El Chapo’s cartel may adopt drone warfare in a bid to carry out targeted assassinations.
Last month, a group of armed citizens in the Mexican city of Tepalcatepec, Michoacan, discovered two drones with C4 explosives and ball bearings.
The militia, which had formed to protect farmers from the cartels, found the devices in a car belonging to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CNJG).
The CJNG is led by Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera Cervantes, a former ally of El Chapo, and operates in at least 35 states across Mexico and Puerto Rico.
It has reportedly been experimenting with drone warfare since 2017.
El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel – now led by his former partner Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and sons "Los Chapitos" since his imprisonment last year – may adopt a similar strategy in order to boost its arsenal, it has been claimed.
Dr Robert J Bunker, Director of Research & Analysis, C/O Futures, LLC, told Daily Star Online: “Weaponised drones at the most basic level are relatively simple to create – it takes less expertise than imagined.
“Munitions for drone weaponisation are very easy for the cartels to acquire and UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) are cheap to buy.”
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He continued: “Such weaponisation would…add new precision weaponry for targeting purposes such as for assassinations.
“Munitions can also be dropped from drones – as ISIS did in Iraq and Syria a few years back – which would give the cartels a mini-aerial bombardment capability.”
These terror tactics may be appealing to other cartel leaders.
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Dr Bunker added: “If CJNG weaponised drone appears to give them a 'battlefield or operational advantage' vis-a-vis the other cartels and/or the Mexican government then the Sinaloa Cartel will begin to develop and utilise them as will some of the other cartels.
“We are only seeing such combat drone use appear on the margins in Mexico so far though a steady evolution is now taking place.”
Back in April, Mexican officials found components used to make the weaponised drones at a property in the city of Puebla.
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The arsenal was tied to organised crime bombings in the state of Guanajuato, and possibly linked to the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.
The gang turns a profit from extortion and fuel theft, and has clashed with the CJNG for control of Guanajuato.
In July, authorities estimated the CJNG oversaw one-third of all drugs being transported from Mexico into the US.
Its products have also reached other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.
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