A Spanish newspaper has stated that Mexico's Jalisco Cartel has become the most potent drug cartel in the country, a claim which may have more to do with recent high-profile attacks on security forces than the group's drug trafficking capabilities.
On May 12, Spanish newspaper El Pais called the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG, for its Spanish initials) Mexico's most dangerous cartel. This pronouncement came one month after the US Treasury Department blacklisted the CJNG and labeled them "among the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.” The Washington Post also recently asked if the CJNG is "becoming the most powerful drug cartel" in the country.
The CJNG has certainly shown their ability to carry out bold attacks against security forces and sow bedlam in the southwest state of Jalisco, their main base of operations. In April, the CJNG killed 15 police officers in an ambush, the deadliest attack against Mexican security personnel in years. In early May, the CJNG once again gained international headlines by shooting down a military helicopter with a rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPG) and created dozens of roadblocks by torching vehicles throughout Jalisco.
In response to the violence, Jalisco's Attorney General's Office has launched a website that alerts citizens in real time where blockades and confrontations between criminal groups and security forces are taking place.
InSight Crime Analysis
The CJNG's elevated profile as a result of the recent attacks on security forces may now outmatch their capacity to conduct drug trafficking operations. According to the US Treasury, the CJNG is primarily involved in methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking, and has ties to criminal organizations in the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, and other parts of Latin America.
SEE ALSO: Profile of the Jalisco Cartel
However, it is unclear if the CJNG, as a relative upstart in Mexico's underworld, has the same international contacts and ability to subvert state institutions as more well-established trafficking groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel. The Sinaloa Cartel reportedly operates in double the number of Mexican states as the CJNG, and has a presence in up to 50 countries around the world, including nearly every major city in the Western Hemisphere.
Perhaps more importantly, the Sinaloa Cartel prefers to do business by making alliances with other cartels and establishing connections with Mexico's political and economic elite. In Mexico, this strategy has proven more successful than the CJNG model of committing sensational acts of violence that draw the ire of security forces. Indeed, Mexican authorities have already launched a security offensive in Jalisco aimed at dismantling the CJNG and capturing its alleged leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho."