In some regions of Mexico, family members who came up empty-handed this Mother's Day were bailed out by the Jalisco Cartel.
Masked men claiming to be from the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG), distributed food and electronic appliances – including blenders, microwaves, mixers, irons, stoves, grills and flat-screen televisions – in the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco and Michoacán, according to the LA Times. The gifts, handed out on May 9, Mother's Day in Mexico, came with banners bearing the face of CJNG boss Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," and included wishes for a Happy Mother's Day.
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This is not the first time Oseguera Cervantes has organized such activities. A week earlier, he reportedly sent members of the CJNG to hand out presents for Children's Day in several rural municipalities in Jalisco. The toys for the children also came with messages from El Mencho, according to local media reports.
He has previously displayed the same generosity on Christmas and on the Epiphany, another Christian holiday celebrated on January 6.
While the CJNG is one of Mexico's most dangerous criminal groups, stoking violence in much of the country, it has attempted to cultivate support among locals. The group donated food at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Oseguera Cervantes also gave residents of rural Jalisco access to a private clinic that he had built to treat his reported kidney disease.
InSight Crime Analysis
When powerful crime groups hand out gifts, even to moms, it's never for the sake of giving.
The acts are meant to gain allegiance from locals. Incarcerated Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” knew this better than anyone, turning himself into a Robin Hood figure in the city of Culiacán and elsewhere. His sons continue to trade on this reputation.
Oseguera Cervantes' generosity appears to be having a similar endearing effect, though his cartel's bloody advances have turned the same states where he comes bearing gifts into battlefields.
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In May 2020, a woman begged Oseguera Cervantes to help her locate her four missing children, according to Reforma. A few months later, the family of a child with a bone disease recorded a heartbreaking video, asking the CJNG boss to help him get surgery.
And last year, the CJNG donated so many care packages containing pantry staples and hygiene products during pandemic lockdowns that families thanked the drug lord in a carefully orchestrated video.
While the gifts are meant to garner sympathy, the men delivering them are imparting in a not-so-subtle manner that they have territorial control. The gifts, in effect, plant a flag on their turf.
They also send another message: those accepting such gifts must remain loyal to the cartel and provide it with support.