72 Percent of Mexico under Cartels, according to Guacamaya Leaks
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Based on the Guacamaya Leaks — a collection of over 4 million confidential Mexican government documents that were released in early October by a group of national hackers exposing how the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has been monitoring journalists using Israeli Pegasus spyware and how the military under his regime sold arms to drug cartels — at least 72 percent of the country is now partially controlled by organized criminal cells.
According to an analysis conducted by the national daily El Universal and published in that newspaper on Sunday, Oct. 23, of 50 National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) intelligence reports, there are currently more than 80 organized crime groups operating in Mexico.
Across Mexico’s 2,446 municipalities, in at least 1,580 there are one or more organized crime groups in control of at least some public activities, according to military intelligence documents extracted from the hack carried out by the Guacamaya group, the newspaper said.
Based on the square kilometers each of these municipalities cover, the data if the kilometers that these regions occupy are taken into account, show that 72 percent of Mexico’s territory has a significant presence of at least one cartel, gang or criminal cell.
Between 2017 and 2022, Sedena reported more than 80 different criminal groups and 16 larger criminal cartels operating in the country, as well as 419 gang leaders associated with crime, who are also classified as relevant targets for the violence they generate in their respective areas of operation, El Universal reported.
Another major Mexican daily newspaper, Reforma, also reported on Sunday that, based on evidence obtained from the Guacamaya group leaks, the extremely brutal Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) operates in 84 percent of the central state of Jalisco, that is, in 105 of its 125 municipalities,
The Reforma article pointed out that, based on the Guacamaya documents, support to the CJNG by state and municipal police has already led to a new power struggle for control over the Guadalajara metropolitan area and another turf war is looming for Puerto Vallarta.
Not coincidentally, on Friday, Oct. 21, Salvador Llamas Urbina, the national adviser for AMLO’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party and a local Puerto Vallarta official, was executed in Guadalajara.
“The infrastructure of the metropolitan area, as well as the collusion of authorities, have allowed (cartel leader) Nemesio Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” to carry out money-laundering activities with impunity, through the González Valencia brothers, alias “Los Cuinis,” and their godson Gonzalo Mendoza Gaytán, alias “El Sapo,” a relevant member of the CJNG,” the Sedena report stated.
The leaked Sedena document also made reference to the Sinaloa Cartel, which it said was operating in several Jalisco municipalities under the command of the brothers Mario and Ramón González Martínez.
According to El Universal’s analysis of the Sedena documents, there are several Mexican states where drug-trafficking groups have divided up control of the entire territory.
Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Mexico City and Tamaulipas are some of the clearest examples of this divvying up of territories, the Sedena documents indicate.
Meanwhile, in other states, such as Puebla, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala and Chiapas, many criminal groups are dedicated more to fuel theft and migrant smuggling than to illicit drug sales.
Also according to a report by Reforma based on the Guacamaya documents, members of Mexico’s National Guard (GN), an elite military group created and funded by AMLO, has been criminally involved with at least two organized gangs dedicated to the theft and sale of fuel in the states of Tabasco and Puebla, as well as the transfer of drugs and migrants in Veracruz.