The Mexican underworld is known for its ruthless cartels that aren’t even afraid of openly confronting the military if necessary. Here are the top four most dangerous the operate in the country today.

1. The Sinaloa Cartel

The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the largest drug trafficking groups in the world according to the US Government, BBC reported. Much of Mexico’s north-west part is considered to be under the group’s sphere of influence.

The group was founded in the late 1980s and was headed by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the notorious drug lord who was once known as one of the world’s richest man. The Sinaloa Cartel is known for being very violent and has kidnapped, tortured and slaughtered members of its competitors.

When El Chapo’s son Ovidio Guzmán Lopez was captured in 2019, the cartel retaliated. In a blatant demonstration of its military might, it openly fought with the army in daylight until the younger Guzman was freed.

2. The Jalisco New Generation (CJNG)

The Jalisco New Generation was only recently formed in 2010. However, it quickly made a name as the most aggressive competitor to the Sinaloa. It operates in the western part of the country, mainly in the Tierra Caliente area.

Ironically, the group is headed by former police turned Mexico’s most wanted Ruben “El Mencho” Oseguera. The Mexican government is even offering $10 million as bounty.

The CJNG has an international reach. The cartel is said to be the largest distributor of synthetic drugs in America and is also a leading amphetamine distributor in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

The cartel is also known for its violence and has killed dozens of public officials and attacked security forces. It even attacked an army helicopter using a rocket-propelled grenade.

3. The Gulf Cartel

The Gulf Cartel operated mainly in the north-east area of the country mainly in the state of Tamaulipas. It’s one of the earliest cartels in Mexico and has been around since the 1980s. It is also known for its partnerships with other cartels from Colombia.

The cartel was led by Juan García Abrego who has the distinction of being the first Mexican drug lord included in the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. After his capture, the group was led by his son Osiel Cardenas Guillen who is even more violent compared to his father.

When he was arrested and his brother was slain, the group split into several factions. It is currently engaged in a turf war with Los Zetas, which was initially composed of former corrupt special forces soldiers that served the Gulf Cartel under Cardenas.

4. Los Zetas Cartel

The Los Zetas Cartel operates in the same area like the Gulf Cartel which explains why the two groups are engaged in a brutal turf war. Los Zetas was formed by corrupt members of an elite unit of special forces, a group of 30 soldiers who previously worked for the leader of the Gulf Cartel back in the 1990s.

But they recently formed their own group in 2010. Since then, the Zetas and the Gulf became bitter enemies. At the height of their power in 2012, the Los Zetas Cartel even overtook their rivals such as the Sinaloa. However, many of its leaders have been captured resulting to its decline.