Mexican authorities destroy 14 homemade armored cars used by drug cartels

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities in northern Mexico said Sunday they have destroyed 14 homemade armored cars of the kind used by drug cartels to fight land battles.

The vehicles are usually adapted from commercial trucks, with steel plate armor welded on. Known in Mexico as “monstruos,” or “Monsters,” some of the vehicles junked were truly monstrous.

Many had thick steel ramming prows welded to the front. Others had firing ports and gun turrets. At least one was painted in green camouflage to resemble a Mexican army vehicle.

Video distributed by the federal attorney general’s office showed a crane with a claw ripping one of the vehicles apart in Tamaulipas state.

The state, which borders Texas, is home to at least two warring drug cartels, the Northeast and Gulf cartels. Prosecutors did not say which gang the vehicles belonged to or when they were seized.

While such vehicles appear intimidating, they have proved vulnerable in practice. Because the steel armor adds so much weight, they tend to be slow, unwieldy and often break down. Easy to spot, they also appear to be vulnerable to incendiary devices or munitions. Many are found burned.

Their use illustrates the lengths Mexican cartels have gone to fight rivals and authorities. The cartels’ weapons also include improvised explosive devices and bomb-dropping drones.