Small Wars Journal

El Centro

Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #48: Video of CJNG Engagement of Autodefensa Mounted Infantry in IAFV in La Bocanda, Michoacán

Wed, 12/30/2020 - 6:15pm
In the ongoing conflict in Michoacán between the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and local defense forces coordinating amongst themselves and with local cartels, a recent engagement took place in which an autodefensa (self-defense group) improvised armored fighting vehicle (IAFV) was engaged by small arms fires. The engagement, caught on video from the perspective of the mounted infantry and reporters in the armored truck bed of the IAFV, took place in La Bocanda—a CJNG stronghold—in mid-December 2020.

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SWJ El Centro Book Review – Mexico’s Drug War and Criminal Networks: The Dark Side of Social Media

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 7:12pm
This book review of Nilda M. Garcia's "Mexico’s Drug War and Criminal Networks: The Dark Side of Social Media" by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera focuses on the exploitation of cyberspace by Mexican criminal networks through three case studies of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Zetas, and the Knights Templar.

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Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 32: Former Governor Assassinated in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 11:49pm
An assassin (sicario) shot former Jalisco governor Aristóteles Sandoval in the bathroom of the Distrito/5 bar in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco on Friday, 18 December 2020. He succumbed to his injuries. The Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) is suspected; however, other actors and political motivations can’t be ruled out in this direct attack.

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Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #47: Anti-CJNG IAFV Trenches Dug in Michoacán

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 3:00pm
The ongoing Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) offensive into Michoacán has been met by the creation of defensive trenches dug across multiple state highways/roads in mid-November 2020.  These anti-improvised armored fighting vehicle (IAFV) trenches were created by Los Viagras, Carteles Unidos, and/or local community self-defense groups (autodefensas) in an apparent co-ordinated effort to obstruct CJNG commando unit—consisting of IAFVs, monstruos (monster trucks), narcotanques (narco-tanks), and soft-skinned vehicles and gun trucks with mounted infantry elements—access to towns under their control.

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The Guardia Nacional (National Guard): Why a New Militarized Police in Mexico

Tue, 12/08/2020 - 11:00pm
After months of political debate, the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) proposed by Mexicos new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was formalized on 27 May 2019.[ ] However, it remains a source of heated controversy. Some critics claim that it was unnecessary since Mexico already had a Policia Federal (Federal Police - PF). Human rights advocates and some security specialists argue that its military traits exacerbate the risk of abusive use of force and the militarization that prevailed during the Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña (2012-2018) Administrations. The purpose of this essay is to examine why a new law enforcement institution was created and designed as a civilian-military institution.

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Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 3:44pm

Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty

Teun Voeten

Small Wars Journal is pleased to announce the release of Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of CrueltyThis new Small Wars Journal–El Centro book by Dr. Teun A. Voeten examines the violence in Mexico’s drug war.  Voeten, an award winning photojournalist specializing in war and conflicts and anthropologist, received his PhD from Leiden University in the Netherlands.  Mexican Drug Violence contains original research and analysis, a foreword: “Mexican Drug Violence” by Robert J. Bunker, and an afterword: “Crime Wars, Criminal Insurgency, and State Transformation” by John P. Sullivan.


Voeten argues it is a new type of war called hybrid warfare: multidimensional, elusive and unpredictable, fought at different levels, with different intensities with multiple goals.  He interprets drug cartels as ultra-capitalist predatory corporations thriving in a neoliberal, globalized economy.  They use similar branding and marketing strategies as legitimate business. He also looks at the anthropological, individual level and explains how people can become killers. Voeten compares Mexican sicarios, West African child soldiers and Western jihadis and sees the same logic of cruelty that facilitates perpetrating ‘inhumane’ acts that are in fact very human.  Together, the text provides a template for placing Mexico’s drug war in global context. SWJ

Source: Teun Voeten, Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty, A Small Wars Journal–El Centro Book. Bloomington: XLibris, 2020.


Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 31: Escalating Violence in the Greater Tijuana Plaza

Fri, 12/04/2020 - 7:10pm
While violence is down for the first 10 months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019 in Tijuana, violence in the ‘Greater Tijuana Plaza,’ including Mexicali, Ensenada, Tecate, and Playas de Rosarito in Baja California, may be on the rise as possible internal divisions emerge, alliances shift, and the Cártel de Sinaloa (CDS) and the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) battle for supremacy of the region’s drug trafficking corridor into the United States.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 33: Brazilian Gangs (Quadrilhas) Wage Urban Bank Raids in a New ‘Cangaço’  

Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:15pm
Armed gunmen attacked banks in two Brazilian cities on Monday 30 November 2020 through Tuesday 1 December 2020.  The attacks occurred in Criciúma, Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil and Cametá, Pará state in Brazil’s north.  The attackers are believed to be unrelated but share common tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).  Brazilian media refers to the style of attacks as the ‘New Cangaço’ referring to historic banditry in the 1920s-1930s.

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SWJ El Centro Book Review – Votes, Drugs, and Violence: The Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico

Sat, 10/31/2020 - 9:08pm
Book review of Guillermo Trejo and Sandra Ley, "Votes, Drugs, and Violence: The Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico." Trejo and Ley conceptualize cartels and organized crime groups (OCGs) as political actors that read and react to the political environment in Mexico and demonstrate that there is a symbiotic type of relationship between the OCGs or cartels and an informal level of the state.

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