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

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Rare Improvised Armored Vehicle Captured in Juventino Rosas, Guanajuato

By "El Huaso" for Borderland Beat

Mexican security forces found an abandoned improvised armored vehicle, or "blindado" while patrolling in the municipality of Juventino Rosas, in Guanajuato state. While criminal groups across Mexico frequently employ these homemade vehicles in combat, they are rarely spotted in Guanajuato state.

According to local press, public security forces located the vehicle by airplane. It was abandoned inside a walled compound in the small rural town of Mineral de Pozos, hidden under a tarp. Inside, security forces found 500 doses of marijuana.

The truck is a 2022 model Ford F-150. Metal panels were welded inside the front windshield, and along the interior sides. The pickup had a farm style open-top box on the back, allowing for easy transport of armed men. The vehicle appeared fairly normal, allowing it to blend in with civilian vehicles.

One month earlier on February 3nd, a similar armored vehicle was found in Cerro Prieto, a town outside Tarimaro, a municipality two hours south of Juventino Rosas. Spent casings were found inside the back of that vehicle, indicating that gunmen fired out of it.

Improvised Armored Fighting Vehicles (IAFVs), sometimes called "monstruos", "narco tanques", or "blindados", have become commonly used by criminal groups in Mexico. Around 850 have been found across Mexico since 2018.* Most are found in Tamaulipas and Michoacan, states where combat between criminal  groups takes place in open spaces, creating a need for movable cover. They are rarely found in Guanajuato, whose criminal groups fight in small ambushes against soft targets in urban areas - rival dealers on street corners, lookouts, and affiliated businesses, mostly tire shops and bars. 

According to the Mexican military, narco tanks are "not very maneuverable in urban areas or on soft or sandy ground", due to the large metal panels that are often welded on the vehicles frame for protection. This added weight makes them incredibly heavy, but does provide some protection from small arms fire.

Aside from their advantages in a gunfight, narco tanks are important tools for intimidation. They are frequently shown off in photos and videos by members of criminal organizations. 

According to Héctor Romero Sánchez, a security sector representative interviewed by Foro TV, organized crime groups have started to kidnap technicians and mechanics to up armor their vehicles in clandestine workshops. Just this week, one such workshop was found in the Gustavo A. Madero neighborhood of Mexico City, as reported by Borderland Beat.

Image: Mexico City armored vehicle workshop.

Sources: Punto Cero News, Celaya NewsBorderland Beat Archives 3/4@c4jimenez, Zona FrancaSmall Wars Journal Tactical Note #3, Borderland Beat Archives 6/29/23, Zeta Tijuana, Small Wars Journal

*Citing a transparency request, Milenio reported that between 01/2018 and 07/2022, a period of 54 months, 630 IAFVs were found in Mexico. 630/54 = 11.66. There have been 19 months between 07/2022 and 03/2024. Assuming the rate of IAFV captures by the Mexican state remained constant, at 12 per month, an additional 228 IAFVs should have been found. 630 + 228 = 858 IAFVs.


  1. I would assume these vehicles are pretty slow due to the excessive weight and not very good for some (quicker) forms of combat.

    1. Didn’t you read the post? They literally talked about it

  2. LMAO, “ combat” yeah right. These guys aren’t in “combat!” They slaughter people with no chance many who are innocent bystanders! And the chance they do battle it out besides the ex military scumbag they are drug addicts with little or no training!

    1. This in tamaulipas. Its not special forces type of combat but its combat in monstros or home made armored vehicles shooting with 50 cal at enemies

    2. It is combat. And most are not innocent, not everbody deserves death for their crimes but it is how it is and its better than in California where they let them walk free or police just look the other side.

  3. We have drones, diy mortars and IEDs. I wonder when they will start to operate them remote controlled with 2t of fertilizer in the back.

    1. There are no limits to depravity, or man's inhumanity to man.


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