Mexican drug traffickers' latest weapon: 'monster' narco-tanks

These armored trucks, made to resemble tanks off of a battlefield, are another invention of traffickers who do anything to protect smuggling routes and out-arm their rivals.

In this image released by Mexico's Defense Department, SEDENA, on Sunday, June 5, a makeshift armored truck is displayed after it was seized on June 4 in the city of Camargo, Mexico. According to Mexico's Defense Department, two makeshift armored trucks were found in a clandestine shop that was being used to create these vehicles.

Drug traffickers have never been faulted for lack of ingenuity. They have dug and ventilated thousands of feet of underground tunnel from Mexico to California, refashioned light aircraft that release packages of drugs into remote areas, and invented homemade “semi-submersibles” that cruise the Pacific Coast of South America northward.

Now they have done it again.

The latest invention is the “narco-tank,” an armored truck created to resist fire from even a machine gun. Resembling tanks off a battlefield, narco-tanks have been appearing throughout Mexico in recent months. Over the weekend, soldiers discovered two more in the town of Camargo in Tamaulipas, according to a defense department statement.

The trucks were armored with steel, one inch-thick, welded over the doors and cargo container. They were also outfitted with air conditioning and firing portholes.

More than two dozen additional trucks, in the process of transformation, were also found at the metalworking shop that authorities raided over the weekend.

So-called narco-tanks, dubbed “monsters” here, have been found where the Gulf and Zetas cartels have been battling one another. Local media reports say that authorities have seized more than 100 of them.

Some have balked at the characterization that Mexico is at “war,” but these “monsters” leave little doubt that the country’s traffickers are ready for combat.

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