Evolution and Impact of Transnational Organized Crime in Latin America

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					   Evolution and Impact of
Transnational Organized Crime
       in Latin America
             Phil Williams
 Seminar on “Transnational Organized
 Crime and the Palermo Convention: A
            Reality Check”
     International Peace Institute
           October 6, 2010
         Overall Global Impact
• In spite of divergent forms, violent armed
  groups share certain characteristics.
• “As surprising as it may seem, pirate attacks
  off Somalia, militias in Lebanon, and criminal
  armies in Mexico are part of a global pattern
  and not anomalies.” (Godson and Shultz)
• Organized crime activities are appropriated by
  Violent Armed Groups around the world
• Major impact in conflict and post-conflict
• Results include:
  – perpetuation of violence
  – hollowing out of weak states
  – rise of alternative forms of governance
• Cannot confine ourselves to traditional
  criminal enterprises
            Impact in Latin America

• Some positive economic consequences
  – Mexican economy helped by money laundering during
  – Colombia never had foreign exchange crisis
• But devastating political and social consequences
  –   Threats to public security
  –   Increased marginalization of populations
  –   Undermine legitimacy of state
  –   Serious spillover consequences
        Trends in Latin America
• Growing consumption of drugs
• High levels of violence by both organized
  crime and disorganized crime
• Change in center of gravity of drug violence
• Growing connections between organized
  crime and the youth gang phenomenon
  – Linkages and gang services for TCOs
  – Graduation of gangs into criminal enterprises
• Morphing of former paramilitaries into “new
  criminal groups”
• FARC’s transformation from insurgency into a
  set of trafficking organizations
• Mix of competition and cooperation
• The move into less violent markets – Europe
  and West Africa
• Possible decline in cocaine production (Peru+)
• Organized crime in Favelas participates in
  novel/alternative forms of governance
  (Desmond Arias)
• Drugs in the favelas have lead to increased
  marginalization according to Janice Perlman
• Capacity to disrupt major cities
              Spillover victims
• Venezuela
  – High levels of corruption
  – Extreme levels of violence
  – Colombian operational space
  – Facilitates African connection
• Guatemala
  – Weak institutions
  – Culture of impunity
  – Gangs, Zetas, Kaibiles
         Center of Gravity:
Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations
• Facilitating impact of NAFTA
• Unintended consequences of takedown of
  Medellin and Cali
• Mexicans took over drug markets in United
  States – started in west and extended
• Mexico – suffers from location curse between
  drug producers and a major consumer market


    • Tunnel discovered in
      January 2006
    • 2477 feet long
    • “very, very
       –   Ventilation
       –   Cement
       –   Electricity
       –   Pumps

DTO Locations in U.S.
                   The Profits
• Police found $206
  million in house in
  Mexico City in March
• Profits from imports of
• Arrest of Zhenli Ye Gon
  from Shanghai

         Mexican Drug Violence
• Violence is inherent in organized crime
• Criminals live in Hobbesian world outside the law
• Confront acute security dilemmas
• Force is used defensively and offensively
• Criminals and trafficking organizations operate like
  medieval barons (betrayals and defections)
• Being adept in violence is form of social capital
• Charismatic leadership in criminal world is ruthless

• Nostalgia for the “good old days of Mexican drug
• In fact, violence from the outset
   –   Astorga – 1950s Sinaloa – to the towns and cities
   –   Culiacan “New Chicago with gangsters in sandals”
   –   DEA agent Camarena kidnapped killed in 1985
   –   October 1985 22 policemen killed in Vera Cruz state
   –   Hector Palma’s wife murdered - decapitated

• Death of Amado Carillo Fuentes – Juarez
• August 1997 4 traffickers in restaurant kill 3
  men and 2 women, and kill a policeman.
• “Although score settling among rival narco-
  trafficantes was commonplace…rarely had it
  spilled over into public places.”
• Foretaste of things to come!

   Sources of Increased Violence

• Increase in the stakes and rewards
• Mexican DTOs replaced Colombian
  organizations in US drug markets
• Increased weapons capabilities and expertise
• The rise of “private military companies” - the
  Zetas “given drug traffickers a bad name”

• Competition among organizations for control
  of routes, strategic warehouses
• The violence has its own geography: Nuevo
  Laredo, Tijuana, Juarez, Reynosa Matamoros
• Seems very instrumental or Clausewitzian
• Personal or blood feuds among leaders of
  drug trafficking organizations
• The breakdown of collusion – from PRI to PAN
  – and emergence of a government committed
  to confrontation

• Cult of the narco-traffickers:
  – machismo, Jesus Malverde, Narco-corridos
• Some local fights over Mexican retail markets
• Youth bulge – 30% of population 15 or under –
  generational shift

• Inadvertent consequence of strategies of:
• “Vacancy chains” (Friman) create
  feeding frenzies
• Government clamp-down – 42%
  interdiction of cocaine in2006 (UN)
      Increased Levels of Violence
•   2006 - 2,221
•   2007 - 2,561
•   2008 - 5,620 in 2008, Zeta claims 6,756
•   Concentrated in:
    – Chihuahua (2,266)
    – Sinaloa (1,152)
    – Baja California (1,019)

         Trends in Killings 2009
• Reforma estimate – 6,576
• El Universal estimate – 7,724
  – Chihuahua – 2,079 - 3,250
  – Sinaloa 767 - 930
  – Durango 637 – 734
  – Guerrero 638-672
• Leaked government figure – 8,928

Monthly Drug-related Killings 2007-9

 Source – David Shirk, Drug Violence in Mexico (Jan 2010) p.4
   Changing Patterns of Violence
• Alejandro Schtulmann – 4 dimensions in use
  of terror
  – emblematic assassinations
  – increased use of explosives
  – targeting of civilians
  – attacks on law enforcement and journalists

            A Broader Perspective
• “Today they generally prefer short-barreled weapons:
  the .38 caliber and the Magnum .357 with exploding
  bullets. For more difficult and complex operations they
  tend to use foreign weapons such as Kalashnikovs,
  bazookas, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers; not
  to mention explosives”
• Assassinations – “the body is dissolved in a barrel of
  acid which is then poured down a drain or a well, or
  some other convenient spot”
     Source: Judge Giovanni Falcone
          Men of Honor 1992
 Judge Giovanni Falcone,
  Men of Honor 1992
Killed May 23, 1992 (350 Kg)
         Comparisons in Context
 Mexico                         Parallels:
   Strong state becoming           Russia, Albania
    weak -end PRI monopoly

   Elite exploitation to out
    of control networks             Russia, Ukraine, Italy

   Socially embedded               Sicily, South Africa,
    organized crime                  Nigeria
     Portfolio of Activities: Opposite
• Mexican drug trafficking    • The ‘Ndrangheta in
  organizations                 Calabria
   – In response to             – Began with local
     government pressure          extortion and kidnapping
     placed more emphasis         and expanded to drug
     on local extortion and       trafficking through its
     kidnapping, as well as       ndrines overseas and its
     human smuggling and          alliances with Mexican
     trafficking and              and Colombian
     counterfeit DVD              organizations
• Only Colombia has had comparable levels of drug
  violence with Mexico but in Mexico not political
  (Juarez 192, Medellin, 1980s 400)
• In Russia Business - In Mexico personal
• Takes on quality of Albanian blood feuds
  (Guzman and the AFO and the BLO)
• Campania (Camorra) 3,600 killings from 1979 to
  2005; Chihuahua – 5,000 2008-9
         Alternative Explanation:
             Anomic Violence
• Durkheim/Merton/Passas
• In Juarez it has become anomic violence –
  behavioral and ethical collapse
• Gap between aspirations and means to
  achieve them/ social dislocation and shock
• “violence …woven into the very fabric of the
  community and has no single cause, no single
  motive and no on off button.”
              The Bottom Line

•   Mexico is not facing narco-terrorism
•   Mexico does not have criminal insurgency
•   Mexico is not becoming a failed state
•   Mexico is suffering from powerful DTOs
•   Mexico is suffering from anomic violence

       Lessons from Elsewhere
• Sicily – need to mobilize outrage
• Iraq – presence in streets and on foot
• Colombia – large number of small groups
  preferable to smaller number of large ones
• Mexico’s own history – attack across board
• Russia - strengthen state structures
• Burma – redefine the problem – trafficking is
  OK But violence is not
• Thank you for listening
• Questions
• Contact -


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