Homemade Tank Seized from Los Zetas in Western Mexico

By Dialogo
May 25, 2011

A homemade tank, with capacity for twenty men, the ability to shoot in all directions, and resistance to explosives, was found during an operation targeting the Los Zetas cartel in the state of Jalisco, in western Mexico, the state government announced.

The vehicle, nicknamed ‘The Monster’ by the police, is mounted on a truck, the exterior of which has been covered with thick soldered plates and with an upper turret capable of rotating 360 degrees in order to shoot, Luis Carlos Nájera, Jalisco’s secretary of security, explained to reporters.

“It’s an extremely powerful vehicle,” noted Nájera, who indicated that three people died in the operation, carried out over the weekend in a remote rural settlement in Jalisco.

This is the second vehicle of this kind seized from Los Zetas in the last month. A few weeks ago, the discovery of another homemade mini-tank was reported in San Fernando, a town in Tamaulipas (in the country’s northeast), in the opposite corner of Mexico.

In that town, 183 corpses were discovered in April in common graves, the remains of individuals who – according to the government – are believed to have been executed by Los Zetas, some of them after having been kidnapped while travelling on buses that were passing through the area en route to the United States.

According to Nájera, the seizure of the vehicle was part of a series of operations in Jalisco against groups belonging to Los Zetas, considered one of the bloodiest drug-trafficking groups, created by former military personnel who deserted from the Army’s special forces to work with the Gulf cartel.

Now in conflict with their former bosses, Los Zetas control several routes linking Texas (in the southern United States) to the Gulf coast (in eastern Mexico), but they are seeking access to the Pacific Ocean, the transit route for the majority of drugs coming from South America.

In that effort, they have increasingly moved into Central American countries such as Guatemala, where they have been accused of the massacre of twenty-seven peasants this month in a region on the border with Mexico.