Cartels Use Monster Trucks as Show of Force in Mexico

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Drug cartels in Mexico are turning pick-up trucks into monster trucks that can also fire machine guns, according to a report from DNYUZ. Although the concept is not new, the number of these monster trucks is growing as Mexico’s most feared criminal gangs, such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, and the Northeast Cartel have adopted their use. The cartel monster trucks are raising concerns for Mexican security forces as they are being decorated in camouflage, making it hard to distinguish between police vehicles and those of the cartels. 

Although these monster trucks are believed to have first appeared in Mexico just over a decade ago, more cartels are using the vehicles as they roll through Mexico’s cities striking fear while trying to claim more power over one another. Romain Le Cour, a security analyst, said the armed new and intimidating trucks are another visible enhancement to the “lethal arsenal at the disposal of Mexico’s most powerful cartels.” Most cartel monster trucks are also armed with rifles, grenades, and remote-detonated explosives among other deadly weapons. 


Replicating elite armed forces has become a strategy for the cartels that, according to Le Cour, are “looking to replicate special forces in how they’re armed, how they’re trained, how they look.” The influx of these monster trucks has grown as the more and more elite soldiers have found themselves becoming members of cartels, making their strategies more “sophisticated.”

“Monster trucks are often made from popular vehicles like the Ford Lobo (the equivalent of the Ford F-150 in the United States) or the Ford Raptor. But gangs also use sport-utility vehicles better known elsewhere for making runs to the suburban big box stores, like the bulky Chevrolet Tahoe, as well as larger flatbeds, dump trucks or heavy-duty “dually’ trucks with two rear wheels on each side.”


In a country that has seen years of violence, the message sent by the armored trucks is clear as a “show of force.” When approaching from far away, the trucks’ military-like appearance deceives onlookers, and once it is discovered who is really behind the wheel, fear sets in. 

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