Small Wars Journal

El Centro

SWJ El Centro Book Review – Fuerzas Armadas, Guardia Nacional y violencia en México

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 8:33pm
English language review of Raúl Benítez Manaut and Elisa Gómez Sánchez, Eds. "Fuerzas Armadas, Guardia Nacional y violencia en México." The original text in Spanish assesses the implementation of Mexico's Guardia Nacional (National Guard) in light of concerns of insecurity and militarization.

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State Weakness and Transnational Power: Explaining the Crisis in Venezuela

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 7:38pm
Venezuela, once one of the more prosperous and democratic nations in Latin America, is currently experiencing the region’s most severe political and economic crisis. This article focuses on the Venezuelan state during the crisis, and how its exercise of “despotic” capacity made it a repressive actor in relation to its citizens, and a weak actor in relation to powerful transnational groups. The larger outcome has been a Venezuelan nation increasingly vulnerable to transnational criminal organizations and other external forces.

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Troubled Succession: what leadership decapitation means for Rio’s militias 

Thu, 08/05/2021 - 4:55pm
Over the past year, Rio’s public prosecution and investigative or Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro–PCERJ) have carried out several operations against paramilitary groups. The most consequential took place on 12 June 2021 and resulted in the capture and killing of Wellington da Silva Braga, aka “Ecko.” Ecko was leading Rio’s largest paramilitary group, so his death is in itself an important event for the city’s underworld. This piece takes Ecko’s death as the basis for an evaluation of the current and future state of the militias operating in Rio de Janeiro. It outlines the power of Ecko’s group and the importance of his criminal career. It then assesses the strength of the link between this paramilitary group and state forces. An assessment of the likely impact of Ecko's death and the potentials for reorganization of Rio's paramilitary militias is provided.

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Illicit Tactical Progress: Mexican Cartel Tactical Notes 2013-2020

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 4:07pm

Illicit Tactical Progress: Mexican Cartel Tactical Notes 2013-2020

Robert J. Bunker and John P Sullivan, Editors

SWJ has released a new curated collection Illicit Tactical Progress: Mexican Cartel Tactical Notes 2013-2020 documenting the evolution of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Mexican cartels and criminal armed groups (CAGs).

Illicit Tactical Progress

This Small Wars Journal-El Centro Anthology contains a prologue on Gang and Cartel ‘Lessons’ for the Streets by retired LASD Commander Sid Heal, and introduction and conclusion by SWJ-El Centro Senior Fellows Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, eight years of ‘tactical notes’ covering documented cartel and gang TTP evolution (2013-2020), an afterword by gang specialist Gabriel C. Morales, and a postscript by retired Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Field Division intelligence head Gary J. Hale. 

This book is an eye-opener that may be an appalling representation of current events in Mexico, but it is based on factual reports of the strength, manner, and frequency of the cartel violence that occurs every day in Mexico. ... As long as the cartels continue to keep their wars inside Mexico and as long as Mexico does not ask for US help, the status quo will continue, and we will see this level and scope of violence incrementally increase in that nation. – Gary J. Hale, DEA (Ret.)

Source: Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, Editors, Illicit Tactical Progress: Mexican Cartel Tactical Notes 2013-2020. Bloomington: Xlibris, 2021.

Parties of Crime? Brazil’s facções criminosas – good governance and bad government

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 2:16pm
This essay examines the concept of governance-in-action from the perspective of Brazil. The country constitutes a ‘symbiosis’ of both legitimate and criminal governance, whose lines are often blurred. We examine how the government and militias operate as forms of criminal governance, and how facções criminosas (FCs or criminal factions) fill in voids left by governmental corruption. While we agree with other scholars that FCs represent ‘criminal’ insurgencies and should be approached as such, we argue they need to be understood also for some of the ‘good’ acts they engage, and why they do so, to better identify how to mitigate their violence. These lessons could also extend to identifying future explanations for how to manage government corruption from more nuanced lenses.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 41: Criminal Insurgency and ‘Revolution’ in Haiti?

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 5:41pm
Gang violence in Haiti is spiraling out of control as rival gangs fill the void in governance fueled by chronic insecurity, corruption, and violence. The resulting instability places gangs in conflict with each other and the state as they compete for territorial control. The outbreak of gang violence is exacerbating the situation, leading to a crisis disaster. This humanitarian crisis includes extreme gang violence, attacks on police stations and health care providers, while internally displaced persons converge with the Covid-19 pandemic and hurricane season to elevate insecurity. One gang leader, an ex-police officer Jimmy Chérizier, known as “Barbecue” the head of G9 Fanmi ak Alye (G9 Family and Allies) has called for ‘revolution’ to solve the situation.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 40: Força Nacional de Segurança Pública Deployed to Manaus in Aftermath of Comando Vermelho Violence on the Streets

Mon, 06/28/2021 - 3:25pm
An outbreak of criminal attacks on police stations, schools, public spaces, and banks erupted in the aftermath of the killing of a Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command) leader in a confrontation with the Polícia Militar (PM) do Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil and surrounding cities on Saturday 5 June 2021. The violence started the following day on Sunday 6 June 2021 targeting police, buses, bus stations, schools, public spaces and banks in a series of shootings and arson attacks. Attacks continued through Tuesday 8 June 2021.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 39: Five Killed in Prison Battle between Barrio 18 and MS-13 in La Tolva Prison, Honduras

Sun, 06/20/2021 - 8:07pm
At least five persons were killed and another 39 injured in a prison riot between Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The riot—which involved deployment of grenades and AK-47s—began at approximately 0800 hours (8:00 AM) in the ‘La Tolva’ maximum security prison in Morecelí, El Paraiso near Tegucigalpa in eastern Honduras.

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Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #51: Gunmen Attack Cancún Beach from Jet Skis, Killing Two People

Wed, 06/16/2021 - 7:42pm
On Friday 11 June 2021, two gunmen attacked beach vendors on a tourist beach in Cancún, killing two vendors and injuring an American tourist. The attackers accessed the beach from the sea via personal watercraft and then left the scene after the assault on the same craft. Similar incidents have taken at Mexican beaches over the past five years.

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