MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (Jalisco New Generation Cartel or CJNG) released a video on Friday that showed dozens of members of the powerful criminal group dressed in fatigues, posing with dozens of armored vans and firing machine guns, as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wrapped up a visit to the group’s heartland.
“Only Mr. Mencho’s people! Long live Mr. Mencho!” shout the cartel members, using the nickname of Nemesio Oseguera, the leader of the CJNG, which the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration terms “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”
The group’s video was trending on Twitter, where users commented on the dozens of armored vehicles, pickup trucks and weapons with which the disguised CJNG members fired shots. “Special Forces: CJNG Elite Group,” was painted on the vehicles. Also seen in the video were rifles, grenade launchers, handguns and bulletproof vests.
The video’s release coincided with the conclusion of the Mexican president’s tour of three of the country’s most violent states, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Colima, where he delivered a strong message against the cartels.
“We will continue to fight crime and we will not be intimidated,” Lopez Obrador said in Jalisco on Thursday.
The video, believed to have been shot in the mountain ranges of Jalisco state in west Mexico, is “more than clear in its message toward the (federal government): You come after us, and we will strike back,” said Falko Ernst, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, an organization that analyzes armed conflicts that confirmed the authenticity of the recording on Twitter.
The video comes just three weeks after a June 26 CJNG attack on Mexico City’s secretary of public security, Omar Garcia Harfuch, who survived the attack, but in which two of his bodyguards and a citizen were killed.
In the wake of the attack, it came to light that the cartel also had as possible targets other high-ranking Mexican officials, such as Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro.
“Rather than a declaration of war, from my perspective it’s primarily geared at guarding the status quo, at a crucial time where the fed gov has to define its future posture regarding the CJNG,” Ernst tweeted.
He added that “the longer gov waits to implement a comprehensive security plan that balances out force, institutional overhauls (police, justice), economic measures, transitional justice e.g., the harder this perpetual state of lethal conflict will become to reverse.”
With 7.8 million inhabitants, Jalisco has the fifth highest intentional homicide rate among the states of Mexico, with 2,802 since December 2018, and the 12th highest homicide rate at 37.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.