Small Wars Journal


Studies in Gangs and Cartels

Studies in Gangs and Cartels

Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan

Concerns over the changing nature of gangs and cartels and their relationships to states in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has resulted in the emergence of a scholarly body of work focused on their national security threat potentials. This body of work, utilizing the third generation gangs and third phase cartel typologies, represents an alternative to traditional gang and organized crime research and one that is increasingly influencing the US defense community. Rather than being viewed only as misguided youth and opportunistic criminals or, in their mature forms, as criminal organizations with no broader social or political agendas, more evolved gangs and cartels, are instead seen as developing political, mercenary, and state-challenging capacities. This evolutionary process has emerged due to the growing illicit economy and other unintended consequences of globalization.

This important anthology of writings by Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan draws upon a collection of their works from the mid-1990s to the present with the addition of new essays written specifically for this publication. The work will be of great interest to academics and students in the fields of political science and criminal justice and to military, law enforcement, and governmental professionals and policy makers.

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Narco-Politics: How Mexico Got There and How It Can Get Out

Narco-Politics: How Mexico Got There and How It Can Get Out by Pamela F. Izaguirre, Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

The arrest on August 17 of the leader of Cártel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel), Mario Ramirez Treviño, better known as X-20 as well as the capture this past July of the leader of Los Zetas (The Zetas), Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, the Z-40, are nothing more than superficial achievements for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s eight-month-old administration. As much as the U.S. and Mexican governments celebrate what is described as a successful blow to organized crime, in reality, the arrest will not significantly change Mexico’s current security problems.

The narco-business in the country is much more complex, unlike Colombia, where the 1993 elimination of Pablo Escobar meant the beginning of the disappearance of the power of the Medellin cartel; according to British journalist Ioan Grillo, in Mexico the problem is far more ingrained. Mexico is a dangerously fragmented country - one where a series of illegal networks have been historically intertwined with the government; where federal and military authorities are not always on the same side; and where drug traffic organizations (DTO’s) have been gaining more territory and becoming more powerful, particularly recent decades. Mexico’s geography has become its own curse due to its fertile land, where it is ideal to grow illegal substances and traffic them to U.S. consumers...

Read on.