Mexican Army Special Operations Forces History and the War on Drugs


Jul 3, 2017
Nogales, Sonora
Hi guys!

I decided to create this thread to share it with the community about my country Army SOF units and their actual use in the War on Drugs and their history.

Disclaimer for the group: I don't think that our Armed Forces should be in the streets doing what is the Law Enforcement job, but since our LE agencies are to weak and ineffective to handle the actual conflict, the Armed Forces are the only ones who can handle the problem.

Main social/security problems and issues with the War on Drugs:

-Political and Law Enforment corruption
-DTO propaganda via music, public figures and social media
-Weak logisitcal support from different federal, state and local agencies
-Non-governmental organizations linked with DTOs
-Human rights organizations linked with DTOs
-Left-wing groups with pseudo-revolutionary ideologies from the 20th century

In other hand the Armed Forces corruption issue has down drastically, gaining civilian support with execption of the civilian public affiliated with left-wing parties and civilian public who supports DTOs (mostly of them are people living in states with high DTO influence i.g. states like Sinaloa or Tamaulipas).

-Cuerpo de Fuerzas Especiales (Mexican Army Special Forces Corps) our counterpart of the USASOC


  • Created in 2004
  • HQs Based in Temamatla, State of Mexico
  • 3300-3500 active duty personnel
  • 6 SF battalions
  • 1 SF-QRF Battalion
  • 1 Special operations traning center school
  • 4 SF traning sub-centers distributed throughout the country
  • 1 Special Mission Unit
Pre-Mexican Drug War era (1985-2005)

Back then before the 1986 FIFA World Cup, the Mexican government got the necessity of have a CT unit if something wrong happened in the World Cup, then the Mexican government created a pilot unit compromised with military personnel from the Paratrooper Brigade and civilian instructors, the unit was called "Grupo de Montañismo Anahuac" (Anahuac Mountaineering Group), the pilot unit was trained with help of the French GIGN and the French Foreign Legion in their first months, later the pilot unit got traning in Fort Benning and Fort Bragg.

With all the training accumulated during that lapse and after the 1986 FIFA World Cup finished, the Mexican Army created the "Fuerza Especial de Reacción Inmediata del Alto Mando" (High Command Immediate Reaction Special Force) and the unit become active in July of 1987, with the new unit created the US government helped the unit with more specialized training, is very known that the FERIAM got a lot of training from 1st SFOD-D and the CIA Directorate of Operations for few years.

In the 90s with the increase of Zapatista movement and left-wing guerrillas in the south of Mexico, the Mexican Government requested to create a task force to stop the increment of these guerrilla groups, then the task force was approved and become know as "Fuerza de Tarea-Arcoiris" (Task Force-Rainbow), TF-Rainbow was in charge of the Commander of the 7th Military Region wich in that time was the General Mario Renán Castillo, General Castillo previously trained in Counter-insurgency and Psychological Operations in Fort Bragg.

Under the command of General Castillo and his TF-Rainbow, there were few detchaments of GAFE del Alto Mando (High Command GAFE), GAFE de la BFP (Paratrooper Brigade GAFE) and other regular GAFE units, the GAFEs in general terms were the predecessors of the modern Mexican Army Special Forces Corps (MASFC), the GAFEs in the past were basically specialized infantry reconnaissance groups with the exception of the High Command GAFE wich was the direct successor of the FERIAM (the unit was the same but with different name) and the Paratrooper Brigade GAFE wich was specialized with HALO/HAHO training, is well know that the GAFE units during the Zapatista uprising were the main combat units in take action during the conflict, eliminating a vast number of Zapatistas rebels during the conflict until the Zapatista movement and the Mexican government accepted to ceasefire in January 12th of 1994.

Also the GAFE units were created on June 1st of 1990, with the exception of the High Command GAFE like I said before the FERIAM/High Command GAFE was created in 1987.


Mexican Army High Command GAFE member assigned to TF-Rainbow during the Zapatista uprising in 1994.

After the conflict with the Zapatista movement in the south of Mexico, something bad was going to start, but during the 90s GAFE units crossed training with several foreign SOF units such as the IDFs Sayeret Matkal, Chilean Black Berets, 7th SFG (A), Navy SEALs.

The bad thing that was going to happen was when a active duty GAFE member named Arturo Guzmán Decena who was assigned to work for the Federal Judicial Police formed the most dangerous paramilitary organizations in Mexico and the world, Arturo Guzmán Decena during his 5 years in the Mexican Army crossed training with the 7th SFG (A) and IDF SOF units, he was also a combat veteran of the Zapata uprising, during the conflict his GAFE detachment killed about 34 rebels and captured two, Guzmán Decena was a expert in explosives, Counterintelligence operations and Counter-insurgency operations, Guzmán Decena while operating as the security chief in the city of Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas, he was recruited by Osiel Cárdenas Guillén who was the main head of the Gulf Cartel in that time investigators say that Guzmán Decena first worked with the Gulf Cartel by taking bribes from Osiel Cárdenas Guillén and turning a blind eye on the drug shipments of the cartel, such payments were typical among military commanders, but while soldiers had often accepted bribes from the drug lords, it was not common for them to defect from the Mexican Army and join their ranks.


Arturo Guzmán Decena activy duty with the GAFE working with the Federal Judicial Police.

Guzmán Decena was eliminated by members of the High Command GAFE inside a restaurant on 22 November 2002 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, but after killing Guzmán Decena the next objective to capture or eliminate was Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, at the time Cárdenas Guillén was wanted by both governments of Mexico and the United States for threat 2 US Federal Agents (DEA agent Joe DuBois and FBI agent Daniel Fuentes) in November of 1999.

Osiel Cárdenas Guillén was captured in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas on March 14, 2003 in a shootout between the High Command GAFE and Gulf Cartel gunmen, the capture of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén was one of the best mission realized by the High Command GAFE, the capture of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén wasn't going to fix all the problems in Tamaulipas and eradicate all the Gulf Cartel with just one action, but for the Mexican Army Special Operations was a big step to fight their former and rogue members, High Command GAFE become the best fighting force for Mexico in that moment and in my personal opinion that moment the High Command GAFE become a group of ghost warriors.


Osiel Cárdenas Guillén with High Command GAFE members after his capture.

In 2004 the GAFE units were reorganized into newly formed Cuerpo de Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces Corps) wich consisted with of the next units:

  • 1 High Command SF
  • 9 SF Battalions
  • 1 Para-SF
  • 1 Military Police SF
  • 5 Amphibious SF Groups

During the lapse from 1994 to 2004, around of 1560 members deserted from different Mexican Army GAFE units, most of them were captured or eliminated by the High Command GAFE or other regular GAFE/conventional units from the Mexican Army.


High Command GAFE members during the shootout with Gulf Cartel goons in Tamaulipas.

Mexican Drug War era (2006-to present)

With the start of the Drug War in 2006 by the former president Felipe Calderón, the Mexican Army SFC need to focus in this new war, this war wasn't with Zapatistas rebels in the jungle, modern DTOs (Drug Trafficking Organizations) were and are urban guerrilla groups with military formations, DTOs or also know just as "Drug Cartels" arent' the same criminals that you have in the United States like Bloods, Crips, MS-13 or typical street gangs, DTOs have big supplments of equipment, guns, personnel. DTOs started to copy and adopt execution methods similar to the ones used by radicals and terrorist organizations like AL-Qaeda or the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Special Forces personnel during an exhibition in a local university.

This enemy was old and new at the same time for the Mexican Army SOF community, during this new lapse the US government helped the SFC with around of 7,678 special operations courses over the last five years, these courses were mostly imparted by USASOC and JSOC and as well from US intelligence/federal agencies.

In 2013 the Special Forces Corps got a new reorganization, ceasing with just 6 SF Battalions, 1 SF-QRF Battalion and 1 Special Mission Unit. The other SF units from the Paratrooper Brigade and the Military Police were send it to their commands, those two units are the only ones who are not part of the Special Forces Corps, but they still active at this moment and they're considered "independent SF units" because they are not more part of the SFC.


US Army SOF personnel with Mexican Army SOF personnel in the Mexican Army SFC HQ.

With all the operations and missions in Mexico, the Secretary of Defense in that time who was Leon Panetta requested to the USSOCOM to assist and train Mexican SOF units on Counter-terrorism, HUMINT, SIGINT and other types of methods used mostly in the Global War on Terror by US SOF units to track terrorsist organizations and then adapted to the Mexican environment, such request was approved by the NORTHCOM Commander Charles H. Jacoby Jr and the USSOCOM Commander William H. McRaven in September of 2012. During the same lapse the Mexican Army SFC send personnel to the JSOC HQ to learn how to track HVTs and other types of target analysis.


Monument to the fallen members killed in the line of duty in the Special Forces Corps HQs.

As well in 2011, personnel of the Mexican Army SFC alongside with Mexican Intelligence officers were send to an exchange program to the Balad Air Base in Iraq before the left of US forces in December of the same year, also around of 2011 the High Command SF changed his name to "Fuerza Especial de Reacción" (Reaction Special Force) for security reasons every certain year the unit changes their name.


Ghost warriors during a mission in Jalisco, 2012.

In May 1st of 2015 during a mission in the state of Jalisco, the RSF had a very drastic moment in all their military history, the RSF was doing surveillance operations alongside with Federal Police agents to capture Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel but with the problem of logistics between the RSF and the local authorities, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel shootdown an Mexican Air Force Eurocopter EC725 Super Cougar with RSF and Federal Police personnel inside with a russian made RPG launcher, during the attack 5 RSF and 1 Air Force pilot were killed during the crash and the heavy small arms fire.


Ghosts warriors after the helicopter shootdown in Jalisco, 2015. (note the personnel inside of the RSF can use beards for low visibiliy missions)

The last years in Mexico, the Mexican Army SOF units have been take the most notorious operations like the capture of Dámaso López Núñez (Senior member of the Sinaloa Cartel) in May of 2017, Omar Treviño Morales (Senior member of Los Zetas) in July of 2013 and many other local DTO members around the country.

I will also make other thread like this about the Mexican Navy SOF units in the next week.

By the way, since i'm from northwest Mexico (from the border area of Nogales) if someone knows or have a former SOF or Infantry buddy living in the Arizona area close to me who can help me with a little advising for leadership send me a message please, really this is my main goal thanks guys!

P.D Since most of the information is open to the public i'm not breaking any type of OPSEC or PERSEC laws.
Great post but could you please elaborate on two things for me?

The first is, I'm curious as to how far up the political corruption goes.

The second is I was wondering if you could elaborate on the human rights orgs/DTO link?
Thanks for the support guys!

Is very known that here in Mexico political corruption is very high, I will post few examples of corrupt politicians:

Fidel Herrera Beltrán (Former governor of Veracruz)

Herrera was linked with high conections with Los Zetas, during his term Los Zetas expanded in all over the state of Veracruz.

Tomás Yarrington (Former governor of Tamaulipas)

Yarrington was accused of money laundering by DEA protected witness, also Yarrington used to have connections with DTOs like Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, finally in April 9th of this present year Yarrington was arrested by Italian authorities in Florence, Italy.

Andrés Granier Melo (Former governor of Tabasco)

Granier Melo was accused of tax evasion, money laundering and diversion of resources, Granier Melo at his moment Granier Melo is under house arrest.

Guillermo Padrés Elías (Former governor of Sonora)

Padrés Elías was accused of corruption, money laundering, kidnap a domestic worker, tax evasion and diversion of resources, Padrés Elías turned himself to the authorities in November 10th of 2016, Padrés Elías is in the jail at this moment.

Javier Duarte de Ochoa (Former governor of Veracruz)

Duarte de Ochoa was accused of money laundering, tax evasion, diversion of resources and as well having contections with Los Zetas, since Octuber 20th of 2016 Duarte de Ochoa was fugitive from the law and in April 15th of 2017 in Panajachel, Guatemala by local Guatemalan authorities and agents of the Attorney General of Mexico.
As well here in Mexico is very known that the CNDH (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos) wich is the national human rights commission of Mexico has protected criminals from being send to jail, as well the is very known that the CNDH has send military and federal personnel to jail for just eliminating "poor armed civlians" from local criminal groups, the problem here in Mexico as I said before the DTOs have different methods of propaganda for the civilian public e.g "Narco-corridos" or the facility of have "Easy money"

One example of an "Narco-corrido".

As well there are "Narco-rap".

Mexico is the perfect example of pure asymmetrical warfare, since 2006 DTOs have recruit more of 30,000 minors in their files, more than an social-economic problem there are many other factors e.g being from a criminal family, poor education and weak instruction of the parents, etc.


Narco-kids from the area of Tamaulipas.


Narco-kids from the area of Sinaloa-Jalisco.
Sorry guys for the triple posting but the Post Reply don't let me post more 5 pieces of media.

As well there are public opinions from the innocent civilian public, in this video the son of the lady was kidnaped by local police authorities linked with an local DTO.

Here's other article in Spanish.
Derechos humanos: arma que defiende al crimen organizado

In this video shows supposedly Mexican Army MP personnel with one Federal Police agents torturing a "innocent girl".

But the "innocent girl" was part of the local group of La Familia Michoacana Cartel in that area and she was known as "La Pala", girl was charged with several felonies like kidnapping and toture against the local population.

That is the problem with Mexico's pseudo-human rights.

I recommend this movie similar context that happens in Mexico and as well in other countries of Latin America. (movie is in Spanish)
Some pics from Mexican Army Alto Mando's operators during a joint-mission with Mexican Federal Police, some people probably wanted to see a little bit from this top tier buddies. The mission was realized today in Mexico City, the Federal Police was there just for logistics and support while Alto Mando dudes realized the main raid.