Since 2006, a brutal war has been going on between Mexico’s government and the dangerous drug cartels that essentially rule the country. Since the demise of Colombian cartels, Mexican crime organizations have supplied as much as 90 percent of all cocaine that’s currently in the States. Some of these groups earn up to $49.4 billion annually.
Needless to say, it’s a dangerous business. The official death toll of Mexican people on both sides of the war by 2012 rung in at a heartbreaking 60,000, and many believe that the death toll has doubled since then. Here are some of the most dangerous cartels in Mexico.
At one point, eight of Mexico’s top 10 most wanted criminals were part of this ruthless gang, which was headed by the five Beltrán Leyva brothers. At one point, they actually infiltrated the Mexican government and Interpol in order to steal information about anti-cartel operations. The group disbanded in 2014, but two of the brothers are now in a Mexican criminal syndicate known as Los Zetas.
Despite being known for murder, trafficking, and armed robbery, this cartel prides itself on its “code,” which details the ethical standards of the organization. Members claim that they do not kill for money, and they insist that they help the poor. When the Pope came to Mexico in 2012, members even raised a banner that read as follows: “The Knights Templar Cartel will not partake in any warlike acts. We are not killers. Welcome, Pope.”
Cartel del Golfo
Directly across the border from Brownsville, Texas, lies the headquarters of one of Mexico’s oldest crime syndicates — the Cartel del Golfo, or Gulf Cartel. Founder Juan Nepomuceno Guerra was known for smuggling alcohol into the U.S. during the prohibition. Today, the cartel has a vast, international trafficking network that reaches Europe, West Africa, Asia, and countries all over the Americas.
Although this gang makes its home in Chihuahua, there’s nothing small or cute about it. The DEA estimates that this cartel makes around $200 million a week, and a large portion of that money goes to bribing the authorities. Members of this group are known for mutilating bodies and displaying them in public to intimidate civilians.
The American government considers the Sinaloa Cartel to be the the most dangerous trafficking organization in the world. Founded in the ’80s, this group now has a presence in 17 of the 31 Mexican states, and it was responsible for moving approximately 200 tons of cocaine into the United States between 2008 and 2012.
These criminals began as the enforcers of the Gulf Cartel, but have since broken off to form their own organization. It’s no surprise that members of Los Zetas are considered some of the most violent offenders in all of Mexico. They are widely known for public beheadings and massacres. In 2011, Los Zetas took between 300 and 500 lives when leaders believed that two men betrayed the organization.
When politicians talk about the War on Drugs, just know that this level of violence is what America is up against. It’s so bad that Mexican officials don’t even try to deal with trafficking at this point, since they’re going for the hydra’s heart, so to speak.