Small Wars Journal


SWJ-El Centro Book Review: "El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency" SWJED Sun, 11/11/2018 - 5:16pm
Mexico’s cartels have become a global problem. From the manufacture and sale of drugs, to human trafficking, turf wars, among other criminal acts, narcos have an international footprint. Ioan Grillo’s "El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency", is an account of how Mexico’s cartels were once drug smugglers who later radically transformed into “paramilitary death squads”

The Knights Templar Narcotheology: Deciphering the Occult of a Narcocult

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 7:02am
An abbreviated version of this article appeared as “Deciphering the Narcotheology of the Knights Templar Mexican Narcocult” at Patheos on 13 October 2018. It has been written specifically for Small Wars Journal—El Centro as part of an ongoing Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán research project that will be published as a future eBook.

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...


Sniper Executes a Police Chief of Nuevo Leon with a .50 Caliber Rifle (Translation)

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 8:30am


This significant incident was brought to my attention by the reporter Chivis with Borderland Beat. He also provided the translations. This may very well be the first targeted assassination of a Mexican public safety official by a sniper utilizing a .50 cal rifle (possibly a Barrett but this is speculation). The standoff range was reported to be 60 meters which is about 66 yards away. This is the distance where a tripod (e.g. tripié del fusil—this is likely in error as a bipod would typically be utilized— but it was left behind so the stabilization device is in question) was found abandoned along with a shell casing—which possibly suggests a lower level of training and/or the immediate need to escape and evade pursuers. The sniper may have been in a prone firing position as the items were reported found in vacant lot near the Commander’s home. The target was hit in the back with the lot providing a clear line of site to the parking and/or door of the residence. Of interest is that Chivis had interviewed me about Mexican cartel weaponry employment patterns in December 2012. The use of 50 cal. sniper rifles was briefly discussed in the interview. See

Francotirador ejecuta con fusil calibre .50 a mando policiaco de Nuevo León


19 DE FEBRERO DE 2013 


MONTERREY, N.L. (apro).- El comandante de la Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, Gustavo Gerardo Garza Saucedo, fue ejecutado esta madrugada por un francotirador que utilizó un fusil de bala calibre .50 para dispararle cuando llegaba a su casa en Apodaca, 20 kilómetros al nororiente de la capital, informó hoy la Procuraduría de Nuevo León.

Translation: MONTERREY, N.L. (apro).- The commander of the State Investigation Agency, Gustavo Gerardo Garza Saucedo, was executed this early morning by a sniper using a .50 caliber rifle  to shoot him when he arrived  home in Apodaca, 20 kilometers northwest of the capital, reported today by the Prosecutor of Nuevo Leon.

For the Spanish article see

Peña Nieto’s Piñata: The Promise and Pitfalls of Mexico’s New Security Policy Against Organized Crime

Sat, 02/23/2013 - 7:25am

Peña Nieto’s Piñata: The Promise and Pitfalls of Mexico’s New Security Policy Against Organized Crime

Vanda Felbab-Brown

The Brookings Institution

February 2013

Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has a tough year ahead of him. After six years of extraordinarily high homicide levels and gruesome brutality in Mexico, he has promised to prioritize social and economic issues and to refocus Mexico’s security policy on reducing violence. During its first months in office, his administration has eschewed talking about drug-related deaths or arrests. The Mexican public is exhausted by the bewildering intensity and violence of crime as well as by the state’s blunt assault on the drug trafficking groups. It expects the new president to deliver greater public safety, including from abuses committed by the Mexican military, which Mexico’s previous president, Felipe Calderón, deployed to the streets to tackle the drug cartels.