Small Wars Journal

El Centro

SWJ El Centro Book Review – CJNG: A Quick Guide to Mexico's Deadliest Cartel ZFTWARNING Sat, 05/18/2024 - 7:36pm
Review of Chris Dalby's "CJNG: A Quick Guide to Mexico's Deadliest Cartel" by SWJ−El Centro Senior Fellow John P. Sullivan.
Understanding Support for the Mexican Military and Its Role in Combating Organized Crime ZFTWARNING Thu, 05/16/2024 - 2:42pm
This article examines the role that the Mexican military has played in combating drug trafficking, organized crime, and violence. It highlights the security policies and utilization of the military during the Felipe Calderón and Peña Nieto administrations. While President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the militarization of the drug war, he created a national guard, which consist primarily of the military, and deployed them to strategic locations. The article then examines the public opinion data, which shows the high levels of trust in the military. It then turns to regression analysis based to analyze factors that may influence trust in the military. Ultimately, this article concludes that the military remains better trusted than other institutions, but the armed forces have been overutilized in recent decades for a litany of internal security issues.
Post-insurgencies and Criminal Subcultures: The influence of Colombian organized crime in Ecuador’s Armed Conflict ZFTWARNING Thu, 05/16/2024 - 1:00am
What is the influence of Colombian organized crime in Ecuador’s Armed Conflict? Building on the concepts of post-insurgencies and border effect, this paper assesses the security crisis in Ecuador by studying criminal learning and subcultures among Criminal Armed Groups (CAGs). While analysts and pundits often highlight the impact of Colombia’s criminal world in the Ecuadorian context, few fathom it. Focusing on the trajectories of CAGs, the paper gathers different lessons resulting from Colombian counterinsurgency over the years and what they mean to Ecuador. The paper zooms in on the criminal learning between CAGs in borderland regions of Nariño (Colombia) and Esmeraldas (Ecuador). It argues that criminal learning is fundamental in how Ecuadorian CAGs, particularly Tiguerones, understand and engage in criminal wars. Furthermore, Tiguerones’ case shows how subculture and symbolic power remain important in post-insurgencies and criminal learning. The authors use official data from law enforcement and secondary information from Colombia and Ecuador.
Perspective: Getting Ahead of the Game in a new Multi-Polar World across Today's Spectrum of Threats, Converging Ecosystems of Criminality, and Hybrid (Irregular) Warfare ZFTWARNING Tue, 05/14/2024 - 1:36pm
This commentary summarizes the author’s keynote address to the United States Department of Defense (DoD) FY26-30 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) Counternarcotics and Stabilization Policy Review and Panel Discussions and Conference at the Pentagon, Washington, DC on 8 May 2024. The POM Review was chaired the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Stabilization Policy, in the Office for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, DoD. The author is Executive Director of the International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE).
Blackjack ZFTWARNING Mon, 04/29/2024 - 9:40pm
Last year, an authorization for the use of force against Mexican cartels was introduced in Congress. Several senior US politicians, including a presidential candidate, have advocated for military strikes against criminal actors involved in trafficking fentanyl. What if the United States engaged in unilateral military action in Mexico? In Blackjack, an American working covertly against criminal organizations finds himself trapped when US drones begin engaging cartel targets. He struggles to reach the US−Mexico border as the bilateral situation deteriorates and chaos erupts around him. Blackjack is a work of “useful fiction” as described by August Cole and PW Singer. It brings together an engaging story with research to provide a glimpse of a near future scenario.
Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #52: Two Paramedics Killed in Attacks on Ambulances in Celaya, Guanajuato ZFTWARNING Thu, 04/25/2024 - 1:01pm
On Monday, 22 April 2024 two paramedics in Celaya, Guanajuato were killed when alleged members of a criminal armed group (CAG) attacked ambulances believed to be linked to their rivals. This attack included armed assault and arson. It occurred during a spike in violence between rival criminal cartels. The violent surge also included fatal attacks on police. 

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 55: Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) Expanding its Reach to Chile

Mon, 03/25/2024 - 9:37pm
Brazil’s Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) is expanding its reach into Chile. The group, also known in English, as the First Capital Command is reportedly consolidating its expansion into Chile. This expansion is triggering intense political debate in Chile as the Chilean state seeks to come to terms with transnational organized crime’s impact on the local criminal ecosystem and challenges state capacity to address globalized gangs.

About the Author(s)

Frontera: A Journey across the US-Mexico Border

Sun, 03/24/2024 - 5:27pm

Frontera: A Journey across the US-Mexico Border, a new illustrated book chronicling the US−Mexico frontier, has been released.  The text by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a SWJ−El Centro Fellow and Sergio Chapa, a freelance journalist and oil and gas expert, examines social, cultural, political, and security situation along the US-Mexico border from the Rio Grande Valley to the Pacific Ocean, stoping at border towns and cities along the way. 


Publisher's description:

Following the border formed by the Rio Grande and moving cross-country to the Pacific Ocean, Frontera is a lavishly illustrated book that offers a comprehensive examination of the nearly two thousand-mile border shared by the United States and Mexico. The region has a reputation for being a dangerous place, with US Border Patrol and Mexican authorities playing cat and mouse with smugglers and undocumented migrants, and with drug cartels inflicting unspeakable violence on the region. Frontera takes an unblinking look at those dangers, but it goes beyond stereotypes and offers the reader vivid portraits of the beauty and complexity of the area—its history, its contemporary attractions, its rich cultural life. Moving through thirty-eight municipalities on the Mexican side and twenty-four counties in the US, Frontera includes maps, key cities, points of interest, border crossings, festivals, local cuisines, and more, along with analyses of local politics and security issues. Despite its troubles, the US-Mexico border is a beautiful place, the home of welcoming and warm people. It is a land of contrasts—austere landscapes and lush oases, thunderstorms and rainbows in the desert, robust industry and ghost towns, great wealth and aching poverty. Frontera is both a feast for the eyes and an encyclopedic reference that offers readers a clear-eyed perspective on a subject of critical importance to the United States and its southern neighbor.

Co-author Sergio Chapa describes the book in his article "Border Angels and Magic Moments" at the Texas Observer (26 January 2024). 

Source: Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and Sergio ChapaFrontera: A Journey across the US-Mexico Border. Fort Worth: TCU Press, 2024 (Hardcover,  516 pages).