Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sharp Piece

UNAM researcher Eduardo Guerrero has a sharp (though too short) observation the growing integration of street gangs and big-time smuggling rings in Mexico:
The Mexican cartels are dynamic organizations with a great capacity for adapting to new conditions. The logic of the war that the cartels are unleashing today against other criminal organizations and against the federal government, and the business logic of market expansion and increasing profits, have pushed the cartels into decisive steps toward professionalization. One of these steps is the practice of outsourcing or subcontracting the specialized services that provided by the gangs, with whom they have established a relationship of mutual convenience.

The gangs offer myriad services to the cartels in the realm of drug traffic: transportation, distribution, and sale of merchandise. Working hand in hand with the cartels, the gangs are also working their way into kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, money laundering, vehicle theft, and arms traffic--offenses typical of organized crime.
He goes on to list five reasons why the cartels are working more closely with street gangs: the gangs are autonomous, which reduces the exposure of their contractors; they know the local terrain; they are effective employers of violence; they perform many tasks more cheaply; and they typically include users of drugs, which translates into greater sales for traffickers.

This is a point that can't be made often enough. Mexico's surely got its share of hyper-violent multi-national drug gangs, but much of the violence today is gang violence only tangentially related to Chapo and the rest.

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