Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #39: GoPro Video Social Media Posting of Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) Tactical Action against Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in Guanajuato - Indications & Warning (I&W) Concerns
Robert J. Bunker, Alma Keshavarz and John P. Sullivan
Select Mexican military and federal police units have been utilizing body cams for some years now for after action review, prosecutorial, and public informational (i.e., state narrative) purposes. Such use has taken place at least since January 2016 (the ‘El Chapo’ takedown) per YouTube posted footage, if not earlier—in their raids on cartel kingpins and operatives. In what may represent an Indications and Warning (I&W) incident, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima or CSRL, Cártel de Santa Rosa or CSR, SRL; aka Cártel de Guanajuato) has now utilized a GoPro body cam in a recent tactical action against the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and posted the video imagery (and accompanying audio) to its online social media. In essence, the CSRL GoPro video posting elevated this tactical action into First Person Shooter (FPS) type immersive activity—a form of social media tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) usage believed to have not previously been employed by a Mexican cartel. Thus, this appears to be the first documented use of this immersive FPS TTP.
Key Information: “Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima difunde video de sangrienta ejecución a miembros del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación.” Vanguardia. 26 February 2019, https://vanguardia.com.mx/articulo/cartel-santa-rosa-de-lima-difunde-video-de-sangrienta-ejecucion-miembros-del-cartel-jalisco:
Foto: Tomada de Internet
Integrantes del Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima liderado por ‘El Marro’, asesinaron en 90 segundos a presuntos integrantes del CJNG
El 5 de febrero en el municipio de Valle de Santiago, Guanajuato, un supuesto grupo enviado por José Antonio Yepes, alias “El Marro”, líder del Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima, llegó una vulcanizadora con el fin de asesinar a presuntos integrantes del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), grupo criminal con que se disputa el territorio por el huachicoleo.
El cártel de “El Marro” difundió un video en alta definición del momento en que acribilla a cinco personas en 90 segundos.
En la grabación se observa arribar al negocio tres camioneta con hombres embozados con gorras negras y chalecos tácticos, quienes sin mediar palabras atacan a sus enemigos con subametralladoras tipo heckler and koch de última generación, que son utilizados para asalto urbano por grupos de élite tipo swat, según reveló el periodista Humberto Padgett a Radio Fórmula.
Estos son liderados por un sujeto con entrenamiento militar, quien en algún momento le dice a uno de “sus hombres” que cuide su retaguardia. A la vez que el líder va abriendo fuego, coordina las operaciones en el terreno con mucho control sobre los hechos.
Después del ataque, los integrantes del Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima vuelven a las camionetas y huyen.
Key Information: Chivis Martinez, “Guanajuato: ‘Go Pro’ footage by El Marro’s enforcers of armed attack in CJNG [video].” Borderland Beat. 27 February 2019, http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2019/02/guanajuato-go-pro-footage-by-el-marros.html:
This event occurred on February 5th but video was released this week on social media. The footage was captured by one of the Santa Rosa de Lima enforcers who used a Go-Pro camera. One of the cartel enforcers has a green laser sight on this weapon.
The aggression was against members of CJNG. In the recording the aggressors are heard shouting “El Marro!, El Marro!”, the name of the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel, who is in a violent war in Guanajuato with El Mencho and CJNG relating to “huachicol” in the state.
The attack occurred in the municipality of Valle de Santiago, Guanajuato, in which 5 men were killed.
The murders were in a tire repair shop located in the colonia “20 of November”, where armed men burst in and opened fire.
The gunmen arrived to the shop in two white trucks and exited the vehicles wearing bulletproof vests, running towards the tire shop shouting the order of: “Down! Go inside!” and between weapons bursts they advance. One of them, with a yellow shirt, shoots a man twice who was lying on the ground outside the shop.
To gain entry, one of the men drove a truck in reverse and crashed into the building.
Sicario #1: Get down! Go inside, go inside, go inside! Who’s left? Sicario#2: That faggot ran that way, that faggot ran that way. Sicario #1: Go inside! Knock down that wall, knock down that wall! Sicario #3: The fence, the fence! Sicario #1: Son of a bitch! This motherfucker! (He’s complaining about that mad dash reverse) Go forward, forward, forward! What do you see? What do you see fucker? Sicario #2: There’s nothing. Sicario #3: There’s nothing. Sicario #2: I’m coming along on this side, I’m coming along on this side. Sicario #1: I’m on this side, I’m on this side of the van fucker. Anything? Sicario #2: Nothing. Sicario #1: Let’s go! Look back, look back. Man, this motherfucker’s crazy the way he knocked down that wall! Let’s go, let’s go! - Translation by Sol Prendido
Key Information: Adry Torres, “Shocking moment heavily-armed Mexican gangsters launch a military-style assault against a rival cartel, leaving five dead.” Daily Mail. 27 February 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6751713/Armed-men-film-military-style-assault-against-rival-cartel-Mexico-leaving-five-men-dead.html:
• Hit squad with the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel attacked the New Jalisco Generation Cartel in a battle for turf control in illegal oil tapping
• A man leading the assault recorded the moment they drove up to an auto body shop in Guanajuato and killed five men
• The video footage was shared by the cartel on social media following the February 5 attack
• Both criminal factions have been at odds since December 2017 when José Antonio ‘El Marro’ Yépez Ortiz declared war on the New Jalisco Generation Cartel
This is the moment a group of armed men filmed their swat-like attack against a rival cartel which left five men dead.
The alleged members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel drove up to an auto body shop in Guanajuato, Mexico, and delivered a deadly assault against the presumed associates of the New Jalisco Generation Cartel in a battle over turf control of the illegal oil tapping business or ‘huachicoleo’.
The attack reportedly occurred February 5, according to Mexican news outlet Vanguardia. The footage was originally posted on social media.
One of the killers, apparently carrying a Go-Pro camera attached to his body, records the moment two pickup trucks make a sudden stop on a dirt street and unleash the savage strike on the unsuspecting men.
The clip starts with a man, perhaps the leader of the gang, hopping out of a vehicle and ordering his cohorts to rush the building.
A man wearing a yellow t-shirt then uses his military assault rifle to blast two shots at a wounded male victim who was laying on the ground.
Another member of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel surveys the area and tells one of the other gunmen that there’s a man on the run.
In the back, a male voice shouts, ‘El Marro, El Marro,’ an apparent reference to José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.
The presumed ringleader then orders one of the cartel members to break down a wall.
The man goes into the pickup truck and places it in reverse before barreling over the structure.
Much to their dismay, it appears that the person they are looking for escaped…
Who: The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel or Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL). This cartel emerged in 2017 and is under the leadership of José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez. It is centered in the state of Guanajuato and has since spread to the states of Querétaro, and more recently, Hidalgo. Its criminal activity focuses on fuel theft (they are essentially huachicoleros) related to Pemex petroleum pipelines. The cartel may be attempting to diversify into cargo theft and narcotics trafficking.
What: A tactical action between the CRSL and Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) videotaped by a CRSL sicario wearing a body cam. This incident was specifically a raid carried out by CRSL on an auto body shop operated by CJNG which resulted in the killing of 5 of the later group’s personnel. The specific CJNG individual who was being targeted in the raid apparently escaped during the incident. These two cartels have been at war since October 2017. During the first two months of 2019 the conflict between the CSRL and CJNG in Guanajuato state resulted in 600 murders (approximately over 10 per day).
When: The incident took place on 5 February 2019 during daylight hours. The GoPro video was not posted to social media by CSRL until approximately 26 February (or possibly a day or so earlier).
Where: The raid was directed against an auto body shop controlled by CJNG in the municipality of Valle de Santiago, Guanajuato state, Mexico.
Why: The use of a body cam (GoPro) during a tactical action represents a more sophisticated—immersive—use of social media by a Mexican cartel. Benefits include more emotive impact of the audio-visual experience by the viewer—especially younger ones used to playing FPS games—which translates into greater propaganda as well as indoctrination and recruitment impact.
Social media has long been utilized by the Mexican cartels as a means of messaging to rival cartels, local populaces, and municipal, state, and federal Mexican authorities. The context of its use can be within that of both static (controlled) and dynamic (uncontrolled) environments. Such social media is typically visual in nature—single images (pictures) and streaming imagery (video)—with audio sometimes included in the streaming imagery. The image below of a group of CRSL sicarios from a Facebook affinity page related to the cartel portrays a single image (no audio) within a static environment:
Cartel Santa Rosa De Lima
Social Media (Facebook) Image Posting: 2 November 2017
The following video, which is the CSRL declaration of war against CJNG in October 2017, is representative of another controlled environment social media posting, however, in this instance it contains a 1:19 minute video with the inclusion of audio.
Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima, Guanajuato
Social Media (YouTube) Video Reposting: 17 October 2017 [0:55 Time Mark]
This third example is of that of a dynamic environment with a 24 second video (no audio) of hospital closed circuit television (CCTV) footage. The footage—what can be considered a third person perspective/point of view (POV)—shows part of a five man cartel kill team belonging to CSRL entering the emergency room of the hospital in Salvatierra, Guanajuato state and assassinating an opposing CJNG cartel member along with the municipal police officer guarding him:
Cartel Kill Team Raid Emergency Room in Salvatierra
Social Media (Twitter) Periódico Excélsior: 17 January 2019 [0:14 Time Mark]
The fourth example is that of the recent CSRL tactical action against a CJNG auto repair shop in Valle de Santiago, Guanajuato state which took place on 5 February 2019. The 1:45 minute GoPro video of the raid (which included audio) is representative of a dynamic environmental situation with streaming imagery and sound. This element provides a first person (aka FPS; First Person Shooter) POV making it unique as a cartel social media posting.
This form of tactical action filming results in an immersive ‘action video game’ type experience for the viewer, enhancing both the incident’s propaganda as well as recruitment and indoctrination value. These benefits had earlier been recognized by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), whose operative in the Paris supermarket shooting of January 2015 filmed and uploaded 7 minutes of the attack to social media from a GoPro camera.
A 28 October 2018 cartel ambush of a Mexican police patrol in Almoloya de Alquisiras, State of Mexico is a precursor to the 5 February 2019 incident in Santiago, Guanajuato. It represents a blend of static and dynamic environmental characteristics—as a well-planned downward slope ambush of a police patrol passing on a narrow road with a drop off—which appears more third person than first person due to the static nature of its filming from the cartel unit’s static firing position. For this reason, it lacks the emotional intensity of the new CRSL GoPro video yet as of 1 March 2019 one posting of it had still received 6,187,758 YouTube views. For a view from the static firing position towards the downward slope into the kill zone see:
Social Media (YouTube): ATENTADO Y/ O EMBOSCADA 22/12/2018 [1:01 Time Mark]
Concerning the 4th example, the CJNG auto repair shop raid begins with 2 CRSL pick up trucks rolling up to the auto shop with two sicarios in the front truck bed unloading rounds from their automatic rifles into the auto shop supported by the fires of the quickly dismounted sicarios from the second truck [0:00-0:13 Time Mark]. The unit leader (presumably) wearing the GoPro and the other sicario in the first truck then dismount supported by an already dismounted first truck sicario (presumably the driver). This three-man team is joined by the two-man sicario team from the second truck who then mutually assault the repair shop. In the process, they execute a fallen CJNG gunmen on the ground in front of the shop and continue to fire into it [0:14-0:32 Time Mark]. The sicarios then make entry into the left (open side) of the shop—possibly an office or reception area—firing into it as they clear it. Obscuring smoke is evident from the automatic weapons fire with a green laser beam seen emanating from the sight of one of the CRSL sicario’s assault rifles [0:33-0:39 Time Mark]. The sicarios then turn their attention to the right (garage side) of the shop which has a wall/locked doors (presumably wooden). These are battered down by reversing one of the pick up trucks into them and immediately pulling it out to allow access [0:40-1:01 Time Mark]. Some of the sicarios then make entry into the garage area, negotiating between many stored vehicles while firing sporadically as they clear it [1:02-1:25 Time Mark]. The last segment of the video sees the unit leader exiting the garage area and heading back to the first truck while a mop up operation is taking place with a few more shots being fired by the other sicarios [1:26-1:45 Time Mark]. While 5 CJNG members were reportedly killed at the repair shop, only one corpse in front of the shop is evident from the video. It is presumed the four other fatalities took place inside the shop most likely in the open left side office/reception area. The target of the raid—a high ranking CJNG member—escaped by apparently running away from the incident scene through the back of the repair shop. Our translation of the audio with time marks is included below:
Sicario #1: Get down! Go inside, go inside, go inside! 0:17
Sicario #2: Let’s go! 0:20
Sicario #1: Who’s left? 0:22
Sicario#2: That faggot ran that way, that faggot ran that way. 0:28
Sicario #1: Go inside! Knock that wall down, knock that wall down! 0:29
Sicario #3: The fence, the fence! 0:30
Sicario #1: Knock that wall down! 0:31
Sicario #1: Son of a bitch! This motherfucker! Go forward, forward, forward! What do you see? What do you see fucker? 0:43
Sicario #2: Nothing. 1:00
Sicario #3: There’s nothing. 1:01
Sicario #2: I’m coming along on this side, I’m coming along on this side. 1:02
Sicario #1: I’m on this side, I’m on this side of the van fucker. Nothing? 1:05
Sicario #2: Nothing. 1:09
Sicario #1: Let’s go! Look back, look back. Man, this asshole’s crazy the way he knocked down that wall! Let’s go, let’s go! 1:11
See YouTube Videos “Sicarios graban ataque a vulcanizadora de Guanajuato; Mataron a 5 personas” from MX Político Noticias, posted 26 February 2019, https://youtu.be/i67l5y1Qyd4 and “Cartel Santa Rosa de Lima ejecuta a gente del CJNG” from Noticias de la Bahía, posted 27 February 2019, https://youtu.be/-70FoFOnp4Y
While this is presently a one-off (I&W) type incident, more such Mexican cartel FPS type videos posted to social media are now inevitable although the rate at which they will proliferate is unknown. Further, futures projections suggest that an eventual follow on cartel social media TTP to this CSRL GoPro taped tactical action will be the live streaming of such FPS immersive experiences—rather than their posting to social media after the fact (with this incident being online posted roughly 21 days after the incident). This concern has been expressed for some time by security professionals with regard to terrorists and domestic US active shooters. This firebreak was crossed in June 2016 by an Islamic State operative who live streamed 12 minutes of an attack/hostage barricade near Paris on Facebook. There is no reason the Mexican cartels—who are increasingly catching up in their social media sophistication related to propaganda and narco-terrorism activities—would not one day fully emulate such terrorist FPS live streaming of their own tactical actions as a new component of the ongoing criminal insurgencies in that country. Though such live streaming has its potential drawbacks if a tactical action should met with failure from a negative messaging impact perspective.
“Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima difunde video de sangrienta ejecución a miembros del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación.” Vanguardia. 26 February 2019, https://vanguardia.com.mx/articulo/cartel-santa-rosa-de-lima-difunde-video-de-sangrienta-ejecucion-miembros-del-cartel-jalisco.
Chivis Martinez, “Guanajuato: ‘Go Pro’ footage by El Marro’s enforcers of armed attack in CJNG [video].” Borderland Beat. 27 February 2019, http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2019/02/guanajuato-go-pro-footage-by-el-marros.html.
Adry Torres, “Shocking moment heavily-armed Mexican gangsters launch a military-style assault against a rival cartel, leaving five dead.” Daily Mail. 27 February 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6751713/Armed-men-film-military-style-assault-against-rival-cartel-Mexico-leaving-five-men-dead.html.
Special thanks to Chivis Martinez at Borderland Beat for providing background context related to the rise of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel/Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL).
 “POV GoPro Helmet Cam Footage From Mexican Marines During Capture Of El Chapo.” YouTube. 11 January 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMYm8x_T1fM.
 “Santa Rosa petroleum cartel expanding from Guanajuato into Querétaro, Hidalgo.”
Mexico News Daily. 11 February 2019, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/santa-lima-petroleum-cartel-expanding/.
 “Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima: el ‘rey’ del huachicol en Guanajuato.” Huffington Post (Mexico). 1 February 2019 (Updated 14 February 2019),
 “APARECE EL NUEVO ‘CÁRTEL SANTA ROSA DE LIMA GUANAJUATO’ Y LE DECLARA LA GUERRA AL CJNG.” Noticaribe. 19 October 2017, https://noticaribe.com.mx/2017/10/19/aparece-el-nuevo-cartel-santa-rosa-de-lima-guanajuato-y-le-declara-la-guerra-al-cjng/.
 Verónica Espinosa, “Asesinan a 600 personas en Guanajuato durante los dos primeros meses del año.” Proceso. 2 March 2019, https://www.proceso.com.mx/573834/asesinan-a-600-personas-en-guanajuato-durante-los-dos-primeros-meses-del-ano.
 This harkens back to a statement linked to Andy Warhol in 1968—“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” This phenomenon is readily seen in radical Islamist martyrdom videos but to date it has been absent in Mexican narco wars.
 Social media is essentially used as a form of information operations (InfoOps) by the cartels. See for example, Robert J. Bunker, “The Growing Mexican Cartel and Vigilante War in Cyberspace: Information Offensives and Counter-Offensives.” Small Wars Journal. 3 November 2011, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-growing-mexican-cartel-and-vigilante-war-in-cyberspace; and John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus, “Mexican Drug Lords vs. Cybervigilantes and the Social Media.” Mexidata,info. 5 March 2012, https://www.academia.edu/8753016/Mexican_Drug_Lords_vs._Cybervigilantes_and_the_Social_Media.
 Numerous examples of third person video (with audio) of Mexican cartel paramilitary activities exist in social media and news postings over the years. These include convoys of heavily armed cartel enforcers being picked up by municipal CCTV and cartel members being filmed in firefights. See, for example, “Drug Cartel Cruising through the City (Apatzingán, Michoacán) Mexico.” YouTube. 28 May 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxLTauUiZg8 and “mexican cartel getting ready for a shooting with a rival cartel.” YouTube. 12 April 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeRqlaml538.
 “Paris Terrorist Recorded Video of Massacre at Kosher Market on GoPro Camera: Report.” KTLA 5 News. 30 January 2015, https://ktla.com/2015/01/30/paris-terrorist-recorded-massacre-at-kosher-market-on-gopro-camera-report/.
 See the 2:20 minute video at “Sicarios graban emboscada a policías del EdoMex.” YouTube. 22 December 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_zEQkPSxdU.
 Ron Synovitz, “Paris Terrorist’s Video Underscores Live-Streaming Challenges For Social Media.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 18 June 2016, https://www.rferl.org/a/social-media-live-streaming-video-challenges/27806537.html.
Significance: Body Cam, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), First Person Shooter (FPS), Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel/Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CRSL), Social Media
For Additional Reading
Social Media Use by Cartels
Justin Nix, Michael R. Smith, Matthew Petrocelli, Jeff Rojek and Victor M. Manjarrez, “The Use of Social Media by Alleged Members of Mexican Cartels and Affiliated Drug Trafficking Organizations.” Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Vol, 13, No, 3. January 2016, DOI: 10.1515/jhsem-2015-0084,
Rebecca Plevin (Images by Omar Ornelas), “‘We’re Going to Find You.’ Mexican Cartels Turn Social Media Into Tools for Extortion, Threats, and Violence.” Pulitzer Center (The Desert Sun). 28 February, https://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/were-going-find-you-mexican-cartels-turn-social-media-tools-extortion-threats-and-violence.
John P. Sullivan, “Cartel Info Ops: Power and Counter-power in Mexico’s Drug War.” MountainRunner.us. 15 November 2010, https://mountainrunner.us/2010/11/cartel_info_ops_power_and_counter-power_in_mexico_drug_war/.
Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CRSL) Background Reading
Chris Dalby, “Mexico’s Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel Risks Burning Too Bright, Too Fast.” InSight Crime. 15 February 2019, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/mexicos-santa-rosa-de-lima-cartel-el-marro/.
“‘El Marro’, su hermana y los otros líderes del Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima.” Infobae. 28 February 2019, https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2019/02/01/el-marro-su-hermana-y-los-otros-lideres-del-cartel-de-santa-rosa-de-lima/.
“Government reveals there were explosive devices near refinery after all.” Mexico News Daily. 1 February 2019, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/government-reveals-there-were-explosive-devices-near-refinery/.
“Santa Rosa petroleum cartel expanding from Guanajuato into Querétaro, Hidalgo.”
Mexico News Daily. 11 February 2019, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/santa-lima-petroleum-cartel-expanding/.
“‘El Marro’ se deslinda de amenaza a AMLO, le echa la culpa a ‘El Mencho’ y su Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación.” Vanguardia. 1 February 2019, https://vanguardia.com.mx/articulo/el-marro-se-deslinda-de-amenaza-amlo-le-echa-la-culpa-el-mencho-y-su-cartel-jalisco-nueva-g.