A narco tank, also called rhino trucks or monstruo (Spanish for 'monster'), is an improvised fighting vehicle used by drug cartels.[1] The vehicles are primarily civilian trucks with improvised vehicle armour, which adds operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities when fighting law enforcement or rivals during drug trafficking activities.


In Mexico, narco tanks have been extensively manufactured and operated by drug cartels and other gangs involved in the Mexican Drug War.[2][3][4][5] They are often modified semi-trucks, dump trucks, pickup trucks, or other large vehicles not intended for such a purpose, and come equipped with varying levels of protection and attack capability, but even smaller narco tanks are plated with two inches (5.1 cm) of steel armor.[citation needed] Mexican authorities have seized about twenty such armored trucks in the state of Tamaulipas alone, four of which were later destroyed.[6] Cartels also began to build narco tanks with the armor installed on the interior rather than outside the vehicle, to draw away suspicion from rival drug cartels and the Mexican government. On May 22, 2011, one such vehicle belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel was seized in the state of Jalisco.[2] In 2015, Mexican authorities found a narco tank factory in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas that had eight vehicles in it, which were in the process of having armor plates with gun holes added to them.[7] Some narco tanks are equipped with improvised battering rams on the front to break through roadblocks.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Johnson, Tim. "Mexican drug gangs building own tanks as war intensifies". McClatchy DC. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Mexico police seize 'narco-tank' used by drug gang". BBC News. May 21, 2010. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "'Narco tank' is latest find in cartels' armored vehicles". The Los Angeles Times. May 25, 2011. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Mexico soldiers find narco 'tank' factory". Yahoo! News. AFP. June 6, 2011. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "Mexican Cartels Moving Drugs in Armored Vehicles". Fox News. January 18, 2012. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Mexican army destroys drug cartel 'narco-tanks'". BBC News. June 6, 2011. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  7. ^ Jeremy Bender (18 February 2015). "Mexican authorities discovered a 'narco tank' factory near the US border". Business Insider Australia.
  8. ^ "Most amazing narco tanks - Business Insider". Business Insider. 19 February 2015.

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