Mexican Army in Sinaloa
Rancho Parte Films : Ioan Grillo & John Dickie : December 21st, 2009
Summary & Analytical Note:
This is a quick video focusing on select Mexican Army operations in Sinaloa, Mexico. It is not directly related to the Maras. However it is related in that the Cartels have been known to recruit from the Maras. In general, on our current course, the state of affairs in Mexico potentially a scenario we could see in the Southwestern US.
Central American Law Enforcement Exchange
FBI Press Release : November 10th 2009
A joint State Department and FBI initiative called the Central American Law Enforcement Exchange (CALEE) brings together U.S. and Central American agencies to share information and intelligence in the fight against the growing gang problem. The program is about forging relationships across agencies that deal with the growing transnational gang problem. The most recent exchange brought together representatives from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize, along with their U.S. counterparts from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and officers from Northern Virginia and several jurisdictions in North Carolina, where gang activities have been increasing.
CALEE isn’t like many initiatives aimed at making arrests. This is more about forging relationships, which can be leveraged at a future date when questions arise or cooperation is required. Participants will have a rolodex…I guess they don’t make those anymore! Well, they will have multiple contacts to reach out to.
The Impact of Third Generation Gangs in Central America
Air & Space Power Journal : John Sullivan : July 1st 2008
This is an analytical paper written by John Sullivan describing the evolution of criminal gangs and assigning different gangs a generational stage of 1 thru 3.
• First Generation Gangs are traditional street (or prison) gangs with a turf orientation. Operating at the lower end of extreme societal violence, they have loose leadership and focus their attention on turf protection and gang loyalty within their immediate environs (often a few blocks or a neighborhood). When they engage in criminal enterprise, it is largely opportunistic and local in scope. These turf gangs are limited in political scope and sophistication.
• Second Generation Gangs have a business focus. They are entrepreneurial and drug-centered. They protect their markets and use violence to control their competition. They have a broader, market-focused, sometimes overtly political agenda and operate in a broader spatial or geographic area. Their operations sometimes involve multi-state and even international areas. Their tendency for centralized leadership and sophisticated operations for market protection places them in the center of the range of politicization, internationalization and sophistication.
• Third Generation Gangs have evolved political aims. These are the most complex gangs and they operate—or aspire to operate—at the global end of the spectrum, using their sophistication to garner power, aid financial acquisition and engage in mercenary-type activities. To date, most 3 GEN Gangs have been primarily mercenary in orientation; in some instances, however, they have sought to further their own political and social objectives.
Sullivan then places MS-13 and the 18th street gang in the 3rd Generation. He also highlights the importance of the prison system in El Salvador to the culture and operations of MS-13.
I don’t agree with Sullivan’s paradigm, nor with his own estimation of MS-13 as a 3rd Generation gang. All told, I think this paper is interesting in that it highlights the importance of the prisons in El Salvador, but still flawed. What Sullivan calls, “First Generation Gangs”, I would simply call gangs. I think the word “gang” has certain immature or adolescent connotations. Group identity and belonging are the key motivators for the formation of gangs, which is why most gang members start in their teens. I guess it’s possible that gangs could evolve as their initial nucleus of members grows older. When you look at his definition for 3rd generation it seems like he is touching on aspects of terrorist organizations. When you start seeing sub national organizations that use violence to achieve political aims, I think you are well out of the “gang” framework and into the world of terrorism. Finally, does MS-13 have political aims? I guess you might be able to say that the assassination attempt on the ICE agent last month was an attempt albeit clumsy to shape policy? But I think that is pretty tortured analysis.
MS-13 Members Plot to Kill a Federal (ICE) Agent
www.upi.com : November 4th 2009
According to his own statements in prison, MS-13 member Walter (Duke) Torres was put in charge of a plot to murder a federal agent in New York City. Torres is reportedly a member of a Virginia based Clique, which received orders from MS-13 gang leadership in El Salvador to conduct the operation. Torres divulged this information while detained after being arrested in Queens on a Virginia warrant. The existence of this plot seems to be confirmed by an additional MS-13 informant who added that this federal agent was targeted because of his vigorous efforts to target gang members.
This event marks a milestone in the evolution of this gang. In past analysis, MS-13 has been described as a loose network of ill-defined cliques, with shifting loyalties. If true, this event demonstrates several key emerging attributes, new to the gang.
First, command and control was exerted from prison in El Salvador. Until now, evidence of control emanating from Salvadorian prisons existed, but was ill-defined and anecdotal. This seems to be a clear and unambiguous example of an operation involving multiple cliques being directed from prison in El Salvador.
Second, the gang seems to have more enhanced situational and threat awareness. Perhaps, this is due to people apprehended by this ICE agent, ending up deported and back in Salvadorian prison. It is worth noting that the gang seems able to identify high level enforcement personalities and target them, albeit clumsily.
Finally, this is clearly an escalation. We’ve seen these sorts of attacks on the border for years now, conducted largely by the Gulf and Sinaloa Cartels, which have also been linked to MS-13. As expected, we now see this sort of crime occurring not on the border but in the heart of our biggest city. You can expect these types of events to escalate both in sophistication and level of violence.
In New Tactic, L.A. Goes After Gangs' Money
Yahoo News : Daniel B. Wood : January 15th 2009
The city of Los Angeles, which is arguably the national gang epicenter, has developed a new tactic to use against gangs, cash damages. The city announced Tuesday that it had won its first civil judgment, for $5 million, against the 5th and Hill gang that had dominated the heroin trade in downtown LA for decades. The verdict could bode well for another first-of-its-kind lawsuit the city filed last month against 18th Street Gang members that goes after all the assets of gang leaders, not just those associated with their criminal activity. Both suits will funnel money back into improving the neighborhoods affected by the gangs through a fund. The civil suits were filed under different amendments to state laws, one passed in 2007 and one in 2008, designed to strengthen authorities' ability to control gangs. The 2007 amendment allows law enforcement to seize assets associated with criminal conduct. But the 2008 law goes even further – it allows prosecutors to collect damages from gang members' personal assets, too. The December suit against the 18th Street gang is the first to make use of the 2008 amendment. The City Attorney's office says it is moving against the 18th Street gang on behalf of residents who can't file suit themselves because they can't afford the expenses and they fear retaliation. Gangs control certain neighborhoods by exacting so-called "street taxes" on home and business owners as well as street vendors. It names nine leaders of the 18th Street gang, which has operated for years in the Pico-Union and Westlake areas.
U.S. MILITARY REPORT WARNS 'SUDDEN COLLAPSE' OF MEXICO IS POSSIBLE
The El Paso Times : Diana Washington Valdez : January 13, 2009
Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats. The command's "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico. As reasons, the report points to the fact that the government, politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security and former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey issued similar alerts about Mexico.
I would be highly interested in the details of the contingency planning which is no doubt taking place should a Mexican collapse occur.
Nine Severed Heads Found in Mexico
Washington Post : December 22nd 2008
Nine severed heads were found in the Mexican state of Guerrero yesterday. Apparently, the heads, belonging to Mexican soldiers, were found together in plastic bags and the bodies were recovered from other sites. The heads, though not reported in this article, were found with a note indicating these murders were a reprisal for military actions against the drug cartels. To date, there have been 5,300 drug related murders in Mexico this year.
The situation in Mexico is completely out of control. Mexican authorities are now murdered wholesale! According to voluminous press reporting, the power and influence of the Mexican cartels is growing and spreading. They are spreading out into the south western United States in order to control the distribution networks, Like MS-13 Cliques, and also into Guatemala and points south to control the supply and increase profits. In short they want to cut out middle men. It’s clear they will kill whoever gets in their way.
Seven Die In Guatemalan Prison Riot
The Washington Post (From Reuters) : November 22nd 2008
Seven inmates have been killed in a prison riot between members of MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang. The riots took place at Pavoncito prison in Guatemala, which holds almost 900 prisoners, mostly drug offenders. The riots were reportedly caused when a transfer of prisoners from another prison occurred. Apparently, as part of the killings several of the killed were decapitated and their heads were put on stakes.
MS-13 seems to derive its culture from several prisons in El Salvador. There have been instances in the past where murders on US soil were conducted on orders originating from prisons in El Salvador. However, as this article illuminates, there are MS members in prisons in large numbers throughout Central America.