Small Wars Journal

Criminal Insurgencies in Mexico: Web and Social Media Resources

Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:59am

Criminal Insurgencies in Mexico:


Web and Social Media Resources

by Dr. Robert J. Bunker and Lt. John P. Sullivan

Download The Full Article: Criminal Insurgencies in Mexico: Web and Social Media Resources

The authors of this piece, individually, collectively, and in cooperation with other scholars and analysts, have written about the criminal insurgencies in Mexico and various themes related to them in Small Wars Journal and in many other publications for some years now. The Small Wars publications alone include "State of Siege: Mexico's Criminal Insurgency," "Plazas for Profit: Mexico's Criminal Insurgency," "Cartel v. Cartel: Mexico's Criminal Insurgency," "The Spiritual Significance of ¿Plata O Plomo?," "Explosive Escalation?: Reflections on the Car Bombing in Ciudad Juarez," and "The U.S. Strategic Imperative Must Shift From Iraq/Afghanistan to Mexico/The Americas and the Stabilization of Europe." Certain truths have become evident from such writings and the raging conflicts that they describe and analyze.

First, the criminal insurgencies in Mexico have been increasing in intensity since the formal declaration of war—penned with the initial deployment of Army units into Michoacán and Ciudad Juárez against the insurgent gangs and cartels—by the Calderón administration in December 2006. Over 30,000 deaths in Mexico, just over ten-times the death toll from the 9-11 attacks, have now resulted from these conflicts with 2010 surpassing the earlier end of year tallies with almost 13,000 total killings. While most of these deaths have been attributed to cartel on cartel violence, an increasing proportion of them include law enforcement officers (albeit many of them on cartel payroll), military and governmental personnel, journalists, and innocent civilians. While some successes have been made against the Mexican cartels, via the capture and targeted killings of some of the capos and ensuing organizational fragmentation, the conflicts between these criminal groups and the Mexican state, and even for neighboring countries such as Guatemala, is overall not currently going well for these besieged sovereign nations. Recent headlines like those stating "Mexico army no match for drug cartels" and "Drug gang suspects threaten 'war' in Guatemala" are becoming all too common. Further, it is currently estimated that in Mexico about 98% of all crimes are never solved—providing an air of impunity to cartel and gang hit men and foot soldiers, many of whom take great delight in engaging in the torture and beheading of their victims.

Second, Small Wars Journal readers, especially those in the United States, need to appreciate the strategic significance of what is taking place in Mexico, Central America and in other Latin American countries, and increasingly over the border into the United States itself. War and insurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan, Western Pakistan, and in other distant OCONUS locales ultimately represent much lower stakes than the high levels of strife, establishment of criminal enclaves and depopulated cartel security zones, and rise of narco-cities—such as Nuevo Laredo under the Cártel del Golfo (CDG)—now taking place on our Southern border and extending down through Central America. A chilling example of the criminal insurgencies being waged is the fate of the contested city of Ciudad Juárez—over 230,000 people have fled, primarily the business elite and skilled workers; 6,000 businesses have closed, and tens-of-thousands of homes now stand vacant or have been abandoned. While Ciudad Juárez may represent an extreme form of urban implosion, this pattern is being repeated in numerous towns throughout Mexico with many such towns and small villages in Northern Mexico now partially or fully abandoned and, even in some instances, burned to the ground. To add insult to injury, some of the cartel conflict now taking place in the urban plazas and rural transit routes is being described in an almost post-apocalyptic manner with make shift armored pickups and even a ten-wheeled armored dump truck able to carry ten enforcers and with the combatants engaging in firefights with high caliber and anti-tank weapons. It must now be accepted that the cartels and gangs of Mexico, Central America, and increasingly South America have morphed from being solely narcotics based trafficking entities to being complex, diversified criminal organizations. These criminal enterprises are increasingly politicized and armed with military grade weaponry, backed up with the training and esprit de corps necessary for them to make war on sovereign states. This asymmetric war now being waged is derived from their unique and evolving criminal insurgency tenets using not only the bribe and the gun but also, information operations, and increasingly, deviant forms of spirituality in order to further dark and morally bankrupt agendas.

Download The Full Article: Criminal Insurgencies in Mexico: Web and Social Media Resources

Dr. Robert J. Bunker holds degrees in political science, government, behavioral science, social science, anthropology-geography, and history. Past associations have included Futurist in Residence, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA; Counter-OPFOR Program Consultant (Staff Member), National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center—West, El Segundo, CA; Fellow, Institute of Law Warfare, Association of the US Army, Arlington, VA; Lecturer-Adjunct Professor, National Security Studies Program, California State University San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA; instructor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; and founding member, Los Angeles County Terrorism Early Warning Group. Dr. Bunker has over 200 publications including short essays, articles, chapters, papers and book length documents. These include Non-State Threats and Future Wars (editor); Networks, Terrorism and Global Insurgency (editor); Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers (editor); Narcos Over the Border (editor). He can be reached at

John P. Sullivan is a regular contributor to Small Wars Journal. He is a career police officer and currently serves as a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism (CAST). He is co-editor of Countering Terrorism and WMD: Creating a Global Counter-Terrorism Network (Routledge, 2006) and Global Biosecurity: Threats and Responses (Routledge, 2010). His current research focus is the impact of transnational organized crime on sovereignty, intelligence, terrorism, and criminal insurgencies.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)


18D (not verified)

Tue, 01/18/2011 - 8:53pm

what a timely and useful article...thanks to Dr Bunker and Lt Sullivan