Mexican officials now consider the Jalisco New Generation Cartel "the most urgent threat to Mexico's national security," according to a Wednesday Wall Street Journal report.
The cartel has been active in Mexico since 2010 but recently ramped up violent efforts to exert control over the country's drug trafficking and law enforcement entities. All told, the cartel's body count tops 100 in the state of Jalisco alone. In the state of Guanajuato last week, cartel operatives killed 28 in a single attack in an attempt to combat local gangs for a share of $3 billion worth of gasoline. In 2015, the cartel used a rocket launcher to take down a Mexican air force helicopter, killing several soldiers and a policewoman.
Washington is aware of the danger that the cartel poses. Drug Enforcement Administration officials deem the cartel America's top security threat from the region, issuing a $10 million bounty for information leading to the arrest of cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera. The Department of Justice previously referred to Jalisco New Generation as "the most well-armed cartel in Mexico."
American and Mexican authorities collaborate extensively to combat the Jalisco cartel. Attorney General William Barr has made extradition a priority. Accordingly, Oseguera's son, Ruben Oseguera, was extradited to Washington on drug charges. These efforts have paid some dividends: More than 600 arrests and 350 indictments have been issued within the United States pertaining to the cartel.
A 2019 DEA report found major drug distribution centers for the cartel in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Atlanta. Up to 94 percent of the heroin in the United States, often laced with fentanyl, comes from Mexico, the Washington Free Beacon reported in 2017. Taking steps to address the issue, President Trump met with Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador earlier this week at a White House summit to discuss the two countries' relationship.
"The forecasts were wrong. We didn't fight. We're friends and we're going to continue being friends," Lopez Obrador said.
Meanwhile, Democrats voiced concern over the U.S.-Mexico cooperation attempt. "I think the meeting, for the most part, was a dog and pony show," Rep. Jesus Garcia (D., Ill.) told C-SPAN. "It's also very telling that President Lopez Obrador would come and only meet with President Trump and not even arrange for a phone call with [Joe] Biden," he said.