Leaked Emails Show Mexico’s Military Sold Grenades to the Cartels

Members of Mexico’s military also offered tactical equipment, ammunition, and intel on government officials, for the right price.
A government surveillance image shows members of the Mexican military handing over weapons to alleged members of a criminal organization. Photo: Mexico's Defense Ministry via a mass data leak.

Mexico’s military sold hand grenades and tactical equipment to drug cartels, according to a series of official documents leaked by a hacker group. 

“On May 31 2019 a military member offered 70 hand grenades to an operator of a criminal organization at 26,000 pesos each (roughly $1,300),” the leaked document showed. “The criminal organization confirmed the payment for eight [grenades] that were handed over at Atlacomulco, Mexico State.” 


The documents were leaked after a security breach at Mexico’s Defense Ministry, and published by a group called Guacamaya. The leak is one of Mexico’s biggest, and is composed of more than 4 million confidential documents, mostly emails, from inside the Mexican government. 

One of the military members selling weapons to criminal organizations is identified on the documents as “Antiguo” (which means old), military slang for a high-ranking member. The message exchange between the soldier and the buyer came out of Military Base Number 1, in Mexico City, according to the documents. 

The Mexican military also offered tactical equipment (unspecified, but that could include bulletproof vests or night-vision binoculars, for example), ammunition, information about rival gang members and the whereabouts of government officials, for the right price, according to emails included in the massive data leak. 

A leaked email dated June 24, 2019, revealed that another military member identified as “Nuevo Comandante” with the rank of colonel also sold “two thousand rounds for AK-47s, five thousand for R-15s and 50 chargers for each.” 

The same commander also offered to help an unidentified criminal organization by locating a local attorney general that it was trying to assassinate. Members of a “quick reaction” team belonging to the Mexican military were also protecting cartel members, according to more leaked emails. 

“An active member of the Quick Reaction Team in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara is serving as a link between the New Generation Jalisco Cartel leaders and authorities at the three levels,” the document said

The hack released more than six terabytes of confidential information revealing criminal organizations, confidential military tasks, and personal information on Mexico’s president. 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador downplayed the millions of documents leaked and said that “the only thing important” from the data breach was information revealing that he suffers from angina, which can lead to a heart attack.