Understanding the mexican Cartels and 'Narco Culture'

course topics

Immersion Course into Mexico, and its Culture

The United States and Mexico have long standing cultural and demographical ties to one another. The Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (MTCOs) or as most people know them, "Cartels", use this to their advantage as they hide their illicit criminal activities in plain sight within the US and throughout the world. These are often inconspicuous, making it challenging or even difficult for even the most experienced officer to identify or recognize.

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 items of interest and factors that will apply in any investigation as it relates to such activities. 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, and more. As a result of immersing oneself in Mexican culture, the practices of anti-bias policing and community policing are highly endorsed by this unmatched, one of a kind course.

The Mexican Cartels

The discussion of these MTCOs and other criminal groups dates back over a century. This section of the course encompasses the birth of drug trafficking rings in Mexico, and the rise of the powerful criminal groups 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 they 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".

During this section, the evolution of Mexico's old Drug Trafficking Organizations or "DTOs" into world significant transnational criminal organizations is also covered. With this advanced title, they have a reach that can distribute and traffic illegal substances which surpassed any other foreign or domestic criminal groups or syndicate. As such, you can find MCTOs controlling the drug markets in Alaska and throughout the US, running the production of cocaine in Peru, Columbia, and Bolivia, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego; into Europe with the Italian Mafia, and in bed with the Thai-Canadian Mafia, the Iranian-Candian Mafia, the Italian Mafia, and the Russian Mafia.... just to name a few.

Narco cultura

This portion of the course explains "Narco Cultura", the sub-criminal culture that emanates from Mexico as it relates to the MCTOs, other regional mafias, organized crimes, and gangs that operate throughout the U.S. and the world. It goes on to cover 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 part 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 U.S. and Mexico, you will be guided and instructed on how to utilize items of interest that factor into your investigations, and efficiently and intelligently address such findings in a criminal report. We will provide examples of these from actual major narcotics investigations, conducted recently within regions of which the instructor operates and are directly associated with "cartels". Furthermore, every class presentation includes a large "shrine" and other displays that hold over 1,500 tangible items presented to you as they will actually be encountered in possible future investigations.


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.




Class Alert

Mason, MI


Aug 6


Aug 9


Hosted by Midwest Gang Investigators Association (MGIA) - MI Chapter, MAGLOCLEN, Crimestoppers of Mid-Michigan, and Ingham County Sheriff's Office

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Class Alert

Bernalillo, NM


Sep 24


Sep 27


Hosted by Sandoval County Sheriff's Office

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