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Mexico’s most powerful gang has declared war on El Chapo’s cartel – asserting their presence in a hotly contested state.
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has expanded rapidly across Mexico in recent years, and operates mainly in the west of the country.
Its members routinely carry out brutal acts of violence to intimidate their rivals.
Late last month, footage emerged of the CJNG in the northern state of Zacatecas “challenging the Sinaloa Cartel”, Infobae reported.
In it, hitmen tote automatic rifles and bellow threats from pick-up trucks.
Asked if the video was a declaration of war, former US federal marshal Robert Almonte told the Daily Star: “Yes, I believe it is.
“Although I believe that the CJNG had previously declared war on the Sinaloa Cartel and the video reinforces their declaration.”
In other footage, the CJNG announced their arrival in the state of Michoacan and vowed to wipe out several other gangs.
Mr Almonte added: “These videos are warning their rivals that they intend to control Michoacan and will defeat anyone who gets in their way.
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“They are also justifying their actions with the public by stating that the other cartels are kidnappers and extortionists and that they will defend the people from these other groups.
“This statement is intended to… gain the support of the public.”
He continued: “The leaders of the different cartels will respond with more violence. The bottom line is that all of these declarations and threats will result in more violence.
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“The goal of the CJNG is to take complete control and to eliminate their competition.”
Back in October, Sinaloa Cartel soldiers muscled into the western Mexican state of Nayarit – dominated by the CJNG.
In disturbing footage, gangsters announced the beginning of “Operation MZ” and vowed “justice”, even threatening local government officials, Sin Embargo reported.
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The letters MZ refer to Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, who has taken charge of the cartel since El Chapo’s extradition and imprisonment last year.
In the video, they reference Daniel Saucedo – brother-in-law of the state’s governor – and Rodrigo Benitez Perez, Director of Ministerial Investigation of the Nayarit Prosecutor's Office.
The gunmen warned their "heads will roll".
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While the Sinaloa Cartel remains immensely powerful, the CJNG is now present in at least 35 states across Mexico and Puerto Rico.
In July, authorities estimated the gang – led by former Chapo ally Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera Cervantes – oversaw one-third of all drugs being transported from Mexico into the US.
Its products have also been sold in Europe and Asia.
Dr Robert J Bunker, Director of Research & Analysis, C/O Futures, earlier told the Daily Star that the CJNG is now a “greater force” than the Sinaloa Cartel.
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