VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 35 POSTED ON: 9/21/2011
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 situations • 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 recession – 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 Colombia • 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+) Brazil • 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 eastward • Mexico – suffers from location curse between drug producers and a major consumer market 9 10 Submarines 11 Tunnels • Tunnel discovered in January 2006 • 2477 feet long • “very, very sophisticated” – Ventilation – Cement – Electricity – Pumps 12 DTO Locations in U.S. The Profits • Police found $206 million in house in Mexico City in March 2007 • Profits from imports of pseudoephedrine • Arrest of Zhenli Ye Gon from Shanghai 14 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 leadership 15 • Nostalgia for the “good old days of Mexican drug trafficking • 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 16 • 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! 17 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” 18 • 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 19 • 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 20 • Inadvertent consequence of strategies of: –Elimination –Decapitation –Amputation • “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) 22 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 23 Monthly Drug-related Killings 2007-9 Source – David Shirk, Drug Violence in Mexico (Jan 2010) p.4 24 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 25 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 Trajectories • 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 Comparisons • 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.” 32 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 33 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 - email@example.com 35
"Evolution and Impact of Transnational Organized Crime in Latin America"