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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

On the Front Line of Mexico’s Forever War Against the Cartels

"Parro" for Borderland Beat

By Keegan Hamilton from VICE News

“You’ve found the heart of the mafia,” one cartel member in the state of Michoacán told us. “If I were you, I wouldn’t have come here.”

AGUILILLA, Michoacán — The cartel checkpoint doesn’t look like much, just a few logs strewn across the two-lane highway. Two guys in camo and body armor, carrying automatic rifles, step out onto the pavement and gesture for us to stop.

We’ve been expecting this roadblock. The sun is setting, and at night the two groups battling for control of Michoacán’s Tierra Caliente region turn the main thoroughfare that connects the municipal capitals of Aguililla and Apatzingán into a no-man’s land. We didn’t plan to be here, and we’re not sure which cartel is stopping us.

One of the two gunmen walks up to our car. Up close we can see his tattooed forearms, and he starts asking questions. We explain that we’re journalists filming a documentary, and he sounds skeptical as he relays our story to his commander through the walkie-talkie strapped to his bulletproof vest.

“Listen, I have a guy or some guys here — who are you again?”


“Some reporters.” There’s a pause, and the radio chirps. We can hear his boss ask: “Are they making a movie?”

“Affirmative, affirmative.”

He steps out of earshot to receive orders. We’re in disputed territory; laying claim on one side is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNG for its initials in Spanish. The group has risen to national dominance in Mexico on a wave of bloodshed, with some of the most brutal fighting concentrated here along the western edge of Michoacán. The birthplace of CJNG founder Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka El Mencho, is a hamlet just half an hour up the road. 


Mencho's forces invaded Michoacán in 2019, ambushing and killing 14 state police officers and leaving a note that accused the cops of serving rival cartels. The CJNG’s enemies are a motley assortment of local gangs that have divvied up the Tierra Caliente into small fiefdoms. After years of internecine feuding, in the last 18 months these groups formed a loose alliance known as the United Cartels, banding together to beat back the Jalisco incursion. The fighting has involved explosive drones, armored “monster” trucks, and ultra-brutal killings on both sides.

We had set out that day planning to meet contacts from CJNG, but they failed to show up at the rendezvous and stopped responding to our messages. We were left flying blind as we traversed the highway back across the front lines. At the checkpoint, we suspect based on our location that we’re talking to the United Cartels. A well-known United Cartels leader had spoken to us earlier on our trip, so we gamble and mention his name to the gunmen.

Please click the hyperlink to view the full story at VICE News.


  1. Journalists have gotten killed reporting in Mexico. Pretty sure documenting what's transpiring isn't any different.
    Not much of a difference from those conflict zones around the world.

  2. That's El M2. Gravesite he visits is la Katrina. The Raptor he "lost" wasn't a raptor but a black tundra. The pole(which seems to be made to hold a machine gun) is seen in some videos members from CJNG send me occasionally. It's a black tundra very similar in bullet proof design. Same design

    1. That’s not M2. His skin is far too light to be M2. There are numerous photos of M2 online and you can see that he is somewhat dark-skinned.

    2. Doesn't M2 use glasses?

  3. Imagine, if famous sex investigater Dr Alfred Kinsey had to practice all his sex experiments in person with his staff and associates while all those fly swarms were chasing their naked arses...
    Journos need not chase the obvious in person, unless they are constructing a false stinking narrative for people like silvano Aurioles Conejo trying to save his state governorship for his PRI/PAN/PRD criminal narco-coalition by blaming "the cartels" for his incompetent corruption, he and his polesias were put and left in charge by EPN and Co...
    "Reporter": you are dismissed!!!

  4. .I take it you said the correct name or this story wouldnt be here !

  5. Well at least we have a Carteles Unidos member admitting on video that they are supported by the military and national guard.


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