“El Mencho”, the new Mexican “narco”

Posted today at 6:43 am, updated at 11:21 am

A delivery truck blocks a street in an upscale neighborhood in Mexico City. Disguised as maintenance agents, twelve men appear, opening fire on the convoy carrying the police chief of the Mexican capital, Omar Garcia Harfuch. Some throw fragmentation grenades, others shoot Barrett 50 sniper rifles, capable of piercing armor. On June 26 at 6:38 a.m., the attack plunged the Las Lomas neighborhood, home to billionaires and diplomats, into chaos.

The police boss narrowly escapes death, but three bullets hit him in the arm, collarbone and knee. Two of his bodyguards and a passerby did not have a chance. Just before going to the operating room, Mr. Garcia Harfuch accuses, on his Twitter account, the Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) cartel.

Mexicans know this mafia brand well, and the name of its leader: Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho” (diminutive of Nemesio). No other drug lord can boast of such a rapid rise in criminality, not even his ex-employer, famous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former boss of the Sinaloa cartel. In a decade, “El Mencho” created one of the two most powerful criminal organizations in the country.

Since 2019 and Guzman’s sentence to life imprisonment in the United States, this 54-year-old former police officer has been a priority target of the United States Anti-Drug Agency (DEA). ” The two men share the same peasant and poor origins, explains Eduardo Guerrero, specialist in organized crime and head of the consulting firm Lantia Consultores. But their commonalities end there. Unlike “El Chapo”, “El Mencho” prefers shade to light. It has long escaped the radar of the authorities. It’s all over. “

Read also Mexican drug godfather El Chapo sentenced to life in US

In March, his head was put on a price of 10 million dollars (9 million euros) by the DEA, a record for a Mexican drug trafficker. In the process, the agency announced that it had arrested nearly 700 members of the CJNG in the largest anti-drug operation ever carried out on American soil. A crackdown to match the stranglehold of this cartel on the market for methamphetamines and other synthetic drugs. In the lead, an opioid fifty times more powerful than heroin: fentanyl, which is wreaking havoc in the United States (more than 31,000 deaths by overdose in 2018) and offers traffickers much higher margins than those of cocaine.

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