Small Wars Journal

Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 31: Escalating Violence in the Greater Tijuana Plaza

Fri, 12/04/2020 - 7:10pm

Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 31: Escalating Violence in the Greater Tijuana Plaza

Nathan P. Jones, John P. Sullivan, and Robert J. Bunker

While violence is down for the first 10 months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019 in Tijuana, violence in the ‘Greater Tijuana Plaza,’ including Mexicali, Ensenada, Tecate, and Playas de Rosarito in Baja California, may be on the rise as possible internal divisions emerge, alliances shift, and the Cártel de Sinaloa (CDS) and the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) battle for supremacy of the region’s drug trafficking corridor into the United States. 

FGEBC

Prosecutor General of the State of Baja California dismantled Sinaloa Cartel cell in Mexicali (La Fiscalía General del Estado de Baja California desarticuló una célula del Cártel de Sinaloa que planeaba iniciar operaciones criminales en Mexicali). Source: Fiscalía General del Estado de Baja California (FGEBC).

Key Information: Adry Torres, “El Chapo’s sons target drug rehab center patients and offer them $200 a week to become assassins and protect their turf near Mexico’s border with California.” Daily Mail. 9 November 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8930407/El-Chapos-sons-offer-100-biweekly-salary-drug-rehab-center-patients-protect-cartel-turf.html:

  • Baja California Attorney General’s office discovered the Sinaloa Cartel is recruiting male patients from a drug rehabilitation center
  • Officials say the cartel is offering its recruits $100 biweekly to participate in criminal acts in the Baja California city of Mexicali
  • Authorities detained arrested 11 former rehab center patients November 2 after they were recruited by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s sons

Joaquín ‘El Chapo’s Guzmán’s sons are keeping their cartel’s stronghold in the northern Mexican border city of Mexicali by recruiting male patients, including teenagers, from a drug rehabilitation facility.

The Baja California Attorney General’s office found through a recent investigation that the Sinaloa Cartel had been tapping the rehab center for recruits in Mazatlán, Sinaloa.

Key Information: Gerardo Andrade, “Baja California continúa en segundo lugar en homicidios en el País.” Zeta. 10 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/baja-california-continua-en-segundo-lugar-en-homicidios-en-el-pais/:

A pesar que Baja California de ubica en el segundo lugar a nivel nacional de homicidios dolosos, a expertos en materia de seguridad también les preocupaba que el Gobernador del Estado mantenga una disputa con el Alcalde de Tijuana.

En una conferencia virtual realizada este martes 10 de noviembre, Francisco García Burgos, presidente de la Fundación Educando Conseguimos Paz A.C. (Edupaz) dio a conocer los resultados del tercer trimestre del 2020, que comprende del mes de julio a septiembre.

En la presentación se destacó que Baja California se ubica en el segundo lugar a nivel nacional en homicidios dolosos, con una taza de 19.1 por cada 100 mil habitantes, aunque reconoció que hay una disminución de 2.7 por ciento con respecto al mismo periodo del año anterior.[1]

Key Information: “Asesinan a cuatro en Tijuana, uno fue calcinado.” Zeta. 10 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/asesinan-a-cuatro-en-tijuana-uno-fue-calcinado/:

Envuelto en una cobija y bolsas de plástico, fue localizado el cadáver de una persona, la mañana de este martes 10 de noviembre. Los hechos ocurrieron frente a la privada Ocotlán en el fraccionamiento El Laurel. Con este crimen se contabilizan 45 víctimas en noviembre y mil 720 en lo que va del presente año.

En otros hechos violentos registrados en la ciudad en el transcurso del lunes 9 de noviembre destacan el homicidio de un hombre…La victima…presentaba varias heridas por arma de fuego en la espalda y cuello…

Luego en la cajuela de un vehículo calcinado, fue localizado el cadáver de una persona. Debido a las condiciones del cuerpo, no fue posible identificar sexo y edad.

Por último, cuando iba a bordo de una bicicleta un hombre de entre 35 y 40 años, fue abatido a balazos por sujetos desconocidos.[2]

Key Information: “Caen 12 sicarios de ‘Los Chapitos’; venían a ‘limpiar’ la plaza.” Zeta. 9 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/caen-12-sicarios-de-los-chapitos-venian-a-limpiar-la-plaza/:

La fractura del Cártel de Sinaloa continúa dejando una estela de muertes en varias entidades del país, y Baja California como Estado clave en el tráfico de drogas no es la excepción. El lunes 2 de noviembre, policías locales y estatales aprehendieron a una docena de integrantes de una célula criminal enviada directamente por los hermanos Iván Archivaldo y Alfredo Guzmán Salazar “Los Chapitos”, para “barrer” con la plaza de Mexicali, particularmente contra dos personajes: “El Ruso” y “El Omega” conformada principalmente por internos de un centro de rehabilitación de Mazatlán, Sinaloa, fue desarticulada la tarde del lunes 2 de noviembre por elementos de la Policía Municipal de Mexicali y la Guardia Estatal de Seguridad e Investigación (GESI), durante un operativo que tuvo tres puntos de acción en las zonas Oriente y Central, cuyo resultado fue de 12 personas detenidas.

Los implicados cargaban consigo ocho armas cortas de diversos calibres, además de gafetes del citado centro de rehabilitación y un parche con la insignia CDS, que suele relacionarse con el Cártel de Sinaloa; tres de estos fusiles se localizaban frente a un altar de la Santa Muerte, ritual que habitualmente utilizan los grupos delictivos para “no fallar” en su ataque.

La información que se logró obtener durante las diligencias realizadas por las autoridades, es que los detenidos -junto con al menos otros cinco criminales- pretendían organizar una célula de sicarios y reclutar a más elementos para “limpiar” la plaza.[3]

Key Information: Alejandro Arturo Villa, “Tecatenses, víctimas del CJNG y del CS.” Zeta. 2 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/tecatenses-victimas-del-cjng-y-del-cs/:

Habitantes de colonias en la periferia del Pueblo Mágico, como Paso del Águila, Nueva Hindú y Cerro Azul, viven entre el miedo y la zozobra, azotados por el narcotráfico y la criminalidad organizada que se desarrollan impunemente ante la ausencia de las policías estatales o federales que deben combatirlos. En la FGE tienen identificados a dos cárteles que delinquen en aquella zona: Jalisco y Sinaloa

La violencia producida por pugnas entre grupos del crimen organizado en Tecate, ha permeado en la vida cotidiana de los ciudadanos. Las zonas conurbadas y serranas del Pueblo Mágico se caracterizan por la carencia de servicios, la pobreza de sus habitantes, el olvido de las autoridades de los tres niveles de gobierno y la violencia armada.[4]

Key Information: “16 homicidios en 24 horas en BC.” Zeta. 21 September 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/09/16-homicidios-en-24-horas-en-bc/:

Once ejecuciones en Tijuana, cuatro en Ensenada y una en Playas de Rosarito, fue el saldo de una jornada violenta en Baja California registrada durante el domingo 20 de septiembre. Con esta cifra suman 2 mil 92 víctimas en el año 2020.

En Tijuana, la cifra de muertes violentas ascendió a 107 asesinatos en el presente mes, y mil 461 en lo que va en el año…

…De acuerdo a estadísticas de la Fiscalía en Ensenada se han registrado 287 homicidios en lo que va del año 2020, Mexicali 136, Tecate 97, y Playas de Rosarito 111.[5]

Analysis

Violence remains high in the ‘Greater Tijuana Plaza,’ and events and trends in 2020 point to possible increases in violence in 2021.  These trends include possible rifts within the Sinaloa Cartel, the continued battle between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generacíon (CJNG), the use of addicts as sicarios (hitmen), and increased violence in adjacent cities such as Mexicali and Tecate.

This analysis will first ground the discussion in violence data for Baja California.  Next, it will discuss the Tijuana plaza where potential internal Sinaloa Cartel rifts could impact its battle with the CJNG.  This discussion will also cover potential shifting alliances involving the Cártel Arellano Félix (CAF or Arellano Félix Organization - AFO), and the use of high impact violence.  Finally, it will discuss violence in Mexicali and Tecate and the trends that could lead to increased violence in those adjacent areas and influence the plaza’s complex organized crime ecosystem.

Before addressing the criminal dynamics of the Baja California municipalities, an analysis of the trends and locations of violence in Baja California is necessary to ground the discussion in empirical reality.  We derived our analysis from data drawn from the Obervatorio Nacional Ciudadano: Securidad, Justicia, y Legalidad.[6]

Figure 1

Figure 1. Monthly Homicides, Baja California. Source: Observatorio Nacional Ciudano 

In Figure 1 above, we see that violent incidents in Baja California derive primarily from violence in Tijuana given it is by far the largest city in the state.  Baja’s violence has been on an upward trajectory since 2015 with a significant spike in 2017.  While violence is still high in the state and in Tijuana specifically, recent month’s figures suggest a divergence in 2020, which in turn suggests that the violence is increasingly driven by dynamics in other Baja California municipalities such as Ensenada, Tecate, and Mexicali.  Figure 2 below will make this clear.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Baja California Homicide Percentage Change, First 10 Months of 2019 versus 2020.  Source: Observatorio Nacional Ciudano.

Figure 2 demonstrates that overall violence for 2020 is down slightly when compared to the same period in 2019. This was driven by a 10% drop in violence in Tijuana, but it should be noted that Ensenada, Mexicali, and Tecate experienced an increase in homicides of 33, 36, and 45 percent, respectively.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Homicides in Baja California, First 10 Months of 2019 & 2020. Source: Observatorio Nacional Ciudano.

Figure 3 illustrates homicide incidents in various Baja California municipalities for the first 10 months of 2019 and 2020.  While incidents in Tijuana decreased, incidents in Playas de Rosarito also experienced a slight decrease whereas incidents in Ensenada, Mexicali, and Tecate increased.

The Tijuana Plaza

As Zeta magazine describes, there appears to be an internal division within the Sinaloa Cartel in Baja California between the Alfonso ‘Aquiles’ Arzate faction and Rene ‘La Rana’ Arzate on one side and Ismael ‘El MayoZambada, one of the long-term leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, on the other.  According to intelligence officials interviewed by Zeta, the split was due to the violence the Arzates’ inflicted to maintain power.  Thus, Zambada removed his organization’s protection from them.  Interviews by Zeta further identify the dispute as being about the notion of ‘plaza bosses,’ which scholars and crime analysts understand to be criminal leaders who control a city or trafficking territory. 

According to Zeta sources, the Arzates believe themselves to be Plaza bosses for Tijuana, but ‘Mayoand the Sinaloa Cartel expect the Arzates to be subservient to the Sinaloa Cartel.  To compensate for the loss of protection from Zambada, Zeta interviews indicate the Arzates sought alliances with ‘El Flaquito’ of the Cártel Arellano Félix (CAF) and the ‘Chapitos’ (or Chapo Guzman’s sons) which are also part of the Sinaloa Cartel.[7]

This makes matters more complex for the Sinaloa Cartel in Tijuana, which has battled the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) for control of the city for roughly the last 5 years.  Analysts such as Professor David Shirk, have viewed the CAF as working with the CJNG to achieve ‘balance’ against the Sinaloa Cartel.[8]  If this split within the Sinaloa Cartel is real—this analysis relies on preliminary open source intelligence at this time—it could have myriad implications for violence in Tijuana and the surrounding cities. 

According to Shirk, My read is that things are getting quite complicated. CJNG has been working with CAF to displace Sinaloa. If the Chapitos are moving against El Mayo, presumably because of his family’s role in the betrayal of El Chapo, then trying to work with both CAF and the Chapitos could only work out in the long run if the Chapitos have resolved their differences with CJNG, which is not out of the question.”[9]

As Professor Shirk points out, such an alliance would be tenuous at best.  The propensity for violence of both the CJNG and the Chapitos would likely mean that any alliance would break down in a brutal fashion over the long term.  The CJNG also kidnapped and released the Chapitos in 2016.  Zambada is old and is rumored to suffer from health issues.  His inevitable death raises many questions including who will succeed him?  Given his penchant for organization, it is likely he has a successor lined up, but that succession process could be fraught with attacks from other groups and potential defections.

While potential Sinaloa cartel divisions could drive future high impact violence, combat over retail drug sales is also driving violence in Tijuana.  As a researcher from the state security coordination group quoted by Zeta points out, drug dealers affiliated with the CJNG and the Sinaloa cartels sometimes switch sides “and even cartel.” The attempt to prevent this from happening explains some of the high impact violence in Tijuana.  The desire to prevent their own dealers from switching sides has led CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel lieutenants in the area to brutally kill traitors publicly to deter others from switching sides.[10]  This is consistent with Jones (2019) which demonstrates that the narco world in Mexico has become so fragmented that we can view it as a competitive bacterial ecosystem.  Jones uses the concept of bacterial conjugation to demonstrate that traffickers and drug dealers can switch between groups, taking their tactics, techniques, and procedures with them—like bacteria trading their DNA, in order to become more resilient.[11]

According to InfoBae, the government security forces in Baja California are uniting to target 15 hitmen they view as responsible for most of the violence in Tijuana as of 20 October 2020.  The 15 hitmen are all linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, CJNG, or Cártel Arellano Félix.  Some of the cells have switched sides between these groups as they battle with each other.  For example, the CJNG formed the ‘Los Cabos’ sicario cell in 2015, but Los Cabos at some point left and joined the Cártel Arellano Felix.  According to InfoBae, Edwin Huerta Nuno aka ‘El Flaquito’ leads the CAF in Tijuana and is free on bond.  The Tijuana municipal police initiated operation Alert and were provided support from SEDENA and the National Guard to target the 15 hitmen.[12]

Mexicali

Like Tecate, Mexicali has also seen increased violence.  Interestingly, the Chapitos groupwhich has sub cells called the Los Salazar based in Sonora—also battles in Mexicali, a traditional stronghold for the lieutenants of ‘El Mayo’ as Zeta magazine describes.  The Sinaloa Cartel cells appear to be fighting against the CJNG and, at times, each other. Local politicians attribute 80 percent of the violence in Mexicali to organized crime and drug dealing.[13]  It should be noted that Los Salazar cells in Mexicali may be those from Sonora that have battled La Línea in the Sonora-Chihuahua border region. One of the theories on the 2019 Mormon Massacre in that area is that La Línea gunmen mistook the LeBarón Family for their rivals the Salazares (a Sonora based Sinaloa Cartel ally).[14] 

Generating further violence in Mexicali, the Chapitos or Ivan Archivaldo and Alfredo Guzman Salazar (Chapo Guzman’s sons) have recruited hitmen from Rehab centers to ‘sweep’ Mexicali of rivals. While smaller municipalities than Tijuana, Mexicali, and Tecate are strategically important, Mexicali has significant freight traffic into the United States making it a valuable trafficking corridor.  According to Zeta, the Chapitos appear to be fighting two organized crime figures known as the Russian and the Omega.  Mexicali municipal police and state investigators arrested the 12-man cell of rehab center attendees on Monday 2 November 2020.  Notably,the men self-identified as drug addicts and the Chapitos paid them 2,000 pesos (little more than $100) a week to be hitmen.  The Mexicali police conducted a traffic stop that led to the safe house with the other cell members.  They found numerous arms in front of a Santa Muerte altar and patches with the CDS or Cártel de Sinaloa insignia.  Authorities hypothesize that the cell was there to ‘sweep’ or ‘clean’ the plaza (i.e., limpieza social) on behalf of the Chapitos of a Zambada lieutenant Alexander Sanchez Félix or ‘El Russo.’ [15]

If that preliminary hypothesis is correct, it portends dangerous violence for Mexicali and Northwestern Mexico in 2021.  This would suggest a split within the Sinaloa cartel between the Chapitos and El Mayo one of the last standing leaders of the Sinaloa cartel with a history stretching back to the Guadalajara Cartel.  This potential split within the Sinaloa Cartel could increase violence and infighting within the cartel, leading to more violence in states like Baja, Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, and Baja California Sur.

A potential Sinaloa Cartel split could also mean that the Sinaloa Cartel will be weakened by infighting, leading to a new dynamic in the preexisting conflict with the CJNG.  The CJNG may galvanize with existing allies such as the CAF and defecting Sinaloa Cartel factions, like those long dominant in Tijuana led by the Arzate brothers ‘El Aquiles’ and ‘La Rana.’  Interestingly, those actors are rumored to be seeking the support of the Chapitos in their break with Zambada.  This is another speculative datapoint suggesting an internal rift within the Sinaloa Cartel.[16]

Tecate

According to Zeta reporting, law enforcement authorities in Tecate identified battles between the CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel as the generators of violence.  The groups are battling in peripheral neighborhoods such as Paso de Aguila, Bueva Hindu and Cerro Azul.  Zeta interviews with citizens indicate that the people in these Tecate neighborhoods are frustrated with a lack of police presence and patrols and slow response time for calls, and thus even have a preference for organized crime actors over the ‘predatory’ police.[17]  This is reminiscent of the academic work on ‘criminal enclaves’ and ‘fish traps’ in which violent non state armed groups carve spaces away from state control and create systems of incentives to entrap locals.[18]

Conclusion

A possible rift between the Chapitos and ‘El Mayo’ may be emerging as data points from the Baja California area indicate.  This could lead to shifting alliances and increased violence in 2021 despite slight statewide declines in violence in the first 10 months of 2020.  Tecate and Mexicali are hotspots to watch in Baja, as the Sinaloa Cartels and the CJNG continue to vie for control of the lucrative trafficking zone.  The CAF may play an increasing role as kingmaker as it tilts the balance between the Sinaloa affiliates and the CJNG.  The ‘Greater Tijuana Plaza’ is expected to remain volatile as this contest for power and territorial control plays out.

Sources

Gerardo Andrade, “Baja California continúa en segundo lugar en homicidios en el País.” Zeta. 10 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/baja-california-continua-en-segundo-lugar-en-homicidios-en-el-pais/.

“Asesinan a cuatro en Tijuana, uno fue calcinado.” Zeta. 10 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/asesinan-a-cuatro-en-tijuana-uno-fue-calcinado/.

“Caen 12 sicarios de ‘Los Chapitos’; venían a ‘limpiar’ la plaza.” Zeta. 9 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/caen-12-sicarios-de-los-chapitos-venian-a-limpiar-la-plaza/.

“Ellos son los 15 sicarios más buscados en Tijuana, responsables de 1,570 asesinatos en lo que va del 2020.” Infobae. 20 October 2020, https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2020/10/20/ellos-son-los-15-sicarios-mas-buscados-en-tijuana-responsables-de-1570-asesinatos-en-lo-que-va-del-2020/.

“El regreso de Los Arzate.” Zeta. 9 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/el-regreso-de-los-arzate/.

“En la Violenta Guerra entre CJNG y CDS.” Zeta. 7 September 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/09/en-la-violenta-guerra-entre-cjng-y-cds/.

“Los Salazar ‘cazan’ en Mexicali.” Zeta. 2 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/los-salazar-cazan-en-mexicali/.

Adry Torres, “El Chapo’s sons target drug rehab center patients and offer them $200 a week to become assassins and protect their turf near Mexico’s border with California.” Daily Mail. 9 November 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8930407/El-Chapos-sons-offer-100-biweekly-salary-drug-rehab-center-patients-protect-cartel-turf.html.

Rafael Torres, “La imparable crisis de San Felipe.” Zeta. 2 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/la-imparable-crisis-de-san-felipe/.

“16 homicidios en 24 horas en BC.” Zeta. 21 September 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/09/16-homicidios-en-24-horas-en-bc/.

Endnotes

[1] In English, the title reads: “Baja California continues in second place in homicides in the Country.”  The text reads: “Although Baja California ranks second in the nation for intentional homicides, security experts were also concerned that the State Governor has a dispute with the Mayor of Tijuana.”…

“In a virtual conference held this Tuesday, November 10, Francisco García Burgos, president of the Fundación Educando Obamos Paz A.C. (Edupaz) released the results for the third quarter of 2020, which includes the month of July to September.”…“In the presentation, it was highlighted that Baja California is in second place nationwide in intentional homicides, with a rate of 19.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, although it recognized that there is a decrease of 2.7 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.”

[2] In English, the title reads: “Four killed in Tijuana, one was burned.”  The text reads: “Wrapped in a blanket and plastic bags, the body of a person was found on the morning of this Tuesday, November 10. The events occurred in front of the private Ocotlán in the El Laurel subdivision. With this crime, there are 45 victims in November and 1,720 so far this year.”…“In other violent events registered in the city during Monday, November 9, the homicide of a man stands out...The victim…had several gunshot wounds to his back and neck.”…“Then in the trunk of a charred vehicle, the body of a person was found. Due to body conditions, it was not possible to identify sex and age.”…“Finally, when a man between 35 and 40 years old was riding a bicycle, he was shot dead by unknown subjects.”

[3] In English, the title reads: “12 hitmen from ‘Los Chapitos’ fall; they came to ‘clean’ the square.”  The text reads: “The fracture of the Sinaloa Cartel continues to leave a trail of deaths in various entities of the country, and Baja California as a key state in drug trafficking is no exception. On Monday, November 2, local and state police arrested a dozen members of a criminal cell sent directly by the brothers Iván Archivaldo and Alfredo Guzmán Salazar ‘Los Chapitos,’ to ‘sweep’ the Mexicali square, particularly against two characters: ‘El Ruso’ and ‘El Omega,’ made up mainly of inmates from a rehabilitation center in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, was dismantled on the afternoon of Monday, 2 November by elements of the Mexicali Municipal Police and the State Security and Investigation Guard (GESI), during an operation that had three points of action in the East and Central zones, which resulted in 12 people arrested.”…“Those involved carried with them eight short weapons of various calibers, in addition to badges from the said rehabilitation center and a patch with the CDS insignia, which is usually related to the Sinaloa Cartel; three of these rifles were located in front of an altar of Santa Muerte, a ritual that criminal groups usually use to ‘not fail’ in their attack.”… “The information that was obtained during the proceedings carried out by the authorities is that the detainees—along with at least five other criminals—wanted to organize a cell of hitmen and recruit more elements to ‘clean’ the plaza.”

[4] In English, the title reads: “Tecatenses, victims of the CJNG and the CS.”  The text reads:  “Inhabitants of neighborhoods on the periphery of the Magic Town, such as Paso del Águila, Nueva Hindú and Cerro Azul, live between fear and anxiety, plagued by drug trafficking and organized crime that develop with impunity in the absence of state or federal police they must fight them. In the FGE they have identified two cartels that commit crimes in that area: Jalisco and Sinaloa.”…“The violence produced by struggles between organized crime groups in Tecate, has permeated the daily lives of citizens. The urban and mountainous areas of the Pueblo Mágico are characterized by the lack of services, the poverty of its inhabitants, the neglect of the authorities of the three levels of government and armed violence.”

[5] In English, the title reads: “16 Homicides in 24 hours in BC [Baja California].”  The text reads: “Eleven executions in Tijuana, four in Ensenada and one in Playas de Rosarito, was the balance of a violent day in Baja California recorded on Sunday, September 20. With this figure, there are 2 thousand 92 victims in 2020.”…“In Tijuana, the number of violent deaths rose to 107 murders this month [September], and 1,461 so far this year.”…“According to statistics from the Prosecutor's Office in Ensenada, 287 homicides have been registered so far in 2020, Mexicali 136, Tecate 97, and Playas de Rosarito 111.”

[6] Observatorio Nacional Ciudano, “Observatorio Interactivo de incidencia delictiva” (Interactive Crime Database), https://delitosmexico.onc.org.mx.

[7] “El regreso de Los Arzate.” Zeta. 9 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/el-regreso-de-los-arzate/ .

[8] On cartel balancing see the work of:  Irina Chindea, “Fear and Loathing in Mexico:  Narco-Alliances and Proxy Wars.” Fletcher Security Review I, no. II Spring 2014, http://media.wix.com/ugd/c28a64_4f406b0a66314668aae6a81a4066465a.pdf; and Irina Alexandra Chindea, “Man, the State and War against Drug Cartels: A Typology of Drug-Related Violence in Mexico.” Small Wars Journal.  19 March 2014, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/man-the-state-and-war-against-drug-cartels-a-typology-of-drug-related-violence-in-mexico.

[9] Email correspondence with Professor David Shirk, Justice in Mexico Project, University of San Diego, 14 November 2020. 

[10] “En la Violenta Guerra entre CjNG y CDS.” Zeta. 7 September 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/09/en-la-violenta-guerra-entre-cjng-y-cds/.

[11] Nathan P. Jones, “Bacterial Conjugation as a Framework for the Homogenization of Tactics in Mexican Organized Crime.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 29 March 2019, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1057610X.2019.1586356?journalCode=uter20; and Nathan P. Jones, “The Strategic Implications of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación.” Journal of Strategic Security. Vol 11, No. 1, 2018: pp. 19-42, https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jss/vol11/iss1/3/.

[12] “Ellos son los 15 sicarios más buscados en Tijuana, responsables de 1,570 asesinatos en lo que va del 2020.” Infobae. 20 October 2020, https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2020/10/20/ellos-son-los-15-sicarios-mas-buscados-en-tijuana-responsables-de-1570-asesinatos-en-lo-que-va-del-2020/.

[13] “Los Salazar ‘cazan’ en Mexicali.” Zeta. 2 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/los-salazar-cazan-en-mexicali/.

[14] Gabrielle Gorder, “Narco Funeral Draws Attention to Los Salazar in Mexico.” InSight Crime. 20 August 2019, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/narco-funeral-draws-attention-los-salazar-mexico/; and Azam Ahmed, “After Mormon Family’s Terror in Mexico, a Message Emerges: No One Is Safe.” New York Times. 8 November 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/world/americas/mexico-mormon-massacre.html.

[15] Adry Torres, “El Chapo’s sons target drug rehab center patients and offer them $200 a week to become assassins and protect their turf near Mexico’s border with California.” Daily Mail. 9 November 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8930407/El-Chapos-sons-offer-100-biweekly-salary-drug-rehab-center-patients-protect-cartel-turf.html; and “Caen 12 sicarios de ‘Los Chapitos;’ venían a ‘limpiar’ la plaza.” Zeta. 9 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/caen-12-sicarios-de-los-chapitos-venian-a-limpiar-la-plaza/.

[16] Op, cit. “El regreso de Los Arzate.” Zeta. 9 November 2020.

[17] Alejandro Arturo Villa, “Tecatenses, víctimas del CJNG y del CS.” Zeta. 2 November 2020, https://zetatijuana.com/2020/11/tecatenses-victimas-del-cjng-y-del-cs/.

[18] David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla (Oxford University Press, 2015); and John P. Sullivan, “From Drug Wars to Criminal Insurgency: Mexican Cartels, Criminal Enclaves and Criminal Insurgency in Mexico and Central America,” Implications for Global Security. Working Paper No9. Paris: Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme. April 2012, https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00694083/document.

Additional Reading

Nathan P. Jones, “Bacterial Conjugation as a Framework for the Homogenization of Tactics in Mexican Organized Crime.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 29 March 2019.

Nathan P. Jones, “The Strategic Implications of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación.” Journal of Strategic Security. Vol 11, No. 1, 2018, pp. 19-42.

John P. Sullivan, Robert J. Bunker, and David A. Kuhn, “Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #38: Armed Drone Targets the Baja California Public Safety Secretary’s Residence in Tecate, Mexico.” Small Wars Journal. 6 August 2018.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He is an honorably retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism, and intelligence. He is currently an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of intelligence fusion centers. He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” He can be reached at jpsullivan@smallwarsjournal.com.

Dr. Robert J. Bunker is Director of Research and Analysis, C/O Futures, LLC, and an Instructor at the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy. He holds university degrees in political science, government, social science, anthropology-geography, behavioral science, and history and has undertaken hundreds of hours of counterterrorism training. Past professional associations include Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College and Futurist in Residence, Training and Development Division, Behavioral Science Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, Quantico. Dr. Bunker has well over 500 publications—including about 40 books as co-author, editor, and co-editor—and can be reached at docbunker@smallwarsjournal.com.   
 

Dr. Nathan P. Jones is an Associate Professor of Security Studies at Sam Houston State University and a Non-resident Scholar for Rice University’s Baker Institute in Drug Policy and Mexico Studies; he previously was an Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. He holds a PhD from the University of California, Irvine and won an Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation Fellowship to conduct fieldwork in Mexico on organized crime. Jones published Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction (Georgetown University Press, 2016), and has published with numerous think tanks and peer reviewed journals. He is a Small Wars Journal–El Centro Fellow and serves as the book review editor for the Journal of Strategic Security.