Mexico's drug war just took a turn for the worse

There are some new thugs on the block in the Mexican drug war.  A new cartel – the Jalisco New Generation – recently shot down an army helicopter, killing three and injuring 12.  The violence is beginning to escalate in the state of Jalisco, in and around Mexico's second-largest city and premiere resort area.

Wall Street Journal:

The chopper was shot down as soldiers, marines, and federal and state police began an operation to take down the Jalisco cartel, capture its leaders and improve security in the state, officials said.

“A new and military powerful cartel is appearing, and opening up a new front in the war against drugs in Guadalajara and Jalisco,” said Raul Benitez, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The flare-up of violence in Guadalajara, a city of 1.5 million people in a metropolitan area of 4.5 million, and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta is the latest setback for the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government has been determined to show that Mexico is a modern, emerging economy, but its inability to control areas where criminal gangs continue to exert control have frustrated these efforts.

“Guadalajara is not a little town in the middle of nowhere, and this shows the cartel has the logistics and power to paralyze a city,” said Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico City.

The downing of the helicopter came as cartel gunmen seized buses and cars and set them on fire to block major highways and roads in 39 places across the state, including the capital Guadalajara.

Cartel gunmen set fire to 11 bank branches and five gasoline stations across the state. The cartel also blocked roads in three neighboring states. Seven people died in the day’s violence.

In the past two years, Jalisco has been relatively quiet as Mexico’s government dealt with security crises in states such as Guerrero, where 43 students were kidnapped and believed to have been killed, and in Michoacán, where thousands of troops were sent in after ranchers and farmers took up arms against the Knights Templar cartel.

The Mexican government’s relative success in capturing drug bosses and weakening or destroying rival organizations may have allowed the relatively small Jalisco cartel to grow unchecked, some analysts said.

President Nieto is not doing a bad job in going after the cartels, but he must use the Mexican army because the police have become so unreliable.  Corruption at that level of law enforcement – as well as intimidation tactics by the cartels – makes the police a non-factor in battling the gangs.

The military tactics of the cartels, as well as their absolute ruthlessness in destroying anyone who opposes them, has led to the escalating violence.  Foreign investment is critical to the Mexican economy, but fewer and fewer companies want to make big investments in a nation where drug gangs rule in several states.

There are some new thugs on the block in the Mexican drug war.  A new cartel – the Jalisco New Generation – recently shot down an army helicopter, killing three and injuring 12.  The violence is beginning to escalate in the state of Jalisco, in and around Mexico's second-largest city and premiere resort area.

Wall Street Journal:

The chopper was shot down as soldiers, marines, and federal and state police began an operation to take down the Jalisco cartel, capture its leaders and improve security in the state, officials said.

“A new and military powerful cartel is appearing, and opening up a new front in the war against drugs in Guadalajara and Jalisco,” said Raul Benitez, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The flare-up of violence in Guadalajara, a city of 1.5 million people in a metropolitan area of 4.5 million, and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta is the latest setback for the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government has been determined to show that Mexico is a modern, emerging economy, but its inability to control areas where criminal gangs continue to exert control have frustrated these efforts.

“Guadalajara is not a little town in the middle of nowhere, and this shows the cartel has the logistics and power to paralyze a city,” said Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico City.

The downing of the helicopter came as cartel gunmen seized buses and cars and set them on fire to block major highways and roads in 39 places across the state, including the capital Guadalajara.

Cartel gunmen set fire to 11 bank branches and five gasoline stations across the state. The cartel also blocked roads in three neighboring states. Seven people died in the day’s violence.

In the past two years, Jalisco has been relatively quiet as Mexico’s government dealt with security crises in states such as Guerrero, where 43 students were kidnapped and believed to have been killed, and in Michoacán, where thousands of troops were sent in after ranchers and farmers took up arms against the Knights Templar cartel.

The Mexican government’s relative success in capturing drug bosses and weakening or destroying rival organizations may have allowed the relatively small Jalisco cartel to grow unchecked, some analysts said.

President Nieto is not doing a bad job in going after the cartels, but he must use the Mexican army because the police have become so unreliable.  Corruption at that level of law enforcement – as well as intimidation tactics by the cartels – makes the police a non-factor in battling the gangs.

The military tactics of the cartels, as well as their absolute ruthlessness in destroying anyone who opposes them, has led to the escalating violence.  Foreign investment is critical to the Mexican economy, but fewer and fewer companies want to make big investments in a nation where drug gangs rule in several states.