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Total War In Mexico As Cartel Shoots Down Army Helicopter

The Mexican government has promised an all-out offensive against a rising drug cartel after the cartel demonstrated its power by shooting down a military helicopter.

The fittingly-named New Generation Jalisco Cartel, originally founded in 2009, has been surging in strength recently, destroying several rivals and becoming increasingly entrenched in its home state of Jalisco in central Mexico. It has increasingly stood up to Mexican government authority, killing at least 20 police officers in March and April alone.

In response, the Mexican government began Operation Jalisco, an effort to root out and capture or kill cartel members, in particular the group’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes.

However, the Jalisco Cartel showed that it has substantial firepower of its own, and last Friday it used a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) to destroy a military helicopter that was assisting with a military sweep. Six soldiers were killed when the helicopter went down. Initial news reports simply said that fire from the cartels had forced the helicopter into an emergency landing, but on Monday the government admitted that an RPG had destroyed the helicopter.

Even for Mexico’s well-funded, well-armed drug cartels, the action was shocking, with Mexican security commissioner admitting that such a feat was unprecedented in Mexico’s long war against drug cartels.

“It is the first time that they’ve shot this kind of helicopter,” Rubido told Mexico’s Radio Formula on Monday.

The soldiers on the helicopter weren’t the only victims of Jalisco’s show of force either, as a series of coordinated attacks on Friday also killed at least 15 other people.

In response, Rubido said that Mexico will come down on the cartel with even more overwhelming force.

“The full force of the Mexican state will be felt in the state of Jalisco,” he said. “Satisfactory results will start to be seen very soon.”

Mexico’s drug war, pitting the government against several different cartels and the cartels against each other, is believed to have claimed over 100,000 lives since 2006, a figure comparable to the war in Afghanistan. When current president Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, he originally pledged to scale back the aggressive policies of predecessor Felipe Calderon, but recent offensives indicate that Peña Nieto has become just as determined to crush the cartels.

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