The Jalisco Cartel Is Dropping Death Threats From the Skies

The CJNG dropped flyers over a Mexican town to declare war on the Sinaloa Cartel and promised to “clean up” the region.
A gunman and a commander of the CJNG in Michoacán in a photograph taken last year. (Photos by Miguel Fernández-Flores)

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — Thousands of printed flyers were dropped from a Cessna airplane in broad daylight this week over a small village in the Mexican state of Jalisco in an unusual propaganda strategy for the country’s drug cartels.

A video shared on social media shows a small airplane flying in a clear sky over the village of Teocaltiche and launching thousands of flyers, which flutter down onto the streets.

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The paper rain brought with it the announcement of a new war between the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel (known by its Spanish initials as the CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel. Addressed to the people of Teocaltiche, the flyers assured “civilians and authorities” that “the fight is not against you, but against an age-old enemy.”

Over the last five years, the CJNG, run by Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, has been in a bloody fight against one of its main rivals in Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Jalisco, and two other states bordering Teocaltiche, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes, are at the center of the war between these two criminal organizations that has killed hundreds and displaced thousands.

The dropped leaflet, signed at the bottom with the CJNG initials over a Mexican flag, named an alleged Sinaloa Cartel member, blaming him and the cartel’s hitmen for extortion and homicides in the region. 

“We are cleaning up the region,” said the flyer. 

Teocaltiche’s mayor, Juan Manuel Vallejo Pedroza, decided to cancel classes for all schools following the drop, according to local news reports

Mexican drug cartels have occasionally used this publicity strategy in the past. In 2012, an airplane dropped a message over Culiacán, the capital of the state of Sinaloa, accusing the governor at the time of of “working for ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán.” 

In recent months, CJNG has turned up the volume on its propaganda, hanging banners from busy bridges, posting videos online flexing its fire power and using several accounts on all social media platforms to share victories. 

The Jalisco Cartel has been taking on the Sinaloa Cartel in several Mexican states as it looks to expand its turf. News stories have recently identified seven states as the most violent in Mexico where both cartels have strong presence: Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Morelos, and most recently Michoacán, where the Jalisco Cartel killed several people during a funeral service. 

The execution happened in broad daylight on a public street in San José de Gracia, about 350 miles from Mexico City, and a video from the attack showed a dozen people lined up outside a house with their backs to the wall and their hands over their faces before a blast of firearms sounds. Their bodies have yet to be found.