As the drug war rages in Mexico, the cartels are increasing their number of crudely-armored assault vehicles.
“Narco-tanks” known as narotanques, “rhino trucks” and “monster trucks” known as monstruos are evidence that the narcos are extending their infantry operations.
The drug cartels in Mexico are known to primarily stick to small raids, blockades, and gun battles. With the increase in the number of armored vehicles, it makes transportation easier and less dangerous for those engaging in battles, allowing them to hit their targets and retreat more easily.
As Gordon Housworth of the Intellectual Capital Group noted, the increased complexity and lethality of platoon and company sized engagements in the drug war has led to a greater demand for mobility—and armored SUVs are not enough to create a “poor man’s mechanized infantry.” Each narco-truck can transport a squad, and are reminiscent of the “gun trucks” used in convoy security operations in Vietnam.
“…The emergence of ‘narco-tanks’ is a natural result of the desire to ‘up-armor’ larger vehicles that could transport a squad level unit along with their weapons in order to close on their adversaries without significant attrition,” Housworth said.
Though many have minimized the importance of these vehicles, other are quick to point out that with these tanks, the conflicts in Mexico are beginning to look like those in Iraq.