Mexican Drug Cartels are Transforming Monster Trucks into Deadly War Machines
The Mexican drug cartels have escalated vehicle customization to an alarming extent, turning regular trucks into menacing war machines resembling tanks. According to The New York Times, these cartels are retrofitting pickups with fierce modifications, including battering rams and four-inch steel plates, often featuring machine gun-equipped turrets.
Among these cartels, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel stands out for their inventive yet criminal approach. This cartel utilizes these modified vehicles in violent clashes with law enforcement, earning a reputation as one of the world's most violent drug trafficking organizations. Their activities primarily involve cocaine and methamphetamine trade. Disturbing reports from The Daily Beast even suggest that they have coerced recruits into engaging in acts of cannibalism.
Similar tactics are adopted by other cartels, such as the Gulf Cartel and the Northeast Cartel, which also weaponize Monster trucks for brutal confrontations with rival groups. These vehicles proudly display the cartel's symbols, often camouflaged to confuse with police vehicles. Referred to as "monstruos" (monsters), "rinocerontes" (rhinos), and "narcotanques" (narco-tanks) by Mexican security forces, these trucks are equipped with various weapons, including steel-penetrating sniper rifles and rocket launchers capable of downing military helicopters.
This strategic utilization of modified trucks aligns with the cartels' historical expertise in modifying vehicles for drug smuggling operations. Beyond projecting power, these monstrous creations serve practical purposes. However, despite their imposing appearance and weaponry, these modified trucks face challenges. The added weight of steel plates makes them slow and unwieldy, and their extensive modifications often lead to mechanical breakdowns, as highlighted by Alexei Chévez, a security analyst.
Adding a modern twist to their notoriety, these monstrous vehicles often make appearances on TikTok as "monstruos," often accompanied by cartel-themed rap songs. While Mexican law enforcement strives to combat this escalating threat, the captivating allure of these deadly and intricately customized trucks on social media poses a significant challenge.