It's Mad Mex, road warrior, as cartels build bulletproof tanks

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by lambu, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. lambu

    lambu Regular Member

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    MEXICO CITY: Rhino trucks, narco tanks, Mad Mex-inismos? No one can agree on what to call the armoured monster vehicles that Mexican criminal groups have been welding together in recent months, but one thing is clear - they are building more.

    For the drug cartel boss who has everything, the latest piece of military hardware is a tank.

    The Mexican military has discovered that gangsters are building armoured assault vehicles, with gun turrets, armour plates, firing ports and bullet-proof glass.

    Last weekend authorities found two more of these makeshift road warriors in Tamaulipas, the same northern border state where the first armoured vehicle appeared in April after a battle between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas.

    In the latest case, the Mexican Defence Department said the armoured trucks were found in a metalworking shop in Camargo, which also held at least two other partly modified monsters and 23 additional trucks.

    The completed versions were bigger than what has been found before. Built on three-axle truck beds, they had room for 20 armed men, one official said. They were covered with inch-thick steel, which could withstand 50-calibre fire, and each had insulation to dampen the sound of incoming bullets.

    More than 35,000 Mexicans have died in four years of drug violence in the border cities and farm towns of the northern state of Tamaulipas. The fighting between the Gulf and Zeta cartels, and the military units that chase them, has been vicious.

    ''Organised crime has increased its firepower to move personnel and mount counterattacks against the army,'' said Alberto Islas, a security adviser. ''This is the consolidation of an urban guerilla war scenario.''

    The assault vehicles have appeared in several confrontations with Mexican authorities. In the western state of Jalisco, soldiers confronted a narco tank in May and disabled it by shooting out its tyres. So far the trucks have not been seen in the cities.

    The popular ''narco blog'' website claimed the armoured truck could do 100km/h and dump - James Bond style - tyre-popping nails or oil slicks to slow its pursuers.

    ''These behemoths indicate the ingenuity of the cartels in configuring weapons that are extremely effective in urban warfare,'' said George Grayson, professor at William & Mary College and a specialist in Mexico's drug war.

    The cartels are locked in an arms race of technology to keep one step ahead of authorities - and one another.

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