Jalisco New Generation Cartel

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Jalisco New Generation Cartel
Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación
Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación logo 3.png
Logo of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel
Founded31 August 2009
FounderNemesio Oseguera Cervantes and Ignacio Coronel Villarreal
Founding locationGuadalajara, Jalisco, México[1][2]
Years active2009–present[1][3]
Jalisco, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Colima, Guanajuato, Veracruz, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Islas Marías, Sinaloa, Michoacán, Guerrero, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Tabasco, Querétaro, Tamaulipas, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, Edomex, Morelos, Puebla[4][5][6]
United States:
California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Georgia
South America:
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, and Guyana
Membership6,000–20,000 (suspected)[citation needed]
Leader(s)Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (El Mencho)
Juan Carlos Valencia González (El 03)
Ricardo Ruiz Velasco (El RR)
Criminal activitiesDrug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, people smuggling, murder, kidnapping, racketeering, extortion, petroleum theft, assault, prostitution, money laundering[7][8][9][10][11]
AlliesLos Cuinis
Grupo Elite[12] (paramilitary wing)
Grupo Guerrero (armed wing)[13][14]
Sangre Nueva Zeta[15]
Grupo X (armed wing)[16][17]
Grupo Delta (armed wing)[18][19]
Los Cabos (armed wing in Baja California)[20]
Zicuirán New Generation Cartel[21]
San Luis Potosí New Generation Cartel
Tláhuac Cartel[22]
Juárez Cartel
La Línea[23]
Caborca Cartel
Gulf Cartel
Clan del Golfo
Guerreros Unidos[25]
Nuestra Familia
Caza Templa-Viagras[26] (armed wing in Michoacán)
La Fuerza Anti-Unión[22]
Cartel of the Suns
Sacra Corona Unita
Rivals Mexico[27][28][29]
Nueva Plaza Cartel[30]
Knights Templar Cartel[31]
Tijuana Cartel
La Familia Michoacana
Cártel del Noreste
La Unión Tepito[22]
Los Zetas[32][3]
Zetas Vieja Escuela[3]
Barrio Azteca (current status unknown)
Sinaloa Cartel[33][34][35]
Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel[36]
Los Viagras[37]
Cárteles Unidos[38][39][10]
Los Correa[17]
Cartel del Abuelo
Grupo Sombra[40][41]
Gente Nueva
La Nueva Familia Michoacana[11]

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación) or CJNG, formerly known as Los Mata Zetas,[42][43][44][45] is a semi-militarized Mexican criminal group based in Jalisco which is headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes ("El Mencho"), one of the world's most-wanted drug lords.[46] The cartel has been characterized by its aggressive use of extreme violence and its public relations campaigns.[3] Although the CJNG is particularly known for diversifying into various types of criminal rackets, drug trafficking (primarily cocaine and methamphetamine) as well as stealing crude oil remain among their most profitable criminal activities.[8][3] The cartel has also been noted for cannibalizing some of its victims, sometimes during the training of new sicarios or cartel members as well as using drones to attack their enemies.[9][47][39] U.S. prosecutors have said operatives of the cartel tried to buy belt-fed M-60 machine guns in the United States, and once brought down a Mexican military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.[48] As of 2020, the CJNG is generally considered by the Mexican government to be the most dangerous criminal organization in Mexico[27] and the second most powerful drug cartel in the country after Cártel de Sinaloa.[49] CJNG is heavily militarized and violent compared to other criminal organizations. They have a special operations group and other groups for specific types of warfare.[50] Training for these groups is intense. An inside look at CJNG’s hitman training program reveals a strict environment with high stakes.[51] The CJNG is the most dominant criminal group in the state of Jalisco but the cartel also dominates criminal and drug operations in the states of Nayarit and Colima, with the latter being an important area for shipments of South American cocaine and chemical precursors from Asia.[52] While this cartel is best known for its fights against the Zetas and Templarios, it has also been heavily battling Cárteles Unidos for control of Aguililla, Michoacán and its surrounding territories, including the city of Tepalcatepec.[38][28][53] More recently, tensions have also begun to rise against the CJNG's arch-rival, the Sinaloa Cartel within the states of Chiapas and Zacatecas.

Jalisco New Generation Cartel started as one of the splits of Milenio Cartel, the other being La Resistencia. La Resistencia accused CJNG of giving up Oscar Valencia (“El Lobo”) to the authorities and called them Los Torcidos (“The Twisted Ones”). The Jalisco Cartel defeated La Resistencia and took control of Millenio Cartel's smuggling networks. Jalisco New Generation Cartel expanded its operation network from coast to coast in only six months, making it one of the criminal groups with the greatest operating capacity in Mexico as of 2012 and still today.[54] The Sinaloa Cartel, once led by Joaquín Guzmán Loera (a.k.a. El Chapo), has used the Jalisco New Generation Cartel as its armed wing to fight off Los Zetas in Guzmán's turf and to carry out incursions to other territories like Nuevo Laredo and Veracruz in the past.[55] In the period following the emergence of the CJNG cartel, homicides, kidnappings and the discoveries of mass graves spiked in Jalisco.[3] Currently, along with the armed conflicts, petroleum theft and criminal extortion, the CJNG is also said to have over 100 methamphetamine labs throughout Mexico. Based on the average street value, these volumes could net upwards of $8.1 billion for cocaine and $4.6 billion for crystal meth each year.[8]

In 2017, the CJNG reportedly broke its alliance with Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada of the Sinaloa Cartel.[35] By 2018, the CJNG became the second most powerful cartel in Mexico.[56][57][58] In 2018, CJNG co-founder Érick Valencia Salazar and former high ranking CJNG leader Carlos Enrique Sánchez also both left the cartel and co-founded a rival cartel called the Nueva Plaza Cartel.[59][60][61][30] The CJNG are currently fighting La Nueva Plaza cartel for control of the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco; La Unión Tepito in Mexico City; Los Viagras and La Familia Michoacana for the states of Michoacán and Guerrero; Los Zetas in the states of Veracruz and Puebla; Cártel del Noreste in Zacatecas; the Cártel de Sinaloa in Baja California, Sonora,[62] Juárez, Zacatecas and Chiapas; as well as the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel in Guanajuato.[63] They currently have an alliance with the Cártel del Golfo in Zacatecas, La Línea in Juárez and several smaller cartels in Mexico City which help it fight against La Unión Tepito.[22]

Combatting CJNG is proving difficult because of the recent reorganization of the police force in Mexico. The retention and hiring of new police officers is poor,[64] and without enforcers of the law, many of Mexico’s smaller communities lack a police presence.[65] Vigilantism is one way in which these communities are resisting the control of cartels. Although the government is asking these groups to lay down their arms, the vigilantes continue with some success.[65]

In March 2019, Texas Republican congressman Chip Roy introduced a bill that would list the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the Gulf Cartel and the Cártel del Noreste faction of Los Zetas as foreign terrorist organizations. Former United States President Donald Trump had also expressed interest in designating cartels as terrorist organizations.[66] However, he halted plans to do so at the request of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.[67] From 2018 to 2020, the CJNG engaged in 298 reported acts of gang related violence; more than any other cartel during the period.[68] By 2020, U.S. counter-drug officials considered CJNG its "biggest criminal drug threat" and Mexico's former security commissioner called the group "the most urgent threat to Mexico's national security".[27]


With the capture of Óscar Orlando Nava Valencia and the death of Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, of the Sinaloa Cartel, a power vacuum emerged and the Milenio Cartel (then loyal to the Sinaloa Cartel) broke into smaller factions.[42] Being the most notable the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) headed by Nemesio Oseguera "El Mencho" (who suspected the Sinaloa cartel had betrayed their leaders )[69][70][71] and La Resistencia headed by Ramiro Pozos "El Molca" who switched alliances to form a brief alliance with Los Zetas (La Resistencia was founded by Sinaloa to counter Los Zetas),[72] and started a turf war for the control of the region.[73][74]

Some members of the Milenio Cartel, then a Sinaloa Cartel branch, who splintered and formed the CJNG were Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (El Mencho), Érick Valencia Salazar (El 85) and Martín Arzola Ortega (El 53).[70] With this split, a turf war against La Resistencia, headed by Ramiro Pozos (El Molca), and Los Zetas for the control of the region started.[75][76]

First appearance[edit]

CJNG interrogating Zeta members

In June 2009, inside an abandoned truck in a residential neighborhood in Cancún, Quintana Roo, the Mexican authorities discovered the corpses of three men. Along with their remains was found the following message:

We are the new group Mata Zetas (Zeta Killers) and we are against kidnapping and extortion, and we will fight them in all states for a cleaner Mexico.

— Los Mata Zetas (Jalisco New Generation Cartel)[32]

These murdered men were then linked to individuals who had been shown in a video on YouTube while being interviewed by masked men armed with assault rifles.[77] A number of videos online confirmed the existence of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which was dedicated at that time to kill Gulf Cartel and Zeta members alike.[77] In the interrogation videos done by the Mata Zetas, the captured cartel members confessed their criminal activities and gave out the names of police commanders and politicians who provided them with protection.[77] According to Terra Networks, the government agency of the SIEDO received a phone call on 1 July 2009 from an unidentified man who said that the cartel members of Los Zetas were going to be "kidnapped and eliminated" from Cancún and Veracruz.[78]

2011–2012 Veracruz massacres[edit]

2011 Veracruz massacres[edit]

In spring 2011, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel declared war on all other Mexican cartels and stated its intention to take control of the city of Guadalajara. However, by midsummer, the group appeared to have been reunited with its former partners in the Sinaloa Cartel. In addition to maintaining its anti-Zetas alliance with the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel in 2011 affiliated itself with the Knights Templar in Michoacán. To counter Los Zetas in the state of Jalisco, the Sinaloa Cartel affiliated itself with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.[69]

On 20 September 2011, two trucks containing 35 dead bodies were found at an underpass near a shopping mall in Boca del Río, Veracruz.[79] All of the corpses were alleged to be members of Los Zetas,[80] but it was later proven that only six of them had been involved in minor crime incidents, and none of them were involved with organized crime.[81] Some of the victims had their hands tied and showed signs of having been tortured.[82] According to El Universal, at around 17:00 an undetermined number of vehicles blocked a major avenue in Boca del Río.[83] Once the traffic stopped, armed men abandoned two trucks in the middle of the highway.[83] They opened the doors of the trucks and pulled out the thirty-five corpses, leaving a written message behind.[83] Other gunmen pointed their weapons at the frightened drivers.[84] The gunmen then fled the scene.[85] Consequently, the stunned motorists began to grab their cellphones and post messages on Twitter warning other drivers to avoid the area.[84] The message left behind stated the following:

No more extortions, no more killings of innocent people! Zetas in the state of Veracruz and politicians helping them: This is going to happen to you, or we can shoot you as we did to you guys before too. People of Veracruz, do not allow yourselves to be extorted; do not pay for protection; if you do is because you want to. This is the only thing these people (Los Zetas) can do. This is going to happen to all the Zetas-fucks who continue to operate in Veracruz. This territory has a new proprietor.

— Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generation[86]

The Blog del Narco reported on 21 September 2011 that the message was supposedly signed by Gente Nueva, an enforcer group that works for Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the top boss of the Sinaloa cartel.[87] Nonetheless, on 27 September 2011, the CJNG released a video claiming they had carried out these attacks.[88] They apologized for the massacres in Veracruz but reiterated their efforts to fight off Los Zetas, who, they claimed, "are not invincible."[89] In the CJNG video, five men wearing balaclavas and completely black clothing are shown sitting behind a table.[88] Then the man with the microphone states that the Matazetas are "warriors without a face, but proudly Mexicans,"[88] and that their objective is to eradicate Los Zetas.[88] They claim in the video that they respect the Mexican Armed Forces and understand the government's stance against the drug cartels.[88] The men in the video state that they understand and respect the government's decision of refusing to negotiate with the cartels.[90] They also criticize the politicians who have protected Los Zetas.[90] In addition, they claim that the Matazetas are "prohibited to extort, kidnap, steal, abuse, or do anything that will affect the national patrimony,"[91] and that they are the "armed wing of the Mexican people."[91]

On 6 October 2011 in Boca del Río, Veracruz, 36 bodies were found by the Mexican authorities in three different houses.[92] The Navy first discovered 20 bodies inside a house in a residential neighborhood. While searching at another house they found 11 more bodies.[93] The third and final house contained one body.[93] Four other bodies were confirmed separately by the state government of Veracruz.[94] A day later, Reynaldo Escobar Pérez, the State Justice Attorney General, stepped down and resigned due to the drug-violence.[95] And a day after his resignation, 10 more bodies were found throughout the city of Veracruz.[96] The Jalisco New Generation Cartel was also responsible for 67 killings in Veracruz on 7 October 2011.[97]

By 9 October 2011, in only eighteen days, the state of Veracruz reported 100 killings.[98]

Operation Safe Veracruz[edit]

In response to the multiple executions between the drug cartels, the federal government launched a military-led operation in the state of Veracruz, known in Spanish as Operativo Veracruz Seguro.[99] In October 2011, the state of Veracruz was a disputed territory between Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel.[100] Francisco Blake Mora, Secretary of the Interior at the time, said that the operation was implemented to serve the following goals:

  1. Deploy the Armed Forces and the Federal Police throughout the Veracruz to "recuperate the areas controlled by the cartels."[101]
  2. Establish intelligence agencies to not only capture the cartel members, but to also dismantle their financial and operative networks;[101]
  3. Evaluate and inspect the police forces in Veracruz for any possible correlation with the cartels, "in order to count with loyal" police officers;[101]
  4. Increase the federal and state funding to improve security measures;[101]
  5. Ensure that the government is the only entity that carries out law and order.[101]

Continued attacks and 2012 Veracruz massacres[edit]

CJNG members claiming responsibility for killing Zetas.

Despite the strong military presence, the authorities discovered 7 bodies inside a Ford Lobo on 8 October 2011 in Veracruz.[102] On 22 December 2011, three public buses were attacked by drug cartel members on Federal Highway 105 in Veracruz, leaving 16 dead.[103] Three U.S. citizens were among those dead.[104] Soon after the shootouts, which happened in the early morning, the authorities carried out an operation to find those responsible, killing five gunmen.[105] The U.S. Consulate in Matamoros asked Americans to avoid traveling on highways between cities in the late hours of the night.[106]

In Tampico Alto, Veracruz, on 23 December 2011 the Mexican authorities found 10 dead bodies after an anonymous call from a citizen.[107] The corpses were dumped on a dirt road, and all of them were handcuffed and presented signs of torture.[108] Nine out of the ten bodies were decapitated.[109] Earlier in February 2011, Saturnino Valdés Llanos, the mayor of the municipality of Tampico Alto, was kidnapped in February 2011; his body was left in a garbage dump with 10 more bodies a week later.[110] On 25 December 2011 near Tampico, Tamaulipas, a city on the border with Veracruz, 13 bodies were found inside an 18-wheeler truck.[111] According to officials, the truck had license plates from Veracruz.[111] Authorities indicated that this massacre was related to the other mass murders that had occurred in Veracruz.[112] On 9 February 2012, the Mexican authorities exhumed 15 bodies from clandestine mass graves in Acayucan, Veracruz.[113] According to government sources, by March 2012, the homicide rate in Veracruz and its surrounding territories had decreased.[114] President Felipe Calderón attributed the low homicide rates to the Operation Veracruz, the military-led operation implemented in October 2011.[115]

On 3 May 2012 in Boca del Río, Veracruz, 3 photojournalists who covered the crime events in Veracruz were slain and dumped in several plastic bags in a canal.[116] Press freedom groups indicated that the three journalists had "temporarily fled Veracruz after receiving threats [in 2011]."[117] Over the past eighteen months, 7 journalist have been killed in Veracruz alone.[118] There are only a few journalists reporting on crime-related stories in the state.[118] Upon the arrest of several members of the cartel, the authorities confirmed in August 2012 that the CJNG was responsible for killing 5 journalists in Veracruz.[119]

2011 Sinaloa massacre[edit]

On 23 November 2011, a total of 26 bodies—16 of them burned to death—were located in several abandoned vehicles in Sinaloa.[120] The incident began at early hours of the morning in Culiacán, Sinaloa with the discovery of a vehicle on fire.[121] When the police forces managed to put down the flames, they found inside the vehicle a dozen of bodies burned to death, and with wood remains on top of them. All of the victims were handcuffed.[121] Later on at 07:00 hours, anonymous calls from civilians notified the police that another vehicle in the northern city limits of Culiacán was on fire. The vehicle on fire was a Ford Ranger, and inside were four bodies with bulletproof vests and handcuffed.[121] During the night, 10 more bodies were found throughout several different municipalities.[121]

The killings were allegedly carried out by Los Zetas as a response to the massacres done by the Matazetas (CJNG) in Veracruz.[122][123] Stratfor believes that this major move by Los Zetas into the territory of the Sinaloa Cartel demonstrates the Zeta's ability to attack the "heart of those cartels' territories."[124]

2011–2012 Jalisco massacres[edit]

2011 Guadalajara massacre[edit]

CJNG members direct a video to Felipe Calderón.

On 24 November 2011, three trucks containing 26 bodies were found in an avenue at Guadalajara, Jalisco.[125] All of them were male corpses.[126] At around 7:00 pm, the Guadalajara police received numerous anonymous calls from civilians reporting that "several vehicles with more than 10 bodies had been abandoned" in a major avenue.[127] Upon the arrival of the police forces, they found a green Dodge Caravan in the middle lane of the highway, along with a Nissan Caravan just 66 feet (20 meters) away;[127] on the farthest right lane was a white van.[127] Reports state that Los Zetas and the Milenio Cartel are responsible for the massacre of these twenty-six alleged Sinaloa Cartel members.[128] In addition, in November 2011, three men from the Milenio Cartel were arrested and linked to the massacre of the twenty-six people.[129] The authorities concluded that only six of the twenty-six that were killed had criminal records, and another ten of those dead were reported as disappeared by their family members.[130] Among those killed were small-business entrepreneurs; a cook; a mechanic; a dentist; a truck driver; and a house painter, among others.[130]

According to the testimonies of several family members, a group of heavily armed men abducted several people by force. One of the witnesses said that some teenagers were "drinking soda in front of a store when armed men" in two trucks abducted them.[131] The family of one of the kidnapped victims claimed that their loved one was "a teenager without vices or problems," and that the versions of him being part of a cartel are unjust and false.[131] Other families claimed that their loved ones did not have any problems with anybody and were honest workers.[131] Nevertheless, when the cartel members arrested were interrogated by the authorities, they claimed that those killed in the massacre were not innocent, and formed part of Los Torcidos (another name for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel).[132] When asked if they had tortured them, the cartel members replied that they did not.[132] One of the killers confessed that he had plans of leaving the criminal organization but was threatened with death by his own organization if he decided to do so.[132]

Authorities concluded that this massacre was almost a "replica" of what happened two months earlier in Veracruz,[133] and investigators mentioned that this massacre is a response to the killings done by the Matazetas against Los Zetas in the state of Veracruz.[133][134][135]

2012 Jalisco massacres[edit]

The chopped-up remains of 18 bodies were found inside a Toyota Sienna and Ford EcoSport near the U.S. retiree communities in Chapala, Jalisco, just south of the city of Guadalajara.[136][137][138] Eighteen heads were found along the dismembered bodies; some had been frozen, others were covered in lime, and the rest were found in an advanced state of decomposition.[139] An anonymous call alerted the police to the abandoned vehicles, which were found by the side of a highway early in the morning on 9 May 2012.[140] They were consequently towed to government offices to unload the bodies.[141] The authorities confirmed that a message was left behind by the killers, presumably from Los Zetas and the Milenio Cartel.[138] The attorney general of the state of Jalisco, Tomás Coronado Olmos, stated that this massacre was a revenge attack for the 23 killed in the 2012 Nuevo Laredo massacres.[142][143] In addition, 25 people were rescued after being kidnapped in Tala, Jalisco on 8 May 2012; the killers had plans to kill and "throw" them for public display.[143] Another 10 people managed to escape their capture by members of Los Zetas that same day, and alerted the local media of the situation.[144] Upon the arrest of the four alleged killers, one of the cartel members confessed that they had plans to "repeat" what had happened in the 2011 Guadalajara massacre, where 26 bodies were dumped in a major avenue for public display.[145]

According to Proceso magazine, Los Zetas were planning to kill 50 people on 9 May 2012, a day before Mother's Day.[146]

Fight against Knights Templar[edit]

Cartel de Jalisco New Generetion–Knights Templar civil war
Part of Mexican drug war
War on drugs
Result Victory of the Jalisco cartel, dissolution of the Knights Templar Cartel
Jalisco New Generation Cartel Knights Templar Cartel
Commanders and leaders
"El Mencho" (arrested) Nazario Moreno  
Casualties and losses
in total 402 deaths and thousands of injured
CJNG declares war on the Knights Templar Cartel.

On 21 March 2012, the Matazetas uploaded a video on the Blog del Narco. The recording, which is slightly over four minutes, shows several men dressed in black, with ski-masks and heavily armed; some of them (apparently the leaders) were sitting down at a table—as has been observed in other videos of the CJNG.[147] In the communiqué, the men said that they will "clean up the states of Guerrero and Michoacán," and informed the federal government, the Armed Forces and the Federal Police that the CJNG has no problems with them.[148] Then they went on to say that the Jalisco New Generation Cartel was going to start a turf war "against the Knights Templar Cartel, who were reportedly "abusing of innocent people" and operating through "kidnappings, extortion, protection racketeering, property theft, and rape."[148] Vigilante groups consisting of local townspeople, known as autodefensas, have been taking arms against the Knights Templar for the past few years. Now, CJNG and local autodefensas are forming unprecedented alliances between the cartel and civilians in order to disrupt a common enemy. CJNG's significant funding allows them to supply the autodefensas with military-grade arms, changing the tide of the conflict between the Knights Templar and civilians.[149] Consequently, both the autodefensas and CJNG are mutually benefitting as CJNG offers greater protection to victims of the Knights Templar while receiving support from the community in combatting a regional rival.

2012 Michoacán massacres[edit]

Following the message of the Matazetas to eradicate the Knights Templar Cartel in the state of Michoacán, 21 bodies have been found throughout several different municipalities of the state as of 12 April 2012.[31] At the location of the executions, the authorities discovered cardboards signed by the CJNG.[31]

2012 Nuevo Laredo massacres[edit]

17 April 2012 massacre[edit]

Dismembered remains of 14 men were found in several plastic bags inside a Chrysler Voyager in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on 17 April 2012.[150] All of those killed were between the ages of 30 and 35.[151] Officials stated that they found a "message signed by a criminal group," but they did not release the content of the note,[152] nor if those killed were members of Los Zetas or of the Gulf Cartel.[153] CNNMéxico stated that the message left behind by the criminal group said that they were going to "clean up Nuevo Laredo" by killing Zeta members.[154] The Monitor newspaper, however, said that a source outside of law enforcement but with direct knowledge of the attacks stated the 14 bodies belonged to members of Los Zetas who had been killed by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, now a branch of the Sinaloa Cartel.[155] Following the attacks, the Sinaloa cartel's kingpin, Joaquín Guzmán Loera—better known as El Chapo Guzmán—sent a message to Los Zetas that they will fight for the control of the Nuevo Laredo plaza.[156] The message read the following:

We have begun to clear Nuevo Laredo of Zetas because we want a free city and so you can live in peace. We are narcotics traffickers and we don't mess with honest working or business people. I'm going to teach these scums to work Sinaloa style—without kidnapping, without payoffs, without extortion. As for you, 40, I tell you that you don't scare me. I know you sent H to toss heads here in my turf, because you don't have the stones nor the people to do it yourself. Don't forget that I'm your true father.

— Joaquín Guzmán Loera (El Chapo)[157]

Nuevo Laredo is considered a stronghold of Los Zetas,[158] although there were incursions by the Sinaloa Cartel in March 2012.[159][160] Consequently, Los Zetas responded two days later with incursions to Sinaloa, the home state of the Sinaloa Cartel.[161] The Sinaloa Cartel's first attempt to take over Nuevo Laredo happened in 2005, when Los Zetas was working as the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel.[162]

Kidnapping of Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Iván Archivaldo Guzmán[edit]

In August 2016 in an upmarket restaurant called La Leche in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta, the CJNG kidnapped two sons of Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo), Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar and Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, along with friends and then released them after negotiations. The event happened shortly after the incarceration of Chapo Guzman and was seen as a humiliation for the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

InSight Crime analysis[edit]

The "40" in the message is a reference to Miguel Treviño Morales, a top leader of Los Zetas based in Nuevo Laredo, and longtime adversary of El Chapo Guzmán. The "H" is presumably Héctor Beltrán Leyva, the last remaining brother of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.[163] The Beltrán Leyva organization, unlike the Zetas, has presence in Sinaloa state, and would probably have an easier time attacking the Sinaloa Cartel on its own turf. The message does not mention the fact that the Gulf Cartel is probably supporting the Sinaloa Cartel in carrying out the executions.[163] In addition, the banner suggests that the alliance between Los Zetas and the Beltrán Leyva Cartel remains intact as of 2012 despite the losses it lived in 2008. The message also suggests the differences in the modus operandi of Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, because as authors of InSight Crime allege, the Zetas have a reputation of operating through extortion, kidnappings, robberies, and other illicit activities; in contrast, the Sinaloa Cartel is known simply for drug trafficking. (Both assertions are not wholly true, but often reflect a popular sentiment.) Guzmán attempted to take over Nuevo Laredo after the capture of the Gulf Cartel leader, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, in 2003.[163]

Nevertheless, Guzmán retreated after a few years of bloody turf wars. The Sinaloa Cartel's return to Nuevo Laredo, however, was seen again in March 2012 after Guzmán reportedly left several corpses and a message heralding his return.[160] According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Nuevo Laredo is the busiest border crossing in terms of truck crossings with over 1.7 million trucks a year, more than double than any other crossing on the Mexico–United States border.[164] Nuevo Laredo is the fourth-busiest border crossing in terms of passenger vehicles.[164] Patrick Corcoran of InSight Crime believes that the turf war in Nuevo Laredo will bring a huge wave of violence, but also mentioned that the circumstances have changed since the split of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas in early 2010. The current alliance between Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf Cartel may successfully extract Los Zetas and give El Chapo the upper hand.

And once the Sinaloa Cartel gets established in Nuevo Laredo, it may possibly make moves to control Reynosa and Matamoros, Tamaulipas.[163]

In 2018, InSight also stated that infighting had developed with CJNG by March 2017 which resulted in the killing of a cartel financier and the leader of the CJNG's hit squad.[30]

2015 Attack on Security Forces[edit]

On 7 April 2015, the CJNG ambushed and killed 15 Mexican police officers and seriously injured five others. The cartel carried out the attack as the police officers were driving along a mountain road in Jalisco, which was blocked by the CJNG with burning vehicles. Once the convoy of police officers were stopped in a vulnerable position, gunmen from the CJNG opened fire on them with sophisticated weaponry to include machine guns, and grenade launchers[165]

2018 American Consulate bombing[edit]

On 2 December 2018, at approximately 7:30 CST, 2 grenades were thrown onto consular grounds in Guadalajara, with one of them exploding and causing a 16-inch (approximately 40 cm) hole in the wall of the building. At the time of the bombing, the consulate general office was closed and no injuries were sustained. It is unconfirmed if the attack was carried out by the CJNG or a rival gang trying to hurt the CJNG's reputation.[166]

Infighting and break-up[edit]

  Main areas of activity
  Secondary zones of activity or influence

  Areas of activity according to the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit

In March 2017, infighting within the CJNG showed when El Mencho ordered the murder of high-ranking CJNG member Carlos Enrique Sánchez, alias "El Cholo".[30] The plot to murder El Cholo, who was targeted by El Mencho after murdering a CJNG financial operator nicknamed "El Colombiano", failed.[30] El Cholo and CJNG co-founder Erick Valencia Salazar, alias "El 85", departed from the CJNG and formed a new cartel called Nueva Plaza Cartel.[60][61][30] Upon its formation, Sanchez was made leader of the newly formed cartel.[30] According to InSight Crime, the Nueva Plaza Cartel retaliated against the failed murder of El Cholo by successfully murdering the person in charge of the CJNG's hit squad, nicknamed "El Kartón" or "El Marro", in August 2017[30]

Salazar and El Cholo also began a war with their former cartel as well.[30] In 2019, Salazar and El Cholo were still reported to leaders of the breakaway Nueva Plaza Cartel.[60][61] They also were still waging war against the CJNG and had even formed an alliance with the Sinaloa Cartel.[61]

By 2019, Jorge Luis Mendoza Cárdenas, alias "La Garra", was listed by the DEA as being in charge of the CJNG's trafficking operations to the United States and serves as the CJNG's liaison as well.[167] In January 2020, senior CJNG hitwoman María Guadalupe López Esquive, alias "La Catrina" died following a shootout with police.[168][169] La Catrina, also known as "Dame of Death, was suspected of being the CJNG leader in Mexico's Tierra Caliente region.[168] In March 2020, it was announced that a secret six-month DEA operation known as "Operation Python" resulted in the arrest of 600 CJNG operatives and the seizure of $20 billion in cash.[170][169] The number of arrests was revised to 750, though it was still thought the CJNG could still partake in trafficking within the U.S. so long as it keeps its base of operations in Mexico.[171]

On 2 June 2020, Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit released a statement revealing that as a result of joint operation with the DEA, the agency was able to locate "a large number of members of said criminal group, as well as its largest financial operators and companies used in money laundering".[172] Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit, a part of the finance ministry tasked with combating and preventing money laundering, then managed to have 1,770 bank accounts of CJNG-linked individuals frozen.[172] Bank accounts to 16 CJNG-linked companies and two trusts linked to the CJNG were frozen as well.[172] The move came after armed assailants stormed a live CJNG-provided concert on 29 May 2020 in the Veracruz city of Tierra Blanca, injuring two and killing six.[173] Those killed included the regional CJNG leader, and also owner of the local El Sol de Tierra Blanca newspaper, Francisco Navarette Serna and the full lineup of La Calle, the band Serna was performing with.[173] On 3 June, it was reported the amount of CJNG-linked assets which were frozen totaled $1.1 billion.[174]

On 11 June 2020, Insight Crime journalist Victoria Dittmar dismissed media hype that the CJNG was Mexico's "dominant cartel" and stated that the CJNG was now in fact losing influence and popularity to smaller cartels.[4] Despite unleashing numerous New Generation attacks, Los Viagras and the Cartel del Abuelo were reported as having a "profound advantage" over New Generation in Tierra Caliente.[4] Despite alliances with the weakened Tijuana Cartel, the CJNG failed to weaken the Sinaloa Cartel's control over criminal activities in Tijuana.[4] Despite numerous efforts, CJNG has also been unable to establish a major presence in the Mexican states of Morelos, State of Mexico and Mexico City.[4] However, CJNG still had strongholds in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Hidalgo and Veracruz.[4]

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel also made its presence in Ciudad Juárez with its New Juarez Cartel, though it failed to deter the hold which La Linea and the Sinaloa Cartel's Los Salazar affiliate had over the Ciudad Juárez drug trafficking market as well.[4] On 23 June 2020, it was revealed that the CJNG had sent assassins to kill Santa Rosa de Lima leader José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, also known as El Marro, on many occasions, including at his sister's wedding earlier in the year.[175] It was also revealed that the CJNG was struggling to gain influence in territory controlled by the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.[175] On 26 June 2020, Mexico City police chief Omar Garcia Harfuch survived an assassination attempt which saw him suffer injuries from three bullet wounds.[176] Two of his bodyguards and a female pedestrian were killed in the assassination attempt as well.[176] While Tweeting from his hospital bed, Garcia blamed the CJNG for the failed attempt on his life and had 12 suspected CJNG members arrested by the end of the day.[176] The same day, it emerged that the CJNG still controlled organized crime in Jalisco, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Hidalgo, but no longer was listed as having such control in any municipality in Veracruz and still was unable to take away territory in other parts of southeastern Mexico controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas and the so-called Los Pelones group.[177]

El Cholo was later murdered, with his body being discovered stabbed and wrapped in plastic on a park bench in downtown Tlaquepaque on 18 March 2021.[178][179] Erick Valencia Salazar, alias "El 85", was later presumed to be the head of the Nuevo Plaza Cartel at the time of his death.[180]


On 13 July 2011, operations chief and one of the founders of the organization, Martin Arzola Ortega, was arrested.[181] On 7 August 2012, it was announced that Ortega's successor, Eliot Alberto Radillo Peza, was captured in the Zapopan, Jalisco.[181] At the time of Peza's arrest, it was announced that twelve suspected members of the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel, including leaders Martin Arzola and Abundio Mendoza Gaytan, had been arrested since July 2011 on extortion, kidnapping and drug charges.[181]

On 9 March 2012, another founder of the organization, Erick Valencia Salazar, alias El 85, was captured by the Mexican Army along with another high-ranking lieutenant in Zapopan, Jalisco.[182] Their apprehensions prompted over a dozen blockades throughout the city.[182] 26 public transportation buses were burned with gasoline and then used to block the city streets.[183] More than 30 assault rifles, grenades, cartridges, and ammunition magazines were confiscated.[184] Felipe Calderón, the president of Mexico, congratulated the Mexican army for the capture of Erick Valencia Salazar.[185]

The Matazetas (CJNG) later apologized for the blockades by putting up several banners throughout the Guadalajara metropolitan area.[186] They wrote that the blockades were "only a reaction for messing with their CJNG companion," who reportedly dedicated his work to "maintain tranquility in the state of Jalisco."[186] On 18 March 2012, José Guadalupe Serna Padilla, another ranking lieutenant in the cartel, was captured along with another cartel member as well.[187] On 15 April 2012, Marco Antonio Reyes, reported to be the head of the cartel's gunmen,[188] was captured in Veracruz along with five of his associates.[188] The arrests also led to the capture of three other cartel members,[188] including the head of the cartel's operations in the Veracruz cities of Veracruz and Boca del Río.[188]

On 30 January 2014, Mexican authorities arrested Rubén Oseguera González (alias "El Menchito"), the second-in-command in the cartel and the son of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, the organization's leader.[189] On 1 May 2015, a Mexican army helicopter was shot at and forced to land in what Jalisco's Governor Aristoteles Sandoval described as "a reaction to an operation to detain leaders of this cartel".[190] On 28 May 2018, they arrested Rosalinda González Valencia, who is the wife of Cervantes.[191]

In July 2018, Mexican authorities arrested José Guadalupe Rodríguez Castillo (alias 'El 15'), a local leader of the cartel. His arrest is related to the disappearance of three Italian businessmen in the Southern Jalisco town of Tecalitlán in January 2018.[192]

In March 2019, a senior CJNG leader, who chose to remain anonymous and was only identified as "El 20," was arrested by Mexican authorities.[193] "El 20", who remained anonymous, was second-in-command to the CJNG.[194] More than 80 elements of 41 Military Zone, as well as the Navy, and the Federal Police, as well as four CJNG members who also remained anonymous, were also arrested with "El 20."[194]

In April 2019, Adrián Alonso Guerrero Covarrubias, known as "El 8" or "El M", was arrested for drug trafficking and kidnapping.[195] Guerrero served as head of the cartel's operations in the Ciénega and northern Los Altos regions in Jalisco and all of southeastern Guanajuato, and is the godson to cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes.[195]

On 11 March 2020, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested 600 people and seized more than a ton and a half of narcotics. This is the DEA's largest-ever strike against CJNG.[196][197] The number of arrests was revised to 750, with 250 arrests occurring in the United States.[198][171]

On 10 April 2020, El Mencho's Chicago area lieutenant Luis Alderate was arrested.[199] Other high-level associates of El Mencho prosecuted in Chicago include Diego Pineda-Sanchez, sentenced to 15 years in prison for laundering money for him and other drug kingpins.[199] Alderate's brother Roberto Alderete was arrested in Kentucky in 2018 with two pounds of methamphetamine.[199] On 11 April 2020, CJNG cell leader María del Carmen Albarrán was arrested in the Venustiano Carranza borough of Mexico City.[169]

In May 2020, it was reported that former CJNG security chief Enrique Alejandro Pizano, who was arrested in September 2015 died in a Jalisco prison on 13 May 2020 due to COVID-19.[citation needed]

On 28 June 2020, it was reported that the number of CJNG members arrested for the 26 June 2020 assassination attempt of the Mexican City Police Chief had grown to 19.[200]

On 1 July 2020, it was announced that CJNG hitman Jaime Tafolla Ortega, a.k.a. "El Alacran" (The Scorpion), was arrested on 28 June 2020.[201] According to a statement released by the Mexican Attorney General's Office, he is suspected of gunning down Judge Uriel Villegas Ortiz and his wife, Veronica Barajas, on 16 June 2020 and leading the 29 April 2020 abduction of Colima state Rep. Anel Bueno Sanchez, whose body was found in a clandestine grave on 2 June 2020.[201] Judge Villegas had gained notoriety in 2018 when he ordered the transfer of Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez from a jail in Oaxaca to a maximum security prison in Jalisco.[201] A second suspect was arrested with Tafolla, though he has not yet been charged.[201]

On 15 November 2021, Rosalinda González Valencia was recaptured in Zapopan, Jalisco.[202] The Mexican Ministry of Defense released a statement describing her arrest as “a significant blow to the financial structure of organized crime in the state," with evidence pointing to her role in “the illicit financial operation of an organized crime group.”[202] Her five brothers and two of her children were still incarcerated as well.[203] El Mencho's brother was still incarcerated as well.[204]

Current operations and territories[edit]

As of 2020, despite the group's rapid expansion the CJNG does not necessarily control every area it is present in. It is however the dominant criminal actor in Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, the port of Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán, the eastern state of Veracruz and in the oil-rich central region of Guanajuato, Puebla, Querétaro and Hidalgo. It is also strong, although facing stern rivalries, in strategic areas such as Sonora as well as the border cities of Tijuana and Juárez, Tierra Caliente – the area which covers parts of Michoacán, Guerrero, and the State of Mexico, as well as the Riviera Maya. The group has shown it may be focusing on entering the capital, after a brazen attack against Mexico City’s public security secretary in June 2020. Internationally, the cartel has contacts in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, the United States, Central America, Canada, Australia, China and Southeast Asia, which help it control large parts of marijuana, cocaine and synthetic drug trafficking in Mexico.[3] On March 31, 2021, a show of force and a massacre of rivals was reported in the Aguililla municipality, the birthplace of "El Mencho", an avocado growing area and also a center of drug cooking within the Tierra Caliente.[205]

According to the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit in Mexico City, the cartel has territory within the regions of Jalisco, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Colima, Guanajuato, Veracruz, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Zacatecas, the Islas Marías, Sinaloa, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Tabasco, Querétaro, Tamaulipas, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, Edomex, Morelos and Puebla.[206][207]

CJNG has allegedly threatened the lives of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Alfonso Durazo, Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection of the government of Mexico; Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Foreign Relations; Santiago Nieto, head of the Financial Intelligence Unit; Omar García Harfuch, Secretary of Public Security of Jalisco;[29] and Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, Governor of Jalisco.[208]

CJNG has used violence to control local communities, other organizations, and politics.[209] Politics in the regions where CJNG has control are skewed, and citizens have little options to combat the cartel. The threat to Mexico’s political stability is apparent in the deaths CJNG was responsible for in the 2018 election cycle. The death of over 130 political candidates in just one year is a striking reminder of how much CJNG controls areas of Mexico.[210] Political candidates are not the only victims of CJNG’s violence. As of 2020, CJNG is believed to have killed thousands of civilians (Sieff 2020).[211]

The cartel has also been known to use propaganda. The group tried to show outwardly “altruistic” actions in strategic areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, for example, the group distributed toys to children in communities in Veracruz where it is fighting splinter groups from Los Zetas. Members of the CJNG also delivered boxes of goods in various parts of the country, including Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city.[3] Through online videos, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel has tried to seek society's approval and tacit consent from the Mexican government to confront Los Zetas by posing as a "righteous" and "nationalistic" group.[212][213] Such claims have stoked fears that Mexico, just like Colombia a generation before, may be witnessing the rise of paramilitary drug gangs.[212]

As of September 2021, the Jalisco Cartel has recently made increasing advancements into the southern regions of Mexico such as Chiapas near the Guatemalan border where it is facing an escalating dispute for territory with its arch-rival the Sinaloa Cartel.[6][214] The CJNG has also been making advancements and increased shows of force within Guatemala as well with threats towards members of law enforcement who reportedly recently 'stole' a load of drugs from the organization.[215][216] However, the cartel would take a notable hit on 15 November 2021 with the arrest of El Mencho's wife Rosalinda González Valencia, alias “La Jefa,” who was found to be in control of the CJNG's finances.[203] In addition to being the wife of El Mencho and running the CJNG's money laundering operations, La Jefa came from a family which was tied to drug trafficking and was also instrumental in aiding the CJNG's development.[204]

See also[edit]


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