Small Wars Journal

Third Generation Gangs

Gangs in lockdown: Impact of Covid-19 restrictions on gangs in east and southern Africa

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 2:27pm

Gangs in lockdown: Impact of Covid-19 restrictions on gangs in east and southern Africa

The coronavirus pandemic has altered communities and the political economy of states throughout East and southern Africa.  Lockdowns in particular have profound social impacts. This study—Gangs in lockdown: Impact of Covid-19 restrictions on gangs in east and southern Africa—from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on gangs and illicit economies by using Cape Town, South Africa, as a lens to analyze trends across the East and southern African region.

Gangs in Lockdown

The study's author Julia Standard draws on in-depth reportage together with interviews across the Cape Flats with gang members, community members and civil-society activists, to chart the first hundred days of lockdown. This case study is integrated with insights from the GI-TOC's network of researchers in Cape Town, other cities in South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. The report concludes that the lockdowns have brought about significant change in a number of areas, namely how gangs operate economically; the political power they wield over communities; levels of violence and street-level crime; and the relationship between corrupt law enforcement officials and gang members.

A summary of Gangs in lockdown is available here.  A timeline: "Cape Town Lockdown Timetime" is available here; and the full report can be downloaded here

Source: Julia Stanyard, Gangs in lockdown: Impact of Covid-19 restrictions on gangs in east and southern Africa. Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, 28 October 2020, 


Eighteenth Street: The Origins of ‘Barrio 18’

Sun, 08/30/2020 - 10:29pm
Eighteenth Street (18th Street) is a gang originating in the Pico-Union District of Los Angeles. It is one of the gangs frequently mentioned in a transnational context and often referred to as a mara—a type of sophisticated gang—due to its presence in El Salvador and other parts of Central America. Eighteenth Street is known as 18th Street, Barrio 18, Calle 18, Mara 18, and M-18 in its various locations. This article summarizes its origins and national and transnational migration/diffusion.

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Covid-19, Gangs, and Conflict: A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Reader

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 1:19am

Covid-19, Gangs, and Conflict: A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Reader

John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, Editors

SWJ has released a new curated collection COVID-19, Gangs, and Conflict examining the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in light of exploitation by gangs, cartels, and mafias.  The reader contains previously published material as well as a prologue by Steven Dudley, a foreword by Nils Gilman, an introduction by John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker. These are followed by a series of previously published SWJ-El Centro research notes on the topic, a curated section of essays, a conclusion by Robert J. Bunker, an afterword by Colon P. Clarke, and a postscript by Tuesday Reitano.

Covid Cover

The Coronavirus pandemic is fueling conflict and fostering extremism while concurrently empowering gangs, cartels, and mafias in their quest for power and profit. In COVID-19, Gangs, and Conflict, Editors John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker bring together a curated collection of both new and previously published material to explore the trends and potentials of the global pandemic emergency. Topics include an exploration of proto-statemaking by criminal groups, the interaction of pandemics and conflict, as well as a comparison of gangs, criminal cartels, and mafias exploiting the crisis and exerting criminal governance in Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, and South Africa. Implications for national security, biosecurity, slums, transnational organized crime, and threats and opportunities in the contested pandemic space are assessed. SWJ

Source: John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, Editors, Covid-19, Gangs, and Conflict: A Small Wars Journal-El Centro ReaderBloomington: XLibris, 2020.

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 30: Traficante Evangélico (Evangelical Trafficker) Creates “Complexo de Israel” Using Confessional Violence to Consolidate Control in Five Rio Favelas

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 9:16pm
A facção (drug trafficking faction) in Rio de Janeiro led by Álvaro Malaquias Santa Rosa, known as Peixão (Big Fish), is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to consolidate control over a group of favelas (slums) in the Northern Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The result is a complex of five favelas: Cidade Alta, Vigário Geral, Parada de Lucas, Cinco Bocas, and Pica-Pau known as the "Complexo de Israel" (Israel Complex or Network of Israel). The favelas comprising the “Complexo de Israel” have a combined population of about 134,000 inhabitants. Peixão’s gang employs a mix of religious imagery and targeted confessional violence to exert territorial control and dominate the illicit market.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 29: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) Attacks Honduran Prison Guards with Grenades and Assault Rifles

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 6:40pm
On Monday, 20 July 2020, suspected members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) attacked a military police guards at a prison—la Peniteciaría Nacional de Támara—north of Tegucigalpa, according to the Instituto Nacional Penitenciaro (INP – National Penitentiary Institute). The attack, by prison inmates, involved firearms (assault rifles and pistols, as well as grenades). One sergeant received firearms injuries.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 12: Brazilian Prison Gangs Attack Civil Infrastructure in Fortaleza and Other Cities in Ceará State SWJED Thu, 01/17/2019 - 1:04am
Since 2 January, 205 criminal attacks have occurred in 46 cities in Ceará and about 360 individuals have been arrested. Ceara’s security forces have been reinforced with the assistance of the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF or Federal Highway Police). The attacks have included bombings and arson directed against vehicles (including buses and school transportation), police stations, public buildings, bridges, businesses, and banks.
Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 10: Military Takes Control of Policing in Rio de Janeiro SWJED Sat, 02/24/2018 - 12:18am

The military oversight is the first federal intervention where federal forces took command in a Brazilian state since the return to democracy in 1988.

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 9 SWJED Thu, 01/25/2018 - 9:54am

Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 9: Concerns About Potential Gang (PCC-Primeiro Comando da Capital & CV-Comando Vermelho) Influence on Upcoming Brazilian Elections