Inside the US, Despite Safety and Privacy Concerns
NYRB: Mexico: Risking Life For Truth
AJE: Latin American states seek 'drug war' review
Wired: Report: Mexican Cartel Bought Guns From U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican Cartels Enslave Engineers to Build Radio Network and Narquitectura: Inside the Fortified Palaces of Mexico’s Drug Lords and Frack The Border: Cartels Using Oil Boom To Move Drugs
Reason: How Much Would Legalizing Marijuana in One or More U.S. States Hurt Mexican Gangsters?
Small Wars Journal: Why Arresting “El Chapo” Might Be a Bad Thing and Mexico Matters
In Sight Crime: Tracking the Steady Rise of Beheadings in Mexico
Time: Mexico’s Drug Lords Ramp Up Their Arsenals with RPGs
Zenpundit: An Insurgency Coming To A Place Near You
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:30 PM on November 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Fear, surprise, and a ruthless sense of efficiency.
posted by three blind mice at 12:37 AM on December 1, 2012


... On the other hand, War on Drugs has been a massive failure, ...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:47 PM on November 30


This whole War On Drugs thing has absolutely NOT been a failure, it has done and is doing exactly what it was intended to do -- to step deeper and deeper into our civil liberties, to shove more money into the police state, to build the police state larger, to put in yet more surveillance of every kind. It's been a huge success.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:09 AM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


One big reason is, we stopped the water flowing there.
See also Cantarell oil field in decline. Oil revenues make up (made up?) 40% of gov revenue.
No easy fixes, sadly.
posted by bystander at 3:12 AM on December 1, 2012



Anyone know how drug cartels get their hands on arms?


I've seen almost all of the weapons named on that site on Sons of Guns. Just sayin'.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:56 AM on December 1, 2012


@#4711111

We have legalized weed and the like here in the Netherlands, not the production, transport, selling and use of cocaine, xtc and other substances we consider to be "hard drugs". That kind of makes the argument "legalization is useless, look at the Netherlands" a bit, well, off target.
posted by stthspl at 6:00 AM on December 1, 2012


That kind of makes the argument "legalization is useless, look at the Netherlands" a bit, well, off target.

Fair enough, but I wasn't making the argument that legalization was entirely useless. Notice I said that it would probably help the situation in the United States, but not really affect the cartels. Cannabis legalization has helped the Netherlands, but there still are criminal organizations that engage in drug trafficking, including cannabis.

Heck, criminals can make profits even selling legal goods like laundry detergent and cigarettes. So, I don't think legalizing weed and drugs will be the silver bullet many proponents make it out to be.
posted by FJT at 4:34 PM on December 1, 2012


Sure it does. It only works if the government runs it as a utility, which, I doubt would happen since these days people want the federal government to raise as much revenue as possible.

But try this on for size: what if we sold cocaine and heroin so cheaply, that it was at a loss? Coca would grow in Hawaii, I think, so would opium.

If the USG sold it at a low enough pricepoint, it would put the cartels out of business. Yeah, they'd still have shooters, but it's the money and access that make them dangerous.

The problem is 1) cheap drugs could drive up demand and 2) creating a drug sales infrastructure in the government could have problems, look at Japan's long time problems with Japan Tobacco.
posted by wuwei at 4:45 PM on December 1, 2012


wuwei writes "Coca would grow in Hawaii, I think, so would opium. "

Opium poppies will grow in most of the US; California used to have commercial pharmaceutical production.
posted by Mitheral at 10:13 AM on December 2, 2012


Criminal Insurgency: Narcocultura, Social Banditry, and Information Operations
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:41 AM on December 3, 2012


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