Small Wars Journal

El Centro

Gangs and the Military Note 3: The Role of the West Coast in the Development of Military-Trained Gang Members

This note reviews the current state of military-trained gang members (MTGMs) in the United States military. MTGMs, whether from Street Gangs, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), or Domestic Terrorist Extremist (DTE) groups, have endangered U.S. communities since before the birth of the country.

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Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America: Consequences for U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security

This essay explores why Latin America is of paramount strategic importance for Iran, and what factors or events gave Iran access to the region so it could pursue its classic rampant penetration of other nations’ governments and cultural institutions.

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When Insurgent Leadership Splits: Understanding FARC’s Internal Crisis Amidst a Fragile Peace Agreement

The internal split leadership within FARC presents the organisation with a significant crisis, particularly amongst a fragile and precarious peace agreement. Given the Colombian conflict’s transformation after the 2016 peace agreement with FARC that resulted in the opening of both territorial vacuums and resources for other armed groups, it remains precarious as to how FARC II will merge or compete given its current resources.

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Considering Cross-Border Cartel Corruption Potentials in the United States

Criminal cartels and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) rely on corruption to enable their pursuit of criminal profit and power. Indeed, Mexico’s cartels emerged from the seeds of corrupt police profiting from the narcotics trade. While violence is the public face of criminal cartels and transnational gangs, corruption is the core threat to public trust and state legitimacy and capacity.

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The War in Catatumbo: Taking Stock of an Underreported War

Catatumbo seems to be a singular location where some of Latin America’s biggest problems converge, and the local population is suffering for it. This paper intends to take stock of the war’s history, its current status, and to make an argument that the War in Catatumbo deserves more attention from the international community than it is currently receiving.

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Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #43: Improvised Armored Fighting Vehicles (IAFVs) – ‘Narcotanques’ and ‘Monstruos Blindados’ in Jalisco

Mexican criminal cartels have been using a range of improvised armored fighting vehicles (IAFVs) since about 2010-2011. These improvised fighting vehicles range from retrofitted armored sports utility vehicles to more specially built units. The lower range vehicles are developed by adding armament and simple armor to pick-up trucks and sports utility vehicles. The more complex versions involve artisanal armor (blindaje artesinal) applied to a range of vehicle platforms.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 21: 96 MS-13 Members and Associates, Including the Leaders of 9 Cliques, Charged in Long Island

The largest anti-gang operation targeting MS-13 in New York State history culminated in 96 defendants indicted in Suffolk County, Long Island and a total of 230 arrests of gang members and associates throughout the United States and in El Salvador. Over 10 MS-13 cliques operate in Suffolk County, and leaders of 9 of those cliques were indicted as a result of a two-year, multiagency investigation, which significantly impacts the ‘New York Program’ of the transnational gang.

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Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #42: Car Bomb in Apaseo el Alto, Guanajuato with Remote Detonation IED (‘Papa Bomba’) Payload

The potentials spread of FARC explosives [both devices and tactics, techniques, and procedures – (TTPs)] to the Mexican crime wars is now clearly evident. Prior warnings of the spread of FARC tradecraft to the Mexican situation are unfolding. CISEN had previously assessed that papas bombas based in the FARC template were being integrated into cartel TTPs.

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Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 28: Alleged Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) Car Bombing (“Coche Bomba”) in Colombia

It behooves security analysts to monitor the migration of the CJNG into new territories, the establishment of new cartel-gang alliances and, as demonstrated in this assessment, the spread of cartel TTPs such as car bombings, and attacks on police and security forces.

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