Small Wars Journal

drug cartels

Ascensión: A Tale of the Mexican Drug War

Mon, 04/12/2021 - 3:49pm
An excerpt from "Ascensión: A Tale of the Mexican Drug War" by Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Michael L. Burgoyne. This fictional account—or FICINT (Fictional Intelligence)—describes the security situation in Mexico in an accessible manner. Here the situation in Mexico is described through the lens of fiction and intelligence to depict future conflict scenarios grounded in reality.

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Hooked: Mexico’s Violence and U.S. Demand for Drugs

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 8:53pm

Hooked: Mexico’s Violence and U.S. Demand for Drugs

SWJ El Centro Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown has a new essay out. In “Hooked: Mexico’s Violence and U.S. Demand for Drugs," published by the Brookings Institution’s Order from Chaos blog on May 30th, 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown explains that, with a total of 177,000 drug-related murders having taken place within Mexico from 2007 to 2017, Mexico’s conflict is more intense than many civil wars and insurgencies around the world.

In 2016, the drug wars in Mexico claimed between 21,000 and 23,000 lives. That’s back to the peak levels of 2010 to 2012, when up to 23,000 people died each year in drug-related homicides. Between 2007 and 2017, a total of 177,000 people were murdered—but that may actually under-count, since many bodies are hidden in mass graves that may have never been found. Tens of thousands of people have also been internally displaced. In short, Mexico’s conflict is more intense than many civil wars and insurgencies around the world.

When Enrique Peña Nieto became president five years ago, he and the Mexican public sought to put the drug war behind them. Promising to cut down the murder rate by 50 percent in his first six months, he instead focused on Mexico’s badly needed energy, economic, and education reforms. He indeed succeeded at getting important measures passed, though implementation has been a challenge.

Meanwhile, although the drug market initially calmed in his first two years, the wars among Mexico’s criminal groups have been relentless. The violence has returned to areas where progress seemed to have been achieved—such as Tijuana and Cuidad Juárez—but continues to rage ferociously in Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas, and spread to new areas, including Mexico’s center and south.

Multiple immediate and structural causes are driving the persistence and intensification of the criminal violence, including particularly cartel fragmentation and turf war on the one hand, and weak rule of law and problematic policy choices on the other…

Read the entire essay.

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.

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In Mexico, Self Defense Groups Battle a Cartel

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 5:22am

In Mexico, Self Defense Groups Battle a Cartel by Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post.

An audacious band of citizen militias battling a brutal drug cartel in the hills of central Mexico is becoming increasingly well-armed and coordinated in an attempt to end years of violence, extortion and humiliation.

What began as a few scattered self-defense groups has spread in recent months to dozens of towns across Michoacan, a volatile state gripped by the cultlike Knights Templar, a drug gang known for taxing locals on everything from cows to tortillas and executing those who do not comply…

Read on.

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

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.


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