Small Wars Journal

El Centro

Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán: Imagery, Symbolism, and Narratives

The 279 page edited work Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán: Imagery, Symbolism, and Narratives is divided into a preface, introduction, twelve chapters, postscript, imagery data set, four appendices, selected references, and further readings. This Small Wars Journal-El Centro eBook is edited by Robert J. Bunker and Alma Keshavarz.

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Some Questions to Help You Better Understand the U.S.-Colombia Security Dynamic and Opportunities to Enhance the Relationship

The dramatic increase of Venezuelan refugees entering the country, record-level coca cultivation and cocaine production levels, and the power vacuum created by the disarmament, and demobilization of the country’s oldest insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in key cultivation and smuggling areas are just a few things for U.S. policy makers, defense officials, and legislators to take into consideration as they evaluate bilateral security assistance to Colombia.

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Bait and Smuggle: Mexican Cartels Divert Border Cops with Migrant Surges and Ferry Drugs Where the Coast is Clear

Bait and Smuggle: Mexican Cartels Divert Border Cops with Migrant Surges and Ferry Drugs Where the Coast is Clear by Anna Giaritelli - Washington Examiner

A northern Texas sheriff says his county has seen a big uptick in methamphetamine and heroin seizures since October, saying Mexican drug smugglers are using large groups of migrants to divert Border Patrol’s attention while they run narcotics over the border in nearby areas.


Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn told the Washington Examiner drug seizures have picked up since 2016 and spiked “tremendously” in the past six months just as groups of 100 or more people began showing up at the border.


Data from the county, which includes Forth Worth, shows nine pounds of meth was seized in 2016. In 2018, that figure jumped to 22 pounds. In the past six months, 110 pounds of meth have been discovered by the sheriff’s department.


Heroin busts followed a similar trajectory. Less than one pound of heroin was found by the department in 2016, but last year more than 61 pounds were confiscated. Since October, 20 pounds have been seized.


“We’re several hundred miles away from the border, however, the border does impact us,” he said.


In that six-month time frame, the number of people apprehended while illegally crossing the southern border also increased. Last month, 92,000 people were taken into custody…

Read on.

To Defeat Maduro’s Regime, Treat It Like a Crime Syndicate

To Defeat Maduro’s Regime, Treat It Like a Crime Syndicate by Raúl Gallegos - Americas Quarterly

Venezuela is almost a failed state where millions of people face nationwide power outages, food shortages, hyperinflation, and where crime and looting have become a means of survival. The most powerful criminal organization in this apocalyptic reality is the regime of Nicolás Maduro and the syndicate of criminal families that make up his government.


Venezuela’s chavista government was once a legitimate political actor but it has devolved into a type of cartel of criminal cells that protect each other and run the nation through corruption and fear. There is the Maduro inner circle that includes first lady Cilia Flores, whose nephews tried to export tons of cocaine to the United States and who were tried and sentenced by a U.S. court as a result. There is Diosdado Cabello, the head of the National Constitutional Assembly, and Minister of Industries Tareck El-Aissami, both sanctioned by the U.S. government for engaging in drug trafficking along with a number of top military and National Guard allies.


The bureaucracy, the armed forces and the security forces enrich themselves with kickbacks from government contracts, illegal mining revenue, foreign currency trading, extortion, kidnapping, and the smuggling of price-controlled gasoline and food with impunity, on top of generous, oil-financed salaries and benefits. They spy on each other and they empower the most criminal among them, those compromised by corruption or human rights violations, a common approach of criminal groups. And of course they jail, kill and raid the homes of those Venezuelans who oppose them. The main goal of this crime syndicate is to cling to power because leading normal lives in the legitimate world once again is no longer an option. To defeat this regime the international community must move beyond the diplomacy and sanctions used to deal with traditional political actors, and instead adopt techniques the police use to fight the mob…

Read on.

Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #41: Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) Logo and Symbols Identification

The Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL), also known as the Cártel de Guanajuato, Cártel de Santa Rosa, or el Cártel del Marro, is a criminal cartel operating in the Mexican state of Guanajuato (Gto.). Its principle enterprise is huichicol or fuel theft. The competition for the illicit petroleum trade has led to violent conflict with their rival—the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). This tactical note reviews the symbology (logos and symbols) used by the CSRL.

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Blood and Power: The Militia-Corruption Nexus in Latin America

Modeled on the Iranian Basij militia, the 'colectivos' have targeted critical media outlets, opposition politicians, and dissidents as well as exerted control over entire neighborhoods and towns. They have operated death squads with the full acquiescence of Venezuela’s intelligence agencies and in partnership with the military. Venezuela’s previous president, Hugo Chavez, organized these paramilitary groups to protect the gains of his self-proclaimed Bolivarian Revolution from the perceived threat of external powers. They rapidly transformed into a force to prop-up the political elite and to preserve the power of the regime.

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Would Trump Label Mexican Cartels Terrorist Organizations?

Would Trump Label Mexican Cartels Terrorist Organizations? By Brian J. Phillips – Washington Post

This type of shift could have serious policy implications.


In a recent interview, President Trump said he is “very seriously” considering labeling Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). Some other politicians and activist groups support the move.


This would be an extreme policy shift — and might not result in the intended consequences. Does this approach make sense for dealing with criminal organizations in Mexico? Here’s what you need to know…

Read on.

Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #40: Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) Tunnels in Guanajuato Highlights Tactical Considerations in Underground Operations

Officials in Guanajuato (Gto.) state have confirmed that alleged huachicolero (fuel theft) capo José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, known as “El Marro,” is believed to have eluded capture on Monday 6 March 2019 by escaping through a series of tunnels. The presence of a functional tunnel network to further fuel theft operations by the Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) illustrates the tactical complexities of underground/tunnel operations in counter-cartel operations.

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Five of the Six Most Violent Cities in the World are in Mexico, Report Says

Five of the Six Most Violent Cities in the World are in Mexico, Report Says by Kate Linthicum – Los Angeles Times

Tijuana was the most violent city in the world in 2018, according a new report by a Mexican nonprofit group that ranked cities based on their homicide rates.


The report by the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice found that five out of six of the world’s most violent municipalities were in Mexico, where homicides have risen to historic levels in recent years amid a military-led war against criminal groups.


In Tijuana, where local gangs have been battling over a lucrative domestic drug market, the report tallied 138 killings per 100,000 residents last year, or about seven killings on average per day. The Mexican resort city of Acapulco was in second place, with 111 killings per 100,000 people. Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, which has been beset by crime and food shortages amid the country’s political crisis, was in third place with 100 killings per 100,000 people.


The fourth- and fifth-most violent cities, according to the Citizens’ Council, were in two of Mexico’s northern border states: Ciudad Victoria, in the state of Tamaulipas, and Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua. Irapuato, a city in the state of Guanajuato that has been the site of fierce battles over control of stolen gasoline, is sixth on the list. There were 15 Mexican cities on the list of 50, more than any other country in the world.


The report paints a picture of a nation in crisis, and calls into question the efficacy of Mexico’s militaristic approach to fighting crime…

Read on.

Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 27: Confronting the State—Explosive Artifacts, Threats, Huachicoleros, and Cartel Competition in Guanajuato, MX

A narcomanta (narco-banner) threatening Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador if Federal security forces are not removed from Guantajuato state was posted in Salamanca, Guanajuato (Gto), Mexico on the morning of 31 January 2019. Shortly after the narcomanta was found, a pickup truck containing explosives was discovered parked in front of a nearby oil refinery.

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