The 3 Most Notorious Mexican Drug Cartels

The 3 Most Notorious Mexican Drug Cartels

Organized crime operates to some extent in almost every country in the world. However, Mexico is unique in this respect.

For decades, it's not the elected government that rules over many areas, but drug cartels. These cartels are infamous not only for their wealth but also for their brutality.

Among the most notorious are the Jalisco New Generation, Los Zetas, and Sinaloa cartels.

Jalisco New Generation

This is one of the youngest Mexican cartels, established in the first decade of this century. Despite its youth, it ranks among the most powerful criminal organizations operating in Mexico.

It's unsurprising, given that its members are no novices in committing criminal acts. On the contrary, Jalisco New Generation is an offshoot of the rival cartel, Los Zetas.

One reason this cartel rose to prominence so quickly is its extreme brutality.

Of course, their competition isn't far behind in this respect, yet members of Jalisco New Generation never hesitate to go a few steps further. They boldly eliminate not only their competition but also Mexican state security forces.

The cartel is active not only in Mexico but also in other countries, mainly the United States.

Thanks to profits from their criminal activities, Jalisco can afford modern weapons and communication tools, thus successfully fighting all their enemies.

Los Zetas

This cartel largely originates from the Mexican military. Its founding members once served in Mexico's armed forces, making Los Zetas particularly dangerous.

Many of their members have military training, allowing them not only to master various types of firearms and melee weapons but also to be adept in tactics and planning. This makes them very effective.

Like other Mexican cartels, Los Zetas engage in many activities.

Their main income source is, of course, drugs, but they also excel in arms trafficking, money laundering, human smuggling into the USA, and human trafficking.

The Los Zetas cartel has suffered in the past as various groups broke away to become independent. Although the organization is no longer in its prime form, it still commands fear and respect.


The Sinaloa Cartel is a living legend, if such a term can be applied to a brutal criminal organization. Its founder was Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, currently incarcerated.

Shortly after Gallardo's arrest, Joaquin Guzmán, also known as El Chapo, took over the leadership of the cartel.

However, he too is no longer free and likely never will be again. Guzmán was sentenced to life imprisonment in the USA, where he is serving his sentence.

The cartel was founded in the 1980s and is still operational today. Like its competitors, it is involved in everything related to drugs, human trafficking, weapons, and murder.

The World's Most Dangerous Criminal Organizations

Mexican cartels rank among the world's most dangerous criminal organizations. Even though they commit the most atrocious atrocities, mainly the poorer layers of Mexican society support their leaders.

For many Mexicans, cartels are the only option to somewhat improve their dire living conditions, and as long as this remains unchanged, it's very unlikely that the Mexican government will be able to eliminate these criminal organizations.