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Gulf Cartel

The Gulf Cartel is among the oldest most powerful cartels in Mexico, but has lost territory in recent years.


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Killings of police officers in Mexico’s northern state of Nuevo León have increased 143% between 2019 and 2022 amid a…


US policy has exposed migrants to a greater risk of being killed, disappeared, and kidnapped in isolated stretches of the…


The journey thousands of migrants take to reach the US-Mexico border is filled with daily run-ins with corrupt officials and…

CHAPITOS / 23 JUN 2023

The CJNG, Sinaloa Cartel, Chapitos and more have used military-style patches to promote unity and loyalty.


Despite the CJNG moving into Mexico's northern state of Tamaulipas, the Gulf Cartel remains the foremost security threat along the…


Some believe the CJNG’s invasion of Tamaulipas is all but a sure thing despite the Gulf Cartel’s historical roots, others…

Key Actors

Is Northeast Cartel Expansion Driving Killings of Police in Nuevo León, Mexico? 

NEWS / 7 SEP 2023

Killings of police officers in Mexico’s northern state of Nuevo León have increased 143% between 2019 and 2022 amid a broader uptick in homicides, which overlaps with the Northeast Cartel’s…

Does US Policy Exacerbate Migrant Kidnappings on the US-Mexico Border?


US policy has exposed migrants to a greater risk of being killed, disappeared, and kidnapped in isolated stretches of the US-Mexico border.

The Gauntlet: One Migrant's Journey from Venezuela to the US-Mexico Border


The journey thousands of migrants take to reach the US-Mexico border is filled with daily run-ins with corrupt officials and organized crime.

Sinaloa's Rat, Jalisco's Rooster: The Evolution of Cartel Patches in Mexico

NEWS / 23 JUN 2023

The CJNG, Sinaloa Cartel, Chapitos and more have used military-style patches to promote unity and loyalty.

Gulf Cartel Still ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ on US-Mexico Border: Homeland Security

NEWS / 18 MAY 2023

Despite the CJNG moving into Mexico's northern state of Tamaulipas, the Gulf Cartel remains the foremost security threat along the US border.

Is Mexico’s CJNG Pushing the Gulf Cartel From Tamaulipas?

NEWS / 17 MAY 2023

Some believe the CJNG’s invasion of Tamaulipas is all but a sure thing despite the Gulf Cartel’s historical roots, others are not convinced.

Will Designating Mexican Crime Groups as Terrorists Help Fight Them?

NEWS / 5 APR 2023

US officials may designate Mexican crime groups as terrorists, but this mischaracterizes the threat. …

Matamoros, a Symptom of Mexico's Larger Illness

NEWS / 20 MAR 2023

The state of Tamaulipas may not top Mexico's violence rankings, but the Gulf Cartel's fragmentation is raising concerns.

Mexico's Gulf Cartel Doing Damage Control After Kidnapping, Murdering US Citizens

NEWS / 12 MAR 2023

A faction of one of Mexico's oldest organized crime groups is doing damage control following the murder of two US citizens.

Gulf Cartel

MEXICO / MARCH 10, 2023

The Gulf Cartel is among the oldest most powerful cartels in Mexico, but has lost territory in recent years.

Capture of Hell Troop Leader Could Mean Trouble Brewing in Tamaulipas, Mexico

NEWS / 1 DEC 2022

Nuevo Laredo was set ablaze following the capture of a Northeast Cartel leader. But what does this mean for the city's criminal dynamics?…

United States Suddenly Keen to See Guatemala Extradite Human Smugglers

NEWS / 8 AUG 2022

A US request has led Guatemala to dismantle a prolific human smuggling ring that smuggled migrants to the United States.

“Narco-Tanks”: Vehicle of Choice for Patrolling Mexico's Criminal Landscape

NEWS / 29 JUL 2022

Mexican authorities crushed 23 "narco-tanks," while 630 armored vehicles have been confiscated since 2018.

Northeast Cartel Leader's Arrest May Aid CJNG Expansion Along US-Mexico Border

NEWS / 15 MAR 2022

Mexican armed forces have captured the reported leader of the feared Northeast Cartel, but this arrest may only stoke further violence along the US border by providing an opening for…

Why are Criminal Dynamics Constantly Changing in Tamaulipas, Mexico?

NEWS / 8 NOV 2021

Cocaine, synthetic drugs, weapons, migrants, gasoline - this range of criminal economies has seen violence escalate in Mexico's northern state of Tamaulipas.

Cyclones, Scorpions and Old School Killers - The War for Tamaulipas

NEWS / 6 OCT 2021

It was so simple once. The Gulf Cartel and its ancestors maintained control of Tamaulipas for eight decades.

How Mexico's Cartels Have Learned Military Tactics

NEWS / 2 SEP 2021

As violence has continued to rise in Mexico year after year, criminal groups have adopted an increasingly militarized approach to their tactics, weaponry and training.

The Zetas’ Model of Organized Crime is Leaving Mexico in Ruins

NEWS / 30 AUG 2021

It was a Saturday, around 12:30 p.m. local time, when a caravan of three vehicles loaded with well-armed men and at least one woman began a violent rampage through Reynosa,…

The Next Generation of Criminal Groups Driving Violence in Mexico

NEWS / 12 AUG 2021

Mexico's process of criminal fragmentation has been a slow burn. Many of the country's mightiest criminal groups have been unable to stay united, either due to internal strife, incursions from…

Reynosa Massacre Arrests Raise More Questions in Mexico

NEWS / 30 JUN 2021

The embattled governor of a northern border state in Mexico is touting the timely arrests of those allegedly responsible for a grizzly June massacre, but doubts remain as to who…

Cartel War or General Chaos: Behind the Killing Spree in Reynosa, Mexico

NEWS / 22 JUN 2021

Though the motive for the rampage in the northern Mexican border city of Reynosa that left scores of civilians dead remains unexplained, security experts point to three possible scenarios: a…

Showdown Brewing Over Fate of Runaway Mexico Governor

NEWS / 12 MAY 2021

Time appears to be running out for the governor of the US-Mexico border state of Tamaulipas – after lawmakers stripped him of his immunity from prosecution and US officials shared…

Going Door to Door: Mexico City’s Response To Child Recruitment

ANALYSIS / 24 NOV 2020

Officials in Mexico City have launched a new program which will seek to impede criminal networks from recruiting minors across its Historic Center, suggesting the capital's government is taking an…

GameChangers 2019: Latin America’s Top 10 Criminal Groups

ANALYSIS / 22 JAN 2020

Colombia’s last rebel army is now the most powerful criminal syndicate in Latin America, as it expands across Colombia and far into Venezuela, deepening its involvement in the drug trade.

The US-Mexico Border’s Eastern End: A Forgotten Criminal Enclave?

ANALYSIS / 12 SEP 2019

While Mexico’s drug war has left much of its frontier with the United States threatened by cartel violence, a fine-tuned criminal strategy has allowed the border’s eastern extremity to remain…

Migrants Easy Prey Under US ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program

ANALYSIS / 10 JUL 2019

A new set of migrant protocols implemented in the United States is requiring asylum seekers to wait out their court proceedings in various border towns in Mexico, where organized crime…

Veracruz Massacre Crowns Bloody Start of 2019 in Mexico

BRIEF / 24 APR 2019

An infant was among more than a dozen people killed in a massacre during the heart of Holy Week in Mexico, underscoring the depth of the security challenges…

Mexico's New Airport Boss Aiding International Drug Trafficking: Report

BRIEF / 1 APR 2019

A new report says Mexico’s recently appointed supervisor of the country’s airports and ports is suspected of facilitating drug trafficking through airports.

GameChangers 2017: The Empire Strikes Back


Welcome to InSight Crime’s GameChangers 2017, where we highlight this year's biggest trends for organized crime in the Americas.

Zetas-Gulf Cartel Conflict Continues to Rock Mexico's Northeast

ANALYSIS / 14 NOV 2017

The ongoing decline of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas has left northeastern Mexico without a single dominant criminal force. But the crime groups' longstanding rivalry has continued to see…

Former Boss of Mexico's Gulf Cartel Pleads Guilty to US Drug Charges

BRIEF / 27 SEP 2017

A former leader of the Gulf Cartel has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in the United States, a reminder that the once-powerful crime group has all but disappeared…

An Extradition From Italy May Increase US-Mexico Tensions

BRIEF / 13 APR 2017

A former Mexican governor captured in Italy faces extradition to the United States and Mexico, which may spark new tensions between the neighboring countries. …

Violence in Veracruz as Cartels Adapt to New Political Dynamic

ANALYSIS / 16 MAR 2017

The new governor of the state of Veracruz in eastern Mexico is facing cartel wars and spiraling violence after succeeding the fugitive Javier Duarte. And the disruption to the government-organized…

Violence in Mexico Tourism Corridor Reflects Evolving Criminal Trends

BRIEF / 26 JAN 2017

Official reports have revealed that recent outbreaks of violence in one of Mexico's main tourist areas could be due to clashes between an independent cartel and the Zetas, providing another…

Militarized Approach Continues as Mexico to Send 500 Troops to Border Town

BRIEF / 23 JAN 2017

Mexico's Defense Secretary says the army will send 500 soldiers to Ciudad Mier in the embattled state of Tamaulipas along the US-Mexico border, indicating that the Mexican government will…

Violence in Mexico’s Tourism Epicenter Points to Cartel Conflict

BRIEF / 18 JAN 2017

A recent wave of violence in Mexico's most important tourism corridor has sparked fears about new conflicts between drug cartels seeking to gain control over the area.

Elites, Organized Crime Share Long History in Tamaulipas, Mexico

ANALYSIS / 28 JUN 2016

The future of the recently elected governor in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico’s most criminally infested states, depends on punishing his predecessors for past sins of corruption and collusion with…

Top 'Capo' of Mexico's Gulf Cartel Sought Haven in Texas

ANALYSIS / 18 APR 2016

A former cartel lawyer who led the Los Zetas Cartel before fleeing Mexico was an exception to the "rule" that top kingpins did not try to hide in the United States.

Serving Mexico's Cartels, Armed Cells Led to an Explosion of Violence


Beginning in the 1990s, Mexico's cartels began recruiting hired gunmen to act as armed cells. Since then, violence against civilians with no links to organized crime has escalated as these…

Explaining Mexico's Decision to Extradite Alleged Drug Lords


Mexico has extradited two alleged drug lords and nearly a dozen other suspected drug traffickers to the United States, a decision that was likely influenced by the escape of notorious…

Mexico Oil Theft Just Keeps Getting Worse

BRIEF / 27 APR 2015

Despite government efforts, fuel theft has risen in Mexico, at a time when falling oil and gas prices are already impacting the nation's economy and national budget.

Gulf Cartel Violence Reminiscent of Mexico Drug War Peak

BRIEF / 24 APR 2015

Violence exploded in northeastern Mexico this week following the arrest of a Gulf Cartel leader, demonstrating the ability of drug cartels to brazenly create chaos in this hotbed of criminal activity.

Why Success of Mexico's Oil Security Plan May Not Matter


A Wilson Center report says Mexico's efforts to improve security in two states containing major oil and gas reserves may yield only short-term results and primarily benefit foreign business, while…

New Report Examines Tamaulipas Security Strategy

ANALYSIS / 27 JAN 2015

A report from a prominent think tank tackles the new security strategy in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico's perennially conflictive northern states. …

Announced Zetas, Gulf Alliance Could Change Mexico's Criminal Landscape

BRIEF / 12 NOV 2014

Factions of the criminal organizations Zetas and Gulf Cartel announced the two criminal groups have formed an alliance, which, if true, would be a game changer in Mexico's underworld by…

Mexico Fuel Theft Worth $1 Bn in 2014

BRIEF / 29 SEP 2014

The theft of fuel from Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex has risen by around 33 percent this year, turning into a billion-dollar source of income for organized crime -- a…

Mexico Counts Over 40 Gangs Working with Drug Cartels

BRIEF / 17 SEP 2014

According to Mexico's Attorney General's Office, there are nine major criminal cartels working with some 43 gangs in the country, further indication of just how much Mexican organized crime has…

Testimony Describes Zetas' Ties to Mexico Governor

BRIEF / 11 SEP 2014

Testimony from a US federal court provides more fuel for accusations that a former governor of Veracruz, Mexico, accepted cash from the Zetas, which was then part of the Gulf…

Rise in Tamaulipas Kidnappings Points to Lack of Mexico Govt Control

BRIEF / 21 AUG 2014

Mexico's Tamaulipas state was the site of nearly 60 percent of the country's kidnappings in July and saw a drastic spike in the crime compared to previous months, highlighting the…

Mexico Govt Struggles to Control Cartel-Run Highways

ANALYSIS / 21 JUL 2014

The continued presence of criminal groups along some of Mexico’s highways, especially in the embattled northeast, has become a litmus test for just how much control the government really has…

Mexico Criminal Groups Running Sophisticated Distribution Networks for Stolen Oil

BRIEF / 18 JUN 2014

The Zetas and the Gulf Cartel have reportedly set up an extensive gasoline distribution system in north Mexico that rivals that of state oil company Pemex, as oil-theft trade becomes an ever…

Mexico Police Tests Show Deep Corruption Amid Tamaulipas Violence

BRIEF / 14 MAY 2014

Roughly half of the police in the north Mexico state of Tamaulipas have failed confidence tests, most due to links to organized crime or drug use, underscoring the debilitating degree…

Mexico Kills Zetas Founder As Cartel's Decline Continues

BRIEF / 12 MAY 2014

Police have killed an original member of Mexico's vicious Zetas drug cartel, marking the latest loss among the group's Special Forces founders, who ushered in an era of brutal violence…

Gulf Cartel Future Uncertain as Alleged Infighting Escalates in North Mexico

BRIEF / 9 APR 2014

A wave of violence in northern Mexico has been attributed to a bloody struggle for control of the Gulf Cartel, suggesting long running internal disputes and the loss of key…

Mexico Capture of 'Gulf Cartel Founder' Highlights Leadership Vacuum

BRIEF / 26 FEB 2014

Authorities in Mexico have arrested a man they claim is a leader and founder of the Gulf Cartel, signaling another blow to a group that has already been weakened by…

Mexico's Oil Reform May Help Organized Crime

ANALYSIS / 10 FEB 2014

Mexico's landmark oil reform is poised to bring a flood of new companies into the nation's energy industry, adding a new set of targets for organized crime.

Officials: Venezuela Broker Linked Colombia, Mexico Criminal Groups

BRIEF / 13 JAN 2014

Authorities in Colombia have captured a Venezuelan national wanted for drug trafficking in the United States, in a case that shines a light on how brokers bring together the major…

US Cables Raise Questions about Mexico Migrant Massacres

ANALYSIS / 20 NOV 2013

US government documents obtained by a Washington DC-based non-governmental organization shed some light on one of the darkest periods in recent Mexican history: the multiple massacres of migrants between August…

Mexico-US Border Shootouts: Surge of Zetas-Gulf Battle?

BRIEF / 4 NOV 2013

At least 13 people have been killed in three separate gun battles in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, in what could be the first sign of a predicted upsurge…

Gulf Cartel and Zetas Run 'Narco-Toll Bridge' in East Mexico

BRIEF / 30 OCT 2013

The Zetas and Gulf Cartel are imposing a toll on travel between two states in eastern Mexico, in a case highlighting the extent of the incursion of organized crime into…

Mexico's Nuevo Leon Calls for Security Surge Amidst Renewed Violence

BRIEF / 22 OCT 2013

Authorities in northern Mexico will request greater military assistance from the central government in the face of a recent surge in violence, as concern mounts over the possibility of renewed…

The Current State of Mexico's Many Drug Cartels

ANALYSIS / 25 SEP 2013

It is tempting to separate Mexico's drug cartels into six hierarchical groups, each competing for trafficking turf. The reality, however, is that the Sinaloa Federation, the Gulf Cartel, the Tijuana…

US Sees 3 Possible New Leaders of Gulf Cartel: El Universal

BRIEF / 20 AUG 2013

Three men will fight to control Mexico's Gulf Cartel following the capture of leader "X20" last week, according to US sources, although whether any of them are capable of uniting…

X20 Capture Leaves Another Power Vacuum in Mexico

ANALYSIS / 18 AUG 2013

The army's capture of the head of the Gulf Cartel, Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias "X20," shows targeted efforts by the government are working in northeast Mexico but opens another dangerous…

UN Confirms Links Between El Salvador's Perrones and Pacific Cartel

ANALYSIS / 14 AUG 2013

A UNODC report states that the Pacific Cartel, a federation formed by Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel and Gulf Cartel, has formed alliances with El Salvador's Perrones transport group, confirming information that…

Guatemala: The Changing Face of Drug Trafficking

ANALYSIS / 30 JUL 2013

Drug traffickers survive under one premise: adapting to change. At the regional level, the agents of change emerge from the interaction between traffickers and the authorities, as well as…

Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias 'X20'

MEXICO / 2016-11-17

Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias X20, was a former police officer and headed the Gulf Cartel in northeastern Mexico.

Gulf Cartel's X20 Could Fill Zetas Power Vacuum: El Universal

BRIEF / 19 JUL 2013

As Mexico waits to see what will unfold in the wake the capture of feared the Zetas leader Miguel Angel Treviño, alias Z40, a commander in the rival Gulf Cartel…

'Zetas Spend All Their Drug Trafficking Profits on Fighting Gulf Cartel'

BRIEF / 5 JUN 2013

The Zetas reportedly take in more than $350 million a year from exporting more than 40 tons of cocaine into the US. This interesting revelation, among others, came during testimony…

'Gulf Cartel Now in Control of Cancun'

BRIEF / 18 APR 2013

The Gulf Cartel has reportedly driven rival organization the Zetas out of the state of Quintana Roo and tourist hotspot Cancun, potentially leaving the resurgent cartel with control of a…

Mexico Crime Tracking Social Media Page Disappears

BRIEF / 2 APR 2013

A Facebook page known as "Valor x Tamaulipas" and its Twitter account, both of which tracked crime in the embattled state by the same name, have been taken down following…

A Mexico Border Shootout Reveals Effort to Cover Up Violence

ANALYSIS / 19 MAR 2013

Inconsistent reports about a March 10 gun battle in Reynosa, along the US-Mexico border, illustrate how little verifiable information is available on what is happening in that and other areas…

Death Threat Issued To Mexican Social Media Users

BRIEF / 21 FEB 2013

An extremely violent video released online threatens those who use social media to report on organized crime in Mexico, underscoring the growing significance of platforms such as Facebook as…

Breakaway Zetas Form New 'Zeta Blood' Cartel: Report

BRIEF / 18 FEB 2013

Mexican officials have identified three new criminal groups which splintered off from the Zetas, Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels, according to a report which cites unidentified sources from the National Security…

Two Mexico Cartel Rivals, Once Reeling, Now Resurging


Two large Mexican drug cartels -- once thought to be reeling due to infighting, pressure from authorities, and constant assaults by rivals -- appear to be on the rise again,…

'Gulf Cartel Leader Assassinated in Northern Mexico'

BRIEF / 17 JAN 2013

A high ranking member of Mexico's Gulf Cartel has reportedly been assassinated near the group's northern stronghold of Reynosa, spelling either an incursion by the rival…

White Supremacist Gang Does Business with Gulf Cartel

BRIEF / 29 NOV 2012

A recent US federal investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has uncovered cooperation between the violent white supremacist gang and the Gulf Cartel, an example of increasing…

9 Dead After Weekend Gun Battles in Northern Mexico

BRIEF / 5 NOV 2012

Gun battles reportedly between rival gangs in the border city of Reynosa over the weekend left nine dead and suggest the Zetas may be making a push to take over…

Has Zetas Leader Joined Gulf Cartel to Fight Z-40?

ANALYSIS / 25 SEP 2012

Narco-banners have appeared across Mexico with messages implying that a top leader of the Zetas has rejoined the ranks of the Gulf Cartel, calling attention to…

Bloodshed in Northeast Mexico Points to Cartel Turmoil

BRIEF / 17 SEP 2012

A recent wave of mass killings in Mexico’s northeast could point to a succession battle in the Gulf Cartel, whose leader "El Coss" was…

Woman to Head Gulf Cartel After 'El Coss' Capture: Reports

BRIEF / 14 SEP 2012

Authorities in Mexico believe that the next leader of the Gulf Cartel could be a woman, an unusual development in the macho world of drug trafficking, but which might unite…

Capture of Gulf Boss Pushes Zetas Split into Spotlight

ANALYSIS / 13 SEP 2012

The capture of the Gulf Cartel's top leader could mean the end for one of Mexico’s oldest drug trafficking organizations, handing the country’s northeast over to the divided…

Gulf Cartel's South America Boss Captured in Colombia

BRIEF / 11 SEP 2012

Colombian police have arrested a man who is accused of being the Gulf Cartel's top man in South America.

Old Generation Gulf Cartel Leader Arrested in Mexico

BRIEF / 4 SEP 2012

The Mexican Navy announced the arrest of the brother of one of the original founders of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, in Tamaulipas state.

International Arrest Warrant Issued for Mexico Governor

BRIEF / 31 AUG 2012

In what is shaping out to be one of the most prominent investigations ever into a Mexican politician’s alleged links with criminal groups like the Zetas, a judge issued an…

Mexico Arrests 8 'Gulf Cartel Members' over Nuevo Leon Massacre

BRIEF / 18 MAY 2012

The Mexican military has detained eight alleged members of the Gulf Cartel in connection with the dumping of 49 mutilated corpses in Nuevo Leon, a massacre which the Gulf apparently…

Gulf Cartel Plaza Boss Pleads Guilty in US Court

BRIEF / 13 MAR 2012

A nephew of captured Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen, who was hiding out in the US to avoid rivals in the group, has pleaded guilty to drug…

Mexico Gang Turns to Women to Hold Key City


In the midst of a years-long fight against the Zetas for control of prized sections of borderland territory, the Gulf Cartel is increasingly relying on a…

Shifting Alliances Cannot Halt Decline of Mexico Cartels

ANALYSIS / 21 FEB 2012

A new report argues that, far from fracturing, Mexico's drug trafficking groups are stronger than at the beginning of Calderon's time in office. However, this overlooks the fragile and fast-changing…

Zetas Staged Mass Breakout from Mexico Prison Before Massacre

BRIEF / 21 FEB 2012

Mexico's authorities are now saying a massacre at a Mexico prison was part of a sophisticated prison break involving guards. Thirty alleged members of the Zetas escaped, including "El Arana,"…

'Zetas-Gulf Cartel Prison Fight' Leaves 44 Dead

BRIEF / 20 FEB 2012

Forty four people are reported to have died in a prison fight in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, highlighting the bitter turf-war between Mexico's gangs and once again revealing…

Gulf Cartel Boss Exploits Turmoil in Northeast Mexico

ANALYSIS / 14 FEB 2012

The shifting balance of power in northeast Mexico has been bad news for the Gulf Cartel, which has seen its influence decline, but a new report from Proceso…

Mexico Investigates Governor Trio in 'Politically Motivated' Corruption Probe


A federal investigation into three former governors of a Mexican border state may be a sincere attempt to crack down on political links with organized crime, but has…

Mexican Goalkeeper 'Helped Kidnappers Pick Rich Victims'

BRIEF / 9 JAN 2012

A goalkeeper suspended from a first-division soccer team in Monterrey, north Mexico, has been arrested on charges of helping a kidnapping ring to select wealthy targets.

Police Purge Leaves Monterrey Unguarded, as Cartel Battle Rages

ANALYSIS / 20 OCT 2011

Letras Libras reports from the streets of Monterrey, a north Mexican city bloodied by disputes between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, where police are in desperately short supply…

Death of Gulf Cartel 'Finance Chief' Sign of Internal Strife?

ANALYSIS / 13 OCT 2011

An alleged financial operator for the Gulf Cartel was killed in Tamaulipas state, north Mexico, in what could be further evidence of infighting within the group.

Mexico Installs Federal Forces in Operation to Secure Veracruz

BRIEF / 6 OCT 2011

The Mexican government has announced a plan to send additional federal police and military troops to the Gulf state of Veracruz under a unified command, in an attempt to…

Reports from Drug War Frontline in West Mexico


Five years ago, the central-west states of Jalisco and Zacatecas were a relatively peaceful backwater in Mexico's battles with organized crime, but today the region is the site of growing…

Behind the 'Drug War Bloggers' Murder in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

ANALYSIS / 20 SEP 2011

The murder of two young people, whose bodies were hung from a bridge along with a sign warning against blogging on the drug trade, is only the latest blow in…

Zetas-Milenio Cartel Alliance Heralds Danger for Jalisco

ANALYSIS / 14 SEP 2011

The latest shift in Mexico’s perpetually changing criminal landscape is an alliance between the Zetas and the Milenio Cartel, which could be an ominous sign for the Pacific state of…

Mexico Marines Recapture Fugitive Gulf Cartel Moneyman

BRIEF / 13 SEP 2011

Mexico recaptures the alleged chief financial officer of the Gulf Cartel, nine years after he escaped prison.

Arson Attack on Monterrey Casino Part of Battle over Gambling Industry

ANALYSIS / 26 AUG 2011

Buried in President Calderon's speech on a Monterrey arson attack which left more than 50 dead was the key to why it happened: the rise of illegal gambling establishments in…

Body Parts Found in North Mexico Mass Grave

BRIEF / 28 JUL 2011

At least 14 bodies have been discovered in a series of mass graves in Nuevo Leon, north Mexico.

Monterrey Massacre Comes Amid Gulf-Zetas Battles

ANALYSIS / 12 JUL 2011

The slaughter of at least 20 people in a Monterrey bar is another violent manifestation of the ongoing battle for control of this north Mexico city, a vital…

North Mexico Police Chief Gunned Down in Office

BRIEF / 28 JUN 2011

The chief of police in a suburb of the wealthy north Mexico city of Monterrey has been gunned down, as authorities struggle to keep a lid on one of the…

26 Police Arrested as Mexico Investigates Bodyguards' Murder

BRIEF / 17 JUN 2011

Authorities in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, have announced the arrest of 26 local police officers, as they investigate the murder of two bodyguards serving the state’s governor.

Mexico Defense of Kingpin Strategy Falls Short

ANALYSIS / 16 JUN 2011

Mexico's government argues that killing and arresting the leaders of drug cartels does not lead to increased violence. But is the "myth-busting" by President Calderon's security team just another type…

'Narco-Tanks': Mexico's Cartels Get Asymmetric Weapons


The discovery of a “narco-tank” factory in north Mexico is the latest evolution in traffickers' increasingly tactical struggle for territory. While some minimize the importance of these vehicles, they…

'Narco-Tank' Factory Found in North Mexico

BRIEF / 7 JUN 2011

Mexico's army discovered a warehouse with four “narco-tanks,” two still unfinished, near the border city of Camargo. This is the biggest-yet find of such heavily fortified vehicles belonging…

Behind the Battle for Monterrey


Long hailed as one of Mexico's safest urban area, the city of Monterrey has erupted since 2010 in an outbreak of drug violence. But behind the present crisis is a…

Guatemala Ex-Special Forces Arrested Over Mexico Massacre

BRIEF / 24 MAY 2011

The governor of Tabasco state, Mexico, announced that a group of Guatemalan former special forces, known as Kaibiles were responsible for the massacre of ten people at an…

Drug Gang Declares Support for Anti-Violence Poet

BRIEF / 17 MAY 2011

A banner signed by Mexican drug gang the Beltran Leyva Organization claims that the group supports Javier Sicilia, a poet who has been campaigning for an end to drug violence…

Mass Graves Boost Mexico's Murder Rate


With more than 1,400 murders related to organized crime, April was the deadliest month so far of Felipe Calderon’s presidency. But this figure may not entirely reflect the reality on…

Zetas Threaten Gulf Cartel Via Banners

BRIEF / 3 MAY 2011

The Zetas left dozens of “narcomantas,” or banners, in public places around the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The signs were addressed to "informants"…

A Poet's Son Dies, Mexico Finds Answer in the Abyss

ANALYSIS / 22 APR 2011

A spate of recent arrests in Morelos has confirmed the belief that the South Pacific Cartel (SPC) is the gang behind the March 28 murder of seven people, including Juan…

Mass Graves Found in Nuevo León

BRIEF / 19 APR 2011

Mexican police announced the discovery of five mass graves near a shooting range in the municipality of Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon. According to Milenio, the security…

Video: Narco-Trucks Ready for War in Mexico

ANALYSIS / 14 APR 2011

The armored cars Mexican gangs use to do battle in the contested state of Tamaulipas are increasingly technologically sophisticated, equipped with sniper platforms and James Bond-style gadgets.

Assessing the Who, How, Where of the ICE Attack

ANALYSIS / 23 FEB 2011

As more reports surface suggesting that the Zetas criminal syndicate is behind last week’s murder of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent Jaime Zapata in San Luis…

Police Force Quits After Bodies Found Decapitated

ANALYSIS / 28 JAN 2011

38 Mexican police officers in the small town of General Teran, in Nuevo Leon, abandoned their posts after a series of attacks from drug cartels culminated in the beheading of…

Nuevo Leon a Key Battleground for 2011


Gun battles have rocked Nuevo Leon during the first week of the new year. The border state is being contested by the Gulf Cartel, one of the oldest drug trafficking…

WikiLeaks: A Gulf Cartel Attack; a Zetas' Retreat

ANALYSIS / 27 DEC 2010

One of the most closely watched battles of 2010 was between the Zetas criminal syndicate and their former masters, the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas and the Gulf Cartel…

Mexico Sends More Troops to Troubled Border Area

ANALYSIS / 25 NOV 2010

Mexico has sent more military and police to the Tamaulipas and Nuevo León states along the northeastern border with the US, in an effort to quell the violence caused by…

Drug Violence in Tamaulipas Displaces 400 Refugees

ANALYSIS / 16 NOV 2010

Mexico’s “Drug War” has generated its first displaced persons camp, consisting of 400 people taking shelter at a charity facility located in the border city of Ciudad Miguel Alemán in…

Officials Fear Increase in Violence After Gulf Cartel Leader's Death

BRIEF / 12 NOV 2010

Officials in the Mexican government fear an increase in violence in the northeastern border region, following the death of Gulf cartel leader Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, alias Tony Tormenta, reported Mexico's…

Veracruz Mayor-Elect Found Dead

BRIEF / 12 NOV 2010

Authorities found the bodies of a mayor elect and two people who were accompanying him in Oaxaca state just hours after they were abducted from a restaurant by armed men,…

5 Arrested in Jalisco with C-4; Part of New Alliance


Five men, two of them ex-military, carrying explosives, weapons, flak jackets and T-shirts with the letters "MFG" were arrested in Jalisco, El Universal is reporting. The explosives are…

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias 'El Coss'

MEXICO / 2017-09-27

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias "El Coss," headed the Gulf Cartel, based in Tamaulipas, until his capture in 2012.

Antonio Cardenas Guillen, alias 'Tony Tormenta'

MEXICO / 2016-11-17

Antonio Cardenas Guillen, alias "Tony Tormenta," ran finance and logistics for the Gulf Cartel, before his death in 2010.

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About InSight Crime


InSight Crime Contributes Expertise Across the Board 

22 SEP 2023

This week InSight Crime investigators Sara García and María Fernanda Ramírez led a discussion of the challenges posed by Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s “Total Peace” plan within urban contexts. The…


InSight Crime Cited in New Colombia Drug Policy Plan

15 SEP 2023

InSight Crime’s work on emerging coca cultivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela was cited in the Colombian government’s…


InSight Crime Discusses Honduran Women's Prison Investigation

8 SEP 2023

Investigators Victoria Dittmar and María Fernanda Ramírez discussed InSight Crime’s recent investigation of a massacre in Honduras’ only women’s prison in a Twitter Spaces event on…


Human Trafficking Investigation Published in Leading Mexican Newspaper

1 SEP 2023

Leading Mexican media outlet El Universal featured our most recent investigation, “The Geography of Human Trafficking on the US-Mexico Border,” on the front page of its August 30…


InSight Crime's Coverage of Ecuador Leads International Debate

25 AUG 2023

This week, Jeremy McDermott, co-director of InSight Crime, was interviewed by La Sexta, a Spanish television channel, about the situation of extreme violence and insecurity in Ecuador…

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