Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeremy Kryt and appears in The Daily Beast.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Some locals call the long, arid valley Tierra Caliente, or the Hot Land. To others it’s Infiernillo, which means Little Hell. Such colorful nicknames refer to more than just the scorching climate: the Hot Land is also the newest front line in the Mexican Drug War.
Running through southwestern Guerrero state, where 43 students disappeared in September of 2014, the infernal vale encompasses some of the deadliest country in the hemisphere.
While other major cartel umbrella groups—like Chapo Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel federation—have been weakened by loss of leadership and infighting over the last year, intelligence reports show dozens of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in Tierra Caliente growing stronger in 2016.
All that heroin-derived revenue allows the Hot Land’s cartels to prey, vampire-like, on the region’s farmers, business owners, and politicians. The gangs’ preferred terror tactics include kidnapping, extortion, rape, murder, and even organ trafficking. …