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Pangas, Trickery, Intimidation, and Drug Trafficking in California
This paper assesses maritime drug smuggling by Mexican drug trafficking organizations on the coasts of California with an emphasis on the use of panga boats. Through court document research, this paper assesses the adaptability of drug networks to increased border enforcement, and the use of trickery and intimidation in the recruitment of panga offload crews.
A recent California government report has pointed to the ability of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), better thought of as illicit networks,[i] to adapt to border controls by subverting them in favor of maritime drug routes, which it calls “tactical adaptation.”[ii] This article critically analyzes an empirical case study of a maritime smuggling operation to demonstrate the adaptation of drug trafficking networks to increased law enforcement and border controls.[iii]
Maritime smuggling operations on the California coast include what have become known as panga boat operations. Pangas are cheap, open-hulled boats that can be loaded with drugs, humans, or other contraband, to exploit the littoral space and land on California’s vast stretches of coastland, usually in secluded coves.[iv] A more in-depth discussion of panga boat operations will be provided. Figure 1 is an example of a “super panga” seized in Santa Barbara County.
Figure 1: Example of a “Super Panga” found in Santa Barbara County[v]
Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, 2013
A recent court case provides insight into the use of pangas, trickery and intimidation by Mexican trafficking networks and other tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) they use to subvert drug enforcement efforts.
Though it was a publicly argued case, the defendant’s name has been changed to a pseudonym (Miguel) to preserve his anonymity. All case related information described in this article is based on the author’s court attendance of closing arguments and the jury’s requested open court reading of previous testimony in the United States District Court in San Luis Obispo, California.[vi] Methodologically one could argue that this case is problematic given the defendant has an incentive to lie to maintain his freedom. Miguel’s testimony was consistent with the facts of the case; the only legal issue was his claim of duress and to being a blind mule.[vii]
In the “dynamic learning process”[viii] of “competitive adaptation,”[ix] and “escalation”[x] between Mexican drug networks and law enforcement, Mexican drug networks have expanded their use of “blind compartmentalization,” through the expanded use of “blind mule” tactics coupled with credible threats of violence. What could be more compartmentalized than an illicit network in which the vast majority of those participating are unaware or not fully aware of their own participation?
The expanded use of such deception tactics is a logical trend given the environment of competitive adaptation between law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and smuggling networks. As fewer individuals in the United States want to enter the drug transport market due to the high potential costs, those profiting from the high “risk premium”[xi] will increasingly trick or coerce others for the labor they need. This can lead to victimization of vulnerable populations while enabling illicit networks to cheaply adapt to state “escalation.”[xii]
Compartmentalization is well known to both illicit networks and law enforcement.[xiii] Law enforcement compartmentalizes operations in the process of bureaucratic competition “with other agencies and to prevent leaks often by keeping information on a “need to know” basis.[xiv] Compartmentalization or the failure to share information and “connect the dots” was identified as a problem by the 9-11 Commission report and became one of the key rationales for the establishment of a Director of National Intelligence and later the Department of Homeland Security.[xv] Mexican drug networks also compartmentalize operations for similar reasons. They can be subject to theft known as “drug rips” from rivals, law enforcement seizures, or internal theft. Both LEAs and illicit networks maintain compartmentalization by punishing those who share information inappropriately, establishing procedures for the storage of information/communications, using intermediaries or “cut-outs,” and in extreme cases using people who are unaware they are being used, using people under true duress, or some combination thereof. The use of “blind compartmentation” may be an evolving tactic of drug network “competitive adaptation.”
Michael Kenney’s seminal work explores the concept of “competitive adaptation” to understand the learning dynamics between law enforcement and drug traffickers in the drug trafficking business. He describes competitive adaptation as a “theory of process” where “narcs and narcos learn not in isolation, but within complex adaptive systems, where both sets of imperfectly informed, interdependent players gather and analyze information to change practices and outmaneuver their opponents.”[xvi] Miguel’s case represents some of the new tactics and broader strategic shifts that have resulted from the “competitive adaptation” learning processes generated by both drug networks and state responses. Like “competitive adaptation,” Andreas’s concept of escalation is also useful. It however explains the broader political economic context of the continuing adaptation of illicit networks and the state. The state security apparatus justifies more resources and funding to combat illicit networks as illicit networks become more sophisticated, while illicit networks get more profits from the increased risk premium created by the ever-increasing enforcement regime.[xvii]
The increase in panga boat operations is evidenced by increased panga and increased seizures. According to a recent California government report, panga boat drug seizures doubled from 2009-2010 and again from 2010-11. The amount of marijuana seized also dramatically increased “from 3800 points in 2008 to 120,000 in 2012.”[xviii] In this same period land seizures decreased, suggesting that drug networks “competitively adapted” to increased pressure along the border by shifting to maritime routes. Panga boat routes have also shifted northward with increased law enforcement efforts to counter them in southern California.
As figure 2 indicates, panga routes have progressively moved northward reaching reach into Santa Cruz just south of San Francisco. These panga boats launch from Baja California and travel north to staging areas in international waters. Larger boats with fuel, supply the smaller pangas extending their range. Unlike “go-fast boats,” pangas do not rely on speed, but on a low radar profile due to fiberglass construction, nighttime deliveries, and the vastness of the littoral to evade law enforcement.[xix]
While most panga operations do not result in overt violence some do. In one recent case a US Coast Guard officer was killed when his inflatable attempted to commandeer a panga. The panga boat driver chose to ram the inflatable killing the officer and was later charged with for his death in a US criminal complaint.[xx] Maritime drug trafficking taskforces have proven effective—at least in this case—in detecting some of the onshore offload crews, but this does little to disrupt the networks because those captured are “cut-outs” who will provide little information due to fear of retaliation by organized crime. Further, “cut-outs” may be “blind mules” such as Miguel who know nothing of the operation minimizing operational costs to the traffickers.
Figure 2. Panga Smuggling Routes (2010-13) Adapted from CA STAC Figure 22[xxi]
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center
Participation in smuggling activities, while lucrative includes the high risk of capture due to effective law enforcement institutions in this region. This has resulted in “dark networks”[xxii] adapting by increasingly involving individuals through the threat of force and trickery. Persons tricked into unwittingly participating in smuggling operations are referred to as “blind mules.” With increased penalties and a smaller supply of willing participants, the use of blind mules a llows for an increase in the workforce size and reduced risk for the smugglers themselves. The use of “cut-outs” or “go-betweens” is common in drug smuggling operations and a blind mule is the ultimate “cut-out.”[xxiii] Usually cut-outs are willing participants who out of fear of the person directing them are unwilling or unlikely to testify or provide law enforcement intelligence about the orchestrator.[xxiv]
Blind Mules, Trickery and Intimidation
Miguel’s case, hinged not just on duress—the legal defense that the illegal act was carried out because of fear of death or serious bodily injury—but also on an element of trickery. There are an extensive and apparently increasing number of “blind mule” cases in the last five years on the US-Mexico border. A “blind mule” is someone who carries illegal drugs without knowing it, sometimes referred to as an “unknowing courier.”[xxv] It’s a tough defense because the prosecution can argue that the person did know they were carrying the drugs and that because these are multimillion dollar drug enterprises, they don’t need to dupe unknowing couriers but can pay willing mules. That makes a lot of sense, but in the last five years the U.S. government and drug enforcement agencies have acknowledged an increasing number of cases involving blind mules.
A judge in El Paso threw out a trafficking conviction for a music student after he discovered another judge had other cases with the exact same facts. He realized the student had been telling the truth and ordered a federal investigation resulting in an FBI indictment which painted a shocking picture.[xxvi] A smuggling operation with a network of lookouts was watching for people with trusted traveler or SENTRI passes who crossed the US-Mexico border at regular times to go to work. The lookouts would get the VIN numbers on the vehicles and using only the VIN number, order copies of the keys to the cars. While the traveler slept, drugs were placed in their trunk using the keys. After they crossed the border, the drugs would be removed from their car while they were at work or school. If the blind mules were caught, they would have no information to give about the smuggling operation. This is just one method of compartmentalizing operations to avoid effective LEAs.[xxvii]
Similarly, Greg Moran of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the US government also was aware of smuggling operations that used blind mules by replacing their car tires with others filled with drugs and by using magnets to attach drugs to the bottom of their cars.[xxviii] On the San Diego-Tijuana border another scheme became so widespread that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took out ads in Tijuana to warn people about it. As Reuters and the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, smuggling groups were putting out “want ads” for jobs in the US. When people living in Mexico with permission to work in the US called, they would be given an interview in the US and a car to drive to the interview. When they arrived the keys would be taken from them and they were told there was no job.[xxix] Of course that is only if they made it across the border past drug sniffing dogs and customs agents.
Drug smugglers also use intimidation in addition to trickery. Sandra Dibble of the San Diego Union-Tribune documented the case of a famous Architect in Tijuana who was offered free “protection” by a client when he entered Tijuana when Tijuana was awash in the kidnappings of professionals between 2008 and 2010.[xxx] The architect accepted the protection only to have a gun turned on him after a week and a demand that he pay $40,000. When he said he didn’t have the money, he was offered an opportunity to work off his “debt” by smuggling. While he pled guilty, he received only six months for smuggling because of the documented threats against him and his family.[xxxi] Victor Alfaro Clark an organized crime expert witness human rights practitioner in Tijuana argues that the use of blind mules and intimidation is nothing new for drug trafficking organizations but is now getting more attention.[xxxii]
The “Blind Mule” Case
Miguel’s day began ordinarily on October 15th, 2013 as he woke with his wife, son and daughter in southern California. It would end with him jumping from a white van before it fell into a ravine as it fled law enforcement in a drug smuggling case. The following details are extracted from testimony in his case.
Miguel commuted from his home to his worksite, a landscaping job in nearby southern California. At some point in the day a man he did not know approached him and offered him a job trimming trees after he was done working. Miguel wanted the extra work to buy Christmas presents for his children. He asked the man if he needed to go home and get his tree trimming equipment. The man said that he had everything and would pick him up at the end of the day. They never discussed a price. After picking Miguel up, the man took him to a house where a white panel van arrived with more workers like Miguel. Miguel got into the van thinking that it was a bigger job than he previously thought.
The white van drove north. The 4-6 men were sitting on the floor and had difficulty seeing out the windows. When asked by the prosecutor why he did not talk to the others in the van about what the job was, he said that he did not usually talk to people he does not know. As the hours went by he called his wife and told her he would be late
The van continued north for hours. Miguel became nervous. He didn’t know where he was and could not read the signs. Someone in the van started to ask questions. The driver said “shut up or I’ll make you shut up.” Miguel was worried. The van stopped at a gas station. Miguel felt trapped in the back. One of the men tried to open the sliding door, but couldn’t; the handle had been removed. One of the other men in the van saw that there were men surrounding the van with guns.
The prosecutor asked him why he had not texted his wife to tell her he felt something was wrong. He replied that he could not write. Miguel was illiterate and had only had 6 months of education in El Salvador. The prosecutor asked why he had not told his wife something was wrong during their phone call. He felt he couldn’t in the confines of the quiet van full of strangers. When police questioned him, he said they were small guns. Darren Murphy, Miguel’s court appointed attorney stated in closing arguments that this suggested the man was telling the truth. A liar trying to cover his tracks would have exaggerated the size and caliber of the guns to show how afraid he was for a duress defense.
At this point the driver in the van passed around a bag and told the men in the van to put in their cell phones, wallets, rings, and anything that would make noise. Miguel refused to put in his wedding ring and stuck it in his shoe. He had never taken it off before. He went from nervous to being scared.
After the van gassed up, it went to a motel parking lot. Miguel did not know this because, according to him, he was in the back on the floor and could not see well. He didn’t remember how long he was there. The prosecutor suggested, in closing arguments, that Miguel may have fallen asleep. Given that it was now between 10pm and Midnight and Miguel had worked a full day, this may be true. We know he was there for about two hours while the van was parked at a motel because law enforcement was watching.
After parking at the motel the driver took them down to the beach near San Simeon and parked the van. The men got out and were instructed to go down to the beach through the brush. The men with guns were not there but in Miguel’s mind they could have been anywhere. When they got to the beach they waited about two minutes until a panga boat arrived. It appears the panga boat and the offload crew had GPS coordinates to bring them together and time their operation. By this point there were 15-20 men on the beach. Miguel’s was not the only van full of workers.
Panga boats are open hulled boats with two outboard motors.[xxxiii] This one was about 31 feet long and carried 3,400 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $10 million according to federal agents. The marijuana was wrapped in plastic and the men did not know what they were moving… but they could surmise. It took 45 minutes for the marijuana to be loaded into an RV. The panga offload caravan consisted of an RV, a white van, a black van and black Honda sedan that followed the caravan and carried the enforcers with guns. This caravan exemplifies an obvious signature for a panga boat offload.[xxxiv]
Panga boats had become so common that law enforcement in Southern California was putting more pressure on them, so they were going further north in some cases as far as Santa Cruz County an hour and a half south of San Francisco according to excellent reporting by Stephen Baxter of the Santa Cruz Sentinel.[xxxv] Panga boat landings as far north as San Luis Obispo were so common that a maritime drug smuggling taskforce had been formed to target them.[xxxvi] It was this taskforce that had identified the panga offload crew caravan and was following them.
The task force tracked all the vehicles in the caravan for hours. The caravan vehicles were not always together and even followed procedures to avoid and lose tails. After the offload crew had picked up their cargo, each of the vehicles was pulled over after probable cause was established by observing vehicle code violations. All of the vehicles stopped without incident when the lights flashed; all except the white van with Miguel in the back. When the lights flashed the driver sped up. The men in the back begged him to pull over. One of the men grabbed the bag with their wallets and cell phones and dumped its contents out on the floor of the van.
Miguel frantically grabbed his wallet and cell phone. At that moment one of the men realized they were going to crash and frantically pulled at the sliding door with the handle removed. Somehow he got it open. Had he been in on the operation and thus knew the trick to open the door without the handle? Was it luck? The prosecution was incredulous. With the door open, the men jumped out of the moving vehicle just before it went over a ravine. Task force officers in pursuit saw every second of it unfold and were shocked. Miraculously no one was hurt. Miguel and two others in the van ran scared from law enforcement doubting anyone would believe their story of being duped and coerced into smuggling drugs.
Miguel and the two others wandered through the brush of San Luis Obispo County most of the night. The next morning they arrived in the nearby town of Cayucos where they called their family members to pick them up. They waited tired, dirty, and covered in the brush of their escape through the hills. They looked suspicious enough for someone to call the police to check on them. When the police arrived the two men with Miguel had an urge to confess. They all had the same story. They didn’t know what they were getting into. They were offered ostensibly legal jobs and before they realized it was a setup they were in too deep. The officers claimed Miguel nodded his head thereby “adopting” the admission of the man next to him. There was just one problem. Miguel doesn’t speak English well enough to have understood the confession. Miguel and the others were arrested on drug smuggling charges without Miguel ever having given a statement. Miguel would not get to tell his story to anyone but his cellmates and defense attorney for another 8 months. His cell mates, some of them who had been in the offload crew, laughed at him for having been duped. Miguel, immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in the late 90s. In El Salvador he received less than a year of formal education when he was about 8 years old. He is illiterate and speaks only a little English.
The members of the maritime drug trafficking task force testified as to how they identified and followed the offload crew according to its profile and how they had used probable cause to make the vehicle stops. A Homeland Security Investigations agent testified that the marijuana in question was more than 3,400 pounds with a street value of $10 million and a San Luis Obispo deputy sheriff testified that the low quality of the marijuana compared to California Medical marijuana suggested that it was destined for out of state distribution, giving an interstate distribution element to the conspiracy. The judge was reticent to allow the agents to describe the cartel they thought was doing the smuggling since there was no direct evidence that it was one particular cartel. The agents were convinced, that it was the Sinaloa cartel. This was based on the fact that the region where the panga boats are launched from (Baja California) is controlled by the Sinaloa cartel, that that cartel specializes in marijuana, and that the men in the follow car (the black Honda sedan) had identification cards and a receipt for an approximately $8,000 money transfer to Culiacán, Sinaloa. Culiacán is the heart of Mexican drug trafficking and many of the major trafficking group leaders have family roots in Sinaloa if they themselves are not from there.[xxxvii] The rise in maritime smuggling in this area and the rise of blind compartmentalization is also consistent with the Sinaloa cartel’s taking of control of the Baja California and Tijuana trafficking corridor from the once dominant Arellano Félix Organization.[xxxviii] After closing arguments and two days of deliberations the jury was “hung” seven to five in favor of acquittal.
The “Architecture” of Panga Operations
The review of Miguel’s case together with other panga boat criminal complaints and indictments, informs the structure of maritime smuggling operations in California. The littoral panga smuggling organizational roles are summarized in Table 1. In addition to unskilled laborers, the organizational elements include:
One or more individuals serve as recruiters arranging to pick up laborers for the operation. It is possible these recruiters were also unaware of the true nature of their activities, but this seems unlikely since some of the others captured with Miguel recruited in the same operation did know it was a smuggling operation. The recruiters appear to have told many of the different laborers recruited different stories to lure them. One was offered a job house painting, another in construction, etc. This is consistent with the stories told by laborers in other Panga boat cases upon interrogation by law enforcement.[xxxix] Thus, the laborers may or may not know the nature of the task.
Drivers are contracted. These individuals know who they worked for and received threats to prevent them from revealing information to law enforcement making them “cut-outs.” The drivers in turn also threatened the laborers with physical violence if they did not comply. These individuals handle the rental of the vehicles, driving, directing laborers, taking laborer cell phones, giving laborers black sweatshirts to reduce visibility, and delivering drugs to stash houses in exchange for pay.[xl]
The men driving the “follow car,” in this case a black Honda sedan are most likely directly connected to a large drug trafficking organization and serve as coordinators and intimidators to make certain the cell operates effectively. They also send money to Mexico via wire transfers suggesting they play a wider role in wholesale distribution where cash payments come into play.
Panga Boat Operators
Panga boat cells launch from Baja California, Mexico. These cells usually involve a small number of people, possibly as few as two boat drivers (who are likely moonlighting fishermen). It is likely that the labor to load the pangas in Mexico come from Fishermen in the Ensenada and surrounding region. Some are recruited by force while others are offered set fees. The boats themselves are often rented. One case reported in the Santa Cruz Sentinel involved a man who rented fishing boats. His father had been killed and he inherited the family business. When he refused to rent boats to smuggling operations, he was threatened.[xli] Rented boats further decrease losses in the event of a seizure and minimize the paper trail back to the larger organization. Sometimes laborers who help offload the panga also make the sea journey.[xlii]
Fuel Boat Operators
Fuel Boat Drivers also launch from Baja California. There are usually one or two drivers. Based on a review of indictments/criminal complaints including LEA characterization of statements, similar tactics are used for recruitment on the Mexican side of the border. Some report being paid while others report being coerced to become fuel boat operators.
Table 1. “Role Specialization” in a Panga Boat Trafficking Cell[xliii]
Miguel’s case teaches important lessons about the nature of drug smuggling in the face of increased law enforcement pressure. Illicit networks have effectively adapted in face of increased border security measures by exploiting the dense littoral space and vast coastline. They further competitively adapted to the limited pool of willing participants by tricking laborers into working for them by offering ostensibly legal jobs. While this is only a single case, it is indicative of larger trends borne out by media reports and court documents in other panga boat cases.[xliv]
While addressing the use of blind mules is difficult, US, Mexican, and Central American governments can engage in public service announcements to potential blind mules to make them aware of these types of schemes. The California government report Gangs Beyond Borders, recommended the creation of a maritime drug trafficking task force and a system of sensors and sonar buoys to detect incoming pangas.[xlv] Sonar should be approached with caution because active sonar can have adverse effects on marine life.
Apprehending panga boat crews at sea will require standing maritime resources over a vast swath of territory. Further, they can be thwarted by what the Netwar literature calls “swarming” attacks, in which networks launch multiple simultaneous smuggling attempts knowing that only a fraction can be interdicted.[xlvi] Addressing panga boat operations themselves requires building and exploiting an ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance network) that bridges local and federal LEAs with the capabilities of the United States Coast Guard (specifically relying on synchronized operations with the Eleventh Coast Guard District).
Andreas, Peter. Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009.
Arquilla, John, and David F. Ronfeldt, eds. Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy. Santa Monica, CA: National Defense Research Institute (RAND), United States Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense., 2001. http://ed.informata.com/liburl.asp?productid=0833032356&customerid=002217 http://www.rand.org/PUBS/index.html.
Bakker, Rene M, Jörg Raab, and H Brinton Milward. “A Preliminary Theory of Dark Network Resilience.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 31, no. 1 (2012): 33–62.
Baxter, Stephen. “Surge in Drug Smuggling Boats on Central Coast.” Santacruzsentinel.com, March 15, 2014. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_25351869/surge-drug-smuggling-boats-central-coast.
Beith, Malcom. The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo the World’s Most Wanted Drug Lord. 1st ed. Grove Press, 2010.
Cabrera, Marissa, Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane, and Peggy Pico. “Do Coercion Claims In Border Drug Smuggling Cases Signal A New Trend?” Fronteras Desk, December 12, 2012. http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/do-coercion-claims-border-drug-smuggling-cases-signal-new-trend.
“Criminal Complaint: United State of America vs. Jose Meija-Leyva and Manuel Beltran-Higuera (Case 2:12-Cr-01178-GAF).” United States District Court Central District of California, December 3, 2012.
“Criminal Complaint: United States v. Ruben Estrada-Romero et Al. Case 2:12-Cr-00887-Gw.” United States District Court Central District of California, September 7, 2012.
Dibble, Sandra. “Tijuana Architect Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Cocaine.” U-T San Diego. 2012. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/nov/25/tijuana-architect-pleads-guilty-to-smuggling-cocai/.
———. “U.S. Says Beware of Ads Placed by Drug Traffickers.” San Diego Union Tribune, April 9, 2012. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/apr/09/us-agency-warns-against-tijuana-want-ads-placed-dr/.
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Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, Mette, and Calvert Jones. “Assessing the Dangers of Illicit Networks: Why Al-Qaida May Be Less Threatening Than Many Think.” International Security 33, no. 2 (2008): 7–44.
“First Superseding Indictment Grand Jury United States of America, v. Daniel Mendoza-Torres et Al.” United States District Court Central District of California Los Angeles, June 2012.
“Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime,” March 2014. https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/toc/report_2014.pdf.
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“Indictment: United States of America v. Jesus Chavez. Case No. 11-3330-G.” United States District Court for the Western District of Texas., July 1, 2011.
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Kenney, M. From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007. http://www.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip075/2006037198.html.
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Reuter, Peter, and Mark AR Kleiman. “Risks and Prices: An Economic Analysis of Drug Enforcement.” Crime and Justice, 1986, 289–340.
Schendel, Willem van, and Abraham. Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization. Tracking Globalization. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. http://www.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip0511/2005010917.html.
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[i] For a discussion of the use of the term licit vs. legal see Willem van Schendel and Abraham, Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization, Tracking Globalization (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 4, http://www.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip0511/2005010917.html.
[ii] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime,” March 2014, 39, https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/toc/report_2014.pdf; ibid., iii.
[iii] Michael Kenney, From Pablo to Osama : Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007); Peter Andreas, Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009).
[iv] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime.”
[v] This “super panga” was found in Santa Barbara County. The image is from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office and appeared as Figure 21 in “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime.”
[vi] Specific case details anonymized for protection of the un-convicted suspect.
[vii] As the archival research will show, the use of blind mules by organized crime is a common occurrence and has been acknowledged by US government agencies with an incentive to deny the use of this tactic. Further, as will be discussed, the jury was sufficiently conflicted over the case to end with a hung verdict and the prosecution did not press further charges, lending his story further credibility.
[viii] Kenney, From Pablo to Osama.
[ix] M. Kenney, From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007), http://www.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip075/2006037198.html.
[x] Andreas, Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide, chap. Introduction.
[xi] Peter Reuter and Mark AR Kleiman, “Risks and Prices: An Economic Analysis of Drug Enforcement,” Crime and Justice, 1986, 289–340.
[xii] Andreas, Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide.
[xiii] Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and Calvert Jones, “Assessing the Dangers of Illicit Networks: Why Al-Qaida May Be Less Threatening Than Many Think,” International Security 33, no. 2 (2008): 7–44; Kenney, From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation.
[xiv] Kenney, From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation.
[xv] Thomas H. Keane, “9/11 Commission Report,” n.d., chap. 1399, http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf; United States. Congress. House. Committee on Government Reform. Subcommittee on National Security Emerging Threats and International Relations., Combating Terrorism : The 9/11 Commission Recommendations and the National Strategies : Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations of the Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives, One Hundred Eighth Congress, Second Session, September 22, 2004 (Washington: U.S. G.P.O. : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 2005), 75, http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS59821.
[xvi] Also See McIntosh 1975 for a discussion of the cat and mouse game between organized crime and law enforcement. Kenney, From Pablo to Osama, 6; Mary McIntosh, The Organisation of Crime (MacMillan Publishing Company, 1975).
[xvii] Andreas, Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide, chap. Introduction.
[xviii] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime,” 40.
[xix] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime.”
[xx] “Criminal Complaint: United State of America vs. Jose Meija-Leyva and Manuel Beltran-Higuera (Case 2:12-Cr-01178-GAF)” (United States District Court Central District of California, December 3, 2012).
[xxi] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime.”
[xxii] Rene M Bakker, Jörg Raab, and H Brinton Milward, “A Preliminary Theory of Dark Network Resilience,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 31, no. 1 (2012): 33–62.
[xxiii] Kenney, From Pablo to Osama, 115.
[xxiv] Nicholas Dorn, Lutz Oette, and Simone White, “Drugs Importation and the Bifurcation of Risk Capitalization, Cut Outs and Organized Crime,” British Journal of Criminology 38, no. 4 (1998): 548.
[xxv] Emily Smith, “‘Blind Mules’ Unknowingly Ferry Drugs across the U.S.-Mexico Border,” CNN, January 24, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/23/world/americas/mexico-blind-drug-mules/index.html; Caleb E Mason, “Blind Mules: New Data and New Case Law on the Border Smuggling Industry,” Crim. Just. 26 (2011): 16.
[xxvi] Smith, “‘Blind Mules’ Unknowingly Ferry Drugs across the U.S.-Mexico Border.”
[xxvii] “Indictment: United States of America v. Jesus Chavez. Case No. 11-3330-G” (United States District Court for the Western District of Texas., July 1, 2011); Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and Jones, “Assessing the Dangers of Illicit Networks: Why Al-Qaida May Be Less Threatening Than Many Think.”
[xxviii] Greg Moran, “Drug Smuggler Gets New Trial in ‘blind Mule’ Case | UTSanDiego.com,” May 11, 2013, http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/May/11/drug-smuggler-new-trial-blind-mule-san-diego/?#article-copy.
[xxix] Marty Graham, “Mexican Cartels Trick Border Crossers into Being Drug Mules,” Reuters, April 15, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/15/us-usa-mexico-drugs-idUSBRE83E0IY20120415; Sandra Dibble, “U.S. Says Beware of Ads Placed by Drug Traffickers,” San Diego Union Tribune, April 9, 2012, http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/apr/09/us-agency-warns-against-tijuana-want-ads-placed-dr/.
[xxx] Sandra Dibble, “Tijuana Architect Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Cocaine,” U-T San Diego, 2012, http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/nov/25/tijuana-architect-pleads-guilty-to-smuggling-cocai/.
[xxxi] Erin Siegal, “The Architect And The Opera Singer: A Tale Of Two Drug Mules,” Fronteras Desk, December 21, 2012, http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/architect-and-opera-singer-tale-two-drug-mules; Dibble, “Tijuana Architect Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Cocaine.”
[xxxii] Marissa Cabrera et al., “Do Coercion Claims In Border Drug Smuggling Cases Signal A New Trend?,” Fronteras Desk, December 12, 2012, http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/do-coercion-claims-border-drug-smuggling-cases-signal-new-trend.
[xxxiii] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime.”
[xxxiv] The creation of profiles are an example of law enforcement’s creation of and reliance on what Kenney refers to as “strategic intelligence.” By the very nature of the competitive game between drug networks and LEAs, drug networks know their own operations and choose their time and place. LEAs as Kenney describes are at an information disadvantage and must make up for its lack tactical information through strategic intelligence. Kenney, From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation.
[xxxv] Stephen Baxter, “Surge in Drug Smuggling Boats on Central Coast,” Santacruzsentinel.com, March 15, 2014, http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_25351869/surge-drug-smuggling-boats-central-coast.
[xxxvi] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime,” 41.
[xxxvii] George W Grayson, Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State? (Transaction Publishers, 2009); Malcom Beith, The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo the World’s Most Wanted Drug Lord, 1st ed. (Grove Press, 2010); Elaine Shannon, Desperados : Latin Drug Lords, U.S. Lawmen, and the War America Can’t Win (New York: Viking, 1988).
[xxxviii] Nathan Jones, “The State Reaction: A Theory of Illicit Network Resilience” (Dissertation, University of California, Irvine, 2011); Nathan Jones, “The Unintended Consequences of Kingpin Strategies: Kidnap Rates and the Arellano-Félix Organization,” Trends in Organized Crime 16, no. 2 (2013): 156–76; Nathan Jones, “Captured Tijuana Cartel Boss Confirms Sinaloa Truce,” December 12, 2011, http://www.insightcrime.org/insight-latest-news/item/1969-captured-tijuana-cartel-boss-confirms-sinaloa-truce.
[xxxix] “Criminal Complaint: United States v. Ruben Estrada-Romero et Al. Case 2:12-Cr-00887-Gw” (United States District Court Central District of California, September 7, 2012).
[xli] Baxter, “Surge in Drug Smuggling Boats on Central Coast.”
[xlii] “Criminal Complaint: United States v. Ruben Estrada-Romero et Al. Case 2:12-Cr-00887-Gw,” 11.
[xliii] Kenney, From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation, 33.
[xliv] “First Superseding Indictment Grand Jury United States of America, v. Daniel Mendoza-Torres et Al.” (United States District Court Central District of California Los Angeles, June 2012); “Criminal Complaint: United State of America vs. Jose Meija-Leyva and Manuel Beltran-Higuera (Case 2:12-Cr-01178-GAF)”; “Criminal Complaint: United States v. Ruben Estrada-Romero et Al. Case 2:12-Cr-00887-Gw.”
[xlv] “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime.”
[xlvi] John Arquilla and David F. Ronfeldt, eds., Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy (Santa Monica, CA: National Defense Research Institute (RAND), United States Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense., 2001), 13, http://ed.informata.com/liburl.asp?productid=0833032356&customerid=002217 http://www.rand.org/PUBS/index.html.