A Full-Bore Bloodbath South of the Border

One need look no further than our Mexican friends to the south to find a nation embroiled in war.

People are bad. Anyone who believes otherwise has clearly never met one. To find evidence supporting this assertion one needs to go no further than our neighbors to the South. For a bit more than a decade, much of Mexico has been quietly devolving into a genuine shooting war. In the past dozen years, this war has claimed more than 126,000 lives. This is roughly twice as many deaths as we incurred during the war in Vietnam.

The toxic combination of poverty, corruption, and gobs of illicit money seems to bring out the worst in people. 

The recipe has actually been strikingly simple. Take a large population of people living at or near the poverty line, add a truly unimaginable volume of illicit cash, and sprinkle liberally with a little corrupt police, military, and civilian government. Simmer for a few years and voila–a proper bloodbath.

Narco-fueled combat in Colombia has gone on for decades.

We actually know precisely when it all started. Colombia was the engine behind the festivities in the 1980s. However, while Colombia is certainly still exciting in its own right, many to most of those original players are dead, incarcerated, or burned out. Mexico’s unfortunate geography made it the superhighway across which untold tons of illegal drugs flowed. There were minor skirmishes here and there as a result, but nothing that could be called truly epic in the way of violence. Then on December 11, 2006, newly-elected Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched Operation Michoacan, and everything changed.

Things are Different Down There

If you call the cops in American you can reasonably expect somebody to help you.

Much hay has been made of the purportedly tenuous relationship between Law Enforcement and minority groups in the United States. However, north of the border if you get into serious trouble and dial 911 you can reliably expect some altruistic soul to show up and help you. That is not necessarily the case elsewhere.

Young gringos meandering about Juarez, Mexico, typically have more curiosity than sense.

A college student acquaintance of mine with more balls than brains found himself wandering Juarez with a pal some years back just soaking up the sights. These two idiots ambled off the beaten path and got lost. Frustrated and more than a bit frightened they were relieved to encounter a pair of uniformed Mexican police officers. They innocently approached these two on-duty cops and asked directions.

Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers in many other countries can simply not be trusted to do the right thing.

The two Mexican policemen presented their weapons and stole everything of value these two young men possessed, leaving them with nothing more than their clothes and their passports. Truth be known they were fortunate to escape without becoming somebody’s dinner.

Truly Breathtaking in Scope

Mexican drug cartels have access to the world’s most advanced small arms and light weapons. This compelling shot was taken from a cartel’s Instagram feed.

There are about a dozen major cartels, and armed internecine squabbles foment most of the carnage. Names like Sinaloa, the Knights Templar, Jalisco New Generation, Los Zetas, La Familia, and Juarez dominate the headlines. With the support of the likes of MS-13, themselves an ISIS-grade mob of butchers, these organized crime syndicates carve up and defend territory with military-grade ordnance. While most of the casualties are cartel soldiers, a great many innocent civilians get caught up in the chaos as well.

The sheer volume of cash driving this enterprise is staggering.

The amount of money involved is difficult to comprehend. Experts estimate that between $18 and 39 billion dollars are removed from the US and laundered each year. With funding on that scale, there is quite literally nothing these guys cannot afford.

A near-limitless amount of money gains Mexican drug cartels access to military-grade firepower.

Mexican citizens technically have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. However, practically speaking private firearms ownership is illegal south of the border. The entire country has a single authorized gun shop near Mexico City, and the administrative burden associated with legally buying a gun is intentionally prohibitive. That has not stopped Mexico from becoming awash in state-of-the-art military ordnance. Guns flow south from the US and north from Guatemala. Sundry Central and South American brushfire wars of ages past serve to source much of the iron. The cartels are sufficiently well funded to afford the Truly Good Stuff as well.

Things Get Serious

Power and money make the cartels brash.

It is tough for us to imagine exactly how powerful some of these cartels have become. Their willingness to use slavery, torture, extortion, and wanton murder to advance their goals shocks the civilized mind. However, on May 1, 2015, the world got to see up close exactly how went the war.

“El Mencho” is the former cop-turned-psychopath who still pulls the strings at the Jalisco New Generation cartel. He is currently the most wanted man in Mexico.

The Bad Guys, in this case, were operators from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). Anxious to prevent the capture of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, the cartel jefe or boss, cartel gunmen staged a spectacular day of chaos. Cervantes is an ex-policeman turned bloodthirsty killer with the nom de guerre of “El Mencho.”

The surgical application of violence can paralyze a city.

They burned vehicles, set roadblocks, and generally sowed mayhem across the Mexico state of Jalisco and throughout the state capital Guadalajara. Cartel criminals incinerated eleven bank branches and five gas stations. In response, the Mexican government mobilized the military.

The Mexican military is a widely used tool in the ongoing war against the cartels.

Mexico is not encumbered by its own Posse Comitatus Act, so it is apparently a straightforward thing for the civilian leadership to unleash the Mexican military against cartel forces. In the pre-dawn darkness of May 1, four helicopters from the Mexican Air Force and Federal Police Force were tracking a heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying El Mencho. Convoy vehicles were operated blacked out in an effort at avoiding detection.

Assault helicopters like this one were easy meat for heavily armed cartel soldiers.

As the Mexican helicopters approached the convoy, CJNG gunmen opened fire. The nature of cartel armaments was a shocking surprise to the Mexican government forces. In a scene reminiscent of Blackhawk Down, Mexican aviators suddenly found themselves lyrically outgunned.

The EC725 Cougar is a multi-mission combat aircraft capable of fulfilling a variety of combat roles.

One of the government aircraft, a Eurocopter EC725 Cougar, carried eighteen federal troops. The Cougar is a twin-engine combat assault aircraft that can be configured for a variety of missions. The aircraft has a max gross weight of more than 24,000 pounds and a max speed of 175 knots or 201 mph.

The RPG-27 is actually a suboptimal counter-helicopter weapon. However, when volley fired at close range the weapon is devastating.

Cartel operators opened up with Russian-made RPG-27 rocket launchers at close range. The shooters fired half a dozen antitank rockets at the aircraft and connected twice. They also fired at a second aircraft but missed. One of the rockets struck the Mexican Cougar in the tail boom and exploded.

The critically damaged Mexican Air Force Cougar spun in after having been hit with a Russian antitank weapon.

After losing tail rotor authority the stricken aircraft began to spin uncontrollably. The pilots tried valiantly to regain control of the helicopter and maneuver it to safety but simultaneously ran out of both altitude and options. The doomed aircraft hit the ground hard and exploded.

The Weapon

The RPG-27 was designed to defeat modern main Battle Tanks like the M1 Abrams and British Challenger. The weapon is seen here in the cutaway form to show its internals.

The RPG-27 is the ultimate evolutionary development of the family of antitank weapons that included the Vietnam-era RPG-2 as well as the ubiquitous RPG-7. However, whereas these early launchers were reusable designs that could be recharged with individual rockets, the RPG-27 is a disposable single-shot affair philosophically similar to the American M72 Light Antitank Weapon (LAW) or AT4.

The RPG-27 is actually a bulky cumbersome beast designed to kill Armored Fighting Vehicles weighing upwards of 130,000 pounds.

The Russians call the RPG-27 Tavolga which loosely translates “Meadow Grass.” Developed by the State Research and Production Enterprise Bazalt, the RPG-27 was first issued in 1989. This self-contained weapon weighs just south of 17 pounds and has an effective range of around 200 meters. Muzzle velocity is around 400 feet per second, and the 105mm tandem charge HEAT (High Explosive Antitank) warhead will burn through 600 mm of rolled homogenous steel armor, 1500mm of brick or concrete, or 3700mm of earth. The Mexican Cougar never stood a chance.

Considering its modest range, the RPG-27 lacks the means of attaching any type of optical sight.

The RPG-27 is obviously a fairly short-range weapon and as a result, features a pair of simple flip-up sights front and back. Putting the weapon into its firing condition takes maybe ten seconds. Basic cartoon instructions for the use of the RPG-27 are printed on the outside of the disposable tube. It’s so simple a child could do it.

The Russians will sell anything if the price is right.

The RPG-27 is in active use with the Russian Army and is, like most Russian military hardware, widely available for export. Exactly how these state-of-the-art anti-armor weapons found their way to Mexico is anybody’s guess.

The Rest of the Story

Miraculously, several of those aboard the doomed Cougar ultimately survived the crash.

Nine people eventually lost their lives in the crash, one female cop and eight Mexican soldiers. Several other Mexican soldiers died in associated combat action. As a result, the Mexican government made the CJNG their prime target. Three years after the shootdown Mexican forces closed in on a ranch east of the crash site.

CJNG operators are well equipped. These cartel shooters armed with an array of belt-fed machineguns are shown with a rival cartel leader named Adolfo Mendoza Valencia. They killed Valencia and hung his body from a bridge soon after this picture was taken.

Holed up in the ranch were six cartel soldiers suspected of having been involved in shooting down the helicopter. Arrayed in age between 25 and 50, these half dozen suspects were arrested without incident. Their associated stash of military-grade ordnance was undeniably impressive.

The M60, or “Pig” as we called it back in the day, is a weapon of distinction among cartel shooters.

The Mexican Police seized eight rifles, one of which was an M82A1 Barrett anti-materiel weapon. They also captured an M60 belt-fed machinegun along with plenty of ammunition and magazines. Two stolen cars seized in the assault had been modified to mount M60’s.

The cartel wars in Mexico continue apace. Voluntarily opening our southern border up to such chaos strikes me as manifestly unwise.

The state of the southern border in the United States is obviously a thorny subject these days. The President wants a wall, while his political opponents would prefer a gigantic welcome mat.

The arrest and incarceration for life of El Chapo is certainly a move in the right direction, but the ready availability of epic amounts of money keeps the drug war vibrant.

Disconnected Leftists firmly residing in some world other than my own somehow believe that it would be a good idea to allow unfettered access between the United States and the likes of the CJNG. Wow.

The 2015 shootdown of a Mexican Air Force Cougar military helicopter demonstrated a marked escalation in the ongoing drug war in Mexico.
Drug money finances some of the most extraordinary excesses.

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About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains. Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • jimboecv January 15, 2020, 11:31 pm

    Nice, Will. Keep it up. Maybe throw in more Spanish-hand-signs?

  • JRU January 15, 2020, 1:18 am

    To think democrats don’t know this is happening is ludicrous. So…who is paying them?
    That pallet of US dollars would go a long way to stoke key democrats’ “concern” for “our friends south of the border who just want to come north fo find work”.
    The left wing democrats know exactly what is happening> They don’t care about their own people, why should they care about poor mexicans (except as illegal alien voters)? Most of the soft bellied, bloated, pink handed democrats have white powder in their nostrils anyway. WHY should they care that this is happening just a few hundred miles from some large American cities? They have their armed guards and their walled communities. Very, very short sighted fools. This could spin out of control and engulf them and all of us soon!

  • Scooter Lippy January 13, 2020, 9:54 pm

    The way the left talks, they would take all security away from the southern border. Violence breeds fear and insecurity and helps usher in their goal of Socialism. Some day in the far, far distant future, the left may once again have control of the White House and we will hear them sing a different tune. Or they will be destroyed completely in the upcoming and America can again heal her wounds and be the country our founders and God intended.
    Nice article.

  • Rick January 13, 2020, 8:02 pm

    Until we get rid of all those pukes that have stomped on our flag and spit on our troops it will continue to be aa very tough go here at home, I would personally send all those liberal crap out to the other side of the “wall!” R.G.

  • Ti January 13, 2020, 6:14 pm

    About 10 years ago my work took me through El Paso. I would come in, work on the network and move on to the next assignment. Many of the people I worked with were El Paso natives and long time family ties to the area. They told me, “No Go” to Juarez. That’s it.

    I’m personally glad that Fort Bliss sits here.

  • David White January 13, 2020, 1:32 pm

    the article points out the source of this mayhem – . “Take a large population of people living at or near the poverty line, add a truly unimaginable volume of illicit cash, and sprinkle liberally with a little corrupt police, military, and civilian government. Simmer for a few years and voila–a proper bloodbath.“

    We don’t have that in America. We also don’t have an open border – to say so is absurd.

    • John Bibb January 13, 2020, 11:09 pm

      HI DW–I live in El Paso, TX. My Mexican ranch girl Wife and her large family lived in the Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Sierra Madre foothill Namiquipa, Chihuahua ranching and farming area. About half of them have legally immigrated to the U.S. after closing their businesses and selling their ranches and farms in Mexico. Too many bribes to pay to the Gubmint, Police, and too many protection payments to the drug cartel murderers. Who “moonlight” robbing and abusing them in their “spare” time. And may kill them and take over their farms for pot growing and cocaine moving operations. Most of the town streets are deserted since people are afraid to leave their homes. We haven’t visited there for more than a decade–as this article points out and documents in photos–IT’S A WAR ZONE! for sure.
      The border is pretty open in the areas North of UTEP along the I-10 freeway. Ditto at the Southeast end of the 49 mile “wall”–a 10 year old 18 Ft. high reinforced bollard / fence structure that runs from Sunland Park through downtown El Paso and then continues past Fabens. It’s a land border with Mexico North of UTEP, where the river becomes the boundary. More than half of the year the Rio Grande is empty and easy to cross since the water is impounded in the upstream Caballo Reservoir and Elephant Butte dams for use during the agricultural season, and to prevent yearly flooding.
      Lots of pregnant women with their kiddies just walk a couple of hundred yards from Mexico into El Paso. Some get hit by cars crossing I-10. Watch Fox News / Marie Bartiromo’s interviews of them and Border Patrol agents as they pour into our (not their!) Country. It’s a zoo here!
      John Bibb

  • Kane January 13, 2020, 11:25 am

    Good thing the USA has the “diversity” secret figured out and the rest of the world keeps sending US their “greatest strength.”

  • Larry Rice January 13, 2020, 10:04 am

    The article is good but the bio is brilliant!

    • Connie Hearne January 15, 2020, 10:03 pm

      I just pray that God gets us through all of this and that Trump stays president for the next 5yrs we need Him no one can buy him in Jesus name protect us and the innocent🕇☝🙏

  • trevor_phillips January 13, 2020, 8:13 am

    Of course the libs want them here so they can turn the U.S into a shithole like Mexico.

    • Bobs your uncle January 13, 2020, 10:21 am

      During the last presidential election we were visiting in California, there were TV commercials in spanish imploring people to votah, votah, votah!!! criminal gang crime goes almost unreported there, homeless? what homeless? Californians prepare yourselves for your glorious communist future, at some near point it will take a Stalin or a Mao to clean that mess up

  • Earl Belz January 13, 2020, 7:59 am

    All of this carnage and death was paid for by our insatiable appetite for drugs in America.

    • deanbob January 13, 2020, 9:23 am

      And while a wall will never stop that appetite, it would go a long way to giving a sovereign nation significantly more control of the border these drugs, violent gang members and illegal aliens are flowing through now. That along with punishing (in a meaningful way) those in a position of authority who directly or indirectly facilitate consumption or over consumption of legal drugs. However, how much of that appetite for drugs is a direct result of the leftward movement (aka loss of) morality and decency?

    • Zupglick January 13, 2020, 12:22 pm

      Kinda makes you wonder how many of OUR politicians are being paid by the cartels.

      • Ray January 13, 2020, 5:47 pm

        The only thing that Robert Hunter Biden also known as Little Bobbie Biden to us nasty old cops regrets is getting caught he was commissioned into the United States Naval as accepted as part of a program that allows a limited number of applicants with desirable skills to receive commissions and serve in staff positions. He received an age-related waiver and a waiver due to a past drug-related incident, and was sworn in as a direct commission officer. Former Vice President Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden Now gentle readers allow a nasty old federal law enforcement officer translate that for that in sample terms for you lay people Little Bobby Biden received special treatment because of political juice and if you or got caught doing the same things we would be deep excrement.

  • MI3rdDisrict January 13, 2020, 6:41 am

    I wish Trump would go in there and wipe these bastards from the face of the earth. He’d be doing a hugh favor for the citizens of Mexico and the US.

    • nathan fryer January 13, 2020, 2:29 pm

      Mr Trump could be doing alot more if the dems would FO!

    • Ray January 13, 2020, 6:01 pm

      Well old boy I might just know some likely lads who are looking for employment with a difference. My non-negotiable demands are very simple we are not subject to the United States Criminal Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice or the Laws of Land Warfare. That we are given un-vouchered funds to cover our wages and expenses and access to the sterile weapons warehouse at Fort Bragg and sterile uniforms and field gear. Of course air transport courtesy of the 160th Aviation Regiment.

      • Ti January 14, 2020, 6:49 pm

        I smiled. Mr Bibbs (post above) could be the S2 in that op.

  • Bobs your uncle January 12, 2020, 3:47 pm

    Just because they cut off peoples heads, torture people to death, commit a few thousand murders, shoot down aircraft with rockets, kill Americans, whats the big deal? what do you expect from Iranians? wait a minute, this was where? never mind.

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