Small Wars Journal

cartels

Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 20: Mexican Newspaper (El Norte, Juárez) Closes Doors in Response to Cartel Targeting/Violence Against Journalists

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 12:38pm

Attacks on journalist and media outlets are mechanisms of intimidation used to dampen or influence reportage in favor of the criminal enterprise and/or corrupt state organs.

About the Author(s)

Studies in Gangs and Cartels

Tue, 09/03/2013 - 1:00pm

Studies in Gangs and Cartels

Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan

Concerns over the changing nature of gangs and cartels and their relationships to states in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has resulted in the emergence of a scholarly body of work focused on their national security threat potentials. This body of work, utilizing the third generation gangs and third phase cartel typologies, represents an alternative to traditional gang and organized crime research and one that is increasingly influencing the US defense community. Rather than being viewed only as misguided youth and opportunistic criminals or, in their mature forms, as criminal organizations with no broader social or political agendas, more evolved gangs and cartels, are instead seen as developing political, mercenary, and state-challenging capacities. This evolutionary process has emerged due to the growing illicit economy and other unintended consequences of globalization.

This important anthology of writings by Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan draws upon a collection of their works from the mid-1990s to the present with the addition of new essays written specifically for this publication. The work will be of great interest to academics and students in the fields of political science and criminal justice and to military, law enforcement, and governmental professionals and policy makers.

Studies in Gangs and Cartels at Amazon

Narco-Politics: How Mexico Got There and How It Can Get Out

Sun, 08/25/2013 - 5:30pm

Narco-Politics: How Mexico Got There and How It Can Get Out by Pamela F. Izaguirre, Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

The arrest on August 17 of the leader of Cártel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel), Mario Ramirez Treviño, better known as X-20 as well as the capture this past July of the leader of Los Zetas (The Zetas), Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, the Z-40, are nothing more than superficial achievements for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s eight-month-old administration. As much as the U.S. and Mexican governments celebrate what is described as a successful blow to organized crime, in reality, the arrest will not significantly change Mexico’s current security problems.

The narco-business in the country is much more complex, unlike Colombia, where the 1993 elimination of Pablo Escobar meant the beginning of the disappearance of the power of the Medellin cartel; according to British journalist Ioan Grillo, in Mexico the problem is far more ingrained. Mexico is a dangerously fragmented country - one where a series of illegal networks have been historically intertwined with the government; where federal and military authorities are not always on the same side; and where drug traffic organizations (DTO’s) have been gaining more territory and becoming more powerful, particularly recent decades. Mexico’s geography has become its own curse due to its fertile land, where it is ideal to grow illegal substances and traffic them to U.S. consumers...

Read on.

Viernes Video: New Suspense Film Highlights Dangerous Life of a Narcoblogger

Sun, 08/25/2013 - 6:41am

Viernes Video: New Suspense Film Highlights Dangerous Life of a Narcoblogger - Latina Lista.

No other city in Mexico is as synonymous with the brutality of cartel drug violence as Juarez, Mexico. Once declared the most dangerous city in the world, reports are surfacing that the city is slowly recovering - but it has a long way to go.

Senseless murders of citizens and deadly attacks against journalists continue. One of the major consequences of the cartel warfare has been its attempts to silence the media. With surprise gun and grenade attacks on news offices and outright abductions and murders of journalists, the public’s right to know about what is happening in their communities and cities has been severely censored, if not ignored by the local media out of fear of the cartels.

Yet, no matter how much the cartels tried, and continue to try, to hide their evil acts with continued threats against journalists, a group of citizens emerged to fill in the gap of local cartel coverage - narcobloggers…

Here's the trailer (in Spanish with English subtitles):

Read on.

US Angry Over Release of Mexican Drug Lord

Sat, 08/10/2013 - 5:29am

US Angry Over Release of Mexican Drug Lord - Associated Press.

... Caro Quintero was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena but a Mexican federal court ordered his release this week saying he had been improperly tried in a federal court for state crimes.

The 60-year-old walked out of a prison in the western state of Jalisco early Friday after serving 28 years of his sentence...

Read on.

More:

2 Cases Boost Suspicion of Mexican Justice - LAT

Mexican Tied to Killing of DEA Agent Freed - NYT

Mexico Drug Kingpin Caro Quintero Ordered Released - AP

Mexico Court Frees Drugs Kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero - BBC

A Case for a Joint Police-Military Special Operations Capable Task Force in Response to Mexican Drug Cartel Spill-Over Violence

Wed, 08/07/2013 - 5:57am

Attacks against Mexican government officials, law enforcement, and political institutions by drug cartels, fall neatly into the Fourth Generation Warfare paradigm.

About the Author(s)

Drug Cartels in Oregon: Violence in the Northwest

Sat, 06/22/2013 - 10:07am

Drug Cartels in Oregon: Violence in the Northwest

By Les Zaitz, The Oregonian

 
June 21, 2013
 

...Perhaps most unnerving, cartel-connected traffickers lash out in violence to control territory, settle debts or warn rivals -- not just in Mexico, but here in the Northwest. Police suspect a cartel is behind the roadside execution early last year of a trafficker near Salem. They think cartel operatives shot two California drug dealers whose bodies were found buried in the sage northeast of Klamath Falls last fall. They also believe a cartel ordered a 2007 hit in which a trafficker and four friends were lined up on the floor of a Vancouver rental home and shot in the head...

 
 
Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 14: Narcocantante (Narco-singer) Assassinated in Mission, Texas

Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla was discovered dead in Mission, Texas, across the border from Reynosa, Tamaulipas.  He was a noted singer of narcocorridos.[1]  Narcomusica (narco-music) plays a key role in shaping the social space of Mexico’s drug war. Narcocorridos are epic folk ballads that extol the merits of the narcos: capos and sicarios alike. Chuy Quintanilla was best known for his narcocorridos:

…depicting the infamous characters and clashes of Mexico’s drug war, and with lyrics that could drop listeners into the thick of a gunbattle, it’d be easy to mistake the singer for a combatant himself.  (Source: [2] The Monitor, 28 April 2013)

 

Situation

Norteño singer Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla was discovered dead in a pool of his own blood on Thursday, 25 April 2013.  Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.  According to Sheriff Lupe Treviño, Quintanilla had been shot at least twice in the head— the preliminary autopsy report released later stated one shot to the head and one to the neck. While it is too early to determine the motive for the slaying, Quintanilla’s prominent role in narcomúsica and long history of singing narcocorridos make him a prominent figure in Mexico’s narcocultura that shapes the social contours of the drug war.

Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla appeared to have been shot at least twice in the head and was found near his vehicle, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said. Irrigation workers found his body on a roadway north of Mission in an isolated area surrounded by citrus groves, Trevino said. (Source: [3]. El Paso Times, 26 April 2013)

Quintanilla who recorded over 40 albums of corridos was known as La Mera Ley del Corrido — The True Law of the Corrido. His nickname is derived from his serving as a Mexican judicial police officer for 20 years prior to his music career.

Quintanilla’s songs covered topics ranging from horse races to cockfights, but the drug war was prominent on his play list. Further, the dress of this individual and his propensity to be posed in his album covers with assault weapons, expensive cars, and beautiful women added to his mystique as a narcocantante. His repertoire included several songs about drug traffickers on the U.S. side of the border.  These include corridos entitled “Tomy Gonzalez,” “El Chusquis” and “El Corrido de Marco,” that commented on alleged drugs dealers in Weslaco and Rio Grande City who coordinated drug trafficking organizations in Texas and the U.S.:

One of Chuy Quintanilla’s most famous songs involves the fierce battle through the streets of Reynosa as Mexican authorities hunted down the Gulf Cartel leader known as Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran.

 Another top hit, called “Estamos en Guerra,” talks about how the Zetas turned on the Gulf Cartel, which in turn would move to eradicate its former enforcers. (Source: [2] The Monitor, 28 April 2013)

Chuy Quintanilla Album Cover

[For additional examples see https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chuy-Quintanilla-La-Mera-Ley-Del-Corrido/317375941611273]

Narcocorridos

As Sullivan noted in his SWJ–El Centro paper “Criminal Insurgency: Narcocultura, Social Banditry, and Information Operations,”

Music is a key element of transmitting alternative cultural values in the ‘narcoscape.’  Narcomúsica (narco-music) is an integral component of cartel influence operations (information operations) and is instrumental is defining (redefining) the persona of the outlaw.  The tradition of narcocorridos builds from the ranchera tradition of folk ballads (corridos) that extol heroic deeds. The narcocorrido variant of traditional corridos has extended its reach from the narco subculture to mainstream audiences throughout Mexico and the United States. Narcocorridos extol the virtues of the drug lord and describe, apotheosize, comment upon and lament the deeds of the narcos, projecting the image of ‘folk hero.’[4]

According to University of Texas, Brownsville Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, narcocantantes are influential in transmitting narcocultura:

People who sing about these people, drug traffickers are making money from that because there is a captive market and the drug traffickers are going to promote this music,” Correa-Cabrera said. “It promotes, recruits young people presents a life that everyone would like to have and it really serves the purpose of drug trafficking organizations. (Source: [5] Action 4 News, 25 April 2013)

While narcocorridos are popular and bring musical success, they can also bring violent reprisal when the lyrics cross certain gangsters. When the gangsters take exception to the story line, the singers can become targets.  For example, in January 2013, members of the band Kombo Kolombia were found in a mass grave (narcofosa) in Monterrey.  Other narcocantantes killed in cartel-related violence include: Julio Cesar Leyva Beltran of Los Ciclones del Arroyo in Sinaloa

(April 2012); Sergio Vega (aka “El Shaka”) in Sinaloa (June 2010); and Valentin Elizalde in Reynosa (November 2006).[5]  The difference here is that Quintanilla was killed on the U.S. side of the border.

Analysis

If the investigation determines that Quintanilla was killed because of his narcocorridos it would be the first known assassination of a narcocantante (narco-singer) in the United States.  This would be a significant shift in targeting and the U.S. would be firmly in the operational zone of targeted killings to shape the ‘narcosphere’ or ‘drug war zone.’  

Quintanilla was identified with the CDG: Cartel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel) and had dedicated songs to Tony Tormenta (Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén)[6] the CDG capo who died with Mexican marines in November 2010 which resulted in a turf battle with Los Zetas in the city of Mier.[7]  One of his songs, “Estamos En Guerra (Los Zetas Vs. CDG),”chronicled the battles following the Gulf-Zeta split.[8],[9]

It is possible that Quintanilla became a target of one or both of those cartels as a result of his characterization of their activities in the current conflict in Tamaulipas.  Certainly both cartels have a presence in Texas and could operate there as seen in recent reports of narcobloqueos (narco-blockades) in Texas.[10]  It is also possible that he crossed other criminal enterprises (such as U.S. gangs) or was targeted for more mundane criminal reasons.  Nevertheless, the modus operandi or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) involved in his death are consistent with those of narco-assassinations.

Normally, a single murder (narco or otherwise) would possibly at best warrant a tactical note.  This killing, due to the prominence of the victim, his history of singing narcocorridos, and his alleged links with both the CDG and Los Zetas cartels make this an act of strategic significance.  Even if the death is not a cartel-related hit, the information operations dynamics of his murder exude images of narcocultura.

 

Notes

1. “Asesinan en Texas al cantante de narcocorridos Chuy Quintanilla,” Emeequis, 25 April 2013 at http://ht.ly/krl0R.

2. Ildefonso Ortiz, “Slain singer Chuy Quintanilla gained fame for drug war ballads,” The Monitor, 26 April 2013 at http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_d8fbf6e2-ae19-11e2-b50a-0019bb30f31a.html.

3. Christopher Sherman, “Singer found dead along road in rural South Texas,” El Paso Times, 26 April 2013 at http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_23109298/singer-found-dead-along-road-rural-south-texas.

4. John P. Sullivan, “Criminal Insurgency: Narcocultura, Social Banditry, and Information Operations,” Small Wars Journal, 3 December 2012 at http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/criminal-insurgency-narcocultura-social-banditry-and-information-operations.

5.“Narco Corridos: The dark side of the Mexican music world,” Action 4 News, Harlington, TX, 25 April 2013 at http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=890087#.UX2Hw7_XFZR.

6. Chuy Quintanilla songs about Cárdenas Guillén include “El Corrido De Tony Tormenta,” see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs0CLyCtsqk.

7.“Asesinan a Chuy Quintanilla, cantante de narcocorridos,” Terra, 27 Apil 2013 at http://entretenimiento.terra.com.co/musica/asesinan-a-chuy-quintanilla-cantante-de-narcocorridos,6467775b15a3e310VgnCLD2000009acceb0aRCRD.html.

8. For an analysis of the fissure between the CDG and Los Zetas see Samuel Logan and John P. Sullivan, “The Gulf-Zeta Split and the Praetorian Revolt,” ISN Security Watch, ETH Zurich, 7 April 2010 at http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Digital-Library/Articles/Detail/?id=114551.

9.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMIuse2rY1s&noredirect=1 to hear Chuy Quintanilla, “Estamos En Guerra (Los Zetas Vs. Cartel Del Golfo).”

10. John P. Sullivan, “Spillover/Narcobloqueos in Texas,” Small Wars Journal, SWJ Blog, 1 April 2013 at http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/spillovernarcobloqueos-in-texas.  See also Texas Public Safety Threat Overview 2013, Austin: Texas Department of Public Safety, February 2013, p. 18 at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/media_and_communications/threatOverview.pdf.

 

Additional Resources:

 

a. Video: “Narco singer ‘Chuy’ Quintanilla found shot dead in South Texas.” NewsFix, 26 April 2013, at http://newsfixnow.com/2013/04/26/narco-singer-chuy-quintanilla-found-shot-dead-in-south-texas/.

b. Video: Nadia Galindo, “Preliminary autopsy results released for slain singer Chuy Quintanilla.” Valley Central, 26 April 2013, at http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=890536#.UX2_zJX3C9Y.

c. Facebook: Chuy Quintanilla (La Mera Ley Del Corrido) at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chuy-Quintanilla-La-Mera-Ley-Del-Corrido/317375941611273

d. “Narco Singer Chuy Quintanilla Found Slain North of Mission Texas.” Borderland Beat, Thursday 25 April 2013, at http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2013/04/cdg-narco-singer-chuy-quintanilla-found.html.

Peter J. Munson Wed, 05/01/2013 - 2:11pm