Grupo Sombra or, Shadow Group, is an operative group of the Cártel del Golfo working primarily within the Mexican state of Veracruz.
Veracruz, which is an important coastal state bordering the Gulf of Mexico to the east and states such as San Luis Potosí to the north and Tabasco and Chiapas to the south is a crucial hand off area for shipments of narcotics coming in from Colombia and possibly Peru.
It is likely also a region that is key for the importing of precursor chemicals used in the synthesis of Methamphetamine or Fentanyl, which seem to originate from China. Similarly to the port city of Tampico in Tamaulipas, the state of Veracruz is not only crucial for importing but also exporting. With many Cártels throughout both Mexico and greater Latin America now choosing to export their drugs to the springboards of northwest Africa before further distribution takes place in Europe where cocaine prices are much higher than in the US.
For the longest time however, Veracruz was a state most frequently associated with the domination of Los Zetas prior to their December 2016 fracture. It is about this time - in 2016 - that videos of Cártel members claiming to be from 'Grupo Sombra' begin to pop up. Primarily in horrific execution videos where masked gunmen taunt their victims by assuring them not to be nervous on camera.
The organization has a strong presence throughout Veracruz, particularly in the Huasteca and Totonacapan regions, and one can regularly read news blurbs about it's members being arrested in the state's capital of Xalapa.
They are also reported to thrive within neighbouring northern states such as Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí, but it is uncertain how much influence they hold there. As the majority of their videos and narcomantas seem to originate from Veracruz.
Beyond this the organization holds true to their name, as well as common CDG practice by funding themselves through extortions and kidnapping for ransom. But given their strategically placed territory it is undoubted they also gain much profit through drug trafficking and possibly even oil theft as well.
Naturally, Grupo Sombra has also acquired quite an infamous reputation given their constant warring with rival parties and the multitude of execution videos they've posted online. As well as the garbage bags full of dismembered parts they've left in city streets.
Given their positioning in Veracruz it is most likely that Grupo Sombra finds it self engaged in bitter fighting against members of Los Z - be them loyalists of the Treviños or of the Vieja Escuela Zetas. In fact, I might also be hesitant to add that it's possible the Zeta fracturing in late 2016 helped to bolster the ranks of Grupo Sombra, given their becoming known around this time.
Bloodbaths aside, as with any organization criminal or otherwise, one cannot view them through a black and white lens. Grupo Sombra has followed the path of their predecessors be it the Sinaloense or CDG prior to the Zetas split by sharing their illicitly accumulated wealth with the poorest people's of their territories. This including gift & food giveaways during the Christmas seasons in sporadic fashion.
Of course the natural arguments to this are that first of all, small acts of good do not outweigh the terror an organization of this caliber doles out on a regular basis. Or that as well, such acts are purely for the political gain of influencing the common people. There is something to say however in the fact that at the end of the day, criminals are people too. Those that commit acts of horror are not necessarily devoid of emotion, and perhaps do feel inclined to improve the lives of the 'civilians' around them.
While opponents may simply be viewed upon as 'opposing uniforms' who is to know how these individuals view those beyond 'la vida loca?'