Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Drugs, Guns and Bling

Borderland Beat

Note: A couple of months ago, I viewed this Ioan Grillo's video of the narco museum (at bottom of this post)  and this post from Small Wars Journal provides some  interesting information, the SWJ article below is by;
 David Kuhn, Anikh Wadhawan and Robert Bunker..
Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #20: RPG-29 Anti-Armor Munitions
Note—Up until recently, weapons that provide for armor and bunker defeat capability at the levels that the RPG-29 is capable of, have not been seen in the hands of the Mexican cartels.  The fact that they have successfully obtained them—and the origin and mechanism by which they were obtained should be of extreme concern to everyone.
Key Information: See the RPG-29 images in the 2:26 minute video Drugs, Guns and; Bling: Inside the Mexican Army's Narco War Museum hosted by the author/journalist Ioan Grillo (El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency) and filmed by Ross McDonnell via BuzzFeed Central (Original video posting 10 September 2013).

Who: The Mexican cartels; the specific cartel which had the RPG-29VR round in its possession is not identified.

What: The RPG-29VR is an advanced Russian anti-armor round capable of defeating all types of modern main-battle tanks including the American M1A1/2 Abrams. See Photo 1 where it is being held by Ioan Grillo.

When: The date the RPG-29VR was placed in the museum’s collection is unknown.

Where: The Mexican Army museum where the RPG-29VR round resides is found in Mexico City and is not open to the public.  It is meant to provide training for the Mexican Army concerning narco culture (narco cultura).

Why: The Mexican cartels have been increasingly obtaining military grade weaponry in their conflicts with each other and with Mexican federal police and military and naval units.

Note: The RPG-29 launcher and PG-29VR round combination is in service in a number of countries. There are indications that Mexico may also be fielding the weapon on a limited basis. 
This weaponry has been used by Hezbollah forces against Israeli armor in Lebanon in 2006. The reader will also note that the round in the frame extracted from the video has a blue band midway along its length.  This marking is common and should not be confused with content color-code markings on standard munitions. 

Light blue color-codes are often used by the U.S. and several other countries to identify inert or drill rounds, however, the RFAS is not among them.  They have historically used orange (and occasionally silver with markings) over the majority of the WH or WH and rocket body.  They also use all yellow on “inert” mock-ups (such as MANPADS) and a particular shade of gray on certain training launchers.  As can be seen, the round found in the Hezbollah cache, [Photo 2] also has this distinctive blue stripe.

Photo 1. PG-29 Round Held by Ioan Grillo


Photo 2. Similar PG-29 Round in Hezbollah Cache

Photo 3. RPG-29 Launcher and Round

Key Information and Analysis:  RPG-29 Tandem Warhead Round
The unusual looking rocket munition picked up for viewing by the narrator during the video documentary of the Mexican Army’s private narco-war museum, the “Museo de Enervantes,” is a PG-29VR Tandem-Warhead Round that is designed to be fired from the RPG-29 “Vampir”(Vampire) Portable Anti-tank Rocket Launcher [Photo 3]. 
This round is produced almost exclusively by GNNP Bazalt in Russia, and previously, in the CIS (Common Wealth of Independent States).  Contradictory reports exist as to the possible production of this round via SEDENA in Mexico, however, there are questions concerning this.  Distribution via RFAS state factories, including export sales, is rather limited in comparison to the standard HE (High Explosive) based PG (RPG based rocket) rounds normally encountered.
Of great interest, regarding this particular PG-29VR round, is a further inquiry that was made by the reporter and author of the video, Ioan Grillo, to one of the Mexican officials at the Museo de Enervantes.  Mr. Grillo inquired as to exactly where this round was encountered.  The Mexican official indicated to Mr. Grillo that the rocket he was describing was not real, but simply a mock-up that they (the Mexican officials) had produced.  According to the official, they wanted to show an example of the type of military weaponry that the cartels were acquiring.  

There are several problems with this story.  First, they have picked an unusually difficult (and extraordinarily time consuming) munition to copy and get it right, as this one appears to be.  A detailed, scaled analysis of the photo frames extracted from the video that contain the round indicate that it is correctly proportioned on every angle, faithful to the original. 

Most importantly, the rocket venturi including the fins and fin pinions, fin position, and number are fabricated identically to the genuine article including the subdued light gold anodize coat that is consistent with the type used at RFAS state factories. 
Last, but not least, is the question as to why,  if they went to so much trouble to fabricate this “mock-up” for all to see, it was on the floor under a table with what is presumed to be the overflow ordinance.
The RPG-29 weapon is an anti-armor shoulder-fired launcher that is 2-meters in length but folds for transport into two halves, taking up only 1-meter in physical space. 
The launcher is normally equipped with an optical sight that will allow the engagement of ground targets up to a maximum range of 500-meters, however, it is also available with laser-based sights and a fire-control unit that will allow ground targets to be successfully engaged at 800-meters.  The launcher is equipped with a mono-pod to increase firing stability with the additional weight of the alternate sighting/fire-control system, but is still retains shoulder-fire capability.
 The PG-29V round was specifically designed to defeat frontal MBT (Main Battle Tank) armor that is equipped with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor).  The forward warhead carries a shaped-charge designed to detonate the ERA layer.  The fuzing system provides a fraction of a second delay for the 105.2mm main warhead to detonate at the correct stand-off distance from the armor for full penetration. 
It is important to note (in the context of the region where one of these rounds has been encountered) that the primary manufacturer of this system (RFAS) has emphasized for a number of years that the PG-29V round is capable of defeating all current armored vehicles at any target angle.  It is specifically designed to successfully engage the MBT.
The reader will note that the PG-29V in the video is similar in appearance to the PG-7VR tandem warhead round designed for the RPG-7.  There are some similarities in performance in terms of on-target effect; however, there is a substantial difference in effective range, which for the PG-7VR is limited to approximately 200-meters.  As previously mentioned, the PG-29VR can achieve results at 500-meters using the standard optics.  Under most conditions, it is also likely to possess greater accuracy at distant engagements.
When deployed against armor, the PG-29VR will defeat 750mm (29.5-inches) at a normal angle of incidence, however, it will also defeat 1.5-meters of reinforced concrete or 3.7-meters of earth and logs.
The fact that the cartels were in possession of one or more RPG-29s should give everyone pause and concern regarding the level of battlefield armor and bunker defeat weaponry that they are successfully obtaining and exactly where they are being obtained from.
(SWJ)Special thanks to Ioan Grillo and Adam Geibel for additional research support on this tactical note.

24k Gold cell phone confiscated from Zetas Daniel Perez aks el Cachetes in Matamoros Tamaulipas
Additional BB posts on the museum with photos and videos link below on the hyperlinks:
Narco Museum


  1. We all know of the wiretaps, from several years ago, where the Sinaloa Cartel's leaders asked Margarito Flores to obtain dozens of these weapons.

    I wonder where the RPS's were seized, because I doubt the museum would go through the trouble to produce reproductions.

  2. Well my KOMPAYITOS you gotta hand it 2 these fellow's 4 their taste N fashion they do have some krazy shit. That I'll admit

  3. I'm sure American weapons manufactures and dealers relish the cash bearing consumers next door to the south with a porous border so that they can make quick money without having to ship it overseas.

  4. Kid...I remember the wiretaps talking about exactly that....however I remembered they were RPGs "to blow up US buildings" among other uses. As I told Dr Bunker today my knowledge is not so good on weapons particularly differences within a 7 vs 29V, so you think they said 29s? I gotta look this up!

    1. Heyy chivis rpgs are used by cts cartel there is a cts facebook page called corridos templarios (cts narcosongs) where they promote the song and artist that sing narcosongs about them well right now the have a photo where cts members possed with there weapons showing off and there is at least 4 of them that are holding rpgs they dont look like the rpg above in this article but more like the rpg 7 , im not sure check it out chivis they also have 50 cal weapons also just this on this week the attacked federal police in apatzingan where the official report said 2 federal police agents died and 9 where injured but . Some interviewed mr mireles and asked him about that attack if he knew how many died in it and mr mireles said he ha information about it but he rather say what the official report said but in the way he said he kind of suggested the there were way more of dead officials of what the official report stated . Also i was reading peoples comments from apatzingan on valor por michoacan sdr about that inccident and they said the the bus where the federal police where attacked got completely detroyed because the cts memebers shot at it with rpgs , i believed it you just have to look at the photo i told you about at corridos templarios google it chivis and tell me what kind of rpgs the are holding in the photo because those do not look like the one above in the article

    2. Heyy chivis did you check out the photo at corridos templarios facebook page yes or no

  5. @Chivis: I found this, I don´t know if they are the same RPG but one is mentioned here as being seized in Saltillo, Coahuila last year and mentions Ioan Grillo.

  6. A portion:

    Guzman-Loera responded, in words or in substance, “Yeah, it would be good to do it in the smoke. At least we’ll get something good out of it and Arturo (Beltran-Leyva) will get the heat.

    Let it be a government building, it doesn’t matter whose. An embassy or a consulate, a media outlet or television station (attack a Mexican or U.S. government or media building in Mexico City).”

    At that point in the conversation, Zambada-Niebla turned to Flores and said words to the effect of, “[Buddy], you know guys coming back from the war.

    Find somebody who can give you big powerful weapons, American.
    We don’t want Middle Eastern or Asian guns, we want big U.S. guns, or RPGs (rocket propelled grenades).”

    Zambada-Niebla made mention of a particular model of weapon, to which Flores responded that he did not think the weapon named was American.
    Zambada-Niebla responded in words or in substance, “You know what I’m talking about. We don’t need one, we need a lot of them, 20, 30, a lot of them.” Flores responded, “I’ll see what I can do.” Guzman-Loera then said to Flores, “Make it your job;”

    Zambada-Garcia said,
    “See what you can do.”

  7. Tijuano

    thanks so much. No that is the model of RPG's we knew of, when this PN story broke about finding one in the trunk of a vehicle, I posted the story here on mainboard, it was surprising. But this is not the same. you can see the size differences on the canisters.

    an interesting note: When I did an interview last year about this time with Dr Bunker, we spoke of RPGs and I asked him what would be the next progression in narco his opinion. He guessed baretta 50 cal.
    a month later the 50 cal was used to assassinate the Nuevo Leon State chief of state police. amazing. since then there have been 4 confirmed (announced) findings of 50 cal. one in Acuna Coahuila, one in Sinaloa, one I Michoacán or Jalisco, and Nuevo Leon.

    scary stuff

  8. I thought zambada-niebla didnt want 50 cals either. He said they have many 50cals, aks, and ar15. According to that wiretap, he wanted rpgs and big guns. I dont know what he meant by that. They already have M-60's. How much 'big guns' do they want more bigger. As far as size and caliber?..then it was weird how the twin responded how he couldn't get any, but that he would try. That should've raised a red flag for chapo and mayo themselves, cause if the twins had connections with the Beltran Leyva and Los Chapos, how the hell couldn't they get a 'big gun'..Im thinking they were pancking know they had 'wires' on them and they could've gotten caught by chapos gunmen in a instant shake down.

  9. Holy Shit!

    Great post

  10. Zetas have RPGs also. and they were two of the confirmed owners of the 50 cal. 50 cal is reported to be used but rarely can it be confirmed. 50 cal can be used up to a mile away from target.

    Yes, CT is rumored to have 50 cal but never confirmed.

    1. You can see them on one of La Tutas videos. Brolly has an rpg in a photo too.

  11. an rpg-29 is a lot of "bling". when those things hit a large truck or a building ... Mexico will know about it.

  12. CDS for sure has 50 cals. El mini 6 has a couple pictures with one. CT has also been seen with 50s.

  13. I believe in one of tutas videos a couple of the guys in the back have 50 cals.

  14. "Brolly has an rpg in a photo too"

    Brolly isnt even qualified for a waterpistol. Mexico really is going to hell and a handbasket. :-)

  15. There is a documentary on YouTube called "Narco Bling" its 40 mins long and it shows the museum where these guns are kept as trophies for the also shows how Chapo travels around Sinalao and how the government cannot mention the name "cartel de Sinalao"

  16. El chino antrax has one on his instagram too
    I think the cartels have had these for some time know cuz that's how el macho prieto got his fame for his bazukazo against soldiers

  17. weapon manufactures especially military grade ones don't want cartel money

    cartels might buy a few 100 if that while Uncle Sam buys thousands and thousands

    crackhead soldiers steal them to sell to cartels

    i wouldn't be surprised at all if they was manufactured with gps locators in them like every single cell phone made today

    would definitely help Uncle Sam track and monitor the larger cartel weapon stockpiles

    ~~~el spaceio~~~

  18. "All cartels have them idiot"

    too much "idiota" kicked around here.
    cartels have the older RPG-7 rockets. not too many have the RPG-29. the 29 version is a bigger problem.

    1. Weapons manufacturers just want that
      naco-narc money,and by golly! They will get it,by any means necessary...

  19. The part about piercing an M1 is false. Thers about 9 tanks internationally that these Russian hand me downs can not access.

    1. And the Mexicans can not access these tanks either,it would be a mess stealing them,and depositing a tank like that in a foreign bank is unthinkable for them.
      Mierda Accord II would be much much more welcome...

  20. Cts cartel have rpgs the called them bastones chinos in english chinese sticks , they just used them against federal police that were leaving apatzingan michoacan in buses they destroyed a whole bus with them according to people on the ground but media did not reported

  21. 5:01

  22. Why are you people surprise. They are able to smuggle drugs into the USA. How hard can it be to purchase weapons from the russians or chinese mafias. ??? Unlimited budget to buy weapons. Watch discovery Channel the colombia farc has all the weapons to fight im sure they can sell them to the mexicans.


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