Small Wars Journal

The Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación: The most significant security challenge in the Mexico-United States relationship

Sat, 09/30/2023 - 8:50pm

The Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación: The most significant security challenge in the Mexico-United States relationship

Raúl Benítez Manaut and Josué González

Este artículo está disponible en espanol aquí.


The main objective of this text is to analyze how the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) went from being a minor and local group to becoming the criminal organization with the greatest geographical presence and power in the country in the last ten years. The CJNG has become the most significant security challenge in the Mexico-United States bilateral relationship due to its role in controlling fentanyl shipments like its counterpart, the Sinaloa cartel. The article contemplates a chronological order regarding the emergence, consolidation, expansion and current status of the CJNG.

During the second half of 2023, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is the largest organization in Mexico, with significant influence in the United States and other parts of the world.[1] Its leadership competes with Mexico's most prominent criminal groups, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf-Northeast Cartel. It primarily engages in illicit drug trafficking, particularly the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.[2]

Since 2015, the CJNG has diversified its portfolio of activities to include extortion, kidnapping, hydrocarbon theft, and human trafficking, including migrants and the sexual trafficking of women, to name the main ones.[3] The main characteristics of the CJNG are the logistical capacity for drug transit, operations with a high level of violence through paramilitary structures (hitmen) and its ability for money laundering. The main weakness of the Mexican government's strategy is that it has been unable to capture its leader, Nemesio Oseguera, “El Mencho,” so the first generation of leadership continues in operation. That gives the CJNG a significant advantage over the Sinaloa Cartel. The kingpin strategy to capture leaders in the CJNG case has failed.[4]

Emergence: from the Cártel del Milenio and the Matazetas to the CJNG (2008-2013)

The birth of the CJNG is the result of the complex combination of various variables. Firstly, there is the fragmentation and division of groups caused by the “war on drugs” that President Felipe Calderón began in 2007, with support from the United States through the Mérida Initiative. This strategy has not been successful in the case of the CJNG since its top leader is still free. The government captured leaders of groups such as Los Zetas, the Familia Michoacana and the Sinaloa Cartel. These captures resulted in territorial and power vacuums in the different criminal markets throughout the country.[5]

The birth of the CJNG occurred in the mid-2000s. In the border area between Michoacán and Jalisco, there was a confrontation between the Cártel del Milenio, the Beltrán Leyva and the Sinaloa Cartel against the La Familia Michoacana.[6] Due to this confrontation in the central-western region of México, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Cártel del Milenio formed an armed wing called Los Matazetas, where the leaders of the CJNG were formed.[7] As its name indicates, this group confronted Los Zetas in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, Colima and Veracruz. In Veracruz, on the 20th of September 2011, an armed commando of the CJNG entered the state, confronting the army and Los Zetas, presenting themselves as the “vigilantes” who would put an end to the kidnappers and extortionists operating in the state.[8] The death toll was 35 people. A month later, authorities discovered the bodies of another 30 members of the Zetas.[9]

Thus, Felipe Calderón's “war on drugs” strategy since 2007 created several war fronts: 1) the Los Zetas cartels were fought unequally in Tamaulipas and Veracruz, 2) the Familia Michoacana and the Knights Templar in the western region, and 3) later the Sinaloa Cartel, which was significantly weakened, finally 4) the combat against the Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez cartels on the border with the United States intensified. The government's successes against these groups were taken advantage of by the CJNG, which expanded its occupation of territory in the central-western regions of Mexico, in the states of Sinaloa, Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, Michoacán and Guanajuato. At that time, the CJNG was not a priority for the government. That lack of prioritization by the government facilitated its growth. In 2011, the organization began to establish an independent identity under the name CJNG and started to leave behind the name Matazetas.

The Mexican government dealt decisive blows to Los Zetas between 2008 and 2014, which made it easier for the CJNG to enter Veracruz. The coups against La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios in Michoacán (2013-2015) led to the capture of their leader Servando Gómez, “La Tuta,” on the 27th of February, 2015, in Morelia, Michoacán.[10] Since 2014, the CJNG has organized under the leadership of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, “El Mencho.” Since Cervantes emerged from the Cártel del Milenio Organization, Oseguera Cervantes was not accepted by the founders and leaders of the Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios. For this reason, he moved his operations center to Jalisco, mainly in Zapopan, on the outskirts of Guadalajara.[11]

In Michoacán, from 2006 to 2013, Oseguera Cervantes made various attempts to enter the state, but these were unsuccessful. For example, in 2013, he sought to financially support self-defense groups, specifically the Tepalcatepec faction with Juan José Farías Álvarez, “El Abuelo,” without success.[12] The “self-defense groups” were groups of farmers who, faced with the inability of the State to protect them, so they armed themselves to attack the Familia Michoacana and the Knights Templar.[13]

It was not until 2013 that the CJNG would become exposed to security forces when a former drug trafficker with the code CS-1 began collaborating with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by providing detailed information about the group.[14] A year later, in 2014, the CJNG would be considered a “consolidated priority” for United States authorities, especially with the expansion of a relatively new drug called fentanyl.[15]

In 2015, the DEA identified Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, Abigael González Valencia, “El Cuini,” and Jorge Luis Mendoza Cárdenas, “La Garra,” as leaders of the organization. Likewise, the DEA said that the main cooperative relationship that had been built was with “Los Cuinis.” In April, the DEA described the CJNG in the media as the “richest organization in Mexico, with distribution networks to Europe, Canada and Asia.” In fact, in an anonymous interview, a senior DEA official stated that “with the capture of Abigael González Valencia, “El Cuini,” in 2015, Mexican authorities had unknowingly arrested the richest drug trafficker on the planet.” [16]

In January 2015, the first official documents about the CJNG were published in Mexico. For example, in the request for public information sent to the then Attorney General's Office (PGR), its presence was identified in Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Guerrero, Morelos, Veracruz and Mexico City. In subsequent years, 2015, 2016 and 2017, its operations continued to be identified in the same states.[17]

By then, the prominent arrest against the group was that of Rubén Oseguera, “El Menchito.” the second in command of the organization and son of the main leader. He was released in 2015, arrested again that same year and finally extradited to the United States in February 2020. Since its emergence, the CJNG registered various disputes fundamental to understanding its identity later, mainly against La Familia Michoacana, Los Caballeros Templarios, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Having sustained violent confrontations against these organizations allowed the CJNG to learn from their experiences to organize and adopt military expertise.

Consolidation and national expansion (2014-2018)

In this period, the CJNG expanded throughout the nation's territory and strengthened its characteristics as a criminal group with significant operational capacity and capacity for violence. One of the failures of the Mexican government is that since 2015, it has tried to capture its leader, “El Mencho,” without success. On the 1st of May, 2015, in Jalisco, Michoacán, Colima and Guanajuato, the group operated with military characteristics. The violent response of the criminal group to the actions of the federal government for the attempted capture of “El Mencho” resulted in the following:[19]

• Helicopter shootdown in November 2015. It was the first time a criminal association had shot down a Cougar helicopter (registration 1009, model EC725) belonging to the Secretariat of National Defense. According to the version of the then National Security Commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, the shots destroyed the rear rotor of the aircraft.[20]

• Use of weapons and military tactics. The use of high-firepower weapons and specialization in their handling were combined to shoot down the helicopter. The Cougar helicopter is French-made, reaches 250 kilometers per hour and has armor that protects it from assault rifles. To shoot it down, .50 caliber Barret rifles and surface-to-air missile launchers were used.

• Tactical deployment, blockades and attacks. Nearly 50 highway blockades were carried out in Jalisco, Michoacán, Colima and Guanajuato in less than an hour and a half. According to Mexican federal authorities, at least 250 alleged members of the CJNG participated in the attacks and blockades that were carried out in a coordinated manner. As a result, 19 people were arrested, and five gas stations and 11 commercial establishments were set on fire. The attack on the helicopter was one of the most televised media events in México. It demonstrated the CJNG's ability as a group to react against the most sophisticated government actions.

Just as Los Zetas,[21] the CJNG's violence includes urban combat tactics to avoid the capture of leaders, avenge their death or detention, as well as the use of identity elements and military-style operations and their extensive capacity to confront the forces of the State.[22] As Carlos Antonio Flores Pérez points out, since its emergence, insurgency, counterinsurgency, covert, sabotage, psychological warfare, urban combat and confrontation of related local militias, among others, have become common strategies employed by the CJNG.[23]

Regarding drug trafficking, the driving force of the CJNG has been the production of fentanyl and the installation of laboratories for its production in the mountains of Michoacán, Nayarit, Colima and Jalisco. One of the most attractive elements of this substance is its price. A kilo with a high level of purity can have a cost ranging from 3,300 to 5,000 dollars. However, that same kilo can be reduced or mixed with other drugs to obtain 16 to 24 kilograms of product for sale, with a profit of between 1.2 and 1.9 million dollars.[24]

According to information published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, in 2017, of the more than 72 thousand deaths due to drug overdoses, the highest proportion occurred due to fentanyl and other analogous substances, responsible for almost 30 thousand deaths. This issue is of greater importance to North American authorities, and most of the substance is said to have been exported through Tijuana.[25]

The CJNG's primary business is the production, trafficking and marketing of illicit drugs, but it has also ventured into other activities. They began to steal gasoline in various states, especially in Puebla, Hidalgo and later in Guanajuato, the latter unleashing violence due to the confrontation that emerged with the Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL).[26]

In 2017, it was reported that the organization had 309 companies carry out operations with illegal resources, registered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and that 156 resided in Jalisco.[27] The Congressional Research Service of the United States highlighted that, between 2013 and 2015, the growth of the CJNG was accelerated to the point of being considered the most dangerous organization with the most significant territorial presence in Mexico.[28]

Another relevant characteristic of the CJNG is its ample capacity to bribe authorities. They do this to operate with impunity and obtain information about operations against them and other criminal gangs.[29] According to journalistic versions that refer to statements by alleged former members of the organization, in 2017, half of the Guadalajara municipal police were on the cartel's payroll, receiving between 1,000 and 50,000 pesos per month.[30] At the beginning of 2020, the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, accused the governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval Castañeda (2011-2017), of corruption, embezzlement of state resources and for accepting bribes from the CJNG.[31]

In 2021, Rosalinda González, wife and primary assistant of “El Mencho,” considered number two in leadership and its financial operator, was captured.[32] This is the most critical blow the Mexican government has dealt to the CJNG in recent years, achieved with intelligence support from the United States.[33] However, “El Mencho” has not been captured, so the first generation of leadership continues in operation.

CJNG clashes with other criminal organizations

The CJNG has violently confronted various criminal groups for territorial expansion and market control. Information from the Conflict Data Program at Uppsala University showed that between January 2011 and December 2019, the CJNG was identified in 1,493 clashes against other groups.[34] According to the data, the growth has been constant and noticeable since 2013, from 17 confrontations in 2011 to 597 in 2019 (Figure 1).

The organizations with which it registered the most significant number of disputes are the Sinaloa Cartel with 644, Los Zetas with 314, the CSRL with 210, La Nueva Familia with 107, the Cártel Nueva Plaza with 76 and the Knights Templar with 71.


Figure 1. Number of CJNG confrontations per year

Source: Authors’ elaboration with information from Uppsala University

Regarding percentage, 78.2% of the confrontations were carried out against Sinaloa, Los Zetas and the CSRL, as seen in Table 1.






Los Zetas



Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL)



Nueva Familia



Nueva Plaza



Caballeros Templarios



Los Rojos



La Familia



La Resistencia



Table 1. Confrontation of the CJNG with other criminal organizations

Source: Authors’ elaboration with information from Uppsala University

When carrying out the annual analysis for each organization with which it has had a dispute, the confrontation that has been the most lasting over time is with Los Zetas. However, between 2015 and 2019, conflict with the Sinaloa Cartel, La Nueva Familia and the CSRL grew substantially (Figure 2).


Figure 2. CJNG confrontations due to criminal organization: 2011-2019

Source: Authors’ elaboration with information from Uppsala University

Geographically, the distribution of CJNG confrontations was mainly concentrated in three states: Baja California with 477, Guanajuato with 236, and Veracruz with 178. It should be noted that 25 states recorded at least one confrontation throughout these years (Table 2).








Baja California
























































Quintana Roo


































Table 2. States with the highest number of confrontations 2011-2019

Source: Authors’ elaboration with information from Uppsala University

In Baja California, the violence is explained by the dispute in the region over the transit of different drugs across the country's northern border, including fentanyl. In 2019, United States authorities affirmed that the CJNG was responsible for transporting a large amount of this substance from Mexico to different American cities.[35]

For their part, the municipalities that registered more than 30 confrontations where the CJNG has participated are: Tijuana with 436, Guadalajara with 47, Irapuato with 36, Dolores Hidalgo with 35, Uruapan with 32, La Paz with 31 and Los Cabos with 30 (see Map 1)

Mapa 1


Map 1. Heat map of confrontations by the CJNG (2011-2019)

Source: Prepared by Raúl Benítez Manaut and Josué González, with information from Uppsala University.

The CJNG during the AMLO administration (2019-2023)

In México, there is no official figure on the number of criminal organizations that operate within the country. It is estimated that there are eight large criminal groups, 40 medium-sized organizations with subregional reach and 300 smaller ones in different cities armed and competing violently with each other.[36] In the first year of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, the leading criminal organizations were:

• Sinaloa Cartel


• Los Zetas (associated groups)

• Gulf Cartel

• The Beltrán Leyva

• Michoacan Family, and

• Caballeros Templarios [37]

It is important to note that the CJNG took advantage of the political transition with the change of government because anti-crime activity decreased. The new administration of President López-Obrador promoted a passive approach in the fight against organized crime, which was summarized in the phrase “hugs, not bullets.” It then migrated from a highly violent model concentrated on the capture of bosses and direct confrontation with the cartels since 2007 to one that has limited itself and has reduced the amount of direct fighting against criminal organizations and their leaders. The current government has dedicated itself to attacking the Sinaloa Cartel, which favors the CJNG.

During the years of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021), drug trafficking violence in Mexico grew despite the drastic reduction in population movement in cities and highways.[38] According to the Mexico Peace Index 2023 from the Institute for Economics and Peace, in 2021, the CJNG was responsible for almost 14 thousand deaths per year, double that of the Sinaloa Cartel, which registered 8 thousand (Figure 3).[39]


Figure 3. Deaths associated with clashes between the deadliest cartels (2004-2021)

Source: Institute for Economics and Peace, Mexico Peace Index 2023, p.39.

Currently, the CJNG is an irregular armed organization and has undertaken violent military actions with different intensity levels in at least 28 states of the country by mid-2023 (Maps 2-6).

The CJNG is organized into armed cells with terrorist-type tactics and different levels of complexity, depending on the country's state and the type of criminal modality. Its military “offensive” can be defined as “Low-Intensity Warfare” or “Small War.” Likewise, its activities are deployed through violence to subdue its competitors from other criminal groups and has recently directed terrorist acts against the civilian population, police and government officials. In its strategy for territorial expansion, in 2019, the CJNG violently penetrated several key states and regions in the center of the country: 1) in Guanajuato, due to its industrial activity; 2) in Zacatecas, where the highway routes from Mexico City to the United States coincide and 3) in Michoacán, for access to the ports of Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas, the most important in the Pacific Ocean, which communicate with the most prominent ports in Asia.[40] The primary raw material to produce fentanyl comes from China, India, and South Korea, according to various sources in the United States.[41] However, these countries justify their exports of chemicals by stating they are directed for pharmaceutical companies to produce fentanyl in Mexico legally.[42]

MP 2-6

Map 2-6. Growth of the territorial presence of the CJNG (2009-2022)

Source: Authors’ elaboration. July 2023.

Other states where the CJNG has entered in recent years are Chiapas and Tamaulipas, one located on the southern border and the other on the northern border. This is relevant to the extent that it symbolizes not only the control of the national territory but also the strengthening of its presence at the country's strategic access and exit points. In Tamaulipas, it meant expanding entry points for fentanyl and methamphetamine into the United States.[43] There are even versions of establishing a cooperative relationship with “Los Metros” of the Gulf Cartel.[44]

In Chiapas, an area controlled in the last fifteen years by the Sinaloa Cartel, incursions have generated violence due to the dispute over this geostrategic territory that holds strategic importance in Central and South America routes.[45] The dominant presence of the Sinaloa Cartel in Guatemala is known, which the CJNG also seeks to dispute.[46] In Michoacán, they formed a new alliance with the Los Viagras organization, former rivals of the organization, to dispute a region that until now was controlled by La Familia Michoacana and other groups united under the banner of Cárteles Unidos.[47]

In the United States, in the National Drug Threat Assessment 2020, the DEA announced the presence of CJNG in cities throughout the country. Since that year, the group's activity has been identified in places such as: [48]

• Orlando, Florida;

• Seattle, Washington;

• Toanoke, Virginia;

• Memphis, Tennessee;

• Atlanta, Georgia;

• Gulfport, Mississippi;

• Fayetteville, North Carolina;

• Chicago, Illinois;

• Denver, Colorado;

• Imperial, Nebraska;

• Kansas City and Lexington, Kentucky;

• Houston, El Paso and Laredo, Texas;

• San Ysidro, San Diego, Orange County, San Diego, Modesto and Santa Rosa, California.

In an interview on the 26th of November, 2019, President Donald Trump noted that cartels that traffic drugs from Mexico can be classified as terrorist groups.[49] This opened a debate about the size and quality of the threat to U.S. national security from Mexico's large criminal groups like the CJNG. This argument led General Glen VanHerck, Head of the Northern Command, to warn of these organizations' risks against the United States.[50] The general maintained that transnational criminal organizations operate in a third of Mexico, creating “ungoverned zones.” These statements influenced the discussion in the United States Congress about the terrorist actions of Mexican criminal groups.[51] Months later, in May 2021, the Treasury Department announced the implementation of measures against people considered leaders of the CJNG and against politicians involved in acts of corruption related to the organization, such as the former governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval Castañeda.[52]

On the 21st of September, 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-42 to designate the Sinaloa Cartel, CJNG, and other similar organizations as “terrorist organizations.” [53] He instructed taking measures to protect Texans from violence and the expanding fentanyl crisis. In addition, it contains precise instructions directed to the Texas Department of Public Safety, such as establishing a specialized division against Mexican cartels at the Texas Intelligence Fusion Center to counter them. Likewise, he mentioned implementing measures to identify and combat local gangs that support the operation of Mexican cartels within the state.[54] Other measures implemented are dismantling the infrastructure, assets, vehicles and other goods used by the groups to traffic drugs to Texas and detect and deter criminal activity at drug entry points. This document is permanently valid and will be suspended only if the governor orders it.[55]

Promoting the Bicentennial Understanding (agreement that replaced the Mérida Initiative) dialogues at the highest levels of policy-making between the two countries towards the end of 2022 highlighted the importance of the CJNG. This importance is evident through various aspects related to the fight against transnational criminal organizations, establishing financial measures and preventing cross-border illicit activities.[56]

In 2022-2023, Operation Last Mile was carried out in American territory, led by the DEA, against members of the CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel in American territory. The DEA stated:

“Nationally, Operation Last Mile comprised 1,436 investigations conducted from the 1st of May, 2022 through the 1st of May, 2023, in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and resulted in 3,337 arrests and the seizure of nearly 44 million fentanyl pills, more than 6,500 pounds of fentanyl powder, more than 91,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 8,497 firearms, and more than $100 million.”[57]

As a result of the operation, more than 3,000 people were arrested, almost 44 million pills and 6,500 pounds of fentanyl powder were seized, and more than 8,000 firearms and 100 million dollars.[58] This has been one of the largest-scale operations to combat these groups on U.S. soil.

To reduce the fentanyl trade, the most lucrative business for the CJNG, the United States government developed a global strategy to combat the production and distribution of the substance. Among the actions is an offensive against the suppliers of chemical products that China legally exports and end up in clandestine laboratories in the mountains of Michoacán, Jalisco and Sinaloa.[59] Recently, in September 2023, the Department of Homeland Security issued the Strategy for Combating Illicit Opioids. This strategy is based on four main objectives: 1) reduce the international supply of illicit opioids; 2) reduce the domestic supply of illicit opioids; 3) combat its enablers, such as illicit financial activities, cybercrime and arms trafficking; 4) raise awareness and work with the private industry on this issue.[60]


During the López Obrador administration, the CJNG strengthened its operations and has become the most powerful criminal organization in the country. There is enough evidence to maintain that the group is expanding and can sustain small, simultaneous wars in different parts of the national territory. This is due to their economic capacity, weapons and logistics, alliances built through corruption and the ability to exercise great violence. The CJNG benefits from the attacks the two governments have dealt to the Sinaloa Cartel, such as capturing and prosecuting “El Chapo” Guzmán and his family members in the United States.

By positioning itself as a hegemon in the Mexican and Latin American criminal market, added to the weakening of the Sinaloa Cartel, the CJNG has become one of the main priorities for security policy between Mexico and the United States in recent years.[61] Fentanyl in the United States has been declared the leading public health and binational security problem to be tackled alongside Mexico. Between March 2022 and March 2023, it is estimated that more than 110,000 US citizens will die from drug overdoses, most of which will be due to the use of fentanyl. The Jalisco-based organization plays a primary role in fentanyl trafficking.[62] Furthermore, one of the most significant conflicts in the relationship between both countries is arms trafficking from the United States to Mexico, which is why both issues are considered priorities on the binational agenda.[63]

In March 2023, the DEA's “Report on the Drug Enforcement Administration Foreign Operations Review” revealed that the institution's future work would consist of “degrading and dismantling” the two criminal organizations that position themselves as the “most serious threat” to national health and security: the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG.[64] The CJNG has been identified as having more than 18,800 members, associates, facilitators and brokers affiliated with the organization in Mexico, the United States and different countries worldwide.[65]

In another estimate presented in September 2023, around 175 thousand people were calculated as belonging to the ranks of the cartels in the country. Of this total, the CJNG would be the largest group, with 17.9%, consisting of at least 31,300 members. The Sinaloa Cartel would follow them with 8.9%, the Nueva Familia Michoacana with 6.2%, the Cártel del Noreste with 4.5%, the Unión Tepito with 3.5% and other groups with 59%. The study also calculates that organized crime is the fifth largest employer in Mexico, only behind companies such as FEMSA, Wal-Mart, Manpower and American Movil.[66]

Various federal justice, defense and health agencies in the United States and local governments such as Texas have stated that the CJNG is one of the most significant security and internal governance threats. A growing number of federal agencies and state governments are adopting policies to combat and dismantle the CJNG.

The multiple strategies deployed by both the United States and Mexico governments have not been successful.[67] Since the end of the 20th century, cooperation projects against drug trafficking and the organizations that promote it have been created. Most cooperation has occurred as a result of the Mérida Initiative in 2007. The reinforcement and use of Mexico's military, justice and intelligence institutions in several cooperation programs have not been effective. The social and economic roots that favor crime have not been addressed in both countries. In the United States, youth demand drugs, and Mexicans supply them. International networks are built from Asia to supply chemicals, and borders are virtually open for traffickers.

Now, a failed strategy is being deployed. In México, the government is being weakened, and the states and territories where governability and social peace are being reduced. It is necessary to seek broader, more comprehensive approaches with actions that rebuild communities and cities affected by violence. Social and political reconstruction strategies must be promoted so that the efforts of the security, justice, and intelligence apparatus can be effective.


[1] The concept of “cartel” in Latin America was first used to designate Colombian criminal groups dedicated to illicit drug trafficking, particularly the Cali Cartel and the Medellín Cartel. The word Cartel is defined in Spanish as a “criminal enterprise” that seeks to expand to build monopolies. It is used in a general way to designate groups, networks or organizations that carry out criminal activities.

[2] “National Drug Threat Assessment 2019.” Washington, DC: Drug Enforcement Administration. 2020,

[3] Nathan P. Jones, “The Strategic Implications of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación.” Journal of Strategic Security. Vol. 11, no. 1, 2018 pp. 26,

[4] Jane Esberg, “Why Mexico’s kingpin strategy failed: targeting leaders led to more criminal groups and more violence.” Modern War Institute. 9 June 2022,

[5] Raul Benitez-Manaut, “The Merida Initiative: Challenges in the Fight Against Crime and Drug Trafficking in Mexico.” Real Instituto Elcano, Madrid, ARI 130/2007. 18 December 2007,

[6] The Cártel del Milenio was mainly dedicated to producing and transporting cocaine and psychoactive drugs, specifically methamphetamines, in the Colima, Jalisco and Michoacán regions. Alonso Pérez, “La evolución del CJNG: de la extinción al dominio global. InSight Crime. 26 December 2016,

[7] Raúl Flores, “CJNG lidera trasiego de drogas a EU; nació como Los Matazetas.” Excélsior. 10 February 2018,

[8] Flores Pérez, Carlos Antonio, “Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación: elementos a considerar sobre la reconfiguración de las organizaciones del tráfico de drogas en México,” in Raúl Benítez Manaut, Sergio Aguayo Quezada, Eds., Atlas de la Seguridad y la Defensa 2016 de México. México: Senate of the Republic, CASEDE. 2017, pp. 223,

[9] Dulce Ramos, “Revelan que en el asesinato de los 35 muertos de Boca del Río se usaron técnicas castrenses.” Animal Político. 30 September 2011,

[10] Alberto Nájar, “Auge y caída de La Tuta, el maestro mexicano que se volvió líder narco.” BBC. 27 February 2015,

[12] Miguel Tinoco García, “¿Cómo surgió el CJNG? Esta es la historia.” Excélsior. 26 June  2020,ártel-jalisco-nueva-generacion-esta-es-la-historia/1390606.

[12] “Cómo surgió el CJNG.” Excelsior. 29 May 2018,ártel-jalisco-nueva-generacion-esta-es-la-historia/1390606.

[13] Falko Ernst, “Michoacán, una guerra con mil cabezas.” Proceso. 5 June 2019,

[14] Benito Jiménez,”Extiende dominio CJNG a 26 estados.” Diario Reforma. 3 July 2020,

[15] Op. cit., National Drug Threat Assessment 2019” at note 1.

[16] Jesús Esquivel, “Se hacen visibles Los Cuinis, el cártel más rico del mundo.” Proceso. 11 April 2015,

[17] Solicitud de información pública folio 0001700324714, turnada a la Subprocuraduría Jurídica y de Asuntos Internacionales de la Procuraduría General de la República, México, 26 January 2015.

[18] Another of the characteristic features of the organization is related to the escapes of “El Mencho,” which happened on several occasions between 2010 and 2013. In November 2010, authorities located him near the Ángel Leaño Hospital, north of Guadalajara, but when they arrived at the site, they only found 40 kg of crystal meth and AR-15 rifles. In August 2012, an operation was mounted to capture him in Jalisco (some versions suggest that it was in Tonaya and others in Zapopan), which resulted in dozens of blockades in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, with which the leader of the organization managed to escape. There is another version that indicates that, after being detained by SEMAR, the then-governor Emilio González Márquez directly requested his release two hours after his arrest. In July 2013, he was located in the municipality of El Grullo, in his area of influence, but he again managed to escape. See “'El Mencho', líder del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación y sus increíbles escapes... ¡hasta derribó un helicóptero!” Vanguardia. 12 October 2018,ártel-jalisco-nueva-generacion-hasta-derribo-helicoptero;  Javier Brandoli, “El gobernador de Jalisco ordenó liberar a 'El Mencho', el hombre más buscado de México, en 2012.” El Mundo. 9 July 2015,

[19] Arturo Ángel, “5 claves para entender la jornada violenta del 1 de mayo en Jalisco.”  Animal Político. 4 May 2015,ártel-de-jalisco-ecos-de-un-ataque-inedito/.

[20] El presunto responsable de la acción fue detenido en noviembre de 2015. Se le identificó como Martín Navarro Escutia, (a) El Cebollón, de 40 años, en el municipio de Villa Purificación, en Jalisco. Martín Ramírez Yáñez, “El Cebollón disparó el lanzacohetes vs helicóptero de la FAM.” El Economista. 9 November 2015,

[21] Josué Ángel González Torres, Los Zetas como empresa delincuencia, México, UNAM, Bachelor’s Thesis, 2012,*:*&i=13&v=1&t=search_1&as=4.

[22] Op. cit., “Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación: elementos a considerar sobre la reconfiguración de las organizaciones del tráfico de drogas en México” at note 8.

[23] Ibid, p. 227.

[24] Op. cit., National Drug Threat Assessment 2019” at note 1. [26] “Asesinato en Celaya: conflictos entre el CJNG y Santa Rosa de Lima construyeron la ciudad más violenta del mundo.” Infobae, 18 August 2022,

[25] “Overdose Death Rates.” Gaithersburg, MD. National Center for Health Statistics. 2018,

[26] “Asesinato en Celaya: conflictos entre el CJNG y Santa Rosa de Lima construyeron la ciudad más violenta del mundo.” Infobae. 18 August 2022,

[27]“Pugnas internas del CJNG. Esto es lo que sabemos.” UDGTV. 26 April 2018,

[28] June Beittel, “Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations.” Washington, DC, Congressional Research Service. July 2018. pp. 13,

[29] Ibid, p. 22.

[30] Op. cit., Jones, “The Strategic Implications of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación" at note 3, p. 26.

[31] Op. cit., Beittel, “Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations” at note 28, p. 14.

[32] “Rosalinda González Valencia. La jefa del cártel.” El Universal, 29 May 2018,ártel; “el Departamento del Tesoro de EU acabó con la tranquilidad de la esposa del Mencho.” Proceso. 28 May 2018,

[33] Elena Reina, “Detenida en Jalisco la esposa de El Mencho, Rosalinda González.” El País. 16 November 2021,

[34] Uppsala Conflict Program,' Uppsala: Sweden. University of Uppsala, Department of Peace and Conflict Research,

[35] Op. cit., National Drug Threat Assessment 2019” at note 1, p. 10. 

[36] Eduardo Guerrero, “Mapa criminal de México 2019,” en Sergio Aguayo, Raúl Benitez Manaut, et. al, Eds., Atlas de la Seguridad y la Defensa de México 2020, Colectivo de Análisis de la Seguridad con Democracia, Senado de la República. México: UDLAP,  2021, p. 33,

[37] "Mexico," The 2020 IISS Armed Conflict Survey, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).London, Routledge, 2020, p. 82, https://www.

[38] “México Unido Contra la Delincuencia,” Atlas de Homicidios: México 2021. Panorama Nacional,,de%202020%2C%20con%2036%2C553%20homicidios.

[39] Mexico Peace Index 2023. Sydney: Institute for Economics and Peace. May 2023, p.39,

[40] Sandra Pellegrini, and Fernanda Arocha Maria, “Actor Profile The Jalisco New Generation Cártel (CJNG).” ACLED. 14 April 2023,ártel/.

[41] "DOJ anuncia cargos contra empresas de manufactura basadas en China, así como arrestos de ejecutivos de empresas que manufacturan fentanilo.” United States Embassy and Consulates in Mexico. 23 June 2023,

[42] “Declaración Solemne de la Embajada de China en México sobre la Cuestión de Fentanilo.” Chinese Embassy in Mexico. 27 May 2023,

[43] Carmen Riversa Villaseñor, “Este es el municipio clave para 'El Mencho' en Tamaulipas,” El Informador. 19 May 2023,

[44  ]"Las claves de la expansión del CJNG en Tamaulipas.” Infobae. 18 May 2023,; Anel Tello, “Los Metros: la facción del Cártel del Golfo que se habría aliado al CJNG y ha sembrado terror en Tamaulipas.” Infobae. 6 July 2023,ártel-del-golfo-que-se-habria-aliado-al-cjng-y-ha-sembrado-terror-en-tamaulipas/.

[45] Andrés Martínez, “Cuáles son los municipios en conflicto entre el CJNG y Cártel de Sinaloa en Chiapas.” Infobae. 30 June 2023,ártel-de-sinaloa/

[46] Chris Dalby,Guerra entre CJNG y Cártel de Sinaloa por rutas de tráfico desde Guatemala desangra a Chiapas.” Insight Crime. 2 July 2023,ártel-sinaloa-rutas-trafico-guatemala-desangra-chiapas/.

[47] Jorge Fernández Menéndez, “Mora, los Viagras y el CJNG,” Excelsior. 4 July 2023,

[48] Op. cit., National Drug Threat Assessment 2019” at note 1. [48]

[49] "President Trump to Designate Mexican Drug Cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Bill O´ 26 November 2019,

[50] "Statement of  General Glen Vanherck, United States Air Force Commander, United States Northern Command  and  North American Aerospace Defense Command Before the  Senate Armed Services Committee.” 16 March 2021,

[51] Liana W. Rosen, “Designating Mexican Drug Cartels as Foreign Terrorists: Policy Implications.” Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. CRS Insight. IN11205,

[52] “Treasury Works with Government of Mexico Against Perpetrators of Corruption and their Networks,” Washington: DC: Department of the Treasury. 17 May 2019.

[53] "Executive Order No. GA-42 relating to designation of Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.” Austin, Texas: Governor Greg Abbott. 21 September 2022,

[54] Torres González, Josué Ángel, “Grupos mexicanos ¿terroristas?” ContraRéplica. 28 September 2022,

[55] Ibid.

[56] Joint Statement: 2022 U.S.-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue. Washington, DC. 14 October 2022,

[57]  "DEA Operation Last Mile Tracks Down Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartel Associates Operating within American Communities.” Washington, DC: Drug Enforcement Administration. 5 May 2023,,pounds%20of%20fentanyl%20powder%2C%20more.

[58] “DEA asesta golpe a ‘Chapitos’, el Cártel de Sinaloa y al CJNG: Así fue la ‘Operación Última Milla’.”El Financiero. 5 May 2023,ártel-de-sinaloa-y-al-cjng-asi-fue-la-operacion-ultima-milla/.

[59] Diego Salcedo, “EU ‘estrangula’ a abastecedores chinos del cártel de Sinaloa y CJNG.” Milenio. 23 May 2023,ártel-sinaloa-cjng

[60] Strategy for Combating Illicit Opioids. Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations. September 2023, [60]

[61] “Fentanyl Flow to the United States,” Washington, DC: Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA-DCT-DIR-008-20. March 2020,

[62] “Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts.” Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ausust 2023,

[63] Nick Miriff, “Fentanyl is ‘single greatest challenge’ U.S. faces, DHS secretary says.” Washington Post. 29 March 2023,

[64] Jack Lawn and Boyd Johnson, “Report on the Drug Enforcement Administration Foreign Operations Review.” Washington, DC: Drug Enforcement Administration. 24 March 2023,

[65] “Cártel de Sinaloa y CJNG tienen 45 mil miembros: DEA.” Aristegui Noticias. 27 July 2023,

[66] Rafael Prieto-Curiel, Gian Maria Campedelli y Alejandro Hope, “Reducing cartel recruitment is the only way to lower violence in Mexico.” Science, Vol. 382, no. 6664, 21 September 2023, pp. 1312–1316,  

[67] “U.S. ASSISTANCE TO MEXICO. State Department Should Take Steps to Assess Overall Progress.” Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office. GAO-23-103795, 12 September 2023,


Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Josué Ángel González Torres holds a bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree in political science, as well as a law degree, specializing in criminal law, from the UNAM. He has experience in institutions such as the National Security Commissioner (CNS), the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) and the National Intelligence Center (CNI) of Mexico. He has received training courses in the United States, Germany, Dominican Republic and France. He has specialized in evidence-based policing policy, organized crime, law enforcement and criminal networks.

Josué Ángel González Torres es licenciado, maestro y doctor en ciencia política, así como licenciado en derecho, con especialidad en derecho penal, por la UNAM. Cuenta con experiencia en instituciones como el Comisionado Nacional de Seguridad (CNS), la Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana (SSPC) y el Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) de México. Ha recibido cursos de capacitación en Estados Unidos, Alemania, República Dominicana y Francia. Se ha especializado en política policial basada en evidencia, crimen organizado, aplicación de la ley y redes delictivas.

Raúl Benitez-Manaut is a Researcher at the Center for Research on North America (CISAN), National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Dr. in Latin American Studies, UNAM-Mexico.  He has been Public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, visiting professor at Columbia University in New York, American University and the Perry Center of the National Defense University. He is the author of books and articles on the civil war in El Salvador, and national security, armed forces and organized crime in Mexico:,

Raúl Benítez Manaut es un Investigador del Centro de investigaciones sobre América del Norte (CISAN), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Dr. En Estudios Latinoamericanos, UNAM-México.  Ha sido Public Policy Scholar del Woodrow Wilson Center en Washington, profesor visitante de Columbia University en Nueva York, American University y del Centro Perry de la National Defense University. Es autor de libros y artículos sobre la guerra civil en El Salvador, y seguridad nacional, fuerzas armadas y crimen organizado en México:,