The violent narco uprising in Jalisco and surrounding states on May 1 is starting to look like a Gulf of Tonkin war pretext — except unlike the invented Gulf of Tonkin incident, what happened in Jalisco was real.
In case you missed it: At least 250 members of the powerful narco gang known as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel carried out a meticulously planned and well-coordinated wave of violent attacks that left streets blocked, buildings burned and 15 people dead, including six soldiers after an army helicopter was downed by a narco-fired rocket launcher.
Many more New Generation gunmen carried out similar actions in neighboring states.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security cabinet — which includes the Army and Navy secretaries, the head of the Federal Attorney General’s Office and the head commissioner of the National Security Commission, among others — has essentially declared war. Operation Jalisco is in place, and on Tuesday a highly experienced narco hunter was put in charge.
His name is Miguel Gustavo González Cruz. He’s a general, and has served as the top commander in a number of trouble spots, including Zapopan, near Guadalajara, at the heart of the current trouble.
Three of the dailies lead with the rumors of war, though each from a different angle. El Universal goes with the new commander: “Anti-narco expert heading offensive” (note the word “offensive”). Reforma, with it's No. 2 head, sums up the new reality: “Army takes charge in Jalisco.”
La Jornada leads with a different piece of related information: “Former military men are in the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.” The story points out immediately that the recruitment by an existing crime organization of well-trained military men to form special cells is exactly what led to the formation of the Zetas, one of the most violent and powerful drug trafficking organizations. According to La Jornada’s sources, New Generation has already formed such cells.
The results may have been seen on May 1. The French-made Cougar helicopter shot down by New Generation is an especially heavy aircraft and well-armored. It's not easy to bring down.
But New Generation did it with a Russian-made anti-tank weapon, called an RPG-7. The rocket launcher is used by some 70 armies worldwide, and requires extensive training and expertise to operate effectively. Which is something a former military man can provide.