Forget the submarines and aircraft used by the powerful Mexican and South American drug cartels to move product—there’s a new game in town, and its name is “el Monstruo.”
The beast was captured about two weeks ago (good pics here) near Ciudad Mier in northern Mexico, and according to reports, this heavily armored truck used by The Zetas gang can carry 12 passengers and hit speeds of up to 68mph. The Zetas, let’s not forget, were formed as the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, and have drawn their recruits from the Mexican military and especially its Special Forces, so these guys know military gear.
Still, despite everyone trying to call the armored truck a “tank,” it actually looks more like the down-on-its-luck little cousin of an MRAP or MAT-V than an Abrams or a Leopard. All joking aside, the Mexican Army has captured more than 100 military-style trucks in the state of Tamaulipas, stomping ground for the Zetas according to reports, and according to one narco-watcher:
The cars range from crude imitations of tanks to SUVs capable of stopping rounds from M-16 and AK-47s. Gunmen are shying away from using flashy, luxury cars, El Universal reports, opting instead for steel-plated vehicles more fit for combat, in some cases, than those used by the military.
Some of the modifications made to the vehicles depicted in the video indicate how bad street warfare has got in Tamaulipas. One tank-like car comes equipped with a perch, which allows a sniper to cover a 160 degree radius. A rhino truck is fitted with two shotguns in the driver's seat, as well as steel reinforcements capable of resisting grenade attacks. Other pick-up trucks have been fitted with gadgets that spray oil and nails on the road.
It puts the current fight over the fate of the production lines of the M-1 Abrams and the M2 Bradley into a little perspective, doesn’t it? While tanks are only now beginning to be used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the House Armed Services Committee still voted yesterday to add $425 million to next year’s budget in order to keep the Abrams and Bradley production lines open until the Army starts its modernization refits in 2016. Hopefully we won’t need to use this kind of heavy armor so close to home.