HomeNewsBriefAre Armed Drones the Weapon of the Future for Mexico’s Cartels?
BRIEF

Are Armed Drones the Weapon of the Future for Mexico’s Cartels?

MEXICO / 15 AUG 2018 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Mexico’s powerful drug cartels could be using armed drones to attack those impeding their criminal operations, marking the potential expansion of the use of this technology from just transporting drugs or carrying out surveillance.

In July of this year, an armed drone was used to attack the house of Baja California state Public Safety Secretary Gerardo Sosa Olachea in the city of Tecate along the US-Mexico border, Zeta magazine reported.

At least two drones were allegedly used in the strike. The first was armed with audio and video equipment and two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that did not explode after falling into the official's yard. A second drone was seen above the house likely performing surveillance, according to Zeta.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

The July incident was the first time that a Mexican cartel used a weaponized drone to carry out such an attack, according to Mike Vigil, the former Chief of International Operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, the “inoperability” of the IEDs suggests that the attack was more likely a method to intimidate the official rather than to carry out an actual attack, according to Small Wars Journal.

Sosa Olachea told Zeta that he thought the threat likely came from one of the drug cartels operating in the area that officials have dealt serious blows against through seizing drug shipments and dismantling drug laboratories.

The Tijuana Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) are all known to be operating in this specific area along the US-Mexico border.

Towards the end of 2017, the Daily Beast reported on the first apparent incident in which an armed drone intended for use in a violent attack was discovered in the arsenal of a Mexican cartel.

InSight Crime Analysis

Drones are gaining popularity throughout Latin America among criminal groups and law enforcement officials for their ability to traffic drugs and carry out surveillance. But their use, or intended use, by organized crime to execute violent attacks is a recent development.

A DEA source explained that since 2014, Mexico’s cartels have hired local workers to construct custom-made narco drones to traffic cocaine and other drugs across the US-Mexico border.

Mexico’s security forces have also relied on drones that transmit images and videos in real-time in order to identify key locations used by the cartels to store drugs and weapons or to carry out other criminal activities. US authorities have also utilized drones in Mexico to aid in the so-called “war on drugs” against the country’s criminal groups.

But the latest evidence suggests that drones might be the “way of the future” for Mexico’s cartels for engaging in “cartel warfare,” according to Vigil.

As Mexico’s criminal world continues to fragment, Vigil told InSight Crime that these groups may start to use drones as an “offensive weapon simply because it will not require the loss of human personnel, which is difficult to replace especially if they are trained and have a full understanding of the cartel’s operations.”

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HONDURAS / 22 FEB 2012

Recent prison disasters -- a deadly fire in Honduras and a massacre in Mexico -- point to the misuse of…

MEXICO / 22 JUL 2013

The arrest of Zetas boss Miguel Angel Treviño, alias Z40, continues to roil Mexico, shifting the dynamic not only…

MEXICO / 19 JAN 2015

An ex-government employee who reportedly helped free the former leader of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from prison…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…