Mexico’s top security official has said that officers are investigating a video showing dozens of uniformed soldiers with military-armed weapons and armored pickup trucks apparently linked to a major drug cartel.
The video, which aired on social media on Friday, appeared as a show of strength by members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) – one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups.
Alphonse Durazzo, the secretary of security and civil security, said a “promotional video” was being analyzed to confirm its authenticity.
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He stated that “there is no criminal group with the ability to successfully challenge federal security forces”.
In the video, many of the vehicles parked on the dirt road have gun turrets or plate-steel armor.
Several dozen masked people, wearing bulletproof vests and assault rifles, are also heard to show that they are “the men of Mencho” – a nickname used by Nemesio Oseguera, head of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
The release of the video coincided with the visit of Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obredor to the group’s heartland.
Mr. Lopez Obredor has endorsed a less confrontational approach to security than his predecessors and supported measures to address social issues such as poverty and unemployment, in which he has contributed to crime.
The so-called “throat, not bullets” strategy has been controversial and some security analysts have warned that it has embraced criminal groups.
“They are sending a clear message … that they basically rule Mexico, not Lopez Obredor,” Mike Drug, a former head of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Reuters.
Mr Vigil warned that the president’s approach “only led these cartels to operate with greater dexterity”.
Falco Ernst, a senior analyst for Mexico for the International Crisis Group, said the video gave a clear warning about possible retaliation by the cartel against the government.
“this , As I am told, taken yesterday in Jalisco Sierra, is more than clear in its message to the fed gov: You come after us, and we will strike back, ”Mr. Ernst wrote on Twitter.
He said: “Instead of declaring war, from my point of view it is primarily capable of protecting the status quo, at a critical time where defining its future posture regarding CJNG.”
The CJNG is considered to be Mexico’s strongest gang, as well as the Sinaloa Cartel formerly led by the jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
In late June, the cartel was identified as a potential culprit in the attack on Mexico City’s security chief, Omar Garcia Harfuch, which took place in broad daylight in a wealthy neighborhood of the capital.
Additional reporting by agencies