Crime Wars: Gangs, Cartels and US National Security

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In this controversial study by Bob Killebrew and Jennifer Bernal, published in September 2010, the Center for a New American Security attaches the sticky yet not necessarily accurate term “insurgency” to the Mexican drug cartels. The study is an important part of the policy discussion in Washington DC about how to tackle the issue of the mega-cartels in Mexico.

From introduction: 

Criminal networks linking cartels and gangs are no longer simply a crime problem, but a threat that is metastasizing into a new form of widespread, networked criminal insurgency. The scale and vio- lence of these networks threaten civil governments and civil societies in the Western Hemisphere and, increasingly, the United States as well.

American policymakers have been slow to recognize the evolution of the drug cartels and gangs from purely law enforcement problems to the strategic threat they now pose. Drug trafficking is variously described solely in terms of a drug prob- lem, a challenge to other countries or a problem for states along the United States’ southern border. Drug trafficking groups are, in fact, a threat across all these categories – they are part of networks attacking the United States and other friendly countries on many fronts. Although the U.S. government is currently implementing measures to address the separate pieces of this problem – for example, deploying National Guard units to the border – it has yet to craft a truly comprehensive domestic and foreign strategy to confront the inter-related challenges of trafficking and violence reaching from the Andean Ridge to American streets.


Download the full report here.

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