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

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mexican Cartel Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Narco Drones)

Borderland Beat republished from Small Wars Journal
Mexican cartels are designing custom drones
Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #21 by Robert Bunker
Mexico’s drug cartels are reportedly commissioning custom-made drones to transport narcotics across the US border, illustrating the continual development of innovative new technologies and methods used to traffic drugs.
Cartels have begun hiring local workers from companies in Mexico to develop custom drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), suited to their needs, according to an unnamed Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) source consulted by El Universal.
Since 2012, the DEA has registered around 150 narco drones crossing the border, transporting in total approximately two tons of cocaine and other drugs. This amounts to an average of roughly 13 kilos per load.
US and Mexican authorities have identified Queretaro, Guadalajara, Nuevo Leon and Mexico City as the drone production points, where cartels pay professionals two to three times their normal salary for this custom technology.
While cartels used to use foreign-made drones, the new reliance on home-grown technology and construction is more cost-effective -- the method is cheaper than the construction of cross-border tunnels or the use of semi-submersible vessels, according to El Universal's report.
InSight Crime Analysis
These new developments represent the latest in a long list of technologies and drug transport methods developed by cartels… 
Mexican criminal organizations have been using UAVs since at least 2010, but the relatively small amount of drugs transported per trip on the drones registered by the DEA helps explain why the cartels want to develop larger, specially tailored UAVs. As drone technology worldwide becomes increasingly accessible and cost effective, commissioning custom-made drones in Mexico is the next logical step for cartels.
Key Information:  Doris Gómora, “Fabrican narcos sus propios drones, alerta la DEA.” El Universal. 9 de Julio de 2014,

Who:  Mexican cartels; specific cartels not stated. Key hiring cities for domestic drone production personnel—Mexico City, Querétaro, Guadalajara, and Nuevo León—suggest Sinaloan and Los Zetas cartel involvement at a minimum. 

What:  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) utilized to transport illicit narcotics across the border from Mexico to the United States. Initially foreign produced, particularly Israeli, and then domestic drones since 2014. Since 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has documented about 150 of these confirmed UAV intrusions.

When:  UAV use since at least 2010 to the present.

Where:  Along the Mexican and U.S. border.

Why:  For transport of illicit narcotics; profit motive, overcome U.S. border defenses.

Analysis:  The Mexican cartels have engaged in a three phase evolutionary process of aerial narcotics trafficking from conventional aircraft (both converted airliners and light craft) to ultralight aircraft to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Along the U.S. Southern border, this process has been prompted by increased U.S. homeland security activities. UAV use is not unique to the Mexican cartels with such criminal activity noted in January 2009, with drones going to Elmley Prison in Sheerness, Kent, United Kingdom (suspected narcotics)

1 in February 2011 going in to a prison in the Tula region south of Moscow, Russia (heroin)

2 in November 2011 coming across the Straight of Gibraltar into Spain (cannabis resin)

3 throughout 2013 in the province of Quebec, Canada going to various prisons (illicit narcotics)

4 in November 2013 going to the US prison in Calhoun, Georgia (cigarette smuggling)

5 in March 2014 going to a Melbourne, Australia prison (illicit narcotics)

6 and in May 2014 entering the Kaliningrad region, Russia (cigarette smuggling).

Of concern are future Mexican cartel UAV evolutionary potentials related to a) sensor payload use for reconnaissance and surveillance functions and b) weapons payload use for small arms and IED attack capabilities. While there are no reports that either of these two evolutionary potentials have taken place, they would provide the Mexican cartels with additional tactical and operational level capabilities.

For a list of sources used for this report link here to original publication


  1. They will soon start landing inside prisons. What else is next bombs?

    1. Chivis one of damaso odyguards got killed el pantera any info on that

    2. One eye says lefty turned him in since he was carrying heavy weight,jus sayin..

  2. I thought of this a long long time ago, cartels barely catching on with this, a lot less risk, more profit In the end, uav cost little to nothing, and can cross kilos at a time, compared to losing cars and shipments brought by mules??? They finally got smart, making money a lo pendejo

  3. Technology.. A double edged sword... It's good to have but the bad guys will inevitably use it as well.

  4. I was having a convo with this white guy what he said was that the mexican cartels are never going to be as powerful as they were the cia took over shit look at el chapo all the top guys are gone the cia is in charge now and are gonna use drones to transport .i was like maybe but as time passed its becoming more a more real

    1. Stupid. They have always had something to do it. They are still not the ones in power.

  5. Does anyone else find this funny?

  6. This has been used for a while. Personally saw this since early 2000s, with expensive hobby helicopters with a few modifications. In El Paso Texas. This is not intriguing at all.

    1. Model airplane also was used by this guy in camargo ut only works with a few kilos at a time so they were droping H it worked but then they just stoped

  7. funny, kinda, but I still can't see why this is so recent... If anything the funny side is how long it's taken people to notice this, only thing that really surprises me is how the powers that be think all technology is exclusively theirs and then when they start to realize how many screwed up people out there can and will use it for bad, then there's this mad panic and paranoia - seems like this paranoia is deliberately maximised into hysteria so as to bring a flurry of new laws to control the technology in question and also to keep us sheeple in a state of dislike and fear of technology. There are way way too many mugs out there willing to accept the "official line" on things. Drones were used in WW2 .. doodlebugs etc. the fear they caused was way beyond their capabilities to change any situations, all hysteria to make people hate and turn from the technology? js...

  8. Other than high value to weight illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, etc., I can see other things smuggled "in and out" out of countries.

    Hulmm, let me see, for starters:

    1. gems,
    2. counterfeit medications,
    3. biological materials (as for weapons),
    4. nuclear materials,
    5. counterfeit and real money
    6. exotic animals

    I'm sure there are other things.... what have I forgotten?

    UAVs being developed and used by criminal organizations are a natural spinoff or outcome of technological advances in many fields....

    Now we must await the counter measures that will come of all this. IMO, things might get very tough on the criminal organizations and those involved in making and using UAVs for criminal purposes.

    We'll see.


  9. So how much are those drone things? Can I get one ?

    1. Dji phantom by go pro there around a grand!

  10. I Need one of those things to get lost and run out of fuel so I can keep the 10 eight balls its delivering! chingadera !! ala verga keretero cd mexico y los zetas! puro CDS por toneladas putos!!

  11. Uav technology is one thing, but if the cartels were to develop cloaking technology then they would really be hard to stop. Talk about making objects look invisible. That would make cartel uav's almost impossible to detect. This technology is believed to be already in use by the U.S. and possibly other gifts.

    1. Cloaking does not work against scalar a.k.a energetics.

  12. The DEA has had the ability to identify and track the drones since 2007 but was stopped by a supervisor and asac who were yes man chickens, in 2010. Both "pussies" were promoted. One to sod, the other to mexico city. Remember, no enforcement, no problems, no waves!

  13. You also missed that the cartels have purchased Hermes drones for the mesican military. They have parallel command and control systems so they can monitor everything the el jercito does with them and take over control when necessary.

  14. Any drones the mexican cartels deploy will be flown at low level. Any drone is visible from radar looking from above unless it is coated in radar absorbent material. Not sure where the mexican cartels could source this material since its exact composition is rated above top secret. Any american Jstars type aircraft that has lookdown/shoot down radar could see them flying. Also when there is rain , this renders radar absorbent material inactive , as was proved by the nighthawk shot down in bosnia during a thunder storm , and the B2 stealth bomber , picked up by a british radar during the Farnborough air show , also in the rain.

  15. jagoffs always thinking too much, must be independent amateurs, with their mental blowjobs, the CIA doesn't need any invisibility or little planes or little drones...
    --all they need is for the imbecility of those dupes that believe that they do drug trafficking to the US, with all the attendant money laundering by US and foreign banks, and conduct dirty wars for the great benefit of US private contractors: IN THE NAME OF NATIONAL SECURITY...
    any questions, just claim "National Security" and you are home free! even presidents believe that crap,"National Security"! fall on your knees and let it pass! aye,aye sir!!!
    CHIVAAA! in the name of National Security post this...thank you!
    ...this will be a secret for thirty years, because of "national security"...

  16. 11:17 zetas are weak, pero train muletas, presidentes, generales governadores y ministros, the dogz are just waiting for the right chance...


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