A "Challenge Coin" is a form of unity building often used by US military units. These Coins, bearing some indication of the unit—the one closest at hand for me is actually from US Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine, with a map of the US and the crest of the organization—are also given to people outside the unit as a token of appreciation. Senior officers often use such coins to show thanks to troops for particular actions of significance.
Today we find that drug cartels are adopting this practice.
A challenge coin with an emblem and crest of a drug trafficking organization has been recovered by law enforcement officers in Mexico, reliable sources tell POLICE Magazine.What is going on South of our Border should be disturbing to all of us. The situation is not getting better and between illegal drugs and illegal immigrants, the drug problem is the more threatening to our Democracy. And in the view of some, legalization of drugs, beneficial as that might be, will not make the cartels go away. They have broadened out their criminal activities and sources of income.
American and Mexican law enforcement agencies have recovered similar badges, patches, coins, flags and other items produced by the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). The items act as a way to build unity within cartels, according to Gary "Rusty" Fleming, an expert on the cartels who produced the documentary "Drug Wars: Silver or Lead."
The items solidify military cohesion among cartel soldiers. Other cartels, especially Los Zetas, also use these items, according to Fleming, who said he wasn't surprised by the find.
Regards — Cliff