HomeNewsBriefMexico Counts Over 40 Gangs Working with Drug Cartels
BRIEF

Mexico Counts Over 40 Gangs Working with Drug Cartels

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 17 SEP 2014 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

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 fractured, as well as the degree to which the cartels are leaning on smaller gangs to act as muscle.

Newspaper Excelsior reported that it had obtained this data from the Attorney General's Office via a freedom of information law request.

According to the Attorney General's Office, only the Knights Templar and the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG) are not affiliated with smaller criminal groups. The other seven cartels identified -- the "Pacific" Cartel (a term that refers to the Sinaloa Cartel), the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas, the Beltran-Leyva Organization (BLO), the Carrillo Fuentes organization (also known as the Juarez Cartel), the Arrellano Felix organization (the Tijuana Cartel) and the Familia Michoacana  -- depend on a plethora of smaller gangs.

Of these, the Gulf Cartel is the most reliant on outsourcing work to smaller groups -- they work with 12 gangs, mostly in Tamaulipas state. In second place are the Zetas, who work with nine groups, followed by the Sinaloa Cartel with eight affiliates, then the BLO with six, as indicated in the chart below.

InSight Crime Analysis

The information from the Attorney General's Office reinforces what many analysts have already observed: Mexico's large criminal organizations have fractured significantly since former President Felipe Calderon initiated his assault against organized crime in 2006.

This tendency towards fragmentation isn't exclusive to Mexico. Colombia has experienced a similar phenomenon: once mighty criminal structures like the Rastrojos have imploded, allowing small-scale groups to proliferate. As in Mexico, Colombia's criminal organizations have become dependent on subcontracting out work to these smaller groups. Even the Urabeños -- the only Colombian narco-paramilitary organization that still has a national reach -- uses smaller criminal structures known as "oficinas de cobro" to carry out key services (such as assassinations and moving or storing drugs) on their behalf. The dynamic appears to be very similiar in Mexico, with organizations like the Zetas using gangs like "Sangre Zeta" and "Comando Zetas" to act as subcontracted labor.

SEE ALSO: Zetas News and Profile

This is a transnational phenomenon as well, with larger criminal organizations subcontracting cells to act as their "muscle" in other countries. The Texas-born prison gang Barrio Azteca, for example, has acted as an enforcer for the Juarez Cartel. In another case, Mexican mafia group La M acted as the Familia Michoacana's footsoldiers within the US, protecting methamphetamine shipments, among other duties.

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.

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

HOMICIDES / 19 JUL 2012

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said drug-related murders are down 12 percent this year, the latest sign that the country's violent…

BOLIVIA / 8 JUL 2019

José González Valencia is a man of many names. Among his comrades in the Jalisco Cartel, one of the most…

COLOMBIA / 27 MAR 2015

A prosecutor in Colombia will press forward with charges alleging ex-President Alvaro Uribe's security chief helped a convicted drug trafficker…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.