El Monstruo: The Mexican Drug Cartel’s Hand-Made Super Tanks
El Monstruo 2011 is a homemade armored tank, the latest weapons innovation from Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s largest and most brutal drug trafficking organizations.
El Blog del Narco reports that the Mexican army captured the vehicle last week in Ciudad Meir, a border town that has been the site of a bloody turf battle between Los Zetas and their former bosses, the powerful Gulf Cartel.
Army officials say the new model is an upgrade from previous armed vehicles used by the cartels:
El Monstruo 2011 has a top speed of 68 mph and could hold up to 12 people. Now authorities have taken another off the street — one that shows how every iteration gets tougher:
This one, dubbed the “compacto” version of El Monstruo 2010, appears to be a 2011 Ford SuperDuty truck chassis armored all over and given a bay for ferrying up to 10 gunmen. Captured in Jalisco, this version also came with its own entertainment system via speakers built into the back hatch, along with “satellite communications equipment.” And unlike the El Monstruo ’11, the builders were smart enough to protect the truck’s wheels from stray bullets.
Officials said they expect similar vehicles are already being used by Los Zetas, primarily in the violent northern border state of Tamaulipas.
The Zetas organization – originally the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel – is widely seen as the most technologically advanced and violent of Mexico’s drug gangs. The tanks represent a significant escalation in the cartel’s use of paramilitary tactics to fight its turf wars and respond to the government crackdown on the cartels.