Most of the drugs that come to America - cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana – are smuggled in from Mexico. This is a billion dollar narcotics trade, and there are a handful of powerful cartels in Mexico that govern, oversee and execute this illicit drug business. These cartels are controlled by hardened criminals, ruthless bosses and even former military commandos - it’s a blood-drenched and extremely violent state of affairs that results in tens of thousands of senseless murders. Here are the five most violent Mexican cartels.
4 Los Zetas
The Los Zetas drug cartel might just be the most dangerous and violent group of criminals you can ever come across. They originally started out in the late 1990’s, and back then, they primarily served as the military arm of the Gulf Cartel. The majority of Los Zetas members started off as hardened commandos who deserted the Mexican Army. So most of them already had intense and extreme military training – and they also had access to arms and firepower. As their cartel grew, they became sworn enemies of the Gulf Cartel and established several illicit money streams including of course drugs, protection, rackets, assassinations, kidnappings and more. The Los Zetas have also become known for their extreme savagery and butchery – barbaric might be the word to describe their approach to murder.
In 2010, during the infamous San Fernando Massacre, Los Zetas murdered 72 immigrants. In the year after that, there was another San Fernando massacre, and this second one resulted in the death of 193 people. Much more recently in 2013, they uploaded a video of the beheading of 4 women who were tied to the rival Drug Cartel. They have also been responsible for the brutal murder of a police chief, his wife and their four children in Veracruz, Mexico. The Los Zeta Drug cartel has a looming influence all over Mexico, but their base of operations is Nuevo Laredo in the Tamaulipas region.
3 The Knights Templar
The Knights Templar cartel has been active since late 2010. It started off as an offshoot of the La Familia Michoacana cartel when the head of the organization, Nazario Moreno, died in December of 2010. Their name is actually derived from The Templar Order of the Middle ages – the knights responsible for protecting Jerusalem. The members of this cartel swear their lives to their organization, and are willing to fight or die for the cartel.
The Knights claim to be pious fighters and protectors of the Michoacana community, but they still go about the business of brutally murdering their sworn enemies – mainly the members of the La Familia Cartel. On one single day, the fighting between the Knights and La Familia cartels was so intense and violent that a 1000 people had to literally flee their villages. Two weeks later, a bunch of Knights thugs displayed 21 corpses from their rival gang to show how dedicated they were to their cause. The Knights of Templar have been on the radar of both armed vigilantes and the Mexican army, and just recently, one of their top kingpins Enrique Plancarte was killed by Mexican marines.
2 The Gulf Cartel
The Gulf Cartel is one of the longest running criminal organizations in Mexico, and for that matter, even the world. They have been in operations since the 1930s and they are still going strong even through several internal power struggles, government crackdowns and battles with rival cartels. They take part in almost any illegal activity there is: drug smuggling, human trafficking, kidnappings, extortion, police and government corruption and organized prison breaks. Recently, the Mexican government captured Juan Rodriguez Garcia, one of the top capos of the Gulf Cartel after a recent flurry of shootouts and massacres in the northern state of Tamaulipas. During this wave of violence, 16 corpses were found in the port town of Tampico.
The Gulf Cartel is also notorious for releasing videos of their gory torture techniques, hangings and beheadings to warn people against crossing them. It’s hard to see this cartel being eradicated anytime soon – their influence is worldwide – in the United States, Europe and even as far as Africa.
1 The Juarez Cartel
The Juarez Cartel, also known as the Vicente Carillo Fuentes Organization is one of the most brutal crime organizations operating in Mexico today. They are based in the Ciudad Juarez region and they are known and feared for decapitating their rivals, mutilating their corpses and placing them in public places to instill fear and dread in anyone who thinks of crossing them. In addition to the cartel’s own hitmen and soldiers, the Juarez Cartel also utilizes an armed wing known as La Linea, and another street gang known as Barrio Azteca to protect their turf.
The following is a stark example of just how violent this crime syndicate is. Jesus Chavez Castillo, a star witness in the murder trial in El Paso earlier this year stated he was a hitman from the Barrio Azteca Gang and committed countless murders from the Juarez cartel. He went on to say that he killed at least almost 800 and often beheaded and dismembered victims to impress his bosses.
The Juarez Cartel has been embroiled in a bitter fight against the Sinaloa Cartel for several years - mostly over the Tijuana drug passage of cocaine to El Paso, Texas. With the amount of money, power and influence involved, this drug battle doesn’t look to diminish any time soon.
The Sinaloa Cartel
The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most powerful, influential and violent cartels in Mexico. This cartel has truly mastered the dark arts of drug trafficking. They are involved in smuggling of Colombian cocaine, Mexican marijuana, potent methamphetamine and Mexican and Southeastern Asian heroin. Other names for this cartel are “The Federation” and “The Blood Alliance.” Even though the Sinaloa Cartel takes part in its share of violence and beheadings, they have pretty much assumed a very orderly and efficient form of operation. Their main boss El Chapo was recently captured in 2013, and at one point, he was listed on Forbes as one of the top billionaires in the world. The majority of violence that this cartel gets involved in is mostly due to rival fighting with other cartels like the Zetas and the Tijuana cartel. In one Sinaloa cartel fight with the brutal Zetas, a henchman from the latter cartel named “El Loco” was behind a very heinous atrocity: he mutilated 49 people and piled their bodies – with heads, hands and feet missing – and stacked them by a road leading to the US border. Even though these cartels might be embroiled in territorial fights for many years to come, Sinaloa has mastered the art of bribery and coercion instead of beheadings and murders – and that’s why the 25 year old cartel might just be the one to survive when the rest eventually fade away.