"The Logic Of Violence In Criminal War"
April 25, 2013 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Criminal Cartels And The Rule Of Law In Mexico: Summary, PDF
The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.

As Colombian Drugs Gangs Collapse, Mexican Cartels Get Tons Of Cheap Cocaine

Cyberwar In The Underworld: Anonymous versus Los Zetas in Mexico
Little attention has been paid to non-state actors conducting cyberwars against each other and the disruptive effects these wars can have on nation-states. This article explores the online clash between the hacker group, Anonymous, and the Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas. This type of cyberwar was unique: it was an incident where two clandestine non-state groups used the digital domain to attack each other and it was largely a private affair. Yet the incident had public consequences that left the Mexican government as a bystander. Such criminal activity beyond the reach of government intervention blurs the line between public safety and national security.
Knowing Where And How Criminal Organizations Operate Using Web Content - "In the scenario of Mexican drug trafficking, our findings provide evidence that criminal organizations are more strategic and operate in more differentiated ways than current academic literature thought."

The Logic Of Violence In Criminal War
Why do drug cartels fight states? Episodes of armed conflict between drug cartels and states in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico have demonstrated that ‘criminal wars’ can be just as destructive as civil wars. Yet insurgents in civil wars stand a reasonable chance of winning formal concessions of territory or outright victory. Why fight the state, if like drug cartels, you seek neither to topple nor secede from it?
With Cash And Commandos, U.S. Escalates Its Battle Against The Mexican Cartels
An Insurgency Coming To A Place Near You?
Vigilantes Against Mexico's Cartels
The War On Drugs Is Still Not Working

Many via Small Wars Journal: 1, 2, 3
posted by the man of twists and turns (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
An Insurgency Coming To A Place Near You?

This is, perhaps, the most important thing about the failing War on Drugs. We are making war on ourselves, and the battlefields have been on the periphery of the economy, in other countries. But, with each passing year, the drugs gangs get stronger, directly because we are fighting them. And the conflict moves further and further toward the center.

Once upon a time, we were losing Mexico. Now we've lost it, and we're losing Detroit.

The only way out of this war is not to fight it. We cannot win a war against ourselves. It cannot be done.
posted by Malor at 8:02 AM on April 25, 2013 [9 favorites]

It's a war where one side refuses to remove almost all of the income of the other side, and one where the better you do against one the more well-funded the remaining participants become.

At some point, it will make more sense for the cartels to have hearts and minds social welfare programs themselves and just replace the state entirely to get the population on side. See: Hamas, Hezbollah.
posted by jaduncan at 8:09 AM on April 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

See also: the Yakuza.

(Although the Yamaguchi-gumi organization in particular, allegedly does not engage in drug trafficking. It's a kindler, gentler, more traditional sort of extortion racket.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2013

As in all facets of capitalism we probably ought to follow the money.
posted by notreally at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

jaduncan: At some point, it will make more sense for the cartels to have hearts and minds social welfare programs themselves and just replace the state entirely to get the population on side. See: Hamas, Hezbollah.

I don't know about that. The cartels aren't there to replace the government and don't really need the population's support, just their non-interference. I'm not sure they really want to destroy the government, either. Probably the best-case for the cartels is a government that is too incompetent or corrupt to interfere with them, but strong enough to stop random people from producing drugs on their own.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Way back when kings started out as the guys in charge of the most succesful thugs.
posted by onya at 10:17 AM on April 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

The cartels aren't there to replace the government and don't really need the population's support, just their non-interference.

They are apparently getting a lot of pushback in some areas because the state has already failed and not much has replaced it. If you want a more direct comparison, the Mafia at least make things orderly in return for the protection money. People like order, and will support people who bring it. The support of the local population is insanely great for criminal enterprises, and the cost to do it is not that high.
posted by jaduncan at 10:33 AM on April 25, 2013

So... before the bankers bought them out?
posted by xqwzts at 10:34 AM on April 25, 2013

This is a great post and I look forward to reading through all of it.

The Mexican conception of the state, from revolution and clientelism through EZLN is so contested and liminal that it ends up being really fascinating in terms of development and political violence and extra-state actors and all sorts of stuff. If I had the gumption to learn academic Spanish, this is exactly the sort of poli sci stuff I'd love to research.
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Mexico Border Shootout Reveals Effort to Cover Up Violence
Inconsistent reports about a March 10 gun battle in Reynosa, along the US-Mexico border, illustrate how little verifiable information is available on what is happening in that and other areas of Mexico, and how citizen journalists and social networks are increasingly the only sources left to catch a glimpse of what appears to be an all-out war.

By most accounts, for Reynosa -- which sits across from McAllen, Texas, in the embattled Tamaulipas state -- March 10 was brutal.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:32 PM on April 25, 2013

Some cartels do continue to provide the traditional protection and more mafia type extortional one hand washes another corruption elements, such as Michoacan's la Familia . . . unfortunately the ultraviolent American trained military defectors, los Zetas, are winning.

But I mean, come on guys. Prohibition worked, right?

What's the big deal. We just have to try to drug war harder.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 3:26 PM on April 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Countering Criminal Street Gangs: Lessons from the Counterinsurgent Battlespace
Criminal street gang members are not insurgents, and street gangs are not insurgencies. Law enforcement agencies are not the military, and our cities are not legitimate battlefields. However, insurgent fighters operating in countries around the globe and domestic street gang members engaged in criminal behavior share more in common than we often care to openly admit. The most obvious similarities between the two groups can be described based upon what we overtly note:
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:28 AM on April 27, 2013

Narcocantante Jesus “Chuy” Quintanilla Assassinated in Mission, Texas
Mexico’s Curbs on U.S. Role in Drug Fight Spark Friction
But behind the scenes, the Americans are coming to grips with a scaling back of the level of coordination that existed during the presidency of Felipe Calderón, which included American drones flying deep into Mexican territory and American spy technology helping to track high-level suspects.

In an interview, Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, made no apologies. He defended the moves, including the creation of a “one-stop window” in his department to screen and handle all intelligence, in the name of efficiency and “a new phase” in fighting crime.
Terrorism, crime or war? State failure, shadow-state, "mafia state"? COIN, CT, policing?

Or the infamous answer: "all of the above."
Welcome to the end of Westphalia.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:09 PM on May 1, 2013

In other drug war news: U.S. Kicks Drug-War Habit, Makes Peace With Afghan Poppies
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on May 10, 2013

Intersections Of Crime And Terror - "Intersections of Crime and Terror is a Routledge anthology of hybrid violent non-state actor (VNSA) research that explores the interactions between criminals and terrorists."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:42 PM on May 15, 2013

Western leaders study 'gamechanging' report on global drugs trade - Review by Organisation of American States on illicit drugs 'could mark beginning of the end' of prohibition
posted by Wonton Cruelty at 2:57 AM on May 20, 2013

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