The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (Jalisco New Generation Cartel) has risen to prominence over the last few months, apparently coming out of the blue with their sudden offensive in Jalisco that was highlighted by the shoot-down of a Mexican Army helicopter, the first such shoot-down in the Mexican drug war. The truth is, the cartel was growing behind the scenes, masking its presence and its growth as the rest of the Mexican cartels caught headlines with their atrocities.

Reportedly, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion was formed from the disintegration of the Milenio Cartel, a largely financial affiliate of the Sinaloa Federation, following the killing of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel in 2010. With “Nacho” dead, the cartel split into “La Resistencia” and “Los Torcidos,” and proceeded to fight amongst themselves until “Los Torcidos” came out on top and became the CJNG.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel really started to come to light as some of the driving force behind the push against Los Zetas; there is still some confusion as to whether the “Mata Zetas” (Zeta Killers) are another name for the CJNG, or a specialized cell of the group.

This sort of vigilante operational model helped to obscure the new cartel for some time; with the rise of the autodefensas militias in Michoacan, the government (which has its own reasons for disliking the rise of autonomous armed groups not under the control of Mexico City, regardless of their goals) has accused many of the self-defense militias of being supported by, if not actually allied with, CJNG. The connection between CJNG and the autodefensas has yet to be substantiated, but it is undeniable that once the Caballeros Templarios Cartel crumbled in Michoacan, the CJNG has quickly stepped in to fill the void.