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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 22:49 GMT
Mexico gang had 'James Bond' car
By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Mexico City

A Jeep Cherokee, like that which was customised by the Mexican gang
Most Jeep Cherokees do not boast police-defying smoke machines
Police in Mexico have come across a new weapon being used by the country's drug cartels - a James Bond-style vehicle complete with gadgets designed to deter arrest.

The car was abandoned by the gang members after a shoot-out.

The police and army sent to fight Mexico's drug cartels have seen most things - sophisticated rocket launchers, powerful assault rifles and gold-plated pistols.

But in the northern state of Tamaulipas even they were shocked to come across a Jeep Grande Cherokee kitted out with its own anti-police gadgets.

Spikes

Inside was a smoke machine and a device to spray spikes onto the road behind - the purpose to make a getaway easier and stop the car from being followed.

Federal policemen escort alleged members of the criminal gang Cartel del Golfo in Mexico City in January 2008
Mexico is plagued by drug-related gang violence

It is not known if the gadgets were ever used. The vehicle was abandoned after being rammed into a military truck.

Those in the Jeep threw a hand grenade before making their escape.

The episode may have its lighter side, but the reality of fighting the cartels is much deadlier.

So far this year more than 300 people have died in violence related to the cartels. That follows more than 2,500 deaths last year.

Billion-dollar business

The cartels are not short of money to buy the equipment they use.

It is estimated they control an industry smuggling cocaine into the United States worth around $13bn (6.5bn) a year.

The authorities have had some success in arresting the leaders of these gangs.

Last week a man thought to be at or near the head of the Tijuana cartel, Gustavo Rivera Martinez, was arrested.

Those setbacks may be leading to violent infighting among the gangs, which may account for the rising death toll.

It may also be the reason why some gang members are equipping themselves with more and more sophisticated weapons and vehicles as they fight to stay ahead of the police, the army and their rivals.



SEE ALSO
Mexico captures 'key drug lord'
13 Mar 08 |  Americas
Mexican drugs boss gets 22 years
05 Sep 07 |  Americas
US pledges $1m to help curb gangs
19 Jul 07 |  Americas



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