Mexican drug gangs building own tanks as war intensifies

By Tim Johnson | McClatchy Newspapers

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s rival crime gangs are in an arms race, and the latest sign of that are the homemade “Mad Max” type heavily armored vehicles they deploy to withstand fierce clashes with each other.
The army found two more “narco tanks” over the weekend in Ciudad Camargo in Tamaulipas state along the border with Texas.
In earlier discoveries in April and May, armored vehicles found by authorities contained swiveling turrets, snipers’ peepholes and gadgets to dump oil and scatter tire-puncturing nails on roadways.
The latest discovery showed that the gangs are upping their game. The two armored vehicles were cloaked in inch-thick steel plating. Built on a three-axle truck bed with a heavily armored cabin, the latest “narco tanks” are far larger than previous versions.
“You can easily fit 20 armed people in here,” an unidentified army officer told El Porvenir TV as he showed the inside of one of the vehicles.
The officer said the vehicles could withstand fire from 50-caliber mounted weapons and grenade blasts, and contained a vicious pointed steel battering ram.
An army patrol found the tanks after soldiers spotted two armed men along a road on the highway from Nuevo Laredo to Reynosa, just outside Camargo, authorities said. The men ran into a warehouse. Inside, soldiers found the two armored trucks and a workshop to fabricate more. Two more trucks were in the process of being fitted with steel armor.

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