Small Wars Journal

El Centro

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 12: Brazilian Prison Gangs Attack Civil Infrastructure in Fortaleza and Other Cities in Ceará State SWJED Thu, 01/17/2019 - 1:04am
Since 2 January, 205 criminal attacks have occurred in 46 cities in Ceará and about 360 individuals have been arrested. Ceara’s security forces have been reinforced with the assistance of the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF or Federal Highway Police). The attacks have included bombings and arson directed against vehicles (including buses and school transportation), police stations, public buildings, bridges, businesses, and banks.

Tamaulipas: Between the State, Crime and the Border

All criminal organizations in the world share similarities, but, at the same time exhibit particularities related to the places, times and cultures that gives rise to and surround them. Consequentially, organized crime in Mexico has a sui generis composition—the result of historical factors that have allowed the formation of criminal structures linked to high levels of violence, a cultural acceptance of criminal life and links with high political figures, causing the collapse of governability in certain territories, some of them near the northern border.

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Corruption in Mexico 2019: SWJ Interview with Dr. Jose Ivan Rodriguez Sanchez SWJED Tue, 01/15/2019 - 12:29am
During my investigative journalism series regarding public health and environmental hazards in Jalisco, Mexico, one question that continued to rise to the top was corruption. In my research, I identified a superb expert: Dr. Jose Ivan Rodriguez-Sanchez. He is currently in residence at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy – Mexico Center.

Are Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras Under Insurgent Attack?

Failure of national authorities in Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras pose risks to the well-being of the United States. First, state failure in El Salvador and Honduras creates migrant flows seeking refuge in the United States as a safe-haven for families. Second, state failure in each of these countries could grow into complete collapse of state authority and the rise to power of authoritarian regimes such as in Cuba and Venezuela which will collaborate with geo-political rivals of the United States in contravention of the Monroe Doctrine. Third, instability of social orders, economics, and politics in the countries immediately to our south will decrease regional progress towards higher living standards, undermining quality of life in our part of the world

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Mexico’s Man of the People Turns to the Military SWJED Fri, 12/28/2018 - 12:17am
Contrary to his campaign pledges, Lopez Obrador appears to be planning to use the military and the new national guard in much the same way as his predecessors. The day after his inauguration, he oversaw a ceremony at the national military HQ, the Campo Marte in Mexico City, and praised the troops. “Together, we’ll make history!” he said, repeating his campaign slogan, before emphasizing the need for both a national guard and the armed forces to bring peace to the Mexican people.

The Sicario’s Tale, Part 1: Pablo Escobar’s Top Hitman Tells ‘How I Blew Up More Than 100 People’

The Sicario’s Tale, Part 1: Pablo Escobar’s Top Hitman Tells ‘How I Blew Up More Than 100 People’ by Jeremy Kryt - The Daily Beast

CALI, Colombia - Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez served for years as the ranking sicario, or hitman, of the Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar, who was killed 25 years ago this month. Known by the sobriquet “Popeye” because he had served as an officer in the Colombian navy, he says he personally murdered hundreds of people and ordered the deaths of thousands more.


Popeye was released from prison in 2014 after serving a 23-year sentence. In 2018, he was again arrested as part of a new investigation, although he maintains he is innocent of the new charges. A hero to many next-gen sicarios in Colombia, Central America, and Mexico, Popeye remains unrepentant and defiant.


For this exclusive Daily Beast series, Popeye agreed to speak from prison about his time as chief assassin within Escobar’s drug-fueled empire. Told in his own voice, and with only minor edits for continuity, these anecdotes provide a personal and penetrating account of what it was like to serve as second-in-command to one of the most infamous drug lords of all time…

Read on.


Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 26: Grenade Attack on US Consulate in Guadalajara Followed by CJNG Narcomantas Denying Responsibility

While grenade use by cartels and gangs in Mexico isn’t novel, this attack nevertheless represents a strategic progression by once again demonstrating the willingness of criminal cartels to attack US targets in Mexico and wage information operations in order to influence enforcement initiatives by both the United States and Mexico.

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