Mexico’s Drug Lords Ramp Up Their Arsenals with RPGs

TIME, 10/25/2012

While security forces have taken down several key cartel bosses this year, gunmen have struck back, setting off five car bombs, hundreds of fragmentation grenades and several shoulder-fired rockets. Soldiers even seized one homemade three-ton tank with a revolving gun turret. When Mexican marines on Oct. 7 claimed to have killed Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, he was also alleged to be found with an RPG-7. (Lazcano’s corpse was stolen from the morgue, and the Zetas are now believed to be led by his No. 2, Miguel Treviño.)

When groups like the Zetas wield rockets and tanks, some pundits question whether they should continue to be labeled as drug traffickers — or need a more martial description. The cartel was founded in 1998 by 14 Mexican army defectors, and they carried their battle tactics into the crime world.

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