Arranging drug sales on a cellphone, cryptic email or even a pager? That’s strictly for the small-time dealer. If you’re a Mexican drug cartel, you have your own radio network.

Since 2006, the cartels have maintained an encrypted DIY radio network that stretches across nearly all 31 Mexican states, even down south into Guatemala. The communications infrastructure of the narco-gangs that have turned Mexico into a gangster’s paradise consists of “professional-grade” radio antennas, signal relays and simple handheld radios that cost “millions of dollars” — and which the Mexican authorities haven’t been able to shut down.

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