Explosive Attacks by Organized Crime Surge across Mexico

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According to national security experts, Mexico’s organized crime drug trafficking groups have escalated the use of explosive devices in order to instill fear in local communities, a violent methodology that left three security officers dead and another 10 people injured in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Jalisco, on the night of Tuesday, July 11.

Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) documented 288 incidents where improvised explosives were used under the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) between December 2018 and February 2022, a 223 percent increase from the six-year term of his predecessor former President Enrique Peña Nieto.

That same Sedena report went on to reveal that 1,342 explosive devices were used across the 288 incidents, usually in the form of car bombs, land mines or explosives dropped from drones.

Over recent years, organized crime groups have used car bombs to attack police in Xaltianguis, Guerrero, in April 2019, to penetrate prison defenses and let out prisoners in Tula, Hidalgo, in December 2021, and most recently, to cause injuries to 10 elements from the National Guard (GN) in Celaya, Guanajuato in June 2023.

Back in February 2022, members of the Mexican Armed Forces managed to disarm approximately 250 planted landmines – which were also responsible for Tuesday’s lethal incident in Jalisco – in Aguililla, Michoacán, following the death of a local farmer.

Likewise, explosive drones have reportedly been used by the cartels as a deterrent against self-defense groups, with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) unleashing approximately 20 drones equipped with explosives against said organizations in Tierra Caliente, Michoacán, in May 2022.

In response to the growing number of explosive attacks across Mexico, the Sedena has attempted to train its anti-terrorism units through international courses on explosives and heightened its use of drones throughout the nation, though experts say the design and sophistication of the explosives used by the cartels have given the organized crime groups an advantage over the military and its counter defenses.

“The purpose of using explosives is to generate terror, generate discontent and influence psychology throughout the community; the use of improvised devices has been seen regularly across Colombia and Latin America,” Colombian anti-narcotics director General Fabian Cardenas told daily Mexican newspaper Reforma.

While the use of explosives has been concentrated in cartel-heavy areas like Michoacán, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Chiapas, explosives have also reportedly been detonated by organized crime groups in Nuevo León, Puebla, Mexico City , Hidalgo, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Quintana Roo, Colima, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Edomex, Sonora, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and Veracruz.



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