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Mexico

Mexico is home to some of the hemisphere’s largest, most sophisticated and violent organized criminal groups. These organizations have drawn from Mexico’s long history of smuggling and its close proximity to the United States, the world’s largest economy, to grow into a regional threat.

Latest News

Closing Prisons Only Postpones Real Issues in Mexico

NEWS / 19 APR 2021

The shuttering of a state prison in Mexico is an unconventional response by officials trying to combat poor living conditions for inmates but this will do little to address fundamental…

The Impressive Tunnelling Skills of Mexico’s Gas Thieves

NEWS / 16 APR 2021

After the discovery of several elaborate tunnels used to siphon fuel to two hidden warehouses, it's clear that Mexico's gas theft rings have found success by going underground.

Fentanyl Seizures Explode Across United States

NEWS / 14 APR 2021

Seizures of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl by customs agents in the United States have skyrocketed nationwide, underscoring potential shifts in drug markets amid the country’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Mexico Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

Mexico's criminal landscape has morphed in recent years from one dominated by a handful of powerful cartels into a fragmented web of nearly 200 criminal groups defined by fragile and fast-changing alliances. While the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) still dominate the scene, other upstart, hyperviolent groups have carved out a place for themselves through oil theft and other predatory crimes like extortion and kidnapping.

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Personalities

Los Chapitos

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / 2 JUL 2020

The now-jailed former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” had many sons, but only a select few of them, known collectively as “Los Chapitos,” are at the…

José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias ‘El Marro’

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / AUGUST 3, 2020

José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias “El Marro,” is the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL) and one of the individuals responsible for the growing violence that has…

Dámaso López Núñez, alias ‘Licenciado’

MEXICO / 2018-07-09

Dámaso López Núñez, alias "Licenciado," is a prominent figure of the Sinaloa Cartel. Authorities believe he was the closest associate of legendary kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who was arrested…

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias ‘El Mencho’

EL MENCHO / MAY 21, 2019

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," is the leader and founder of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), and the man responsible for overseeing the once upstart criminal faction's transition into…

Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias ‘Chapo Isidro’

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 2016-11-17 15:28:01

Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias "Chapo" or "Chapito" Isidro, is a relatively young, formerly low-profile figure believed to have operated in the Mexican underworld since the 1990s. His growing influence…

Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias ‘X20’

GULF CARTEL / 2016-11-17 15:28:34

Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias X20, was the head of the Gulf Cartel, an organization that has trafficked contraband and illegal drugs across the northeast of Mexico for close to 40…

Alejandro ‘Omar’ Treviño Morales, alias ‘Z42’

MEXICO / 2016-11-17 15:30:02

Alejandro "Omar" Treviño Morales, alias "Z42," was a member of criminal organization the Zetas and brother to former Zetas leader Miguel Treviño Morales, alias "Z40, " who was captured…

Servando Gomez Martinez, alias ‘La Tuta’

LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA / 2017-03-09 23:49:35

Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta," was a former high-ranking member of the Familia Michoacana, who split from the group following the supposed death of top commander Nazario Moreno Gonzalez,…

Edgardo Leyva Escandon, alias ’24’

ALIAS 24 / 2017-03-09 19:02:45

Edgardo Leyva Escandon, alias "24" has worked with Mexico's Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO), since 1994, and is a specialist in arms and security. The…

José Jesús Méndez Vargas, alias ‘El Chango’

EL CHANGO / 2017-03-10 00:07:05

José Jesús Méndez Vargas, alias “El Chango”, fue una figura clave del grupo criminal mexicano La Familia Michoacana, y era considerado la mano derecha del líder del grupo, Nazario Moreno,…

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias ‘El Chayo’

EL CHAYO / JULY 24, 2019

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo" or "The Craziest One" (El Mas Loco) was a founding member of the Familia Michoacana and later a leader of the Knights Templar…

Vicente Carrillo Leyva, alias ‘El Ingeniero’

EL INGENIERO (JUAREZ) / 2017-03-10 00:12:34

Vicente Carrillo Leyva, alias "El Ingeniero," was a top leader of the Juarez Cartel. He was captured in 2009 by Mexican authorities.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias ‘El Viceroy’

EL VICEROY / 2017-03-10 00:13:34

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias "El Viceroy," inherited the Juárez Cartel after his brother died in 1997. At that point, the cartel was the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico.

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias ‘El Coss’

EL COSS / 2017-09-27

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias "El Coss," headed the Gulf Cartel, which has its headquarters in Tamaulipas, along the eastern part of the US-Mexico border. He was detained by…

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias ‘El Chapo’

EL CHAPO / 2019-03-29

Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzmán Loera, alias "El Chapo," heads up an alliance of powerful drug traffickers known as the Sinaloa Cartel. His ability to simultaneously co-opt public…

Ismael Zambada García, alias ‘El Mayo’

EL MAYO / MAY 21, 2019

Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo," heads a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. Along his recently escaped partner, Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," El Mayo is one of…

Hector Beltran Leyva, alias ‘El H’

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 2016-11-17 15:34:18

Hector Beltran Leyva, alias "El H," was the head of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) in Mexico. Once one of the most feared groups in the region, the BLO has been decimated…

Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias ‘El Ingeniero’

EL INGENIERO (TIJUANA) / 2016-10-20 20:29:31

Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias "El Ingeniero" or "Fernandito," was the enigmatic head of the Tijuana Cartel, until his capture in June 2014. El Ingeniero is the son of Enedina Arellano…

Antonio Cardenas Guillen, alias ‘Tony Tormenta’

GULF CARTEL / 2016-11-17 15:34:48

Antonio Cardenas Guillen, alias "Tony Tormenta," headed up the financial and logistics side of the Gulf Cartel, which his brother, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, once ran with an iron fist.

Alejandro Flores Cacho

ALEJANDRO FLORES CACHO / 2016-11-17 15:35:25

Alejandro Flores Cacho runs the air operations of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. A mysterious figure, relatively little is known about Flores Cacho except that he has created an operation…

Heriberto Lazcano, alias ‘Z3’

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / 2016-10-20 19:47:17

Heriberto Lazcano, alias "Z3," was a former commander in the Mexican special forces, before going on to head the Zetas’ drug trafficking operations. He was killed in a shootout…

Miguel Angel Treviño, alias ‘Z40’

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / 2016-11-17 15:35:53

Miguel Angel Treviño, alias "Z40," was a top commander of the Zetas criminal organization in Mexico before his capture by Mexican Marines on July 15, 2013. …

News

MEXICO / 12 APR 2021

Tens of thousands of trucks on Mexico’s highways are being robbed of cargo every year, with criminal gangs becoming more daring, sophisticated and violent when carrying out hijackings.

EXTORTION / 8 APR 2021

Criminal groups in one of Mexico's most popular tourist regions have found yet another sector to extort and terrorize: hotel builders.

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 2 APR 2021

Following the arrest of a former Mexican mayor in Guatemala, US prosecutors unveiled an indictment against him and criminal rivals allegedly attacked the town he once ruled.

COVID AND CRIME / 30 MAR 2021

The seizure in Mexico of COVID-19 vaccine smuggled aboard a private plane linked to a Honduran textile magnate marks the first instance of alleged transnational vaccine smuggling in Latin America…

HOMICIDES / 24 MAR 2021

A bloody ambush on a police unit in the state of Mexico, in which thirteen officials were shot dead, is exposing the Mexican government’s failure to control escalating violence outside…

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 19 MAR 2021

A recent report from the US-Mexico border revealed that human smuggling organizations have begun giving special bracelets to undocumented migrants, a practice that seems to illustrate the different tiers that…

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