Small Wars Journal

Drug Carterls

Mexican Cartel Smuggling Cocaine into Hong Kong Amid Booming Demand for Drugs

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:08pm

Mexican Cartel Smuggling Cocaine into Hong Kong Amid Booming Demand for Drugs by Bryan Harris, South China Morning Post

One of the world's largest and most notorious drug cartels is targeting Hong Kong as it seeks to expand its operations into lucrative new markets, the Sunday Morning Post has learned.

Already a key supplier of illicit narcotics to many Western countries, Mexico's Sinaloa cartel is diversifying its business by taking advantage of the booming demand for cocaine and methamphetamines in the Asia-Pacific region…

Read on.

Mexico Legalizes Vigilantes: AP Twofer

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 8:33am

Mexico Legalizes Vigilantes, Nabs Cartel Leader - Associated Press

Mexico essentially legalized the country’s growing “self-defense” groups Monday, while also announcing that security forces had captured one of the four top leaders of the Knights Templar drug cartel, which the vigilante groups have been fighting for the last year.

The government said it had reached an agreement with vigilante leaders to incorporate the armed civilian groups into old and largely forgotten quasi-military units called the Rural Defense Corps. Vigilante groups estimate their numbers at 20,000 men under arms…

Read on.

Mexican Vigilante Legalization Plan Carries Risks - Associated Press

After months of tacit cooperation with rural vigilantes trying to drive out a cult-like drug cartel, the Mexican government is seeking to permanently solve one of its toughest security problems with a plan to legalize the growing movement and bring it under the army’s control.

But the risks are high.

To succeed, the government must enforce military discipline and instill respect for human rights and due process among more than 20,000 heavily armed civilians, then eventually disband them and send them back home in the western state of Michoacan…

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Book Review: Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes

Mon, 09/16/2013 - 5:12am

Book Review: Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes - Edited by Robert J. Bunker, Review by James Phelps.

Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes is a collection of twenty-three Small Wars Journal (SWJ) articles supplemented by operational and tactical notes covering a variety of cartel-related subjects. With a preface by Major General (ret) Robert Scales and foreword by Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, this volume, edited by Robert J. Bunker, collates much of the extant material and analysis available on the Mexican drug cartels published in the El Centro section of the SWJ between 27 May 2011 and 30 November 2012. Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes follows an initial anthology, Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency (May 2012). It paints a consolidated picture of the effects cartels have on governments and social constructs. The influence of cartels on all aspects of Mexican life, and their ever-expanding influence on life in the Border States and deeper into the U.S. is frightening when viewed in context and within a single volume.

Dr. Bunker’s innovative approach and selected content reflect deep concern with the growing threat posed by cartels in light of the U.S.’s failure to provide secure borders for its citizens and states...

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Ruthless Mexican Drug Cartel Recruiting in the U.S.; Los Zetas Looks to Prisons, Street Gangs

Ruthless Mexican Drug Cartel Recruiting in the U.S.; Los Zetas Looks to Prisons, Street Gangs by Jerry Seper, Washington Times.

A Mexican drug cartel known for kidnapping random civilians and beheading its rivals has expanded its operations into the U.S.

The gang known as Los Zetas is recruiting U.S. prison and street gangs, and non-Mexicans, for its drug trafficking and support operations in Mexico and the U.S.

An FBI intelligence bulletin notes that “multiple sources” reported the shift in Los Zetas recruiting. The cartel sought to maintain a highly disciplined and structured hierarchy by recruiting members with specialized training, such as former military and law enforcement officers...

Read on.

SWJED Mon, 07/08/2013 - 5:39am

Well, They're Not About Taking Over the Government

Sun, 03/11/2012 - 8:29pm

A few years ago Latin American specialists began warning the defense community at large that the Mexican cartels constituted an insurgency in the actual sense, though one that was strategically different from the ideologically-inspired ones with which we are all familiar. By now, the weakness of the oft-repeated response that "Well, they're not about taking over the government" ought to be plain. Sure they are. The pattern of cartel corruption of local governments in some areas of Mexico makes that plain. They just care about influence and compliance with their wishes, not about traffic law and picking up the garbage at the curb.

Some still think this is only about crime. It is not. Considering the full scope of criminality and terrorism in today's world, on a spectrum ranging from the local gangs inside the United States to the confluence of the cartels, international terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and criminal states like Iran and Venezuela -- there are others -- it seems obvious that what we're seeing is a new wrinkle in warfare itself, consisting of the blending of the huge resources of the black economy (estimated at a fifth or more of the world's GDP) with transnational state and criminal organizations that wage economic, cyber and kinetic warfare outside the bounds of what we have come to think of as "established" rules of warfare.

One ominous and imminent development along this line is the recent move by Iran to collude with the Mexican cartels -- the Zetas, specifically -- to strike targets inside the United States. Given the ongoing issue of Iranian nukes, international sanctions (which will not come fully on line until the summer), Israeli pressure to strike and the covert war inside Iran itself that includes the assassination of four nuclear scientists, the probability of an Iranian terror campaign inside the United States cannot be discounted. There are operational and strategic issues involved in the potential Iranian strategy and the US response that have not been fully -- or even partially -- discussed. Thanks partially to 9/11, we are much better prepared now to deal tactically with events -- remember that when the Quds representative reached out to the Zetas, he hit a DEA informant instead -- but thus far we are only playing defense.

On a larger canvas -- if a "larger canvas" can be found than dealing with attacks inside the US against our government & people -- is the whole issue about the conduct of war in the 21st century. We now have "criminal" nation-states that collude with existing transnational criminal and terrorist groups to make money, corrupt international financial systems and attack other states, all the while maintaining the rights & privileges of traditional states. We have these transnational groups that themselves attack states -- as the Mexican cartels are doing in Mexico, throughout Central America and along the Andean Ridge and we have the international, state-sponsored terrorist groups like Hamas, AQ and Hezbollah. All of these organizations are attacking, in one form or another, legitimate states and their populations. In many ways, Russia is very nearly, if not already, such a criminal state.

Their transnational nature means that they maintain viable "rat lines" across borders around the world, along which they move drugs, traffic in human beings (who are either voluntary refugees or slaves [ see the sex trade out of the Balkans]), arms or money, which moves through the international banking system, including US banks. Eventually, nuclear materiel, either finished weapons or otherwise, will move in those channels as well. And, I might add, one criminal state -- Iran -- is also developing IRBMs and shorter-range missiles at a good clip.

Defense specialists would so well to remember a quote from a nineteenth-century European general who complained about Napoleon that he never fought war according to the rules. We have even a more abrupt shift before us, which I believe is the decay of the old international "way of war" and the emergence of ... something else. What are we going to do about it?