Understanding the mexican Cartels and 'Narco Culture'

course topics

Immersion Course into Mexico, and its Culture

By officers and government officials understanding the Mexican culture through this immersion course section of the training, they will be able to intelligently and accurately articulate the indicators of non-criminal activity versus those of criminal activity. This is done through the study of many cultural topics including but not limited to:  Pre-Columbian history, Spanish Colonial Times, Mexican Independence, Mexican Revolution, Mexican Modern Times including Politics, Economics, Geography, Socio-Economic differences, Tourism, the Spanish language, the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, Mexican Folklore, etc. As a result of immersing oneself in Mexican culture, the practices of anti-bias policing and community policing are endorsed.

The Mexican Cartels

The discussion of these criminal organizations, now known as Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (MTCO) dates back over a century. This section of the course encompasses the birth of drug trafficking rings in Mexico, the rise of the powerful criminal groups known as "Cartels", and the multitude of MTCOs operating today. By understanding these group's history, tactics, trainings, factions, territories, communication practices, leadership, drug trafficking activities, and the vast amount of other criminal activities these groups are involved in throughout Mexico, the U.S., and the world, officers and government officials will better combat the ongoing danger in their respected jurisdictions which is currently "the biggest criminal threat to the United States".

Narco cultura

This section of the course covers the symbolism used by various criminal organizations in Mexico, and other commonly used objects that are representative indications of criminal behavior; both of folklore and modern origin. Additionally, this portion incorporates instruction on the currently booming Narco Corridos music industry, as well as the television and movie industries and their interrelated genres; while also integrating the various fashion statements and brands used in the culture today. Furthermore, this section contains information about the common weapons used by both criminal and non-criminal elements in Mexico and the reasons as to why. By recognizing items within Narco Cultura through videos of places visited in the United States and Mexico, as well as a vast collection of tangible items, officers and government officials can gather and differentiate possible indicators of criminal behavior versus innocent acts of following the rapidly growing "popular culture".


Within the Holy Roman Catholic Church, there are an enormous amount of patron saints. In Mexico, a number of these Roman Catholic patron saints, as well as folk saints, can and may be used by the criminal element and thereby indicative as possible criminal behavior. In addition, the use of other syncretized religions and folk beliefs such as Santeria, and Brujeria may also be categorized as such. This portion of highly detailed instruction on these followings is assisted by an enormous collection of tangible religious and folk items, displayed in a large shrine; as well as the subject of Roman Catholic sacramentals and their variations. To support these teachings, attendees are shown videos of interviews and research visits to various temples and shrines throughout the United States and Mexico. During this part of the course, there is a practical exercise in which attendees will take part in creating and recognizing a multitude of these shrines. By actively participating in this exercise, officers and government officials will be able to ascertain a vast amount of knowledge as it pertains to criminal versus non-criminal activity.

Illicit Criminal Activities

As mentioned, MCTOs are involved in a vast amount of criminal activities ranging from drug trafficking to human trafficking, from counterfeit goods to weapons smuggling, as well as many types of theft, just to name a few. Throughout this course, officers and government officials are instructed through many tell tale signs of possible criminal activity including but no where near limited to tactics, stash houses, burglary, arson, and vehicle interdiction, as well as review of current and past investigations dealing with money laundering, and drug and human trafficking including a double homicide/assassination in the State of Colorado.

Border Security and Immigration

Due to current affairs, this is an extensive portion covered during the course. With an incredibly porous border, which the MCTOs use to their advantage, attendees are instructed in the various ways these groups use the more than 2,000 mile stretch of southern border in their favor. By being aware of different primary and secondary trafficking routes, as well as areas of known distribution around the border and different ways of concealment, officers and government officials may interdict and/or gather possible elements of criminal activity.


As part of its mission statement, the Vigilance Project believes in keeping every law enforcement officer and government official safe; able to come back home to their families each night. In recognizing that MCTOs are a real and true threat to the safety and security of every citizen, and by knowing that officers are the first line of defense, this training covers numerous aspects of Mexican laws, culture and other traditions that may pose an imminent danger during a law enforcement contact.



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