EXCLUSIVE — Mexican Cartels Turning to Train Robberies for Cash

In this Saturday, July 12, 2014, photo, migrants run to jump on a train during their journ
AP File Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

The investigation into the recent derailment of a train in coastal Veracruz indicates the cartels are getting into train robberies to diversify income. In three months, gunmen robbed more trains than in all of 2017. 

From January to March 2018, Mexico saw 852 train robberies, according to Mexico’s Train System (SFM). That figure is almost seven times higher than the 125 recorded during the same time period in 2017. In three months, Mexico recorded more train robberies than 720 robberies reported for 2017 

“Train robberies have become a national security problem,” said Mexican Congressman and former Chairman of the Bicameral Commission for National Security Waldo Fernandez during an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas. “It is concerning the lack of attention that this is getting from the federation and the fact that none of the [presidential] candidates have spoken out about it. An attack on a train is a direct affront to the Mexican state.”

The uptick in train robberies and derailments come at a time when cartels diversified their operations from drug trafficking into human smuggling, human trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion. Business leaders in Mexico are concerned that unless the government addresses the issue in a timely manner, the practice will continue to spread.  

One of the most recent intentional derailments took place last month in the municipality of Orizaba, Veracruz, where a team of gunmen cut the train’s brake lines in an apparent attempt to steal part of a shipment of 2,000 tons of corn and sorghum. The train was made up of four engine cars and 39 container cars that traveled at least 6 miles without brakes until colliding with another train. The wreck caused the derailment of 17 train cars, killed one of the drivers, and injured four crew. The wreck also caused considerable damage to the surrounding community.

In recent weeks, Mexican authorities dealt with six separate train wrecks between Puebla and Veracruz. The crashes were caused by criminals removing rails or placing rocks on the tracks to steal the cargo. 

Intelligence information obtained by Breitbart Texas points to a cartel faction calling itself “Sangre Nueva Zeta” as being the one responsible for train robberies in Veracruz, Tlaxcala, and Puebla. Authorities are currently searching for Roberto “El Bukanas” De Los Santos de Jesus, a former municipal police officer turned regional leader for SNZ. 

In the states of Guanajuato and Queretaro, the attacks on trains are carried out by Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). The gunmen hold up the trains at gunpoint or through derailments to steal containers of fuel from refineries to other parts of Mexico. 

The reason for the spike in attacks on train remains unclear, however, in 2017, a magazine linked to Al Qaeda published an 18-page manual on how to derail trains in America and Europe, Breitbart News reported at the time. The article noted the lower risks to those carrying out the attack and the consequences of bleeding the economy. 

Editor’s Note: Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities.  The writers would face certain death at the hands of the various cartels that operate in those areas including the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas if a pseudonym were not used. Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by Tony Aranda from Nuevo León. 


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