As drug-trafficking-related violence in Mexico raged, the cartels came up with a radical solution for improving their capabilities in face-offs with other criminal groups and Mexican security services.
Narco tanks are homemade armoured vehicles, also known in Spanish as “monstruo” for their hulking size. They reached peak popularity in 2011 as the Mexican military seized a garage from the Zetas drug-trafficking organisation that was being used to construct the vehicles. At that point, criminal gangs could operate military-like vehicles out in the open with apparent impunity.
The Mexican military’s subsequent crackdown on the creation of monstrous forced the practice even further underground. Narco tanks are still produced, but today’s versions have their armoured paneling on the inside so as to not draw unwanted attention from rival cartels and the military.
Mexican marines confiscated weapons and two narco tanks from Guzmán’s hideout.
Below is a breakdown of the various features that made narco tanks into seemingly impregnable, drug-running beasts.
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