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Mexican Risk Identification and Remediation

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Mexican Risk Identification and Remediation
By Gordon Housworth
Intellectual Capital Group LLC

Forecast accuracy:  Intellectual Capital Group LLC (ICG) predicted the disruption and criminalization of Mexico in late 2006 and made this outlook public in 2007.  Seen as alarmist -- even unbelievable -- at that time the projection was vindicated by 2010 updates that reported accelerated criminal activity. ICG flagged extortion as Mexican business supply chain risk in 2010.  Mexican entities' consistent denials of this risk are not supported by facts on the ground.

The headlong industrial investment into Mexico by OEMs and large tier one and tier two suppliers belies real and growing supply disruption.  In fact OEMs and upper tier suppliers already have unidentified risks in their Mexican supply chains.

Unremediated risk rises from information gaps between a corporate investment or sourcing decision and on-the-ground local consequences for affected companies in Mexico. Examples:

Fearing retribution Mexican firms and their management deny or underreport violence. Maquiladora plants and their employees have long been victims of robbery, extortion and abduction yet underreport for fear of criminal retribution and upper tier de-sourcing.

Firms with extensive Mexican operations quietly curtail movement of visiting and expat personnel.  An OEM client asked a tier one electrical supplier to accompany its staff on a multi-facility benchmarking effort including Mexican facilities.  The supplier declined noting that they no longer send US staff to Mexico due to risk of criminal harm.

Supplier operations can suffer reduced quality and/or increased costs as long as these under-reported risks remain unresolved. There are solutions that mitigate these risks but these remedies must be tailored and monitored to be effective.  A one-size-fits-all approach would be needlessly expensive and cumbersome and would overlook site-specific risks to plants and personnel.

Successful protective responses that adapt to emerging and changing threats exist and are best performed early, even at the supplier/site selection stage. Protective responses performed at a later date will have to accommodate legacy risks in site selection, hiring, and contractor selection. While the second condition is the industry norm, in all cases a cost-effective preemptive security response will include:

Asset Value Assessment (Assess value of the facility, process, personnel to be protected which is needed to estimate an appropriate cost of protection. If the protective cost is too high or the target is too vulnerable the function may have to be relocated.)
  •  Threat/Hazard Assessment (Specific nature and scope of the threat(s) which is essential to design the minimum effective protective response.)
  • Vulnerability Assessment (Assess vulnerability of the target(s) to attack.)
  • Risk Assessment (Assess risk from each threat actor or group, the likelihood of attack and the likely damage of an attack.)
  • Risk Management (Continuous management of pertinent threats and appropriate responses.)

Mexico's Low Cost Country (LCC) Position

ICG has long recognized Mexico is a low cost country (LCC) in terms of total chain cost, as opposed to many Asian piece part costs that are not low cost when total chain costs are considered. While this view is vindicated by the inclusion of Mexico in backshoring (repatriating manufacturing) to the "US local" region (defined as the US, Canada and Mexico), conditions on the ground in Mexico have deteriorated to the point that even the industrial heart of Mexico is at risk. Disruptions in Nuevo Leon (Monterrey) are proof that all of Mexico faces these risks. Investor optimism regarding crime as a temporary problem is unsupported by the Mexican trade and popular press.

Mexican firms often conceal risk for a variety of reasons such as extortion threats to Mexican employees and their families, desire to keep the parent firm from pressing organizational changes at the Mexican firm, or to shield local financial operations.

Mexico's Rising Cost of Security

Negligible only a few years ago, small and medium-sized companies "operating in and around Monterrey in 2011 were spending 5 percent of cash flow on security." From If Monterrey falls, Mexico falls:

Even if manufacturing is showing some resilience, security costs are growing, while moving goods up to the U.S. border and to neighboring states is getting riskier. 

Small and medium-sized companies operating in and around Monterrey are spending 5 percent of cash flow on security, a cost that was negligible just five years ago, while firms selling GPSs, alarms, locks and cameras in Monterrey have seen a 20 percent jump in annual profits in three years, according to Monterrey's commerce, retail and tourism chamber.

"If you look at the figures, companies are still investing, but there's a lot of evidence that the money is being diverted into security, not into research and development... This is money that's going into barbed wire fences, not solar panels and that is going to hurt competitiveness in the long term."

In extreme circumstances, such costs can go much higher, rising to 40+% of the operating budget as happened in high threat periods in Africa and the Americas.

Security costs are far lower when remediation is commenced early, before criminals have come to perceive the company as a target.

Mexican News Blackouts Do Not Imply Improvement

Monterrey, for example, has receded from the headlines without a significant reduction in crime. On the ground, the Gulf Cartel with the assistance of the Sinaloa Cartel reasserted control over significant areas of the city and substituted a less violent but equally aggressive control.

This new arrangement coupled with a government mandated reduction of crime related news and redirection (such as claims that violence was geographically bounded; that most deaths were linked to organized crime members - none of which were correct) largely removed Monterrey from the US mainstream press.

Organized crime does its part by intimidating and killing journalists. Dozens were killed during the Calderon Hinojosa administration's actions against cartel leaders. Intimidation and horrific crimes against the press have continued under the Pena Nieto administration, primarily in northern states along the US border. The result is self-censorship among Mexico's regional news outlets.

The election of Pena Nieto and the return of the PRI accelerated the PR campaign without significantly altering the national level of violence. The government stopped announcing arrests, seizures, and operational details of security policy, while deflecting the public agenda onto topics such as the automotive sector (the "new Detroit") and export growth.

The Risk Tree

A ranking of least risk to greatest risk would typically contain this vulnerability hierarchy:

1.    Global investors.  [Least Risk]

2.    Corporate or group level management.

3.    In-country expat management.

4.    Tier 1, 2, 3... tier N suppliers.

5.    Employed local nationals.

6.    Local nationals in industries and services outside the top tier and its suppliers.

7.    Citizenry of the region. [Greatest Risk]

The issues that routinely confront Mexican citizens and most of its industries are either unknown to, have no effect upon, or do not enter into the risk calculation of the more insulated and least risky parts of the hierarchy (typically groups 1. And 2.).  Friedman's "How Mexico Got Back in the Game" states an opinion typical of US/EU corporate decision makers that will elect to produce in Mexico.[1] At their remote risk/high reward level, Mexico makes perfect sense.

Mexican companies immediately adjacent to US/EU companies can have very different risks. A company's size, skill and location in the tier supply chain often make a substantial difference in its threat posture. While large manufacturers do consider their immediate risks they often do not take into account the susceptibility of their supply chain to predation and interruption.

See Realistic Supply Chain Transparency

Capacity at tier (from top tier or OEM down to smaller, isolated tier suppliers) is an important factor generally overlooked in risk analysis because there is no single security or risk rating for all companies in a state or region.  A major supplier may have the size, revenue, processes and training to better protect its commodities, personnel, plants and finished goods. 

An example would be a large supplier's ability to assemble a convoy of vehicle transporters escorted by vetted, paid Mexican federal police officers. Yet a smaller supplier that may be physically located next door to the larger supplier is vulnerable precisely because it lacks those resources.  Furthermore, hourly workers at these lower tier suppliers are completely vulnerable to criminal predation at work, at home and in transit.

While criminal elements can strike both expat and Mexican nationals of US/EU firms, attacks against expats generally occur at much lower frequency, are opportunistic or simply a result of accidentally "being in the wrong place" events.  Thefts of inbound commodities and outbound finished goods are increasing in Mexico. In addition, both contraband (usually narcotics) and counterfeit goods are being inserted in shipments bound for the US.  

Mexican industry and local suppliers fare worse as criminal elements attack wide tiers of industry and society.  Criminals have long troubled maquiladora plants with robbery, extortion, abduction and murder of maquiladora workers and family members. Extortion payments by maquiladoras are rising despite silence from the victims of these crimes.  Lower tier suppliers remain silent for fear that publicity will result in retaliation by criminal elements and/or upper tiers will resource their business elsewhere.

Certain automotive parts are candidates for criminal extortion intended to choke vehicle production. Manufacture of wiring harnesses for North American assembly have been highly localized in Mexico.  Criminal interruption to this wiring harness nexus would impact a significant portion of US vehicle production.

Because of these many variations the risks to a particular supplier and that supplier's appropriate remediation strategies must be analyzed on a case by case basis.

Extortion Is Now a Pervasive National Threat

Extortion [extorsion], also called "illegal protection" [proteccion ilegal], is now rampant in Mexico.

Extortion includes activities that imply coercion of the victim by an agent distinct from the state. Successful extortion demands that said agent demonstrate a reputation for the use of force against those who refuse to pay for their services. High levels of violence coupled with participation of police confer impunity on the extortionist.

Extortion is economically depressive, a production-less crime, i.e., criminals have only to tax without having to produce and sell a product. Long present in Mexico, extortion has surged as part of criminal diversification beyond narcotics into extortion and kidnapping, costing Mexico one percent of GDP. We call it an unsustainable societal tax that continues to grow, in part, because it is so easy to raise incremental demand without risk or cost to the attacker.

Mexican assets are highly vulnerable to predation despite denials from the Mexican side of the supply chain that a problem exists. There is immediate loss, possibly death, to the victim; retribution to both the victim and his/her family members for any corroboration or public comment; and forced induction of locals into the criminal apparatus.

Mexican statistics are supremely underreported as individuals refuse to report extortion as the police are either directly running the extortion, or managing gangs running the extortion. Businesses and individuals pay as long as they can, then close or are harmed when they cannot.

The breathtaking penetration of Mexico's commercial sector has allowed the narcotics trade to diversify their revenue streams and reduce their net organizational risk while the economic loss to Mexico continues to rise.

Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

Mexican supply chains are notable for insider threats (co-opting/threatening employees), supply chain threats (takeover of labor providers, sub-suppliers and shippers); and expropriation (forced sale/turnover of companies and assets).

Primary extraction industries (mining, petroleum, timber) have been a staple of Mexican criminal interest, from hardwood timbering on native lands in the south, to illegal bunkering/skimming of PEMEX petroleum in the east, to silver, gold and iron mining in western Mexico.

The dining, bar, brothel, and storefront sector - virtually anything with a fixed address for customers - has already been brought under monthly extortion or driven out of business (as testified by the thousands of shuttered businesses).

The focusing of criminal predation against the Mexican side of the supply chain is good business because:

  • Targeted employees and families are local, accessible and defenseless.
  • The cost of predation is low while the reward is high.
  • Local predation does not attract significant US political and police attention.
  • Mexican authorities compound the problem by limiting access when US assets make inquiries against local predations.

Extortion's Rising Disruption

Extortion, theft and contraband continue to increase in the Mexican supply side. Extortion risk is already present to maquiladora employees and the maquilas themselves. We have already seen limited jumps to the US/EU side in areas of transport, power interruption and contraband insertion into parcel carriers and corporate shipping containers (especially damaging to C-TPAT suppliers as it may negatively impact their expedited customs clearance).

The US/EU side of the supply chain strives at all costs to have no appearance of unreliability to its upper tiers and investors alike. Being seen as a potentially unreliable supplier is to invite a resourcing review by an upper tier and/or see the company's share price suffer. As a result the US/EU side of the supply chain is willing to under-report the risks.

We see the entry point for extortion shifting in the automotive supply chain. Initially it was Mexican tier suppliers but has now expanded to Mexican employees of US/EU firms. Mexican nationals are desperate not to talk about these threats for a variety of reasons, e.g., personal threats, termination/reassignment and fear of driving an upper tier supplier to resource.

As a result, it is difficult for Mexican firms to execute genuinely rigorous security assessments as too many points are open to compromise.

US/EU supply chains in Mexico will face greater risk from compromised firms and individuals on the Mexican supply chain side. Crossover will occur as one or more criminal groups become more aggressive vis-a-vis its peers, more acquisitive for revenue, and simultaneously less fearful of US response. Once the Mexican chain side is consumed (offers no further share growth), there is only taking market share from competitors and entering new markets such as the US/EU suppliers.

Unfortunately most commercial firms have a defensive (target) mentality that prohibits seeing themselves through an attacker's eyes. Gaining the potential to influence outcomes demands an ability to see into the attackers' assessment of risk and uncertainty.

Tailored Solutions Under a Governing Architecture

Prepared companies select risk to accept by design. The unprepared or poorly advised company blindly accepts risk by default. Such firms will continually put their assets and personnel at risk.

Preparedness for such eventualities means that needed security measures are identified and quickly put in place to ensure that the company is operating with a layered defense against current and emerging threats.

Preparedness means that the company will be able to demonstrate its commitment to a genuine preemptive protection of its employees, dependents and suppliers. Risk assessment and mitigation must be performed without triggering reprisal by adversaries.

Local and international press disclosures need to be managed as the company reduces security risk without raising uncertainty or concern on the part of any customer or partner.

Resolution commences with real world risk assessments and recommendations followed by implementation and subsequent review of what succeeded and what requires correction. Successful risk resolution implies business and supply chain continuity, thus company managers are co-participants in the assessment and implementation effort.

Choose Deflection Over Confrontation to Minimize Risk

Given the high threat environment in certain areas, operations must be conducted with the highest level of control and security in all phases, as both Mexican security forces and operating criminals can be expected to be on high alert for any counter-surveillance.

Criminal groups in Mexico can deliver more firepower than most companies are willing to sustain. A corporate response that confronts or challenges such criminal groups invariably draws unacceptable reprisal against staff, facilities and product.

Effective, lower cost, lower risk responses focus on deflecting hostile attention without confrontation. Criminals make a risk-reward calculation just as businesses do. Effective security must drive up their level of uncertainty, thereby moving them onto a more docile or unprepared victim.

Assessments must be performed in a highly compressed timetable to address existing and needed security risk mitigation efforts in the critical areas of key personnel (including dependents), facility operations and transport of commodities and finished goods.

Implementation must focus on specific and actual security risk management matters that will need the company's immediate, short term and medium term attention. The initial assessment should serve the company as an extendable regional template that can be applied to security risk management across the company's operating portfolio.

Company managers and staff must be taught tools and skills so as to understand what has been working, why it has worked, what should be changed and how urgently this needs to occur. Skills training is needed to build core competencies in key areas of operating risk management specific to security and safety risks.

Each protection program must be designed for the actual threat environment in a specific location, and must produce a security risk mitigation effort that will generate assessments, briefings, decision points, implementation plans and immediate effectiveness reviews.

Beyond this immediate scope, company personnel must gain a broader ability to ensure continuity of operations in any deteriorating security environment and provide the company a basis for balancing resources while ensuring effective security risk management.

Proven Solution Paths Do Exist

All firms, and most certainly firms seen as high value targets, must continuously address three vulnerability areas:

  • Pricing model compromise (Tier supply chain events, supplier outsourcing, subcontracting, tertiary services such as trucking, etc.).
  • Corporate core (Company/research, R&D hives, manufacturing, warehousing).
  • Human resources (Personnel data.)

Each of these areas, singly and in combination, are best examined by Design Basis Threat (DBT) process (originally created to protect nuclear facilities and weapons) to define and adjust specific responses to specific threats. This Threat Analysis entered the mainstream in the wake of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

As the threats change so must the protective responses change. DBT is adaptive, can be taught and embedded in normal business operations to be monitored by company personnel. As security is embedded, there is no added organizational layer for security.

The top level steps in this dynamic process are:

  • Asset Value Assessment (Assess value of the facility, process, personnel to be protected which is needed to estimate an appropriate cost of protection. If the protective cost is too high or the target is too vulnerable the function may have to be relocated.)
  • Threat/Hazard Assessment (Specific nature and scope of the threat which is essential to design the minimum effective protective response.)
  • Vulnerability Assessment (Degree of vulnerability of the target(s) to attack.)
  • Risk Assessment (Assessment of risk from any actor or group, the likelihood of attack and the likely damage of an attack.)
  • Risk Management (Continuous management of pertinent threats and appropriate responses.)

Necessary Risk Remediation Activities in Mexico

In potentially high threat environments such as Mexico, all associated surveillance must be performed by skilled personnel in a completely non-alertive manner as many criminal groups will assume that an unknown person or group is a hostile competitor to be immediately eliminated.

Affected firms will need a partner that can perform a thorough threat analysis and a calibrated response that includes:

  • Actionable intelligence at national, regional and situational levels
  • Outreach to authorities and relevant entities
  • Executive protection
  • Facility protection and upgrade steps
  • Transportation protection of raw materials and finished goods
  • Vetting employees and contractors to reduce insider threats

Each step must be executed with precision and with continuous monitoring of any changes that alter the inbound threats.


#Mexico #SupplyChain #Risk #Extortion #Corruption

[1] Thomas L. Friedman, "How Mexico Got Back in the Game", The New York Times, February 23, 2013:  11.



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Realistic Supply Chain Transparency

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Realistic Supply Chain Transparency

 

Supply chain risk mitigation cannot now be achieved without transparency through Tier 2 overall and Tiers 3 to 5 on both core competency components and essential manufacturing commodities.

 

Critical, core competency components and essential manufacturing commodities must be identified more deeply as either criminal interdiction, M&A buyout or natural calamity can put a critical supplier offline.

 

The Golden Rule: Know Who makes What Where How at Tier.

 

Realistic chain transparency

 

ICG implemented this level of supply chain analysis in 2011 as its standard for chain transparency and risk mitigation after evaluating eight event series:

 

(1) 2004-to-date Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) incursions against companies and personnel in Mexico.

 

(2) 2004-to-date Global Intellectual Property (IP) harvesting by Chinese, Russian and other state-related assets.

 

(3) 2011 Japanese earthquake/tsunami. Multiple tier impacts.

 

(4) 2010 Chrysler US east coast supplier flooding.

 

(5) 2011 Thailand OEM/multiple tier flooding.

 

(6) Impact to a segment by the entry of an Apple-like firm with similar mastery, manipulation and price suppression of key industries.

 

(7) Corruption risks, notably BRIC and emerging markets.

 

(8) Lanthanide (rare earth elements) monopoly and hostile export restriction by China.

 

Consequence convergence

 

Supply chain risk mitigation cannot now be achieved without transparency through Tier 2 overall and Tiers 3 to 5 on both core competency components and essential manufacturing commodities. (The ultimate buyer is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or Tier 0.)

 

Critical, core competency components and essential manufacturing commodities must be identified more deeply as either criminal interdiction, M&A buyout or natural calamity can put a critical supplier offline.

 

ICG sees consequence convergence between (1) criminal supply chain predations, (2) natural disaster impacts (e.g., earthquake, tsunami and flood), (3) repositioning and localization shifts in global supply chains, (4) supply embargos with political intent and (5) commercial supply chain risks.

 

Highly critical, core competency components and essential manufacturing commodities must be identified more deeply as either Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) interdiction, M&A buyout or natural calamity can put a critical supplier offline, perhaps permanently. The Chinese are examining US and EU supply chains for such pickoffs.

 

OEM/top tier manufacturers err in thinking that they have acceptable transparency with Tier 1 identification. That is a false positive as Tier 1 is often (even very often) as much assembler as manufacturer. Many strategic components or processes are at the Tier 2 to Tier 5. Any and all are subject to penetration or interruption.

 

In terms of compliance response, ICG has seen entities affect supply chain realignments to move potential trouble points below the mandated Tier 1 review level, e.g., to Tier 2 and below. Risk remains for the incautious upper tier or Tier 0.

 

Today the ultimate buyer, the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or Tier 0, knows relatively little of their supply chains below their Tier 1 suppliers (those suppliers selling directly to the Tier 0.)

 

That superficial view is grossly insufficient. Without greater transparency, Top tier firms cannot protect themselves and their customers from strategic surprise and disruption.

 

The ICG supply chain Golden Rule: Know Who makes What Where, How at Tier.

 

In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami/earthquake, Toyota realized that it was vulnerable not knowing who made what where at tier. The firm publicly stated that it would gain that chain transparency. Two sources subsequently confirmed to ICG that Toyota had achieved its goal. We must suspect that Nissan is not far behind.

 

Tier 2 is a minimum. Witness the single Tier 2 bearing manufacturing that halted both Toyota and Nissan engine production. ‘Where’ is not enough; you need what will likely happen at ‘where’ and what happens along the transit path (which can be as simple as the 4X price rise of limes in Mexico due to criminal cartel regional road taxes).

 

The shift to local sourcing over Low cost country (LCC) sourcing will bring a surge of new OEM/Tier 1 orders to a supply base that can potentially overwhelm and consume existing suppliers’ current capacity, leaving upper tiers scrambling in a state of strategic surprise.

 

All an industry needs for disruption is for an entity to decide to become its sector Apple, a DTO understands the effortless blackmail and extortion at hand for the taking, the unanticipated impacts of a global sourcing realignment, or the next earth sciences calamity.

 

More than one disruption can occur simultaneously. There are frequent Ladder Effects where one failure compromising or weakening an adjacent process or entity.

 

Specific concerns

 

If Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) fully engage the US/EU Tier 0/Tier 1 automotive industry in Mexico in the manner which they have penetrated the Mexican automotive and mining industries, there will be a spike in corporate and personal extortion and kidnapping, as well as penetration and takeover of entire supply chains just a Mexico is poised to expand its manufacturing footprint under a Backshoring renaissance.

 

Backshoring has the potential to create supply chain capacity chokepoints as appropriate productions are repatriated.

 

CONUS (Continental US) and Mexican suppliers will benefit whereas Canadian suppliers will see negative impacts.

 

Backshoring’s manufacturing repatriation may begin to reduce one of the most massive involuntary Intellectual Property (IP) transfers caused by Tier 0/OEM firms driving suppliers to move design and manufacturing to the PRC.

 

OEMs and Tier 0 assembly plants surrender 100% of their IP in a joint venture regardless of the actual partner shares.

 

The scope of IP theft often escapes attention as it is outside the normal purchasing mindshare, yet its impacts are severe in both Direct and Indirect supply chains.


[Originally released to clients November, 2014]


#SupplyChain #Risk

 



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Miniaturization Threat Impact (MTI) system

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Identifying items at th
e edge of technology


It is an axiom at our shop that "items at the edge of technology" are often unrecognizable or unidentifiable by inspectors unfamiliar with the technology. Two characteristics most contributed to a lack of recognition, robbing the viewer of visual cues as to function:

  • Miniaturization - a reduction of size and form.
  • Integration (often a handmaiden of miniaturization) - the combination of functions of multiple items into a single item, itself often miniaturized.


Defenders too often fail to recognize miniaturization and integration as crucial components in risk evaluation. The emergence of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) that exhibit both miniaturization and functional integration are already complicating timely identification of risky items. (Also see Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center and search the domain for "mems".)


We expects fluid conditions as defenders expand their screening focus beyond larger, more recognizable items to include a proliferating class of smaller, cheaper items:

  • Unexpected, innovative and non-traditional methods will proliferate, finding broad applicability.
  • Targets will have changing vulnerabilities, technological abilities and associated risks.
  • Attackers' tactics will evolve in methods and operational activities from internal technological "lift" and as a response to changes by their targets.
  • Short of nation state confrontations, conventional operations will draw less interest as adversaries will look to escape retaliation and the cost of investments required to underwrite an overt effort.
  • Unless we design with the asymmetrical adversary in mind, such adversaries will continue to find ways to bypass our defenses and exploit our vulnerabilities. Such asymmetric operations will have common characteristics:
    • Small-scale high-impact operations.
    • Operations performed with greater efficiency and effectiveness, both to minimize footprint and discovery and to conserve organizational resources, in order to achieve maximum results.
    • Rise in operations taken to address ideological causes and this applies equally to fringe Muslim fundamentalists and single-issue groups such as Earth Liberation Front (ELF).


Creating a generalized risk assessment hierarchy

Done for the US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), a pilot Miniaturization Threat Impact (MTI) system capable of classifying threats from miniaturization and integration was developed.


Risk characteristics spanning easily known to insufficiently known to otherwise unknown items were captured in a generalized risk assessment tree (from least to greatest risk):


LEAST RISK 
  1. Primary function is identifiable from life experience and general training.
  2. Primary function is identifiable from specific industry/technology experience.
  3. Dual use/unintended use is ascertainable from specialized training and added knowledge-base.
  4. Miniaturization (function no longer evident) becomes difficult to defeat.
  5. Functional integration (embedding multiple functions by virtue of miniaturization) is difficult to defeat.

GREATEST RISK

The relative ease or difficulty of identification scaled appropriately (from easy to most difficult):

IDENTIFICATION WITH EASE
  • Generalists were good at #1, generally poor at all others.
  • Specialists were good at #1 and #2, generally poor at all others.
  • #3 much harder as it requires understanding of function(s) and the ability to transfer those characteristics to new objects, especially for a "good enough" capacity.
  • Highly skilled and frequently retrained specialists might address #4 on an irregular basis. 
  • Miniaturization and Integration #5 were effectively undefeatable in the short to medium term.

IDENTIFICATION MOST DIFFICULT
 
Capabilities difficult to automate


The author's ability to identify dual-use capability (can be used for both civil and military use) and "unintended use" capability (can be used for unintended or unimagined applications) proved difficult to transfer to existing staff without extensive retraining. Existing staff were either Generalists good at #1, or modest Specialists good at #1 and #2. Staff were, in effect, being asked to perform a role for which they had no prior experience.


Implications going forward


The glide slope to the desktop that brings increasingly greater capacity in smaller form factors at lower cost to the lay user or asymmetrical attacker will continue. Capability and/or lethality will rise even as components shrink.


Google Glass as an example in transition


"Wearables" (properly named the wearable computing market) has moved beyond early adopter status, but its three segments have varying degrees of acceptance:

  • Complex accessories - "operate partially independent of any other device, but fully operate when connected with IP-capable devices".
  • smart accessories - similar to complex accessories but allow users to add third-party applications.
  • smart wearables (notably Google Glass) - "function with full autonomy, independent of any other device except to access the Internet".

While it is now said to be a question of "when" and not "if" the wearables segment extends into the enterprise, aggressive miniaturization and integration continues to drive social unease - with more women than men in the negative. Google might benefit from flooding trusted segments with subsidized Glass, e.g., physicians, essential technicians, police and military. From Pew:

[P]ublic attitudes towards ubiquitous wearable or implanted computing devices are the most positive, or more accurately, the least negative. Although 53% of Americans think it would be a bad thing if “most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them,” just over one third (37%) think this would be a change for the better

The glide slope to the desktop will continue to accelerate as Google has already received a patent for smart contact lenses with built-in cameras and other sensors such as infrared. The technical, police and military implications are staggering.


Today's Google Glass will by then have ceased to be an issue as people look carefully at your eyes to see if you are reality augmented. I would expect a certain class of detectors to emerge to detect wearers of such contacts. And they will be mounted in contact lens, or embedded in the wearer's biologic eyes.


Readers are recommended to read up on transhumanism.


U.S. Views of Technology and the Future
Science in the next 50 years
Aaron Smith, Lee Rainie, Michael Dimock
Pew Research Center
APRIL 17, 2014


Google invents smart contact lens with built-in camera: Superhuman Terminator-like vision here we come
By Sebastian Anthony
ExtremeTech
April 15, 2014 at 8:53 am


Don't blink or you'll miss this: Google to put cameras in contact lenses
By Michael McEnaney
Tech Times
April 15, 6:07 PM


Worldwide Wearable Computing Market Climbing to Nearly 112 Million in 2018, Says IDC
The Financial
12/04/2014 16:36


#Gogleglass #Wearables #Risk


Gordon Housworth



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Mexico's cartels are rational actors

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An abbreviated version appeared as Mexican Gangs: Not Monsters, but Rational Actors at InSight Crime on 2 September, 2011.

 

Though gaining notoriety for their brutality, Mexico's organized criminal groups are rational actors who respond to market dynamics. If not forced into a showdown or a loss of face, their behavior can be influenced.

 

The prevailing narrative in the Mexican press is one of irrationality, of monsters on the loose, but reality is the exact opposite. Yes, their methods are harsh and designed to compel compliance, but their intense violence and cruelty is driven by objectives that can, with expert guidance, be used to positively influence the threat they pose.

 

These groups are competing to prosper in a fragmenting and hypercompetitive market that has seen its primary market (drugs) face competitive pressure and so force entry into new markets (corporate and personal extortion, kidnapping, robbery and oil theft).

 

The leadership of these rational actors are actively trying to reduce both their own risk and their ‘costs of doing business' while maximizing profit. Properly guided, potential targets (companies and personnel) can take advantage of this ongoing feature of criminal planning and activity.

 

Mexican criminals mimic African warlords

 

Analysis of African "Blood Diamond" warlord behavior is directly applicable to the 'commercial responses' of Mexican criminal enterprises, i.e., similar operating drivers, methods, ferocity and absence of restraint. Both cartels and warlords are attempting to extract wealth from areas under their control while repelling competitors. In Africa it is minerals extraction. In Mexico it was transit rights to service the US drug market but has now diversified into wholesale extortion and other crimes. Writing in 2008:

 

Individuals are goal-oriented and adaptive, and will attempt to reach their goals by what they see as the easiest and least costly or most efficient means. (Rationality does not have to be a universally agreed-upon mindset.)...

 

"Blood diamonds" [is] a special case [of] resource-based means of civil war. To the degree that any primary extraction process can be sequestered by a powerful minority, the opportunity for conflict, extortion, and interruption rises. Coupling this concept with the fact that most wars today occur within nations rather than between them, the risk analysis of investing firms should be reevaluated...

 

Collier and Hoeffler found that conflicts occur when rebels respond rationally to market opportunities, much as entrepreneurs and investors do. Civil wars that are so often blamed on chaotic, irrational ethnic, religious and communal feuds now have a unifying thread:

 

"Rebels need to meet a payroll without actually producing anything, so they need to prey on an economic activity that won't collapse under the weight of the predation... Natural resources is a good one. The same characteristics that make a commodity readily taxable -- that it's rooted to a spot, it can't move -- makes it readily lootable, too."...

 

Negotiation short of warfare between opponents in both regions is extremely difficult as there is no defined 'court system' to adjudicate grievances and no external entity to enforce compliance to agreements. The result is that the conflict groups take the least risky path of immediately attempting to eliminate their opponents in a winner-take-all effort. Again from 2008:

 

While most interstate wars end in a negotiated settlement, the majority of intrastate conflicts end with the extermination, expulsion, or complete surrender of one side. Civil wars with a communitarian or ethnic dimension are especially difficult to negotiate and the most likely to result in protracted strife, and closely mapping to the African experience, often go on for years and sometimes decades. Szayna and Tellis note that the reason is straightforward:

 

"To end intrastate strife the warring sides must lay down arms and respect an agreement usually in the absence of a legitimate government and under conditions in which the agreement is generally unenforceable. In conditions of communitarian strife [it is] especially difficult for the two sides to go on coexisting in the same state. Put differently, there are only two main pathways for the regulation of ethnic conflict:

 

1.    Eliminating the differences (genocide, forced transfer of population, partition/secession, and integration/assimilation);

2.    Managing the differences (hegemonic control, arbitration by third party, federalization, and power-sharing)."

 

Because the trust that would allow for management of differences is absent once conflict starts, it is understandable that elimination of the differences becomes the preferred choice and that many ethnic and communitarian conflicts end up in prolonged and bloody strife, sometimes mixed in with attempts at genocide and complete elimination of the other side:

 

"Because of the unenforcibility of an internal agreement to end intrastate conflict, third-party intervention is usually required to guarantee the agreement and, even then, the intervening forces easily may become caught up in the continuing struggle between the belligerents. But without an intervention, the simmering intrastate strife may well spawn an international crisis, either in the form of a humanitarian disaster or because a neighboring state becomes drawn into the internal strife and, as a result, creates a regional conflict and the potential for an interstate war."

 

Criminal actions that appear irrational to the public have very sound operational and profit-driven motives.

 

Mexico’s three converging threat trends

 

Three trends are converging to broaden exposure of personnel and commercial assets to criminal predation:

 

1)    Territorial incursions and expulsions among cartels: Increasingly splintered criminal groups violently attempting territorial incursions and expulsions of their competitors. Such attempts are typically extremely violent.

2)    Revenue expansion beyond drugs: Established expansion of cartel focus to personal and corporate extortion, and commercial penetrations and takeovers.

3)    Lessened reticence to target foreign nationals and firms: Increasing effectiveness of formerly covert US-Mexican military cooperation is lessening cartel sensitivity to antagonizing the US.

Territorial struggles and splintering of violent groups:

 

President Calderon's effort to dismember the largest cartels by focusing upon their leadership ranks has backfired. Deprived of senior leadership, second tier members have broken away and formed their own criminal groups.

 

These increasingly splintered criminal groups are violently contesting both their former groups and other new groups, each attempting to penetrate competitors' territory and expel the former owners. In some cases this has resulted in many entities fighting over smaller territories with increasing violence. The recent arson attack against the Casino Royale in Monterrey is being cited as one such extortion effort, but in early stages it is difficult to distinguish extortion from expulsion.

 

Revenue expansion beyond drugs:

 

The post 11 September tightening of US borders increased cartel costs of moving narcotics to market. While significant quantities are continue to get through, as evidenced by no increase in US street prices, greater volumes have to be sent north to maintain that flow. Cartels soon discovered their own citizens as consumers and commenced a now vibrant narcotics addiction inside Mexico. A cheaper street price, yes, but lower costs with much less risk.

 

The next significant leap was institutionalized extortion of businesses large and small as well as individuals. Largely unpublicized until now, this 'tax' upon Mexican commerce has reached epidemic proportions up and down Mexican supply chains. Thousands upon thousands of businesses have closed while the better financed have relocated the businesses as well as their owners to the US. Cartel responses to this last step have been to scour social media sites to look for relatives still in Mexico that can be kidnapped for ransom against the fleeing owners.

 

Criminal enterprises have long penetrated the petroleum sector and have now moved into penetrating commercial firms and their suppliers to the point of taking over entire supply chains or taking revenue from large portions of the chain.

 

These more recent revenue streams have exhaustively targeted Mexican nationals but as the Mexican target set declines due to predation, closure and emigration, criminal groups will turn to foreign assets and those entities that have immobile fixed investments in country.

 

Lessened reticence to target US and foreign nationals and firms:

 

We have frequently commented on US drone overflights of Mexican soil, including the March 16 observation, "Drones in various formats have been over Mexico for some time. What is new is the open admission coupled with deep penetration, multi-sensor efforts. Vetted sharing is also up," it is clear that such missions are accelerating along a wide spectrum of communications, photographic, radar and signature intelligence collection.

 

This increasingly rich intelligence stream is being put to operational use by vetted, isolated silos of Mexican assets operating with US intelligence, even launching from US soil. A US military officer said, "The military is trying to take what it did in Afghanistan and do the same in Mexico."

 

The upshot of this cooperation will inevitably be increasing direct criminal activity against foreign firms, including US nationals and firms, which criminal groups have heretofore largely sought to avoid lest they draw US retaliation. Once formerly 'retaliatory' actions become common, these criminal groups will have less to lose in reacting to US efforts and confronting foreign commercial assets.

 

Preemptive recommendations for their commercial targets:

 

The security situation in Mexico, and notably Monterrey, is deteriorating at an accelerating pace as threats worsen country-wide. Risks long keenly felt by Mexican nationals are becoming evident to foreign nationals and firms.

 

Criminal behavior must be influenced early, during target selection. This cannot be accomplished without a systematic approach to protecting potential targets. Cost and risk rise dramatically once your personnel and assets have been selected as targets. The worst days of Colombia saw security costs reaching as high as fifty percent of operating revenue.

 

Commercial firms do not understand their three options and if, how and when to employ them:

 

·         Deflect (move hostile intent to another target)

·         Defer (delay hostile efforts)

·         Defend (interdict an incipient hostile attack)

 

The successful approach to defend, defer, or deflect an attacker is almost all proactive process with a modest amount of strategically placed hardware that has a specific value to the process - one variant of which is to prevent, deter, prepare, detect, respond, recover, and mitigate.

 

Remember that these rational criminal actors are actively trying to reduce both their own risk and their ‘costs of doing business’ while maximizing profit. As Defend is rarely a response option against such heavily armed opponents, commercial firms gravitate to Deflect and Defer.

 

Properly guided, potential targets (enterprises and personnel) can take advantage of this ongoing feature of criminal planning and activity to make their protection more effective and the targets they present less attractive than other potential targets under surveillance by these criminal groups.

 

Surveillance for target identification and selection, for example, has become more costly to criminal groups as their competitors ambush one another’s surveillance team or track them back to their operating bases. Targets seen as predictable and less risky quickly rise up the targeting queue.

 

Systematic improvements in protective options need to be undertaken before it is too late to take advantage of effective and relatively inexpensive options.


To avoid this fate, firms need to move quickly and deploy a systematic program. A well designed plan could be decisive in helping the company steer clear of the considerable losses, pain and reputation damage that await its peers in Mexico.

 

Gordon Housworth




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The emerging Zeta Region

  #

First version of Zeta Region was originally released at Frontera List, Wed, 6 Apr 2011 12:53:58 -0400


The implications of Grann's A Murder Foretold* and Cirino's Latin America's Lawless Areas and Failed States are part and parcel of why I pay attention to the Zetas**, Zetas with gangs, Zetas in the Isthmus region, etc. Was in Guat decades ago when the military intelligence and commando units were "draining the sea" by day and the guerrillas were terrorizing those still alive by night. The only worse mass horrors were Africa. (The Indios to this day are still fodder for abuse, forced relocation and predation at will.)


Zetas unlike their criminal competitors


The Zetas are unlike other criminal groups of interest; they think strategically in a manner that I do not see in other cartels. A group of such vision is not one to overlook the corrupt, cooperative partner at hand. Guatemala is already a near-narcostate and almost went that way in a formal sense in a recent presidential election.


The Zetas are also positioned adjacent to, and in, Guatemala with the assets and skills to exploit a cooperative partnership with Guatemalan establishment enablers.


At the low end, the Zetas are already removing indigenous Guat drug competitors while recruiting Guat nationals. The moneyed oligarchy at the top will provide protection and influence for a price. See my earlier F-L note on Zetas now being the superior force against a weak Guatemalan state.


An emerging Zeta Region


Zetas are solidifying an arc from the Texas plazas south thru PEMEX and its illegal oil bunkering bonanza, through Chiapas and into Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala and its routes east to the Pan Am Highway and the Caribbean. (The Zetas are sufficiently adroit to have also commenced an out-of-area op to stake a position on the west coast (Colima, et al) to have access to inbound Chinese weapons, meth precursors and other contraband.)


The Zetas are forming cooperative partnerships with Latin gangs in the Central American/Isthmus corridor, going so far as to train the more aggressive members of what have long been described as hyperviolent gangs.

I submit that the Zetas want nothing less than to solidify their control along the Central American corridor.


 Such control would enable the Zetas to achieve a chokehold on the Isthmus drug pipeline, currently thought to be moving the largest percentage of cocaine into Mexico and then onto the US and Canada.


The Zetas will be able to control supply, either monopolizing and/or taxing transport to other buyers.


It is not unreasonable to suspect that other cartel groups understand the Zetas' direction and looking at variations of planning a countermove, planning a shift in allegiance or wondering how much time that they have given the changes afoot.


Unless competing cartels achieve a heretofore absent operational grasp, or external intervention backstops the remaining functional Guatemalan and Mexican assets, I see little on the horizon to slow the Zetas' advance.


* Grann does not mention any specific cartel. What Grann's story brought out in prose more gracious than mine was the corrupt nature of the Guatemalan oligarchy in and out of government. Their willingness to buy and be bought is touching in its completeness.


** The use of the term, Zetas, specifically refers to the airmobile commandos that the US trained, that later went rogue, and became known as the Zetas. The Zetas shifted from Praetorian Guard to cartel, appearing to lose none of their operational focus in the bargain. In contrast, other cartels increasingly draft younger unskilled recruits that indiscriminately spray rounds. Bowden's sicario, among many others, makes this point of rising unskilled assets. The Zeta organization of which I speak is really remarkable, quite unlike the other cartels in so many ways. We subsequently trained the equivalent Kabiles in Guatemala that the Zetas are now recruiting. We put structure and vision, tactics and strategy, into these people. We made them; the blowback is severe.


A Murder Foretold

Unravelling the ultimate political conspiracy.
by David Grann
A Reporter at Large
New Yorker
April 4, 2011


RE: [frontera-list] El Salvador fears Mexico drug cartel violence overflow - BBC
Gordon Housworth
FRONTERA-LIST
Thu, 23 Dec 2010 13:05:42 -0500


International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Volume I
Drug and Chemical Control
March 1, 2010


Police and Public Security in Mexico
Edited by Robert A. Donnelly and David A. Shirk
University Readers
2009
FREE MIRROR


Bunkering in Mexico
By Fester
Newshoggers
June 30, 2009


Cartel Consolidation
By Fester

Newshoggers

March 03, 2009


In Mexico Drug War, Sorting Good Guys From Bad
By MARC LACEY
New York Times
November 2, 2008

Mafia & Co.: The Criminal Networks in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia
Juan Carlos Garzón
Translated by Kathy Ogle
The first edition of this book was published in June 2008 in Spanish.
This edition is an English language translation of the original.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars


Threat analysis: Organized crime and narco-terrorism in Northern Mexico
By Gordon James Knowles
Military Review
Vol 88 no 1, pp73-84
January-February 2008


A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil.
Max G. Manwaring

Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

ISBN 1-58487-334-5

December 2007


The Maras: A Menace to the America
by Federico Breve, former Minister of Defense of Honduras
Military Review
July-August 2007


Are the Maras Overwhelming Governments in Central America?
Steven C. Boraz and Thomas C. Bruneau
Military Review
Nov-Dec 2006


Persistent Surveillance for Border Security
Russ Graves
CEM IR&D
Mitre Technology Program
2006


The Urban Threat: Guerrilla and Terrorist Organizations
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity study, 1999
Small Wars Journal


Latin America's Lawless Areas and Failed States
An Analysis of the "New Threats"
Julio A. Cirino, Silvana L. Elizondo, Goeffrey Wawro
CHAPTER ONE of:
Latin American Security Challenges
A Collaborative Inquiry from North and South
Paul D. Taylor, Editor
Senior Strategic Researcher, U.S. Naval War College
Newport Paper Twenty-one
2004
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE
Newport, Rhode Island
ISSN 1544-6824


Mexican Intelligence at a Crossroad
Leroy, Christophe
SAIS Review - Volume 24, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2004, pp. 107-130
School of Advanced International Studies
The Johns Hopkins University Press


Gordon Housworth



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Mexican Anthology, March 2011 – April 2004

  #

 

Following items either directly address Mexico or include it as part of wider themes:

 

Mexican trends: further destabilization and penetration of commercial supply chains
2/28/2011

 

Assisting journalists: Are the Mexican vehicle explosions a "proper car bomb"?

9/18/2010

 

Applying pattern detection to the unsolved murder and abuse of Mexican women in Juarez

8/9/2010

 

Beyond Colombianization, Mexico is the Iraq, the Afghanistan, on our southern border

7/25/2010

 

Near-term global risks in the early weeks of the Obama administration

1/20/2009

 

Foreign vulnerability inherent in US globalization of its commercial and defense supply chains

5/6/2008

 

Mexican drug cartels make the leap from guns to IEDs: Expect risks in Mexico to rise

2/20/2008

 

In-the-wild attacks against electrical utilities coupled with extortion demands: implications for response to criminal and terrorist action

1/20/2008

 

Trends point towards Mexico's destabilization

9/25/2007

 

Symbiotic and predatory relationships between immigrant migration chains and supply chains

3/14/2006

 

Lengthening 'long war' in the Arc of Instability

11/15/2005

 

"Minus the landmines," a southern US border reminiscent of Iraq

3/26/2005

 

Maras: the Chechens on our doorstep

9/29/2004

 

While we're looking the other way -- tunnels?

4/27/2004

 

Gordon Housworth

 



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Mexican trends: further destabilization and penetration of commercial supply chains

  #

 

ICG recently updated its 2007 Mexican forecast, then seen as aggressive but now seen as on point.

 

Commentary in this article is designed as elaboration to, and be read along with, specific slide segments of the 2011 Border Wars: Are Your Company and Human Capital Safe? presentation.

 

Key takeaways:

  • Cartel activity moving beyond narcotics into increasing penetration of commercial supply chains for multiple purposes.
  • No internal Mexican solution is able to deal with this incremental, rising threat.
  • Business can still be transacted in concert with enhanced guidelines beyond piece part considerations.

OPENING REMARKS to 2011 update to ICG’s 2007 Mexican risk projection:

 

Nature of the threat

 

Having worked in the Americas, Middle East, Africa and Asia, we have seen conditions far worse than Mexico. Business is, and can be, done in Mexico. Problems facing businesses are not uniformly distributed (at either supplier tier or location) as some areas are clear or face diminished threat levels.

 

Our concern is that there are no factors in the Mexican economy effectively promoting correction or improvement of the trends we publicly identified in 2007.

 

Corruption is vastly wider in scope than ever experienced in Colombia. The amounts of money at play boggle the mind.

 

There are no blacks and whites in Mexico; there is no binary contest of good government against bad criminals. Instead, there are multiple groups of corrupt local, municipal, state, federal and judicial assets working in concert with various criminal cartels.

 

Different groups of the same police unit can be working for or with different cartels. There are honest members in various agencies, but their numbers are under pressure due to a combination of payoffs or death for failure to comply – what is called Plata o plomo, Silver or lead.

 

Cartel predation will continue to increase as it is a pure form of unrestrained, unregulated capitalism attempting to move to monopoly, likely a narcostate. Just as Adam Smith felt that capitalism must be regulated not because it is inefficient but because it is too efficient, cartel criminal actions should be regulated by the police and justice systems.

 

Those protective systems are unfortunately not up to the task, at least in Mexico. In the face of that rising void, our only forecast is a step series of increasing US interventions. We submit that training, joint cooperation, intelligence gathering, covert operations and interdiction are early steps along that path.

 

Hear, see, speak no evil

 

No party wants to publicly recognize Mexico’s failing state stature:

  • Commercial firms fear loss of business, investment and supply chain interruption.
  • Advisors fear loss of consulting revenue and client backlash.
  • Mexican authorities fear crisis of confidence.
  • US cannot tolerate a failed state on its border.
  • Criminal elements fear overt US intervention.

Consequently, we expect intervention to be held below the horizon as long as possible. Of the above actors, we suspect that it will be a cartel action that will draw matters into the open, galvanizing US public opinion in the process.

 

Unintended consequences of government offensive against the cartels

 

Cartels have been forced to diversify by attacks on their drug production and transport, both by the government and rival cartels. Those diversified areas now rival drug profits. If drugs were to disappear from the market, the cartels remain positioned to prosper and succeed.

 

Those diversified areas will increasingly bring criminal assets into, and adjacent to, commercial activities. We forecast expansion in:

  • Recurring ‘taxation’ (cuota) upon businesses in order for them to operate.
  • Criminal infiltration of tier suppliers.
  • Rising insertion of contraband packages into supplier shipments and/or contract shippers.
  • Criminal takeover/substitution of tier suppliers.
  • Rising threats to personnel. Mexico has gained the title, Kidnapping Capital, for example.

Impact on business

 

On an individual piece part basis, Mexico has bettered the ‘China Price’ -- the global lowest cost production price -- but we submit it has done so at structural costs to Mexico and its nationals that will become increasingly evident as time progresses.

 

Interestingly, we have found business to be immune to the future impact of these structural costs, preferring to focus upon immediate piece part savings and supply chain cost reductions. (If you work with purchasing officers, and know how most are compensated, you understand their near-term focus.)

 

The usual business process is to monetize risk such that short of relocation, production in troublesome areas, and transit to and from troublesome areas, is covered by allocating a premium. We submit that this process will not suffice once cartels increase their commercial penetration.

 

Companies and their staffs, both expat and national, have to better understand their risks by:

  • Region
  • Industry
  • Supply chains and their supply lines
  • Size of firm and/or Supply tier (An automotive OEM/manufacturer has very different risks than a Tier 3 in all respects)
  • Expat or Local nationals
  • Collateral effect (Who are you adjacent to? Who are you simply in the way of?)
  • Growth directions of criminal groups (constantly in flux)

PRESENTATION

 

Recapping the 2007 Forecast, slides 2-9, 12-16

Slides with a bracketed date, e.g., [2007], indicating the year published, recap the original forecast.

 

The 2007 forecast was based upon early symptoms of Calderón’s 2006 assault on the cartels. By late 2006, a cartel counterattack progression could be projected. Those Cartel counterattacks [2007] were seen as dire, even inflammatory, in 2007. The intervening four years have shown the forecast remains valid.

 

By 2011, the trends begin to accelerate in the absence of any realistic governors other than cartel retrenchment or an external intervention.

 

Then, and still today, much industrial calculation on supplier relocation/expansion is based upon the piece part landed cost, ignoring key Mexican factors.

 

Failing/failed state characteristics, slides 17-18

 

Mexico shares characteristics of both failing and failed states. The state still functions but substantial areas have passed from sovereign to criminal control, and criminal assets have forcefully inserted themselves into the legitimate commerce that remains, leaving citizens, employees and visitors at rising risk.

 

The slipping veil of denial, slides 19-22

 

Each for their own purposes, all parties - Mexican and US governments, commercial firms and their business advisories, and the criminal elements themselves - support denial of the country's substantive problems.

 

As noted in the introduction, all parties are attempting to maintain the status quo below the horizon as long as possible. Some observers have remarked that such denial on the commercial side is tantamount to fiduciary breech.

 

Of the many actors involved, we suspect that it will be a cartel action that will draw matters into the open, galvanizing US public opinion in the process.

 

While many cite snippets of Chargé d’Affairs John Feeley’s primmer on Mexico for a forthcoming Defense Bilateral Working Group, Feeley's text is so important that it should be read in its entirety:

Second to that would be the summary of: 

Round out your reading with these representative items and you will have entree to the severity of the situation:

The softer commercial voice, slide 23

 

Commenting early on of the banality of certain UN documents, I was advised that its materials destined for public release had to suffer the scrutiny of many diplomatic eyes intent on defending parochial interests. The result was often text that offended no one and omitted granular, actionable recommendations.

 

Commercial entities are often in similar orbit, desiring furtherance of business, avoiding offense to governments and key players, and damping down public risk issues that could interrupt business continuity.

 

Larger top tier OEMs such as GM, Volkswagen, Chrysler and Honda have much greater resources and more protected supply transport not available to their supply tier companies.

 

We also maintain that investors and more senior business echelons do not share the same risk horizon with local nationals and even expat employees. For the former it is a financial risk/reward calculation. For the latter it is more pressing.

 

My co-chair was an AmCham Mexico member who had authored Foreign Direct Investment in Mexico: Is Your Investment Safe? His document and presentation painted a largely risk free environment.

 

Two respected business advisory firms, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), here and here, and AlixPartners, here and here, document advantaged piece part savings for Mexican manufacturing and assembly without touching on other risk issues.

 

A more recent OECD report, Latin American Economic Outlook 2011, also painted a comforting view in print of all Latin America, Mexico included, but public comments by its contributors were more cautious. First the unintentional understatement by OECD economist, Jeff Dayton-Johnson:

At the macroeconomic level, Mexico probably has not suffered in terms of the orientation of foreign investors. They are still investing in the country,... For the people who live in the violent areas,” however, drug trafficking has “a very important negative impact,”

Then Banco Santander’s chief economist and director of strategy and analysis for Latin America, Jose Juan Ruiz indirectly points out the foreign investor’s immediate lack of shared risk with regards to Mexican investments:

Drug trafficking is “the fundamental threat” that Mexico must deal with, but there are no figures showing that foreign investors have been driven away by the violence...

 

“In the short-term, in the past 12 months, I have not seen any drop in tolerance for investing in Latin America because of the perception of narco risk, not even in Mexico,” ...

 

“I do not have any evidence today that somebody decided not to make an investment in Mexico because of the war on drugs,”...

 

“It is clear that (drug trafficking) imposes political costs” and “reduces the attractiveness of investment” in Mexico...

Closing with a unresolved Catch-22, Dayton-Johnson and Ruiz "agreed that the Mexican state must deal with the threats from drug traffickers" while flagging its lack of resources to do so:

"The capacity of the state" must be brought to bear on the problem in Mexico, Dayton-Johnson told Efe, noting that in other countries dealing with similar situations, such as Colombia, "they have apparently had some success in recent years."

 

"In Mexico, it is hard to see what the capacity of the state for dealing with this problem is,” Dayton-Johnson said, adding that “with the unbelievable financial resources available to the narcos, it is really difficult for a country with more limited resources to deal with such an opponent."

It is our opinion that such advisories along with the appropriate risk remediation guidelines should enshrined in the printed texts.

 

The dissenters, slide 24-26

 

Our consistent finding is that those closest to the threat, either as victim or police agent, see matters rather differently.

 

Mexican press

 

Among themselves, Mexicans speak candidly about rising crime, increasing criminal encroachment and inability of local, state and federal assets to interdict. One often has to get verbals as the Mexican press has been attacked to the point that it must self censor in order to stay alive. This is astounding to most US and EU nationals:

"You can openly criticize the president or the government ... In this administration, there has never been gag laws or censorship," Calderon said at the annual meeting of the Inter American Press Association, a Miami-based organization that groups newspapers across the Western Hemisphere.

 

"Now the great threat to freedom of expression in our country, and other parts of the world, without a doubt, is organized crime," Calderon added.

 

Many small newspapers in the most violent regions of Mexico, especially the northern areas bordering the United States, acknowledge that they no longer cover drug-gang violence because their reporters have been threatened or killed.

And here:

"We live under constant threats, like if a guy was pointing an AK-47 at you all the time,"...

 

Even stories published without a byline can be dangerous if a co-worker tips off criminals about the identity of the reporter...

 

The war between the cartels is being waged not just with assault rifles but with censorship of the press, preventing media outlets from reporting adverse stories or victories over rivals.

 

The threats sometimes come via cops on the cartels’ payrolls, journalists said, adding that crooked police intervene to get reporters to scrap a story.

 

"We only publish about 10 percent of the information, a lot of it ends up in the files,”... it was dangerous to let a drug capo know what you know when he rides around the city in a convoy with 40 armed men. “We wait until they kill him or arrest him,"...

 

Writing small bits is better, however, than the alternative, which is to "be a hero" and get the deadly visit from the hitmen...

 

Voluntarily working with the drug traffickers, like some reporters do, often because they have no choice, can become a sword pointed at your neck, the journalist said.

 

"If the narco seeks you out and you publish according to his instructions, you can appear to the public to be a mouthpiece for the cartel, and then the other gang will go looking for you,"...

Cartels are nothing if not thorough; beyond informally and formally extorting news staffs on the article selection and reporting end, they station pre-informed ‘bystanders’ to brief arriving news staffers, and report back any comments or questions posed by reporters.

 

Mexican business

 

We find it remarkable that the US/EU high street press continues to overlook the best Mexican business barometer, issued quarterly. From Beyond Colombianization, Mexico is the Iraq, the Afghanistan, on our southern border, 25 July, 2010:

Even the nominally legitimate Mexican business sector sees itself being destabilized. Deloitte México has issued a quarterly Business Barometer (Barometro de empresas) since April 2007, covering executive expectations, trends and current event impacts. (All reports are in Spanish, with some in English.)

 

[The] July 2010, Business Barometer 14 and prior, April 2010, Barometro de empresas 13, issues reflect markedly different concerns by business from the prior two quarters.

 

As late as January 2010, security was seen as a secondary, even moderate, threat:

 

October 2009, Business Barometer 11, based upon “Current situation compared with one previous year”. “political discord” was greatest among the “Threats to the Mexican economy within the incoming months,” followed by the “US economic downturn.”

 

January 2010, Business Barometer 12, ranked political discord (desacuerdos politicos) and US economic slowdown (desaceleración norteamericana) highest among the threats.

 

The change comes by April 2010 and further spikes in July 2010:

  • April 2010, Barometro de empresas 13, shows failing security emerging as a greater threat than a lapsed US economy.
  • July 2010, Business Barometer 14, shows a spiking increase in industry fears of failing security over the previous quarter.

See charts on pages 4, 5 and 11 of Business Barometer 14:

  • CURRENT CHART, page 4: All indicators are up except for “seguridad” which sinks.
  • FUTURE CHART, page 5: All indicators remain up except for “seguridad” which stays in the cellar.
  • FACTORS THREATENING THE ECONOMY CHART, page 11: Inseguridad (insecurity) goes off the chart. Conversely, issues such as corruption and social conflicts (and there are many, especially in Southern Mexico) are near zero, i.e., they are baked in the Mexican operating outlook.

The most recent issue, Barómetro de Empresas 16, January 2011, is as of this writing only available in Spanish. The key trend charts noted above, however, remain consistent.

 

Police and Military

 

I refer readers, again, to Beyond Colombianization, Mexico is the Iraq, the Afghanistan, on our southern border, 25 July, 2010, for coverage of pertinent US and UN drug threat reports that enshrine Mexican DTOs (drug trafficking organizations) as the "greatest organized crime threat" to the US. 

 

I also refer readers to Near-term global risks in the early weeks of the Obama administration, 1/20/2009, for the 2008 Joint Operating Environment (JOE) that raised criminal gangs to a national threat level and stated that "Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response..."

 

For additional trends not covered in the 2011 presentation, see Trend prediction update for Mexico, 9/2/2010.

 

NAFTA’s unintended consequences unevenly distributed, slides 27-28

 

NAFTA is a signal success from the standpoint of US/EU and foreign manufacturing companies. Lower manufacturing costs, lower transport costs, shorter supply lines, and lessened port and customs issues have seen Mexico better the China Price that was the investment go, no-go decision point for over a decade.

 

The China price is now in the process of increasing rather than decreasing, noticeably so for lower technical content assembly and manufacturing (due in part to the Chinese government pressure to substitute more highly engineering products in their place). The end of denim supplies at virtually any price is one of many canaries in the Chinese coal mine.

 

All this would normally be a boon to states such as Mexico. Unfortunately the unintended consequences of NAFTA are causing major structural fractures in Mexico.

 

Most businesses we speak to are surprised that the benefits they derive from NAFTA are not broadly shared by their Mexican workforce. Even within the Mexican labor pool, impact and benefit are not uniform. Engineering staffs, especially those in the OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, fare much better than low end assembly workers.

 

Migration to the maquiladoras became driven less by betterment and more by desperation of decreasing opportunity. As the cost of living has nearly equalized along the border, low wage maquila workers cannot survive and so often leave. (Prices are often lower on the US side.) Here again the impacts are disproportionate with more men leaving and women remaining as head of the nuclear family. Those who remain become targets for predation or slip into criminal orbit.

 

We believe that business, their employees and investors do not see these effects, as with the attacks on Eagle Ottawa labor buses, investors and those employees insulated from local conditions do not share a common risk-reward envelope with local employees and their dependents at risk.

 

Until that gap closes, or its direct and indirect costs pierce the financial window of investors and insular employees, the focus will remain on the piece part cost. Operational cadres cannot be blamed as they have specific metrics to achieve in their procurement and production objectives, even if the metrics being measured (currency, for example) have other negative effects.

 

Given the plight of low end maquila assembly workers, we also marvel that no one has taken up their cause, at a minimum, as a reputational risk. The total number of injuries and fatalities from Apple/Foxconn, Nike and Adidas combined is a rounding error compared to the losses suffered by Mexican maquila workers yet there has been virtually no outcry from major US constituencies. That may change as we have seen a US group, the Pittsburgh Human Rights Network, take up the plight of employees of a Ford Motor Company supplier in China, Yuwei Plastics and Hardware.

 

Overlapping commercial and criminal footprints, slides 29-32

 

Violence is coterminous to Mexican and foreign industrial centers. The branching out of cartels into non-narcotic pursuits has brought criminals around and into the plant and corporate environments.

 

The cartel regional coverage in slide 31 is recent but nominal as cartels increasingly compete, fracture and recombine. Many outside observers are unaware that cartel footprints mimic the impacts of geography and culture. Slide 32 shows the geography of a central valley/plateau surrounded by two mountain ranges bordered by two coasts.

 

Extortion and insider threats, slides 33-35

The so-called Juarez Valley where the converted school buses were attacked has been racked by fighting between powerful drug cartels. But the more than 330 border factories, or maquiladoras, that dominate Ciudad Juarez and surroundings have [heretofore] been left out of the worst of the recent drug violence... factory buses have been burned by attackers in extortion attempts... escalating violence has forced factories and other businesses to boost security in Ciudad Juarez, where foreign manufacturers are drawn by a large workforce, mostly female, willing to work for low wages...

The automotive supplier, Eagle Ottawa, was understandably attempting to calm the situation by deflecting any threat to the maquiladora itself. The firm had no grounds for its pronouncement and, as colleagues have noted, the bilingual El Paso Times reporter did not question the firm's statement or present any contrary evidence of which there is ample supply. As chance would have it, on the same day Eagle Ottawa was in denial, the lead story in Diario (the valiant must-read paper across the Rio Grande) was devoted to the prevalence of extortion aimed at maquiladora suppliers in Juarez. Again, if you are deprived of both local ears on the ground and a nuanced reading of local Spanish language press, you will come away with a view wide of ground truth.

 

Maquilas and the employees are trapped in an intramural rivalry between criminal groups. (The New York Times did not appear to report this until late 2010 but better late than never):

"This attack on the employees was a high-impact event that seeks to destabilize governments... They are fighting over their own interests, and only the bad guys know what it is about."

 

The buses bore the name of the company where the employees worked, Eagle Ottawa, an automobile upholstery manufacturer based in Auburn Hills, Mich., that has two plants in Ciudad Juárez...

 

Determining patterns in the drug war is difficult. At least seven major trafficking organizations, and their various splinter groups as they break apart and re-form, are vying for territory and supremacy.

 

"As the organized crime groups are pressured by the government and in a sense the military strategy, as people are arrested and drugs taken away, you are going to see internal strife and intergroup competition over the market..."

The Eagle Ottawa attack brought a wider audience to a problem that had been ongoing. Accounts from family for months earlier noted buses being attacked, people robbed or kidnapped. In addition, the ruteras in Juarez have been increasingly attacked for months. Crime is so great that residents of Ciudad Juarez have taken the unusual step of closing - with or without city permission - more than 2,000 streets in an attempt to keep out criminals.

 

Mexican statistics on drug war fatalities are not credible. Until late 2010, despite repeated evidence to the contrary, the Mexican government consistently repeated the view that all those killed - now 30,000 - were involved in the drug supply chain in some manner. Only recently, including the high profile innocents of the Eagle Ottawa shootings, did the government relent by admitting that homicides in the general population were under represented. Unfortunately, the opinion that all those killed are guilty also appears among US law enforcement.

 

Mexican criminal enterprises are increasingly inserting themselves into legitimate supply chains, or supplanting legitimate supply chains by forcing them from the market. Until those effects become manifest, it will take extraordinary political will to overcome the commercial focus on the piece part cost:

"The infiltration is often a real concern in a city like Matamoros [just] south of Brownsville (Texas), you have two unions and if you are operating a factory and you have people that you need to hire for your factory floor, you've got to work with one of the two unions... Both unions are involved with organized crime so there is a concern there that if you don't take the time to do at least a little bit of due diligence on the people that you're hiring, then you could be hiring a criminal to come do work in your factory and who knows what happens after that."

We see supply chain issues, cloaked but real otherwise no mention would have been made, in OEM discussions of insuring that materials arrive in timely fashion.

 

Criminal groups have begun to replace legitimate supply chains, and/or institute parallel low(er) cost supply chains, with the effect of chasing legitimate firms from the market. This is well underway in the mining/primary extraction sector.

 

Criminal groups are creating exclusion zones all across Mexico for production and warehousing, assumption of legitimate enterprises, access (ingress/egress routes) and security (creating their own free fire zones against opponents).

 

Increasing violence requires actionable preemption, slides 36-37

 

Cartel activities have already affected Mexican businesses; the national oil producer, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), being a prime example.

Although [Pemex] has a reputation for operational inefficiencies and must deal with a powerful workers union, revenue from Pemex accounts for some 40 per cent of Mexico’s federal budget. At the same time it represents a fat target for organized crime, whose activities include stealing oil from clandestine pipeline connections, selling refined petroleum products and kidnapping oil workers – some for ransom; others have simply disappeared.

 

The situation raises questions about the government’s ability to defend the company, which was created after the 1938 expropriation of the petroleum industry and is now an important symbol of sovereignty and self-respect for Mexicans...

 

“Once Pemex … comes under regular attack from the cartels, rather than just random, disorganized thugs, then you have far more serious national security problems – much worse in the government's eyes than a bunch of homicides in the slums of Ciudad Juarez,” Mr. Beith said. “The government's management of Pemex has long been questionable, but the fact that it can't secure its pipelines from organized crime … shows just how insecure parts of the country are and could become.”

Pemex and the Petroleum Workers' Union (Sindicato de los Trabajadores Petroleros de la República Mexicana) have long been deeply permeated by corruption and have now been penetrated by criminal activity. Its problems are long standing and are now institutionalizedThe citation list has numerous Pemex and organized crime items.

 

We believe that with state and national political and police assets compromised, even complicit, that one of the few means of recovery will come from other large established Mexican firms that can independently muster sufficient political cooperation while providing both creditable resistance and physical protection to their employees.

 

One such firm is Cemex (Cementos Mexicanos SAB) and its owner, Lorenzo Zambrano. It will be crucial to watch Cemex's efforts, the "change back" reactions from criminal elements; counter-responses from Cemex; and what, if any and when, allies that Cemex can draw to its side.

 

All firms, certainly high value targets such as Cemex, must continuously address three vulnerability areas:

  • Pricing model compromise (tier chain event, supplier outsourcing, subcontracting, etc.).
  • Citadel attack (Corporate/research, R&D hives, manufacturing, warehousing).
  • Human resources (HR).

Each area, singly and in combination, should be examined by the criteria of Design Basis Threat (DBT):

  • Asset Value Assessment.
  • Threat/Hazard Assessment.
  • Vulnerability Assessment.
  • Risk Assessment.
  • Risk Management.

All-source vs. piece part risk, slides 38-39 

 

Operational, reputational, geopolitical, financial and technology risks are best managed as a portfolio. We reduce the chance of adversarial surprise by using an all-source approach to risk management rather than a partial piece part approach.

 

Design Basis Threat (DBT) does not add new task layers for employees. On the contrary, DBT adjusts current business processes to make them more robust to penetration.

 

Our grounding in operational supply chain and purchasing allows us, as needed, to address chain efficiencies while insuring that the protective envelope in not pierced. Slides 40-43 are examples of our granular supply chain analytics.

 

Conclusion, slides 44-45

 

Those who rely on US/EU high street press sources unsupported by local knowledge will not have a granular understanding of what we call ground truth. Our experience is that investment decisions are too often made in the absence of that information.

 

Commercial calculations are necessary but not sufficient for corporate risk management. Operated in a vacuum, commercial-only risk decisions have and will lead to vulnerabilities.

 

Takeaway: In such instances, companies accept risk by default rather than by design.

 

Design Basis Threat (DBT) supplies that consistent risk amelioration approach for pricing model compromise, citadel attack and HR.

 

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Mexican Auditors Uncover More Corruption at State Oil Giant

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COMPLETE SERIES from April 2007

 

Drug cartel activity hits firms in Mexico

Companies in hot spots urged to plan, protect

Roberto Ceniceros

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Mexico army's failures hamper drug war

By Tracy Wilkinson and Ken Ellingwood

Los Angeles Times

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Drug War Has Not Cost Mexico Investment, Experts Say

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Media muzzled by drug war

Threats, killings of reporters has led to self-censorship in the press.

By John MacCormack

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Published 10:41 p.m., December 28, 2010

 

Oil: The Mexican cartels’ other deadly business

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Mexico Pipeline Blast Kills 28, Blamed on ‘Criminal Gang’ Stealing Fuel

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Mexican Media Infiltrated by Drug Cartels, Experts Say

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December 7,2010

 

WikiLeaks cables reveal U.S. concern over Mexico's ability to fight drug cartels

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Washington Post

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U.S. Aided Mexican Drug War, With Frustration

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WikiLeaks cables reveal unease over Mexican drug war

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Drug violence impacting security for businesses in Mexico

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Updated: 11-30-2010 9:40 am

 

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Luis Horacio Najera, who dodged death in Ciudad Juarez as a top reporter, now survives cleaning toilets in Canada.

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Mexico is first in line to benefit from rising labor costs in China

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Mexico violence costs $350K daily in natural gas losses

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Published Friday, November 12, 2010 8:15 AM

 

Mexico Drug Violence Blamed for 50% Drop in Pick-Up Sales

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Mexican leader: Drug gangs biggest threat to press

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Posted: 10/31/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

 

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4 killed as gunmen attack factory buses in Ciudad Juarez

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Second Pemex Attack Rocks Mexico

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Graft, taxes, unions draining Pemex

Mexico oil monopoly must change or die, observers say

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Mexico's Corrupt Oil Lifeline

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The New York Times

January 21, 2003

 

Gordon Housworth 



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Assisting journalists: Are the Mexican vehicle explosions a "proper car bomb"?

  #

Journalists contact us from time to time, too often to make a story on the back of our disclosing proprietary research to them. In fewer but welcome cases, they want to get terms straight to educate their readers.

 

After an earlier version of this note was posted to Frontera List as Mexican police probe Juarez car bomb possibly intended for authorities, two journalists asked:

Do you have any insight into how best to define a car bomb versus a bomb in a car? I ask [as] it’s my impression that we haven’t really seen a proper car bomb in Mexico yet – not on the scale of the ones I saw in Iraq or other places. But what’s the right definition? When do we know the cartels are looking to get such a device?

 

Where do you think they got it? is that common on the international criminal market, or is that just what might be locally available [from] the mining industry in Chihuahua?

Our reply:

 

Each of the recent spate of vehicle explosions is a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) and the groups employing them are coming up the experience curve.

 

What makes a VBIED

 

First, slowly deconstruct VBIED, i.e., a vehicle borne IED.

 

In effect, a VBIED is both a shrapnel pack and a delivery mechanism for an IED described as: 

Definition: An IED is a bomb fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals and designed to destroy or incapacitate personnel or vehicles. In some cases, IEDs are used to distract, disrupt, or delay an opposing force, to facilitate another type of attack. IEDs may incorporate military or commercially-sourced explosives, and often combine both types, or they may otherwise be made with home made explosives (HME).

They are unique in nature because the IED builder has had to improvise with the materials at hand. Designed to defeat a specific target or type of target, they generally become more difficult to detect and protect against as they become more sophisticated.

Almost anything that blows up will do, from grenades to plastic explosives to leftover mines. The most everyday of electronics -- a cell phone, a garage door opener, a child's remote-control toy -- can be recast as a trigger. And the hiding places for these handmade bombs are everywhere: in the ground, aboard a truck, even inside an animal carcass

Though they can vary widely in shape and form...

Once the perps understand fuzing and vehicle transport, they will quickly scale the explosive content.

 

Second, the size and brisance of the Mexican explosions in relationship to Iraq and Afghanistan

 

The size and brisance of the current Mexican VBIEDs are not on the scale of devices being encountered in the Mideast and SW Asia. From a private note:

Cheap escalation, expect both IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and VBIEDs (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices) to increase in volume and lethality as actors build larger charges.

 

IEDs and VBIEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan and other high tempo war zones are constructed from UXO (unexploded ordnance) abandoned or captured on the battlefield or looted from former state magazines.

 

By contrast, Mexican devices are currently utilizing blasting explosives [Tovex] that have far less brisance than military explosives. (In lay terms this has to do with the velocity of the radiating shock waves; blasting explosives are designed to fracture rock rather than pulverize, so explosive mixtures are tuned accordingly.)

 

The Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was an ammonium nitrate fertilizer, diesel fuel and nitromethane device (and here), albeit of some 2200 kg, but it shows the art of the possible.

 

Once local actors start making fuel oil/nitrate fertilizer devices from locally available stocks, Mexico will be off to the races in earnest...

Cartel experimentation with explosives as opposed to firearms appears to have started in 2009:

The assailants apparently used Tovex, a water gel explosive commonly used as a replacement for dynamite in mining and other industrial activities, said the U.S. official, who is familiar with the investigation but spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the Mexican-led investigation...

 

Mexico's powerful drug cartels have long been experimenting with explosives. In the northern state of Durango in 2009, more than a dozen masked gunmen stole 900 cartridges of Tovex water gel explosives from a warehouse run by the U.S.-based Austin Powder Company. Mexican authorities recovered the stolen material, but the theft underscored how easy it can be to get explosive material in the country, where armed men also have attacked transport vehicles carrying such substances.

 

The ATF has helped investigate several events involving improvised explosive devices around Mexico, including a roadside bomb in March at a gas station in the northern state of Nuevo Leon. That bomb, which didn't injure anyone, consisted of two large cylinders filled with nails and possibly black powder, another substance that is readily available on the black market.

The ground situation will rapidly escalate when one or more of the criminal groups begin to add military explosives (Semtex or C4) to their global shopping lists. As I noted in The reality of Mexican drug cartel weapons sourcing:

[The] cartels could easily rise above the squad subordinated weapons (assault weapons and light machine guns) currently in use to include antitank missiles and larger ordnance. Beyond the demands of ego and attempts to demonstrate superior area control, there are not enough viable targets to justify the added expense. Be certain that when the need or desire is there, so will be the weapons...

Third, the trajectory to expect

 

A well worn trajectory that played itself out in Iraq and now in Afghanistan will run in Mexico. From: Nicola Calipari-Giuliana Sgrena incident report, part 2, 5/5/2005: 

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Unexploded IEDs, Hand Grenades, Indirect Fire (mortars, rockets, and unidentified indirect fire), Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Small Arms Fire (SAF), Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), and Complex Attacks. The most common attacks along Route Irish are IEDs, VBIEDs, and SAF.

IEDs [continue] to evolve. Current techniques are:

  • Explosives positioned alongside guard rails. The large number of guard rails on the road make these devices difficult to detect and relatively easy to emplace by staging equipment in vehicles or near overpasses, and, in a matter of minutes, having the IED armed and in the desired location.
  • Explosives wrapped in a brown paper bag or a plastic trash bag. This is a particularly easy method of concealment, easy to emplace, and has been used effectively against Coalition Forces and civilians along Route Irish.
  • Explosives set on a timer. This technique is new to the Route Irish area, but is being seen more frequently.
  • Use of the median. The 50 meter wide median of Route Irish provides a large area for emplacing IEDs. These can be dug in, hidden, and/or placed in an animal carcass or other deceptive container.
  • Surface laid explosives. The enemy will drop a bag containing the explosive onto the highway and exit the area on an off-ramp with the detonation occurring seconds or minutes later depending on the desired time for the explosion.
  • Explosives on opposite sides of the median. Devices have been found along both sides of the median that were apparently designed to work in tandem, to counter Coalition Force tactics to avoid the right side of the highway while traveling Route Irish.
  • Explosives hidden under the asphalt. Insurgents pretend to do work on the pavement, plant the explosives, and repair the surface. These are usually remote-detonated devices.

Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) contain two types of car bombs, e.g., when the vehicle is moving (suicide) and when the vehicle is parked and stationary. Both can be either command or remote-detonated:

  • Multiple suicide vehicles. The first vehicle either creates an opening for a second, more powerful vehicle, or acts as bait to draw other personnel, such as medics and other first responders, into the kill zone of the first vehicle. As people respond, the second VBIED engages the responders.
  • Suicide VBIEDs are typically used against convoys, Coalition Force patrols, or Coalition checkpoints where they can achieve maximum damage. Such vehicles will rapidly approach the convoy from the rear and attempt to get in between convoy vehicles before detonating.
  • Stationary VBIEDs are typically parked along main supply routes, like Route Irish, and often have been found near known checkpoints. These are usually remotely operated and may be employed in conjunction with a suicide VBIED.

From the concluding section of Beyond Colombianization, Mexico is the Iraq, the Afghanistan, on our southern border

It is going to get worse

 

Mexico demands what is called situational awareness of its citizens and visitors. While the violence in the border towns is reaching epidemic proportions, Monterrey and Acapulco (aka Narcopulco) now increasingly have what amounts to squad level firefights in the central business/tourist district.

 

Criminal co-optition will accelerate as groups jocky for product, plaza control, security and supremacy.

 

These negative events are paralleling Mexico’s betterment of the China Price, and may well deprive Mexico of added legitimate revenue and infrastructure build-out.

 

By early 2008 the Gulf Cartel had “begun acquiring more military-grade weapons, including FN Herstal P90 submachine guns, FN Herstal 5.7 x 28mm pistols, M72 LAW (light anti-tank weapon) rocket launchers, AT4 anti-tank rockets, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, MGL 37mm grenade launchers and fragmentation grenades.”

 

The use of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) has started and I would expect that to accelerate with even more paralysis of Mexican judicial and police asset that US forces suffer in Afghanistan.

 

Missing from this first effort: Secondary and tertiary detonations, often waves of parallel ignitions, against massed first responders and receiving hospitals. The Chechens and Iraqis have perfected this progression, but for the foreseeable future these secondary detonations will be IEDs and VBIEDs and not suicide vests. As time progresses: Multiple targets, simultaneous attacks, multiple vehicles per target and armed assault/breaching cadres to clear security personnel and gain access to the primary target...

 

Bomb Wounds 2 in Northeast Mexico

Latin American Herald Tribune

August 30,2010

 

Comando caught with explosives in Chihuahua

From: Susan <prettysk...@gmail.com>

Frontera List

23 Jul 2010 20:01:11 -0500

 

Ciudad Juarez car bomb shows new sophistication in Mexican drug cartels' tactics

By William Booth

Washington Post

July 22, 2010; A10

US official: Mexican car bomb likely used Tovex

by ALICIA A. CALDWELL

MSNBC

updated 7/19/2010 11:38:32 PM ET

 

Mexico car bomb: 'Colombianization' of Mexico nearly complete

Last week's Mexico car bomb in the border town of Cuidad Juarez killed three. It is the first known use of a car bomb against authorities and marks a troubling new level of violence in the country's brutal drug war.

By Sara Miller Llana

CSM

July 18, 2010

 

Experts: Car bomb in Juárez mimics Middle East terrorist tactics

Car bombing was trap

By Ramon Bracamontes

El Paso Times

07/17/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

 

Car bomb in Mexican drug war changes ground rules

by ALICIA A. CALDWELL

AP

updated 7/17/2010 11:04:40 AM ET

 

Mexico blames drug cartel for deadly car bomb

By Julian Cardona

Reuters

Jul 16, 2010 8:58pm EDT

 

Potential Indicators of Threats Involving Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs)

Homeland Security Information Bulletin

May 15, 2003

MIRROR

 

Oklahoma City bombing

Oklahoma City Newspapers

1995

Early preparations

Building the bomb

 

Gordon Housworth



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Applying pattern detection to the unsolved murder and abuse of Mexican women in Juarez

  #

Femicide:

[The] extreme end of a continuum of anti female terror that includes a wide variety of verbal and physical abuse, such as rape, torture, sexual slavery (particularly in prostitution), incestuous and extrafamilial child sexual abuse, physical and emotional battery, sexual harassment (on the phone, in the streets, at the office, and in the classroom), genital mutilation (clitoridectomies, excision, infibulations), unnecessary gynecological operations (gratuitous hysterectomies), forced heterosexuality, forced sterilization, forced motherhood (by criminalizing contraception and abortion), psychosurgery, denial of food to women in some cultures, cosmetic surgery, and other mutilations in the name of beautification. Whenever these forms of terrorism result in death, they become femicides.

 

Early feminist analysts of another form of sexist violence - rape -- asserted that it is not, as common mythology insists, a crime of frustrated attraction, victim provocation, or uncontrollable biological urges. Nor is rape perpetrated only by an aberrant fringe. Rather, rape is a direct expression of sexual politics, an act of conformity to masculinist sexual norms, [and] a form of terrorism that serves to preserve the gender status quo.

 

Like rape, most murders of women by husbands, lovers, fathers, acquaintances and strangers are not the products of some nexplicable deviance. They are femicides, the most extreme form of sexist terrorism, motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure, or a sense of ownership of women. Femicide includes mutilation murder, rape murder, battery that escalates into murder, the mmolation of witches in Western Europe and of brides and widows n India, and crimes of honor in some Latin and Middle Eastern countries, where women believed to have lost their virginity are killed by their male relatives. Calling misogynist killings femicide removes the obscuring veil of non gendered terms such as homicide and murder.

I have long maintained that if women could find a third sex that they would take it sight unseen, and that was long before femicide entered my vocabulary. With the relative exception of the outposts of the Scottish Enlightenment, a woman’s due is oppression, violence and assault. And yet they abide and provide. I am constantly astounding that they do not more often play Judith to Holofernes.

In revisiting my 2007 Mexico destabilization forecast, I was struck by both the societal (rage) and organized (premeditated) violence against women in the Americas. Efforts such as Ciudad de la Muerte and On The Edge (En El Borde) paint a harrowing, unsolved, onslaught.

 

Ciudad de la Muerte’s concept of role reversal and subsequent emasculation has resonance for me. I have seen precisely that reversal on two occasions in Africa, and once in India (where caste amplified gender). In the instances with which I am familiar, the backlash was largely spontaneous, delivered by an enraged husband/male or a group of similarly enraged husbands/men bent on punishing one or more women en mass.

 

The Guatemala Human Rights Commission usefully described the position of women in a traditional, Catholic culture:

Women are recognized in Guatemala (and many other cultures) as the givers of life, the transmitters of culture and the pillars of the community. Raping, torturing, and killing a woman is a way to destroy not only the individual woman, but to dishonor her family, her community, and her national and ethnic identity. Her honor is destroyed (as well as her emotional, physical, and mental integrity) thus destroying the collective identity and spirit of her family, community, and ethnic group.

I find it interesting that the contributing social factors to Guatemala’s culture of violence mimic those of Mexico: 

The suffering endured by women during the internal armed conflict did not end with the signing of the peace accords. Organized crime, gangs, drug trafficking, and human trafficking are part of daily life not only in the capital city, but also throughout the countryside.

 

Four factors have had a particular influence on women:

  • Violence perpetrated by drug trafficking;
  • Gang activity;
  • A culture of machismo or misogyny that targets women as victims and continues the brutal sexual violence against women;
  • A lack of rule of law, including corruption, gender bias and impunity in law enforcement, investigations and the legal system.

Keeping the primary pattern in mind


Perhaps consequentially, general violence against women remains high across the Americas. Molloy's A perspective on the murders of human beings (women, men & children of both genders) in Ciudad Juárez does a good job of stripping out received wisdom to define rational measure of deaths of both men and women through the decade in Mexico:


[At] the time the killings of women [young... many of them factory workers or students, murdered and in some cases tortured and sexually abused] were occurring in Juárez in the 1990s and beyond, and during the same time period that these murders began to be noticed and reported in the local and later in the international media…during the same time period, nearly 10 times that number of men were murdered. And the killings of these men were treated with the same impunity as the killings of women. These numbers are not mysterious. They are available from both official and media sources and I’ve posted a bare outline of them below. Basically, for all the years between 1993 and 2007, the total number of murders in Juárez hovered between 200 and 300.  And during those years, the percentage of those victims who were women ranged from 8% to 16% and averaged 12% percent of the total over the course of those 14 years.

 

Those in the press and academia who have written extensively about the murders of women, those who coined the term “femicide” to define the killing of women as a product of their gender, seldom acknowledge the actual numbers of victims of violence in Juárez  and the fact that the killings of women are a small percentage of the total. And that this gender ratio in murder statistics is not uncommon, not in Mexico, not elsewhere. In fact, the numbers of female victims as a percentage of the total victims in the Juárez data is low in comparison to data on U.S. murder victims.  I checked an accepted and reliable source, the FBI Uniform Crime Reports [online: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm] for three years: 2006, 2007 and 2008...

 

[IPS] compared the numbers of killings of women in Juárez [in 2006] with those elsewhere in Mexico and Central America, [stating] that “an average of 1000 women a year were murdered in Mexico, a country of 103 million, between 1995 and 2005…” and that the highest numbers of female victims occurred in cities in Central Mexico, not in Juárez...

 

Back to Juárez. Beginning in 2008, when the number of homicides exploded, the number of women killed exploded also, but as a percentage of the total, it decreased to between 5 and 8 percent. From January 2008-July 31, 2010, the total number of female homicides (390) accounts for 6.4% of the total of 6,078 murders in that period. Added to the 427 cases of female murder victims from 1993-2007, a total of 817 women have been murdered in Juárez since 1993...


Any predictions or additional pattern proposals must keep Molloy's analysis in mind as she maintains the most rigorous open source statistics.

Molloy also manages a a committed collector group, Frontera List, that monitors US-Mexico border issues with a focus on Juarez. It offers insight unlike that rising from the high street press, provides border news that would otherwise require monitoring of local secondary US papers, captures pertinent Mexican sources with translation and commentary, and compares US-Mexican reporting by topic. Recommended.

 

The 'work detail' murders


Within Molloy's primary pattern, and there are those on the Frontera List that believe that hers is the only pattern in play on the border, others see another pattern.


Unlike murder and/or rape by rage or war, the series of murder-violations outlined by Balli reflect an organized intermediary, a middle man -- the anti-coyote and his supply chain -- that deliver women unto death with “Are you looking for work?”

 

The duration of these murder-violations show evidence of sustaining structure in the Juarez deaths equal to any white slavery ring, but with a different cost structure. In white slavery the victim is resold numerous times. There is rudimentary care extended to the victim is order to prolong her value. In these ‘work detail’  abductions these Mexican women are presumably sold once, suffer greatly and then die.

 

While not for sex, I was familiar with prisoner markets in Afghanistan that involved filmed killings of purchased prisoners. From Virally infected suicide terrorists: return of a reoccurring theme that finds our defenses lax, 2006:

 

[P]risoners of varying nationalities were sold for sport during the Russian and post-Russian incursion periods -- the closest thing in our lexicon would be a souvenir photo. It was a local affair, a personal memento to take home, rather than an external fund raising event. A video tape was made of the proud owner generally slitting the throat or shooting the purchased prisoner, but the preponderance was the throat. One has to understand the Afghan sense of humor to make any sense of this.

 

ECCO and Grup Pionero work-related killings

 

Seemingly similar work-related killings have occured in Mexico. Given the cursory research for this note, I am unable to link them beyond the presence of work or the offering of work:

A two-year resident of Nuevo Laredo who worked in a stationary shop, Olga Lidia Osorio was studying computer technology at the Nuevo Laredo branch of Grupo Premier, a privately-owned national chain with schools in several Mexican cities. Esmeralda Juarez also studied computer programs, in her instance at a Cd. Juárez branch of Grupo Pionero, commonly known as ECCO, another private national chain with a widespread presence in the Mexican Republic. Esmeralda was the seventh young woman from Cd. Juárez who had some kind of contact with ECCO to disappear or end up sexually assaulted and murdered during the last three years.

 

Francisco Moreno Villafuerte, director of the Cd. Juárez ECCO branch where Esmeralda Juárez attended, says ECCO is concerned about reports tying the school to murdered and disappeared women.

 

Moreno insists that ECCO is a serious institution that provides a safe environment for its students, and to the best of his knowledge, no school personnel are under suspicion...

 

Bearing different names, the ECCO and Grupo Premier chains are nevertheless alike in many ways. Both target young working-class women and men for enrollment, and locate their schools in busy downtown areas of Mexican cities where bus lines whisk passengers to and from working-class districts. The computer schools have a large student turn-over, feature flexible enrollment and charge fees on a weekly basis. In both instances, company philosophy is based on almost identical tenants. Even their names are similar: in Spanish, “Pionero” and “Premier” imply first or best.

 

Grupo Pionero’s and Grupo Premier’s schools are almost always situated very close to shoe stores like Tres Hermanos which attract a steady clientele of young women. Many of the shoe retailers constantly advertise for new, young female workers. Since 1995, at least 7 women who have worked at or visited Tres Hermanos outlets and another shoe store, Zapaterias Paris, have been disappeared or been murdered in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City. In Ciudad Juarez, an ECCO branch is situated within one block of two stores belonging to the Manualidades de Estrella chain, where two other apparent victims worked: Gloria Rivas Martínez, who disappeared last year and was later supposedly found murdered close to the place where Esmeralda Juárez’s body was recovered, and Maria Isabel Mejía Sapien, who is still officially listed as missing.

 

It is also very worth noting that near the two ECCO branches in downtown Cd. Juárez is a private school, Prepatoria Ignacio Allende, where both Laura Berenice Ramos and recent murder victim Violeta Mabel Alvídrez attended. Ramos was originally identified by Chihuahua State Police as one of the 8 serial killer victims found in a field in November 2001 across the street from the offices of the maquiladora trade industry association in Cd. Juárez, but subsequent DNA tests failed to establish a physical link between the body identified as Ramos’ and her relatives.

Terminal domination

 

The emasculation of Ciudad de la Muerte’s victims reminds me of pornography, notably so as rape appears a staple in these killings, which too often has more to do with subjugation and domination than it does sex. The extension of this theme is the snuff film in which the sexual victim is ultimately killed on camera after the sex act(s), in effect, is sacrificed.

 

Snuff films have been the stuff more of legend than fact in the US, but there could be emulation of the cartel YouTube videos showing prisoners being tortured and killed. The data line is troubling here, however, as if memory serves, the women started disappearing well before the cartels adopted social media.

 

Strangling is also the garrote: quiet, adjustable – accelerated then relaxed, prolonged at will, all the while demonstrating the perp’s complete domination of the victim. The garrote is often used in cartel interrogation and torture, and could have been easily adopted for these murders well before the technique flowed into video.

 

A market, in whole or in part, dedicated to death?

 

Questions rise as the available pattern wanes:

 

Are there employed survivors among the respondents to “Are you looking for work?” In other words, is this a valid labor market that legitimately fills an unskilled labor need in Juarez, a fraction of which is culled for killing? Or do the entire proceeds of “Are you looking for work?” result in death?

 

If there are living women hired in this fashion, did they at any point see any of the women that died? I admit this last question may be theoretical as the living would unlikely be willing to comment or testify. There are a few survivors of rape and assault - the Ants, but they do not appear to be escapees of our death market. Still, any answer to these questions could illuminate the structure of this labor market.

 

Takeout versus Dine out

 

Where does this structured organization end, i.e., how does it complete the transaction between buyer and seller? How far does it go?

 

Is the woman fetched or is she delivered? Does the perp put in a request, if so how and to whom? Does he make a down payment on a future delivery? Does he select from captives on offer?

 

Are there one or more safe houses where the women are housed and that the perps frequent? If so, then the house can dispose of the bodies. Safe houses, rarely compromised, abound in and around Juarez for traditional criminal enterprises.

 

If the perp removes the woman, I assume that her transport, completion of the act and disposal are straight forward, no different from any number of disappearances in Mexico. The process only requires that the perp does not run afoul of narcos disposing of their handiwork.

 

Who and how many?

 

Why doesn’t this leak out, yielding pointers to a possible suspect group, if not the perps themselves? How many perps are involved? My reflex answer is that the great power of a few, as opposed to the powerless many, precludes leaking. As opposed to a powerful few, do the killers comprise, or are they among, a clan, organization or extended crime family whose group loyalty binds silence?

 

What nationality, Mexican or Anglo, or both? My reflex answer is Mexican as I feel that Anglos would be too visible. This affair strikes me more as a family affair, so to speak.

 

If the death market exists as a distinct pattern, there are no countervailing actions that would act to diminish it. We do see that the overall violence is increasing and has diversified through Mexico.


2010 going forward


The Trans-Border Institute’s mid-year national forecast reinforces Molloy’s overall figures and trends:

 

The most observable trends [in 2010] regarding drug related violence in Mexico were (a) an absolute growth and a relative increase in the number of drug related homicides, (b) increase in the rate of drug related violence, and (c) a greater dispersion of violence throughout Mexico. The first half of 2010 has emerged with the highest rate of drug related homicides in Mexico to date... drug violence related deaths in 2010 are on track to exceed any previous year, perhaps even doubling the number of such homicides in 2009.

 

In relative terms, the proportion of homicides that can be linked to Mexican drug trafficking operations has elevated from 25.7% in 2007, to 36.8% in 2008, and to 42.7% in 2009. Three years ago, only about a quarter of all homicides appeared to be connected to drug trafficking organizations but during the first half of 2010, this proportion grew to the equivalent of more than two-thirds of all officially registered homicides. The first half of this year has also seen the fastest growth rate in drug related violence to date; from the first week of 2010 to the first week of July, drug related homicides tripled in quantity, increasing from 100 per week to 300 per week. Furthermore, drug related violence was distributed among more Mexican states, and it was not just concentrated in border and drug production states, as had previously been the trend from at least 2008 onward. The overall number of drug related killings has increased primarily due to the sharp increase in drug related violence in Chihuahua and Sinaloa, and the dispersion of violence to Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Guerrero, and Mexico State. Other notable increases were seen in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca; although they still represent a very small proportion of national drug related deaths.

 

Along with these dramatic increases in drug related violence, there has been a worrying tendency to target high profile victims, drug rehabilitation centers, and private parties... Although it is difficult to interpret these acts as signs of a growing trend, they illustrate the tremendous variety of violence Mexico is experiencing, and the diversification of strategies and perhaps a change in the scale of organized crime groups...


Updated 13 August 2010

 

2010 Mid-Year Report on Drug Violence in Mexico

By Angelica Duran-Martinez, Gayle Hazard, and Viridiana Rios

MID-YEAR REPORT

Trans-Border Institute

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

University of San Diego

August 2010


A perspective on the murders of human beings (women, men & children of both genders) in Ciudad Juárez 

By Molly Molloy

Frontera List

May 11, 2010

Updated August 2, 2010

 

Mexico drug cartels use gory videos to spread fear

By Mica Rosenberg Mica Rosenberg

Reuters

Aug 4, 2010 12:54 pm ET

 

On The Edge (En El Borde)

A new documentary by Steev Hise about the femicide in Ciudad Juárez.

Second pressing April 2010

2006

 

Mexican Cartels Adopt YouTube

Borderland Reporter Buggs

Borderland Beat

November 27, 2009

 

Mexican Maquila Worker Femicide Back in Spotlight

By Kari Lydersen

Working In These Times

September 25, 2009

6:06 pm

 

Guatemala’s Femicide Law: Progress Against Impunity?

The Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

Summer 2009

 

Former nun helps Mexico 'femicide' victims recover

Linabel Sarlat runs a support center to help bring economic and spiritual renewal to the women of Anapra, Mexico.

'The Ants': Linabel Sarlat runs a center to help women victims of violence in Anapra, Mexico.

By Sara Miller Llana

CSM

June 6, 2008

The Issue of Femicide in Guatemala

Jackson

2007

 

Femicide On the Rise in Latin America

Kent Paterson

Global Politician

3/10/2006


Ten Years of Border Femicide

La Prensa San Diego

Posted: Mar 05, 2003

MIRROR New American Media

 

The Snuff Film: The Making of an Urban Legend

Scott Aaron Stine

CFI

Volume 23.3, May/June 1999

 

Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing

Jill Radford and Diana E.H. Russell

Twayne Publishers, NY 1992

 

Femicide

Jane Caputi and Diana E. H. Russell

Longer version of the article written for Ms. magazine, "Femicide: Speaking the Unspeakable" (September/October 1990), that was published in Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell, Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992). by Jane Caputi, and Diana E. H. Russell.

 

Gordon Housworth



InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  

discussion

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Beyond Colombianization, Mexico is the Iraq, the Afghanistan, on our southern border

  #

 

PREDICTIONS: In 2007 I penned Trends point towards Mexico's destabilization and How will you deal with the assassination of Calderon?: A working example of all-source risk analysis that flagged a series of progressively scaled attacks on government by cartels and corrupt police and military working on the cartels behalf.

 

At the time of these presentations, the Mexican consul gamely defended his state and said all was safe for Mexican investment. Three years on, events on the ground continue to deteriorate and my predictions remain ‘on the glideslope’.

 

In 2009 I predicted that the hyperviolent gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) will transit an arc akin to that of the Zetas, and in time, La Linea, in which they exceed their subsidiary enforcement and distribution roles to challenge their former partners. (Witness the falling out between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.)

 

In 2010 I see it plausible for Mexican criminal elements (cartels, corrupt police and military) to morph into a hybrid war group along the lines of Hezbollah, the Tamil Tigers and like groups.

 

I disagree that Mexico is on a path to Colombianization. Rather the inverse, Mexico has surpassed Columbia in its delivery of violence, narco terrorism and criminal control over state and private assets to the point that I predict that we shall apply the term ‘Mexicanization’ to emerging hyperviolent narco-corruption zones and states.

 

The majority of northern states bordering the US are no longer under legitimate state control. These states are effectively Temporary Autonomous Zones under narco control.

 

If you do not already closely follow street narcotics or do not read Charles Bowden you do not understand the problem

 

While this note has a substantial bibliography, you will not grasp its visceral threat unless you have a supple understanding of its impact on the Mexican street, and by extension, to your street. There is no better person to deliver that message than Charles Bowden.

 

Bowden came to a decade plus study of the Mexican drug trade by virtue of his job as a reporter and an interest in Southwestern fauna and flora. Scientists he knew "had been going into the Sierra Madres in certain areas, collecting plants, started coming back with reports that they couldn’t get into villages because suddenly there were men there with machine guns. Everybody was growing drugs.” Bowden is able to weave kindness and humanity into what is an inhuman exercise - the Killing Fields on our border that we pretend does not exist.

 

If you do not read these three short items, you should stop altogether as what follows will read like a list of vegetables in Urdu:

While You Were Sleeping

In Juarez, Mexico, photographers expose the violent realities of free trade

December 1996

 

The sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks

May 2009

 

NOTE: While often cited, Sicario is rarely read as the original sits behind a subscription wall. This text-only rendering is an automatically generated Google html cache copy that Google makes when it indexes the article PDF. To my knowledge this is the only non-infringing copy beyond the original.

 

"We Bring Fear"

A reporter flees the biggest cartel of all—the Mexican Army.

July 2009

If the scales have now fallen from before your eyes, you should listen to Bowden in this interview on WHYY Philadelphia:

Author Charles Bowden calls Ciudad Juarez 'Murder City'

April 22, 2010

There are more Bowden items in the bibliography, but I would next suggest the Totally Wasted: Just who is winning the War on Drugs? series of short items to widen your vision.

 

What the stats say

 

Trigger Agents for lawless areas are politics and economics: 

“Political insurgents” generally morph into “Commercial insurgencies” that “engage in for-profit organized crime without a predominant political agenda... To maximize income from illegal activities, these groups tend to interact with the public sector. At first, they corrupt select officers or bureaucrats; then they gradually undermine the entire system...

 

Both political and commercial insurgencies require lawless areas in which to operate... The search for sanctuaries in neighboring countries... opens the way for a spillover or “regionalization” of local civil wars... “Narco-guerillas” carve out the enclaves from which terrorists and organized crime syndicates can operate as well. In other cases, lawless areas spring from organized crime and venal officers and bureaucrats. Such spaces are buttressed by lax borders and regulatory systems, the corruption of local authorities, and satisfactory telecommunications. In marked contrast to the political insurgent, the economic insurgent does not seek to destroy the political power, but merely to bend it to his needs. Nevertheless, the corruption lever inexorably weakens and crumbles the host state from within...

The 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment significantly elevated the threat posed by Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs): 

DTOs rapidly adapt to law enforcement and policy initiatives that disrupt their drug trafficking operations. Law enforcement and intelligence reporting revealed several strategic shifts by DTOs in drug production and trafficking in 2007 and early 2008, attributed in part to the success of counterdrug agencies in disrupting the operations of DTOs. Many of these shifts represent immediate new challenges for policymakers and resource planners. The National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 outlines the progress and emerging counterdrug challenges in detailed strategic findings, including the following:

• Mexican DTOs represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States. The influence of Mexican DTOs over domestic drug trafficking is unrivaled. In fact, intelligence estimates indicate a vast majority of the cocaine available in U.S. drug markets is smuggled by Mexican DTOs across the U.S.–Mexico border. Mexican DTOs control drug distribution in most U.S. cities, and they are gaining strength in markets that they do not yet control.

• Violent urban gangs control most retail-level drug distribution nationally, and some have relocated from inner cities to suburban and rural areas. Moreover, gangs are increasing their involvement in wholesale-level drug distribution, aided by their connections with Mexican and Asian DTOs.

• Cocaine is the leading drug threat to society. Methamphetamine is the second leading drug threat, followed by marijuana, heroin, pharmaceutical drugs, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy) respectively.

The 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment retains that elevated threat posed by Mexican DTOs. The UNODC’s World Drug Report 2010 reports that of the cocaine rising from the Andean region in 2008, North America consumes 41% with the principal volume transiting through Mexico and a far lesser amount through Caribbean and Florida.

 

If this level of violence, corruption and decay on our border, delivering its toxic payload to our citizens, is not an existential threat (“a risk that is both global (affects all of humanity) and terminal (destroys or irreversibly cripples the target),” I would hate to live on the difference to what is.

 

Mexico is to the US as the DPRK is to China

 

Those who cannot fathom why China tolerates the egregious excesses of Pyongyang, need only follow Bowden's breadcrumbs of a struggle not of government against cartels but of cartels against corrupt police against corrupt army assets. The honest rump of government and innocent citizens are mere bystanders: 

[The DEA broke up a large drug ring, taking] down 21 tons of cocaine in a warehouse in California in 1989, and after they did that, the price of cocaine did not go up. It had no effect on the market, so much was coming in. That was the first time that DEA really understood the magnitude of the drug use in this country, because it’s very hard to track. People don’t report how much coke they use every week...

 

There’s a peaceful coexistence between the U.S. and Mexico in terms of drugs coming into the United States, except for occasional busts... 'Drugs] don’t have very much value until they get to the United States. Then they explode in value. The real profits are made here...

 

The United States wants a stable Mexico. Mexico is economically dependent on narco dollars to survive. If you could actually shut down the border and stop the importation of drugs into this country, Mexico would collapse...

 

Mexico makes more money from drugs than they do from oil, tourism, and the remittances sent back by illegal Mexicans working here. They earn at least $50 billion a year now from selling drugs. They simply can’t live without it. You have to understand the Mexican economy is 4% the size of the United States' economy. Fifty billion dollars is big money in an economy of that size...

 

[If the US] really cracked down on drugs in Mexico, the economy and the Mexican government would collapse. Millions of people would stream north to survive. Given that choice, successive American presidents have put on a kind of theatrical war on drugs, but let the business continue because the consequences of ending the business are worse than letting the business continue. Mexico needs the money.

 

The Mexican Army is in the drug business. The movie "Traffic" was not a complete fiction. [Synopsis for Traffic]

 

This isn’t some ugly conspiracy by corrupt American presidents. This is what’s called realpolitik. Tolerating the existence of a narco-state in Mexico is preferable to having an economic collapse in Mexico. Successive presidents have looked at the facts and made the same decision. So this is not the result of some evil leadership in our country. It’s simply confronting reality.

Security was not the driving Mexican business threat as late as January 2010

 

Even the nominally legitimate Mexican business sector sees itself being destabilized. Deloitte México has issued a quarterly Business Barometer (Barometro de empresas) since April 2007, covering executive expectations, trends and current event impacts. (All reports are in Spanish, with some in English.)

 

The current, July 2010, Business Barometer 14 and prior, April 2010, Barometro de empresas 13, issues reflect markedly different concerns by business from the prior two quarters.

 

As late as January 2010, security was seen as a secondary, even moderate, threat:

 

October 2009, Business Barometer 11, based upon “Current situation compared with one previous year”. “political discord” was greatest among the “Threats to the Mexican economy within the incoming months,” followed by the “US economic downturn.”

 

January 2010, Business Barometer 12, ranked political discord (desacuerdos politicos) and US economic slowdown (desaceleración norteamericana) highest among the threats.

 

The change comes by April 2010 and further spikes in July 2010:

  • April 2010, Barometro de empresas 13, shows failing security emerging as a greater threat than a lapsed US economy.
  • July 2010, Business Barometer 14, shows a spiking increase in industry fears of failing security over the previous quarter.

See charts on pages 4, 5 and 11 of Business Barometer 14:

  • CURRENT CHART, page 4: All indicators are up except for “seguridad” which sinks.
  • FUTURE CHART, page 5: All indicators remain up except for “seguridad” which stays in the cellar.
  • FACTORS THREATENING THE ECONOMY CHART, page 11: Inseguridad (insecurity) goes off the chart. Conversely, issues such as corruption and social conflicts (and there are many, especially in Southern Mexico) are near zero, i.e., they are baked in the Mexican operating outlook.

It is going to get worse

 

Mexico demands what is called situational awareness of its citizens and visitors. While the violence in the border towns is reaching epidemic proportions, Monterrey and Acapulco (aka Narcopulco) now increasingly have what amounts to squad level firefights in the central business/tourist district.

 

Criminal co-optition will accelerate as groups jocky for product, plaza control, security and supremacy.

 

These negative events are paralleling Mexico’s betterment of the China Price, and may well deprive Mexico of added legitimate revenue and infrastructure build-out.

 

By early 2008 the Gulf Cartel had “begun acquiring more military-grade weapons, including FN Herstal P90 submachine guns, FN Herstal 5.7 x 28mm pistols, M72 LAW (light anti-tank weapon) rocket launchers, AT4 anti-tank rockets, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, MGL 37mm grenade launchers and fragmentation grenades.”

 

The use of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) has started and I would expect that to accelerate with even more paralysis of Mexican judicial and police asset that US forces suffer in Afghanistan.

 

Missing from this first effort: Secondary and tertiary detonations, often waves of parallel ignitions, against massed first responders and receiving hospitals. The Chechens and Iraqis have perfected this progression, but for the foreseeable future these secondary detonations will be IEDs and VBIEDs and not suicide vests. As time progresses: Multiple targets, simultaneous attacks, multiple vehicles per target and armed assault/breaching cadres to clear security personnel and gain access to the primary target.

 

The Bolivian “Coca-Coup” delivered a nation state into criminal hands in July 1980 along with its oversight of narcotics interdiction. Guatemala only recently escaped falling under narco control and is by no means free from a return of that threat. Mexico is similarly vulnerable.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Frontera List

Frontera-List contains articles posted daily on U.S.- Mexico border issues, with a special focus on Ciudad Juarez

by Molly Molloy

 

Comando caught with explosives in Chihuahua

From: Susan <prettysk...@gmail.com>

Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 20:01:11 -0500

Local: Fri, Jul 23 2010 9:01 pm

 

Ciudad Juarez car bomb shows new sophistication in Mexican drug cartels' tactics

By William Booth

Washington Post

July 22, 2010; A10

 

Mexico Retail Sales Rise 5% as Violence Damps Demand

Bloomberg

July 21, 2010, 12:36 PM EDT

 

Texas Tribune: Outgoing Juárez Mayor talks about the city's future

By Julian Aguilar

Texas Tribune

07/21/2010 08:27:01 AM MDT

 

Mexico Businesses See Drug Violence As Bigger Threat Than U.S. Downturn

By Adriana Lopez Caraveo and Jonathan J. Levin

Bloomberg

Jul 20, 2010

 

How Guatemala's fragile democracy nearly went `narco'

Earlier this year, Guatemala nearly came under mobsters' control -- but an outspoken former Spanish judge yanked the nation from the precipice.

BY TIM JOHNSON

McClatchy News Service

Monday, 07.19.10

 

Mexico birthday party massacre bears resemblance to Juarez killings

By Sara Miller Llana Sara Miller Llana

CSM

Jul 19, 1:10 pm ET

 

US official: Mexican car bomb likely used Tovex

by ALICIA A. CALDWELL

MSNBC

updated 7/19/2010 11:38:32 PM ET

 

Mexico car bomb: 'Colombianization' of Mexico nearly complete

Last week's Mexico car bomb in the border town of Cuidad Juarez killed three. It is the first known use of a car bomb against authorities and marks a troubling new level of violence in the country's brutal drug war.

By Sara Miller Llana

CSM

July 18, 2010

 

Government Says Bolivian Clans Linked to Mexico’s Zetas Cartel

Latin American Herald Tribune (LAHT)

July 18,2010

 

Experts: Car bomb in Juárez mimics Middle East terrorist tactics

Car bombing was trap

By Ramon Bracamontes

El Paso Times

07/17/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

 

Car bomb in Mexican drug war changes ground rules

by ALICIA A. CALDWELL

AP

updated 7/17/2010 11:04:40 AM ET

 

Mexico blames drug cartel for deadly car bomb

By Julian Cardona

Reuters

Jul 16, 2010 8:58pm EDT

 

7 circles of Juarez: teenage assassins

Reuters

Jul 14, 2010 10:51 EDT

 

Mexican Troops Capture High-Level Zetas Cartel Member

Latin American Herald Tribune (LAHT)

July 9,2010

 

Barometro de empresas 14

[Business Barometer 14]

Deloitte México

July 2010

COMPLETE SERIES from April 2007

 

Cancun police find 12 decomposing inside caverns

By Gabriel Alcocer

Associated Press

Jun 18, 11:31 pm ET

 

In Mexico, Transactions With Dollars Face Scrutiny

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: June 15, 2010

 

Workers At Pemex Installations Abducted--Pemex Officials

By David Luhnow and Nicholas Casey

WALL STREET JOURNAL

FIRST ENERCAST FINANCIAL

Jun 11, 2010

 

RPT-US-born "Barbie" drug lord takes on Mexican army

By Anahi Rama

Reuters

Jun 11, 2010 8:00am EDT

 

Mexico arrests Los Zetas gang 'leader' in Monterrey

BBC

Page last updated at 08:20 GMT, 10 June 2010 09:20 UK

 

Mexican Cops Find Tracking Chip Removed from Kidnapped Politician

Latin American Herald Tribune

June 10,2010

Auto Thefts Up 15.8% in Mexico

Latin American Herald Tribune

June 9,2010

 

U.S. Delays Release of Report Tying Meth to Mexico

By CHARLIE SAVAGE and MICHAEL R. GORDON

June 8, 2010

 

Mexico police arrest 13 in fuel theft tunnel case

Police allege they were trying to steal fuel from oil company pipelines

Associated Press

updated 1:44 p.m. ET, Tues., June 8, 2010

 

Networks of Power: Diego, the "Colombianization" has arrived

By: Alejandro Ramos

MexicoInvestorDigest

18/05/2010 10:52

 

Barbie's Bad Break-up: The Fight for Mexico's Heartland

Violence threatens more than just Mexico's north.

Salem-News.com Special Report

May-12-2010 00:11

 

Mexican Drug Wars: When Media Silenced, Twitter Alerts Citizens

In Reynosa, Mexico, Citizens Spread Information on Twitter, YouTube, When Journalists Silenced

By ALEX PENA

ABC News

May 10, 2010

 

Mexican traffickers get help from US prison gangs

By Christopher Sherman

Associated Press

May 2, 2:21 pm ET 2010

 

Getaway for Mexican elite now cartel battleground

By Olga R. Rodriguez

Associated Press

Apr 28, 2010 3:47 pm ET

 

'Murder City,' by Charles Bowden

By Oscar Villalon, Special to The Chronicle

REVIEW

April 25, 2010

 

Author Charles Bowden calls Ciudad Juarez 'Murder City'

Hour 2

Radio Times/WHYY

April 22, 2010

 

Military Capabilities for Hybrid War

Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza

David E. Johnson

ISBN 978-0-8330-4926-1

RAND 2010

 

Tucson author Charles Bowden on 'Murder City'

by Kerry Lengel

The Arizona Republic

Apr. 9, 2010 02:12 PM

 

Mexico Failing on Purpose?

Nat Wilson Turner

The Agonist

April 6, 2010

 

Journalist Chronicles 'Killing Fields' Of Juarez

Morning Edition

by NPR Staff

Interview with Charles Bowden

April 1, 2010

 

Barometro de empresas 13

[Business Barometer 13]

Deloitte México

April 2010

 

You Can't Understand Drug War Bloodbath in Mexico Unless You're Living It

"Living on the border can cripple a person's emotional range. I grow more numb with each passing day."

By Charles Bowden

High Country News, AlterNet

March 26, 2010

 

National Drug Threat Assessment 2010

National Drug Intelligence Center

US Department of Justice

Document ID: 2010-Q0317-001

February 2010

Updated 25 March 2010

 

Charles Bowden Chronicles the 'Murder City': Juarez, Mexico

The Takeaway

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AUDIO

 

Mexico killings spotlight Juarez as Mexico's worst drug war city

The Mexico killings of a US consulate employee, her American husband, and a Mexican citizen affiliated with the consulate in Ciudad Juarez show just how dangerous Mexico's drug war and the border city have become.

By Sara Miller Llana

CSM

March 15, 2010

 

Authorities: Gulf Cartel, Zetas gang up on each other as arrangement dies

Jeremy Roebuck

The Monitor

March 10, 2010 12:55 AM

 

AlixPartners U.S. Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index™ Overview & Highlights

February 2010

AlixPartners

ZMAGS

 

AlixPartnersLLP 2010 China Auto Outlook_April 2010_HIGHLIGHTS

AlixPartners

 

Alix Outsourcing 2010

AlixPartners

Mexico Continues to Lead as Best-cost Country for U.S. Outsourcing; Vietnam, Russia and Romania, making huge strides, also edge out China.

Estrada y Asociados

Feb. 3, 2010

 

Accelerated migration of Japanese autoparts companies located in U.S.A. and Canada to Mexico

Mexico´s Secretary of Economy

Representative Office in Japan

Embassy of Mexico

Souce: Fourin Monthly Report on Global Automotive Insustry No.293, January 2010

*Translation from Japanese and update by the Representative Office in Japan of Mexico’s Ministry of Economy

January 2010

 

Gangs in Central America

Clare Ribando Seelke

Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Congressional Research Service

RL34112

December 4, 2009

 

The Disappearing China Price - AlixPartners

By Brian Schwarz

Zhongnanhai blog

Published August 17, 2009

Opinion & Analysis

 

From East to West

Huntingdon County Business and Industry

 

Totally Wasted

Just who is winning the War on Drugs?

Mother Jones

Special Report

July/August 2009

 

"We Bring Fear"

A reporter flees the biggest cartel of all—the Mexican Army.

By Charles Bowden

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

The Cartels Next Door

Cartels used to neatly divide Mexico. But as they have fractured, the violence has intensified. And moved north.

By Jen Phillips

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

The Drug War in Six Acts

How right-wing posses started the crack trade, and other tales that will blow your mind.

By Ben Wallace-Wells

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

Will Corruption Cross the Line?

The cartels own Mexico's cops. American border agents could be next.

By Andrew Becker

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

Las Baladas Prohibidas

On the trail of narcocorridos, the drug ballads Mexicans love to hate.

By William T. Vollmann

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

US-Trained Death Squads?

How America's latest drug war initiative could aid the cartels and enrich military contractors.

By Frank Koughan

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

The Patriot's Guide to Legalization

Have you ever looked at our marijuana policy? I mean, really looked at it?

By Kevin Drum

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

High Sierras

The woods are lovely, dark, and...full of gun-toting narcofarmers.

By Josh Harkinson

Mother Jones

July/August 2009

 

The Drug War, By the Numbers

Where the money went.

By Celia Perry

Mother Jones

July/August 2009 Issue

 

Barometro de empresas 10

Deloitte México

Julio 2009

 

Download: AlixPartners 2009 Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index HIGHLIGHTS_2

FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

June 5, 2009 2:24 am

 

Mexico: Battling China on Price

FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

May 23, 2009, 9:36 am

 

AlixPartners Introduces New Outsourcing Tool That Determines 'Best-Cost Countries'

Mexico Surpasses China and India in the Analysis; China's Total Costs Just 6% Below U.S.'s

Marketwire

May 18, 2009 09:00 ET

 

Mexico’s Narco-Insurgency and U.S. Counter-Drug Policy

Hal Brands

Strategic Studies Institute

ISBN 1-58487-388-4

May 2009

 

AlixPartners 2009 Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index – Overview & Highlights

AlixPartners

May 2009

 

Spanish translations of The Sicario are, however, available in the clear:

Sicario. Confesiones de un asesino de Ciudad Juárez

Charles Bowden

Traducción de César Blanco

Nexos en linea

01/08/2009

 

The sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks

Google html cache image of May 2009 Harper’s article

 

Knowing that Google automatically generates html versions of documents as it crawls the web, I was able to find and capture a Google html cache copy from an index of the article PDFs from the Harper’s May 2009 issue.

The copy referenced on this site is the Google html version of the file http://pdfmenot.com/store_local/b65d618cb36b8222f1cdff9a428f094f.pdf.
The blank spaces in the html copy are the illustrations in the pdf. Text itself is complete.

 

The sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks

By Charles Bowden

Harper’s

May 2009

 

China Loses Low-Cost Manufacturing Crown to India, Mexico

China's total manufacturing costs are now only 6% below those of American factories

AFP

May 21, 2009

 

Gomorrah and Mexican Cartel Violence: Is the Gomorra more violent than Mexican Drug Cartels?

James Creechan, Ph.D. (Toronto, Canada)

DRAFT

May 19, 2009

 

Mexico targets Death Saint popular with criminals

By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ

Associated Press

Apr 19 12:16 AM US/Eastern, 2009

 

Santa Muerte Laughs While U.S. Strains to Pour Money and Guns on the Fire

Nat Wilson Turner

The Agonist

April 6, 2009 - 1:49pm

 

Mexico: authorities crack down on "Santa Muerte" narco-cult

WW4 Report

Sat, 04/04/2009 - 23:19

 

Business Barometer Survey

The business pulse survey [9]

Deloitte México

April 2009

 

Mexico's Patron Saint of Crime, Criminals, and the Dispossessed is dispossessed: Santa Muerte alive in El Paso / Juarez

Times wire, staff reports

El Paso Times

03/29/2009 10:30:06 AM MDT

 

Video: 'Saint Death' alive in El Paso / Juarez

La Santa Muerte Alive in El Paso

 

Police: U.S. teens were hit men for Mexican cartel

By Ed Lavandera

CNN

March 13, 2009 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)

 

Mexico: The Third War

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Stratfor

February 18, 2009 1923 GMT

 

Countries in Crisis: Mexico

Stratfor

December 8, 2008 1613 GMT

 

National Drug Threat Assessment 2009

National Drug Intelligence Center

US Department of Justice

Document ID: 2008-Q0317-005

December 2008

 

Mexico Security Memo: Jan. 21, 2008

Stratfor

Jan. 21, 2008

 

GAO finds lax border procedures weaken security

Posted by Fran Harris at 11:29 AM

U.S. Border Control

January 20, 2008

 

Mexico: A Shift in Cartel Tactics?

Stratfor

January 15, 2008 1853 GMT

 

Mexico Security Memo: Jan. 14, 2008

Stratfor

January 14, 2008 2059 GMT

 

Threat Analysis: Organized Crime and Narco-Terrorism in Northern Mexico
By Gordon James Knowles, Ph.D.

Military Review
January-February 2008

 

We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War

Matt M. Matthews

The Long War Series

Occasional Paper 26

U.S. Army Combined Arms Center

ISBN 978-0-16-079899-3

2008

 

A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil.

Max G. Manwaring
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
ISBN 1-58487-334-5
December 2007

 

The Maras: A Menace to the Americas

by Federico Breve, former Minister of Defense of Honduras

Military Review
July-August 2007

 

Border Patrol, lawmen outgunned by cartels

Homeland Security panel also says traffickers are forming ties with U.S.-based gangs

By Michelle Mittelstadt, as printed in the Houston Chronicle
Edits made per Franking Commission

October 17, 2006

 

Exodus: Border-Crossers Forge a New America

Coyotes, pollos, and the promised van.

By Charles Bowden

Mother Jones

September/October 2006

 

Born Into Cellblocks

In the penitentiary of Nuevo Laredo, children do time with their mothers—and the cartels.

By Charles Bowden

Mother Jones

May/June 2006

 

Charles Bowden, a Fly on the Wall Watching the Drug War that's 'Down by the River'

Interview Conducted by BuzzFlash Editor Mark Karlin.

A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

March 2, 2006

 

Mexico Is Becoming the Next Colombia

by Ted Galen Carpenter

Foreign Policy Briefing, No. 87

CATO

November 15, 2005

 

The Most Dangerous Gang in America

They're a violent force in 33 states and counting. Inside the battle to police Mara Salvatrucha.

by Arian Campo-Flores

Newsweek

March 28, 2005

 

Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency

Max G. Manwaring

Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

ISBN 1-58487-191-1

March 2005

 

The Numbers Game: Let's All Guess the Size of the Illegal Drug Industry!

Francisco E. Thoumi

Journal Of Drug Issues

0022-0426/05/01, Volume 35, Number 1, January 1, 2005, pp 185-200

MIRROR

 

SPECIAL REPORT -- THE CHINA PRICE

By Pete Engardio and Dexter Roberts With Brian Bremner in Beijing and bureau reports

Business Week
DECEMBER 6, 2004

 

Latin American Security Challenges

A Collaborative Inquiry from North and South

Newport Paper Twenty-one

Paul D. Taylor, Editor

U.S. Naval War College

2004

 

MOVING TARGETS

Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?

By Seymour M. Hersh

New Yorker

Issue of 2003-12-15 (December 15, 2003)

2003-12-08

 

Potential Indicators of Threats Involving Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs)

Homeland Security Information Bulletin

May 15, 2003

 

The Impact of the Andean Cocain Trafficking: The Cases of Bolivia, Columbia and Mexico

Sayaka Fukumi

ECPR Workshops, Grenoble

6-11 April 2001

 

KILLING PABLO

Media Awareness Project

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)

Pubdate: 17 Dec 2000

Chapters 1 through 36, dated 12 Nov 2000 to 17 Dec 2000

 

The Urban Threat: Guerrilla and Terrorist Organizations
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity study, 1999
Small Wars Journal

 

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

In Juarez, Mexico, photographers expose the violent realities of free trade

By Charles Bowden

From HARPER'S MAGAZINE, December 1996

MIRROR, Includes Jaime Bailleres’ image of the unknown dead girl

 

Gordon Housworth



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