Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mexican Cartels Moving Drugs in Armored Vehicles

Mexican drug cartels are using improvised armored vehicles known as "monsters" to protect their narcotics shipments from rival gangs, a military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told Efe. The officer is assigned to the 8th Military Zone based in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, where troops have seized around 110 armored cars, including more than 20 monsters that evoke scenes from the 1979 film "Mad Max." Most are heavy trucks that were equipped with armor at clandestine workshops, mostly located in Tamaulipas. Some of the vehicles can carry 12 gunmen, the officer said. Soldiers dismantled one workshop in the Tamaulipas town of Camargo in a June 2011 operation, seizing two armored vehicles and nearly three-dozen more - including 23 tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks - that had not yet been plated. One monster seized last year weighed more than 30 tons because it was covered in thick steel plates and further reinforced with railroad tracks. The officer said troops also confiscated a cargo van dubbed the "pope-mobile" that had an elevated cabin similar to the "room" in the Roman Catholic pontiff's vehicle, although the Mexican van was secured with metal plating instead of bullet-proof glass...more

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