Authorities in Jalisco are investigating a video circulating online that shows a convoy of stationary vehicles surrounded by uniformed and heavily armed men in what appears to be a cartel show of force.
In the video — which was initially shared on social media and via messaging services such as WhatsApp before appearing on news websites — two men, including the suspected cartel member who filmed the footage, make mention of the Jalisco cartel while others appear in shirts emblazoned with the criminal organization’s CJNG (Jalisco New Generation Cartel) initials.
“At the moment, we are verifying the authenticity [of the video] and also [determining] if it is in the state of Jalisco . . .” Interior Secretary Roberto López Lara said.
“The state has the security of all residents of Jalisco under control,” he added.
But the two-minute-long video paints a different picture.
The scores of suspected cartel members — many wearing balaclavas —appear jovial, relaxed and in full control of the highway where the video was filmed.
“We’re just here on patrol,” one masked man says on camera, while the man filming the video derscribes a group of five men “los guapos del cartel” (the handsome men of the cartel).
As the cameraman walks up the stretch of highway, music from two parked cars’ stereos can be heard.
The dissemination of the video yesterday came shortly after federal authorities announced that they had arrested a regional CJNG leader believed responsible for the disappearance of three Italian citizens in January, giving rise to speculation that it was a direct response to the arrest and intended to show off the cartel’s power.
The CJNG first made its presence known in 2009 during former president Felipe Calderón’s administration.
However, during the current administration under President Enrique Peña Nieto the cartel has become one of the most powerful and dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico and controls large swathes of national territory, especially mountainous regions.
This year, members of the cartel founded by Erick “El 85” Valencia and Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes allegedly kidnapped, tortured and killed three Guadalajara film students and attacked state labor secretary Luis Carlos Nájera.