A video depicting a sprawling military-style convoy of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels circulated on social networks on Friday just as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador visited the group’s heartland.
In the two-minute clip, members of the fearsome Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) stand in fatigues alongside a seemingly endless procession of armored vehicles.
“Only Mencho’s people,” members of the cartel shout, pumping their fists and flashing their long guns. The cry was a salute to their leader, Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, one of the country’s most-wanted drug lords.
The video’s release coincided with Lopez Obrador’s visit to the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco and Colima, some of the cartel’s strongholds.
“They are sending a clear message… that they basically rule Mexico, not Lopez Obrador,” said Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
A spokesman for Lopez Obrador’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was unclear when the video had been filmed, but it appeared to be authentic, Vigil said.