Small Wars Journal

Brazil’s Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) and its National Security Implications

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 2:38pm

Brazil’s Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) and its National Security Implications

Becky Kohler da Cruz and José de Arimatéia da Cruz


According to the latest Regional Human Development Report 2013-2014 for Latin America, between 2000 and 2010, the murder rate in the region grew by 11 percent, whereas it fell or stabilized in most other regions in the world. In the last decade, more than one million people died in Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of criminal violence.[i] While the rest of the world is experiencing a drop in the crime rate, Latin America is exposed to the “newest” epidemic to hit the region since HIV/AIDS of the 1980s. As the 2013-2014 Regional Human Development Report states, throughout the last decade the region has suffered an epidemic of violence, accompanied by the growth and dissemination of crime, as well as an increase in fear among citizens.[ii] Much of this increase in criminal activity is the result of local gang violence and international organized crime.

Within the realm of Latin America, one country that that has been particularly impacted by gangs and transnational organized crime (TOC) is Brazil. The Igarapé Institute, a think tank in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, explains that “the most pressing concern to Brazilian authorities is the illegal trafficking of narcotics. Brazil’s experience disrupting drug smuggling is analogous to other countries in South and Central America.”[iii]  Given Brazil’s status as a “monster country” within Latin America it is imperative to examine its current insecurity dilemmas.1  Gangs and transnational criminal organizations of the twenty-first century represent much more than an “annoying law enforcement problem. Actually and potentially, they are national security problems that threaten the effective sovereignty of the nation-state.”[iv]

Why Are Gangs a Problem?

Before discussing the challenges represented by organized crime in Brazil, an operational definition is in order within the context of this paper. First, a caveat is required regarding the operational definition. Despite our attempt to provide an operational definition of organized crime, there is no universally accepted definition of the term.[v] In fact, scholar Klaus von Lampe has identified more than 150 distinct definitions.[vi]  The term organized crime is used here to connote “a complex array of networks, entities, interests, activities, channels, and outcomes. Organized crime groups come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, operate at multiple levels of scale, and often adept and innovate over time reaching across multiple markets.”[vii] The ability of organized gangs or transnational organized crime organization to “mutate” is an integral part of a gangs’ modus vivendi within the international system. Transnational organized criminal organizations must be able to maneuver to new areas or regions as law enforcement agencies attempt to decapitate their leadership and destroy their operational campus.  Obviously despite law enforcement agencies best efforts to eradicate drug production, distribution, and sale, transnational organized crime is always one step ahead of authorities. They are always “mutating.”[viii] This mutation aspect of transnational organized crime is enhanced by two effects. One is the “hydra-effect” and the other is the “balloon effect.”[ix]

According to Paul Rexton Kan, a professor of national security studies at the U.S. Army War College, the “balloon effect” is unique to the drug trafficking operations of transnational organized crime organizations. The “balloon effect” is the idea that “just as pressing on a particular area of a balloon creates an expansion in another area, pressure in one area of a drug-trafficking network means that traffickers simply move their operations where there is less pressure or make up for losses in another node of the distribution chain.”[x] The “hydra-effect” is named after the mythical animal that could lose a head, only to have two grow back in its place.[xi] In the world of drug traffickers the elimination of a “head,” that is someone in charge of the operations, does not mean that the problem is gone. As Kan succinctly points out, “owing to the drug trade’s profitability, there is a large reservoir of people, including combatants, who are willing to replace the loss of any person.”[xii]

Addressing the “epidemic of crime” in the Americas is long overdue given its nefarious effects to the core values of society. As Moisés Naím argues in his seminal book Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking The Global Economy (2005) what is at stake is the “fabric of society.”[xiii]  According to Naím, “the global illicit trade is sinking entire industries while boosting others, ravaging countries and sparking booms, making and breaking political careers, destabilizing some governments and propping up others.”[xiv] In addition to undermining the social fabric of society, transnational organized crime organizations also represent a triple threat to a nation-state’s political, economic, and social systems worldwide. John P. Sullivan argues “this threat goes beyond the substantial illegal drug trade and its attendant violence to include major fraud, corruption, and manipulation of both political and financial systems.  Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) potentially undermine not only civil society but also political systems and state sovereignty by normalizing violence, legitimizing corruption, distorting market mechanisms through the disruption of equitable commercial transactions, and degrading the environment by sidelining environmental regulation and standards.”[xv]

Max G. Manwaring, the former General Douglas MacArthur Chair and emeritus professor of Military Strategy at the U.S. Army War College, argues that “gangs are half-political and half-criminal nonstate actors that actually and potentially pose a dominant, complex emergency threat in a security environment in which failing states flourish.”[xvi] Although Brazil does not qualify as a “failing state,” there are parts of the federal state being undermined by criminal elements, especially in the Tri-Border region, the Northeast region, and most of Brazil’s favelas or shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro. The area borders between Brazil and Argentina is long known for its drugs, arms and contraband trafficking. Islamic militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas are also thought to use the area as a safe-haven and money laundering center.[xvii]

Map 1: Tri-Border Region The Tri-Border Region in Latin America is composed of the cities of Ciudad del Este, Alto Paraná, Puerto Iguazú, Misiones and Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná.

Transnational organized crime also undermines state’s sovereignty and authority by perpetrating the following crimes against the state. First, through murder, kidnapping, intimidation, corruption, and other means of coercion, these violent nonstate actors undermine the ability of a government to perform its legitimizing functions. Second, by violently imposing their will over the elected officials of the state, these actors compromise the legitimate exercise of state authority. Finally, by taking control of portions of the national territory, the various components of the gang phenomenon are directly performing the tasks of government and acting as states within a state.[xviii]

Robert Killebrew, a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, has also emphasized the new dangerous growth of powerful transnational criminal organizations in the Western Hemisphere. According to Killebrew, there are four vectors combining to create the necessary conditions for the proliferation of crime today in the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere. First, the implosion of the Soviet Union and the collapsed of the Berlin Wall have made available a huge stock pile of weapons on the black market. Second, the end of the Cold War and the ideological battle between East and West has created the greatest mass migrations of people. The end of the Cold War not only represents the “end of history” but also the “end of geography.” Third, the communications revolution of the twenty-first century has created the “death of distance.”  The communications revolution’s dual utility for both good or evil allow citizens to communicate with each other from any corner of the globe. But it also provides criminal organizations to “evade policy, control illicit activities, navigate with pinpoint accuracy, and move wealth within global financial systems.”[xix]  Finally, according to Killebrew, with a booming international market for illicit drugs and the addition of new users as well as new and more potent drugs to the market (for example, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and designer drugs which are manufactured in small laboratories or in one’s own residence), millions of dollars “flow freely with little regard for national borders or government.”[xx]  In the Brazilian case, according to the Igarapé Institute, Brazil’s underground or parallel economy was worth an estimated $350 billion in 2012, the equivalent of roughly 17% of the country’s GDP.[xxi]

According to Steven Metz, Director of Research at the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S Army War College and Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Millen, in the post-Cold War international system of the twenty-first century, gangs and transnational criminal organizations can operate within four distinct and yet inter-related battle spaces. The four distinct but interrelated dominant strategic battle spaces are traditional direct interstate war, unconventional nonstate war, unconventional intrastate war, and indirect interstate war.[xxii]  Transnational criminal organizations and gangs operate both within the unconventional nonstate and the unconventional intrastate war battlespaces. According to Metz and Millen, the nonstate war involves “at least one combatant that does not have a fixed geographic base. A nonstate enemy would rely on information technology for core functions such as fundraising, intelligence collection, internal communication, command and control, and, potentially, attacks. The nonstate opponents would select a physical location because of the inability or unwillingness of the host state to control the terrorist, insurgent, or criminal organization. This could be a result of the weakness of the state (e.g., the inability of the government of Colombia to destroy narco trafficking organizations), of constraints that result from legal and civil rights (e.g., the ability of Al Qa’ida to operate cells in the United States or Germany), the state simply being unaware of the organization, or the state turning a blind eye due to corruption, fear, or sympathy.  The major point, though, is that a nonstate opponent does not depend on any given physical location. If a state acts against it, it could move to another location with a minimal erosion of capability. All this means that the state-to-state dimension of nonstate war is secondary.”[xxiii]  In fact, that has been the outcome when Brazilian authorities enter the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. In their attempt to eliminate Rio’s notorious gangs, Rio’s Policia Militar (Military Police is the State Police not to be confused with the Army’s Military Police) has launched the police pacification unit (UPP) program. Rio de Janeiro’s government aims to install 40 UPPs by the end of 2014, under a long-running strategy which sees favelas occupied and “secured” by military police before UPPs are installed.[xxiv] The only problem with this strategy is that while the police occupies or pacifies one favela, the gangs controlling and terrorizing the favelas’ residents move to another favela and the vicious cycle of violence and impunity continues. Also, although Rio’s gangs usually “control” an “area” or a region, that does not mean that the geographical space is permanently occupied by that particular gang. Given the nature of gang life, control of one’s turf can change hands anytime—either by law enforcement agents taking control of the area, as is the case of the UPPs in Rio’s favelas or by another rival gang once the “chefe” in charge is captured or killed.

Three Generations of Urban Gangs

The political, social and economic transformations taking place within the globalized system of the twenty-first century is also transforming the nature of gangs and transnational criminal organizations. Bob Killebrew and Jennifer Bernal, researchers at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., argues that “the globalization of crime, from piracy’s financial backers in London and Nairobi to the Taliban and Hezbollah’s representatives in West Africa, may well be the most important emerging trend in today’s global security environment.”[xxv]  Gangs and transnational organized crime organizations in the age of globalization are morphing and mutating into something new every decade. According to Max G. Manwaring, derived from John P. Sullivan’s initial typology, gangs have evolved from traditional petty-theft (1st Generation gangs) into a more global enterprise organization “challenging the legitimate of state monopoly on the exercise of control and the use of violence within a given political territory.”[xxvi] Gangs, in other words, evolve through generational development or stages.

In each stage of development, gangs and transnational criminal organizations become more dangerous and their nefarious activities become more lethal and dysfunctional to the nation-state’s welfare and sovereignty. The first generation gangs, G-1, are typically your “barrio” neighborhood friends getting together to protect their turf in order to benefit from petty criminal activities.  Most first generation gangs never evolve into higher levels of gang activity (Second Generation, G-2 or Third Generation, G-3). Most first generation gang members have been friends since they were born in usually poor “barrios” or shantytowns around the world. Many first generation gang members have a personal history. Most members usually leave the life of crime once key players within the group has been either captured or killed. The “irmão metralhas” in the Nova Holanda favela (Bonsucesso, Rio de Janeiro) is a typical example of first generation gangs. When the leader of the group was ambushed and killed by the police, others members left the gang and returned to work in legitimate business activities with signed papers. The gang dissolved but was quickly replaced by another gang exemplifying the “hydra-effect” discussed by Paul Rexton Kan. First generation gangs do engage in criminal activities. But, as Max G. Manwaring pointed out, when they do engage in criminal activities it is “largely opportunistic and individual in scope, localized, and operating at the lower end of the extreme societal violence.”[xxvii]

The second generation gangs (G-2) are usually gangs formed with the intention to profit from illicit criminal activities involving business and commercial gains in the process. Second generation gangs not only must protect their broader geographical milieu but also use lethal force to demonstrate to their competitors or enemies who is in charge. Second generation gangs usually have a more command-and-control hierarchical governance structure rather than the loose and unsophisticated leadership of first generation gangs. While first generation gangs are primarily turf-oriented without challenging state’s authority or sovereignty, second generation gangs, as Manwaring points out, “seek to control or incapacitate state security organizations, they often begin to dominate vulnerable community life within large areas of the nation-state.”[xxviii]  Indeed, Manwaring’s argument highlights the current situation of Brazil. Brazil’s gangs continue to undermine the authority of the state to control and pacify Rio’s favelas or shantytowns. Not a day goes by without police and criminal gangs exchanging gun fire in Rio’s favelas or shantytowns. El Salvadoran Vice-Minister of Justice Aguilar has stated that “domestic crime and its associated destabilization are now Latin America’s most serious security threat.”[xxix]

Third generation gangs (G-3) are the last evolutionary developmental stage for gangs. Third generation gangs can also be called insurgencies in the lexicon of insurgency/counterinsurgency paradigm since they “challenge the legitimate state monopoly on the exercise of control and use of violence with a given political territory.”[xxx] David Kilcullen in his book Counterinsurgency (2010) argues that “insurgent movements are grass roots uprisings that seek to overthrow established governments or societal structures…[insurgents] and employ weapons of the week (subversion, guerrilla tactics, terrorism) against the established power of states and conventional military forces.”[xxxi]  Many third generation gangs operate within geographical areas that are ungoverned or poorly governed.  In the case of Brazil, the poorly governed or ungoverned areas happens to be Brazil’s favelas or shantytowns; home to millions of underprivileged and marginalized members of Brazilian society. Finally, third generation gangs, according to Sullivan’s typology are also primarily “mercenary in orientation, and many of them seek to advance explicit political and social objectives.”[xxxii]

Brazil’s Powerful Gangs and its Transnational Link

Given Brazil’s geopolitical strategic location within the Western hemisphere and its close proximity to Africa as well as Europe, it should come as no surprise that Brazil is now the “world’s second largest drug consumer” and “a dispatch point for drugs headed to Europe and Africa.”[xxxiii] Brazil is the largest country in South America occupying half of the entire continent’s geographical space and possessing half of its population. It has a 16,000 kilometer land border and an 8,000 kilometer coastline. Brazil shares a border with every country in South America, except for Chile and Ecuador, including the world’s three biggest cocaine producing nations—Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia (See Map 2 below). Brazil, the “sleeping giant” of the Western hemisphere, has not been immune by the new “drug epidemic” currently wreaking havoc on society and destroying its social fabric. According to Map of Violence (2013), Brazil is the seventh most violent country in the world. Between 1980 and 2011, the homicides soared 132% to claim 1,145,208 lives, from a rate of 11.5 murders for 100,000 inhabitants in 1980 to 27 per 100,000 in 2011.[xxxiv]  Overwhelmingly victims of violent crime tend to be young black male (ages between 14-25 year old). According to Map of Violence (2013) some 77% of young people murdered were Afro-Brazilian in a country that where nearly 52% of the population is of African descent.

This increase in violence has also been ignited by the introduction of crack to the most vulnerable segment of the population namely, the poor and destitute residents of Brazil’s favelas or shantytowns. According to a report by the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) Brazil is the world’s largest market for crack. Brazil has one million crack consumers which represents 4% of Brazil’s adult population. Nearly six million people have experimented with cocaine or its derivatives during their lives.[xxxv]

Map 2: Brazil and Her Neighbors

In Brazil there are approximately 30 gangs dominating various prisons throughout the country. However, three make their presence known on a broader scale in terms of visibility, criminality, nefariousness, numbers, and firepower.  Brazil’s big three have established criminal networks not only in Brazil, especially in States of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but they are also active in the Tri-Border region and several other countries in South America. Brazil’s gangs are truly transnational and resemble an insurgency. Brazil’s big three gangs are: Comando Vermelho (Red Command), Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends), and the Primeiro Comando da Capital (the First Capital Command). 

The Comando Vermelho (Red Command) is Brazil’s largest and oldest organized criminal organization. It was formed in 1979 at Rio de Janeiro’s notorious Candido Mandes prison. The Comand Vermelho (C.V.) was initially formed to provide self-protection for its membership. The C.V.’s early criminal activities involved low-level crime typical of the first generation gangs (G-1); however, in the 1980s, in its quickly evolved third developmental stage (G-3), the C.V. moved into the lucrative cocaine trade working with Colombian drug cartels and taking on a social leadership role in many of Rio’s favelas.[xxxvi]  Rio de Janeiro alone has “nearly 1,000 slums throughout the city and on nearby hillsides. Nearly 1.5 million of Rio de Janeiro’s citizens are united in their struggle to survive in these favelas.”[xxxvii]

Brazil’s second most notorious transnational gang is Amigos do Amigos (Friends of Friends). Friends of Friends was formed in 1998 after some criminal elements broke with the rank and file of the Red Command. Friends of Friends has worked very similarly to an insurgency by providing people in the Rocinha favela with handouts, throwing parties, and providing some services often neglected by the State. Friends of Friends is currently one of Rio’s biggest drug trafficking organizations.[xxxviii] Its leader, Antonioa Francisco Bonfim Lopes, aka “Nem,” was arrested in November 2011 while attempting to avoid a police siege in the outskirts of Rocinha. “Nem” was found in the trunk of a car allegedly belonging to a Congolese diplomat. “Nem” is currently serving a 12 years sentence in a federal penitentiary.

The final transnational gang that is part of Brazil’s big three is the Premeiro Comando da Capital (First Capital Command, PCC). The PCC is believed to be Brazil’s largest and most organized criminal organization. The PCC has members in two-thirds of Brazil’s federal states and controls trafficking routes between Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.[xxxix]  The PCC is a truly revolutionary transnational criminal organization resembling an insurgency. They advocate for revolution and destruction of the capitalist system while promoting the slogan “peace, justice, and freedom.”[xl] The PCC has tried to infiltrate the State of São Paulo by attempting to get “an unnamed lawyer elected to the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo state.”[xli] The accumulated wealth of the PCC is astonishing. The PCC earns US$55 million per year, made up of a monthly income of US$3.5 million from drug trafficking and US$1 million from members’ contributions.[xlii] The PCC recently made the national news when members of the criminal organization threatened to promote “World Cup of terror” and prison strikes, similar to the one promoted by the group in 2006 in which 439 people were killed.[xliii] Also, four PCC members were arrested in Paraguay. According to Paraguayan authorities, the four members made up an “armed wing” of the PCC in Paraguay and they were collaborating with the Paraguayan Peoples’ Army (EPP) which has links to drug trafficking, especially with the Mexican’s Sinaloa Cartel.[xliv]

Map 3: Location of PCC Activities in Paraguay

Table: Brazil’s Gangs: Leadership and Criminal Activities

There is no doubt that Brazil is today an integral part of the global production and distribution of illicit drugs to the world market.  Drug sales are big business as worldwide demand continues to grow and the numbers of new addicts increase annually. Carlos Lehder, a Medellin drug lord in the 1980s and a self-proclaimed national resistance fighter, was fond of telling journalist that “Latin America’s atom bomb” was cocaine and he intended to drop it on the United States.[xlv]  It seems that the “bomb” has been dropped not only in the United States but now its collateral damage is impacting Latin American’s societies. Drugs not only corrupt the social fabric of society but it also undermines the government’s authority and legitimacy to govern. The British newsweekly magazine The Economist recently reported that the crime rate in Latin America rose 11% in 2000-2010 and that this increase went hand in hand with an increase in crime facilitated by several factors including drug trafficking.[xlvi] When the HIV/AIDS pandemic hit Latin America, especially Brazil in the 1980s, there was much speculation whether Brazil would be able to handle that catastrophe.  The Brazilian government in partnership with its civil society was able to design a plan of attack to deal with the HIV/AIDS virus and today Brazil is a role model for other nations to follow when dealing with the disease.  The Brazilian government along with its civil society today is called upon once again to address another pandemic hitting Latin America: drugs and the “epidemic of violence.”[xlvii]

All views are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


The characterization of Brazil as a “monster country” is attributed to George Kennan, the dean of American foreign policy. Kennan in his book Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy (1993) referred to Brazil as a “monster country” placing Brazil in a category of nations such as China, Britain, the United States, and Japan. A “monster country is endowed with the following characteristics: continent territorial dimensions and a population of more than 150 million people, a tradition of economic development, and a diverse foreign trade policy.

End Notes

[i] United Nations Development Program Summary Regional Human Development Report 2013-2014 (2013). Available at, pg. v.

[ii] Ibid., pg. v.

[iii] Robert Muggah and Gustavo Diniz (October 2013). “Securing the border: Brazil’s South America First Approach to Transnational Organized Crime,” Igarapé Institute, Strategic Paper 5. Available at

[iv] Max G. Manwaring (March 2005). “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at

[v] Douglas Farah (August 2012). “Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Criminalized States in Latin America: An Emerging Tier-One National Security Priority,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at

[vi] Klaus von Lampe (nd), “Definitions of Organized Crime.” Available at

[vii] Robert Muggah and Gustavo Diniz (October 2013). “Securing the border: Brazil’s South America First Approach to Transnational Organized Crime,” Igarapé Institute, Strategic Paper 5. Available at, pg. 3.

[viii] Max G. Manwaring (March 2005). “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at

[ix] Paul Rexton Kan (2009). Drugs and Contemporary Warfare. Potomac Books, Inc.: Washington, D.C., pg. 27.

[x] Ibid., pg. 27.

[xi] Ibid., pg. 27.

[xii] Ibid., pg. 27.

[xiii] Moisés Naím  (2005). Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking The Global Economy. Anchor Books: New York, pg. 33.

[xiv] Ibid., pg. 33.

[xv] John P. Sullivan, “Terrorism, Crime and Private Armies,” Low Intensity Conflict & Law Enforcement, Vol. 11, No. 2/3 (Winter 2002): 239-253, pg. 241.

[xvi] Max G. Manwaring (March 2005). “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at

[xvii] Insight (1 December 2010). “WikiLeaks: US Worried About Islamic Militants In Tri-border Region,” Insight Crime. Available at

[xviii] Max G. Manwaring (March 2005). “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at

[xix] Robert Killebrew (April 2011). “The New Threat: Transnational Crime,” Foreign Policy Research Institute. Available at

[xx] Ibid., 2; Paul Rexton Kan (2009). Drugs and Contemporary Warfare. Potomac Books, Inc.: Washington, D.C., pg. 35.

[xxi] Robert Muggah and Gustavo Diniz (October 2013). “Securing the border: Brazil’s South America First Approach to Transnational Organized Crime,” Igarapé Institute, Strategic Paper 5. Available at, pg. 4.

[xxii] Steven Metz and Raymond Millan (March 2003). “Future Wars,/Future Battle Space: The Strategic Role of American Landpower,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA. Available at, pg. ix.

[xxiii] Ibid., pgs. 15-16.

[xxiv] Marguerite Cawley (30 April 2013). “Rio Police Occupy 3 Favelas Prior to the UPP Installation,” Insight Crime. Available at

[xxv] Bob Killebrew and Jennifer Bernal (September 2010). “Crime Wars: Gangs, Cartels and U.S. National Security,” Center for a New American Security. Available at http://http//

[xxvi] Max G. Manwaring (March 2005). “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at See also Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan (2013). Studies in Gangs and Cartels. London: Routledge, for a collection of primary source 3rd generation gang articles.

[xxvii] Ibid., pg. 9

[xxviii] Ibid., pg. 10; Max G. Manwaring (December 2007). “A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at, pg. 5.

[xxix] El Salvadoran Vice-Mininster of Justice Silvia Aguilar quoted in Max G. Manwaring (December 2007). “A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at, pg. 5.

[xxx] Max G. Manwaring (March 2005). “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at, pg. 10.

[xxxi] David Kilcullen (2010). Counterinsurgency. New York: Oxford University Press, pg. 184.

[xxxii] Max G. Manwaring (December 2007). “A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Available at, pg. 7.

[xxxiii] James Bargent (28 October 2013). “Brazil’s New Security Policies Raise Old Questions,” Insight Crime. Available at

[xxxiv] Julio Jacobo Waiselfisz (2013). “Mapa da Violencia: HOmicidios e Juventude no Brasil,” Centro Brasileiro de Estudos Lations-Americanos (CEBELA) and Flacso Brasil: Rio de Janeiro. Available at

[xxxv] MercoPress (6 September 2006). “Brazil’s Excels in Many Fields But Also in Crack and Cocaine Consumption.” Available at

[xxxvi] InSight Crime (nd). “Red Command.” Available at

[xxxvii] MercoPress (21 March 2010). “The Dark side of Brazil’s Olympic Dreams: 2016 Olympic Host Battles Poverty, Violent Crime, and Police Brutality.” Available at

[xxxviii] InSight Crime (nd).  “Amigos dos Amigos.” Available at

[xxxix] InSight Crime (nd). “First Capital Command—PCC.” Available at

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] Ibid.

[xlii] Ibid.

[xliii] Sergio Adorno and Fernando Sall (2007). “Organized criminality in prisons and the attacks of the PCC,” Estudos Avançados 21 (61): p. 7.

[xliv] Charles Parkinson (4 November 2013). “Paraguay Captures Members of Brazil’s PCC,” Insight Crime. Available at

[xlv] Paul Rexton Kan (2009). Drugs and Contemporary Warfare. Potomac Books, Inc.: Washington, D.C., pg. 60.

[xlvi] The Economist (16 November 2013). “Alternatives to the iron fist.” Available at, p. 42.

[xlvii] Ibid., pg. 42.


Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. Becky Kohler da Cruz is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Law & Society in the Department of Criminal Justice, Social & Political Science, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Georgia. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses and directs the Master’s in Criminal Justice, Law & Society, and Cyber Crime Programs. She holds a JD from the University of Dayton School of Law, Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from Capella University, Minnesota. Her publications have appeared in the National Social Science Journal, International Restorative Justice, Law Enforcement Executive Forum, and the Journal of Third World Studies.

Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz is a Professor of International Relations and International Studies at Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. He also is a Research Fellow of the Brazil Research Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC.


Bill C.

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 12:17pm

From S. P. Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" in Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993 (3/4ths the way down the page in the major section entitled "Torn Countries").

"In 1991 a top adviser to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari described at length to me all the changes the Salinas government was making. When he finished, I remarked: "That's most impressive. It seems to me that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country." He looked at me with surprise and exclaimed: "Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly." As his remark indicates, in Mexico as in Turkey, significant elements in society resist the redefinition of their country's identity."

Thus, should we rightfully blame the woes of various countries and peoples throughout the world -- and the increased need to deal with insurgencies, gangs, criminal enterprises, etc. -- on "our" and "their" attempts to "North Americanize" "different" countries and populations world-wide?

This leading, quite understandably, to numerous and varied political, economic and social problems?

Thus: If one messes with the bull so-to-speak (the identify, the structures and the values, attitudes and beliefs which underpin a society) then one must expect to get the horns (insurgencies, terrorism, genocide, societal breakdown, criminal enterprises, etc., etc., etc.).

(The difficulties experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, to be understood in this light?)

This understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between (1) attempts at state and societal change and (2) problems and difficulties of every stripe and kind related to this radical and ripping process, giving rise, one might suggest, to the very idea of "an era of presistent conflict."