How many actual cartels are operating?

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How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
How many actual cartels are operating in Mexico? Excluding factions (let’s just consider them one organization with internal fighting), small groups with a single leader, and groups which are not primarily involved in drug trafficking. For a working definition, I define a drug cartel as: A group of drug traffickers who may or may not coallese around a single leader, whom through corruption are able to form lasting partnerships with otherwise legitimate financial and political interest. The organization has the ability to monopolize the drug trade in a substantial geographic location and operates with a cellular structure. By this definition, I feel that only CJNG, CDS and possibly CDJ are actual cartels.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
I also think it will be an outdated structure in the next ten years.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Podrido
In reply to this post by Anon
As you say, that is how you define a cartel, and hence that leaves a very subjective interpretation of what a cartel is.

By your definition I would suggest that you are mostly correct. Though this also falls into a number of other subjective parameters, such as what is considered a substantial geographic location? If we are specifically ignoring factional differences I would argue CDN and CDG are geographically substantial in northeastern Mexico.

By the broader definition of a 'cartel', drug trafficking need not be taken into account.

Dictionary.com wrote
- an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.

- a coalition or cooperative arrangement between political parties intended to promote a mutual interest.

I would wager criminal cartels more accurately fall somewhere in between these two notable definitions.

When you take the manufacturing or even supply of drugs out of the equation (which it need not be involved to make a 'cartel') then the list of actual cartels in Mexico becomes much longer.

After all, criminal groups in Mexico supply much more than just drugs, and so long as they are a coalition of smaller or lesser groups and families working together I would suggest they qualify.
Just a lurker.
J
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

J
In reply to this post by Anon
Most of the little groups are under someone too, they may not even know who, but they are.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Podrido
This post was updated on .
True, and in cases of some factions you could consider them cartels within cartels.

Matamoros CDG comes to mind specifically as it is a collective at this point of Ciclones, Escorpiones, Alfas and some members of Los Metros, is it not? Even VEZ and CDN seem to have some loose alliances with them.

Tampico CDG could also be considered its own cartel, as they are a collective of Rojos, Rojos Zona Norte, Grupo Black, some Kalimanes, Grupo Sierra, etc.

I think this is where it all becomes very convoluted and difficult to make sense of.


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You have a situation now wherein CDG has become so fragmented, is it really a singular cartel, or is it more that what are really lesser cartels and even gangs of that region are all claiming to be CDG while neglecting to rebrand themselves as their own organizations under new names?

This is a pretty common criminal tactic, and only adds to the difficulty in compiling a list of cartels. Especially nationwide as CDG is not the only group to suffer this problem.

The mafia does the same thing, as the 'brand' that is the Cosa Nostra or 'Ndrangheta is as well known in Italy and the US as CDG is in Mexico. Having a brand like that behind you instills fear and grants power you might otherwise lack.

In some cases you see fragments claiming to still be member of a cartel they once worked for even if now they are really just independent criminal structures or gangs.

Los Mazatlecos and Sangre Nueva Zeta come to mind. How connected are they to the broader network or brand they claim to be a part of? Do they regularly parlay with these other elements while conducting business? These are questions worth asking when considering any cartel list.
Just a lurker.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
In reply to this post by Podrido
I think that the true definition of a business cartel doesn’t apply, because it was just a name given by the DEA to the Medellin cartel, because of how they organized. It then just became the word for “Latin American drug trafficking group”. Still, it used to define something different than it does today, for the most part. I’d like the organizations to be redefined as BACRIM. I think it is more accurate. That said, I think CJNG, CDS and maybe CDJ are still functioning old style cartels. But I’d be interested if you guys could form a list. Btw, substantial geographic area is definitely a vague term, but I don’t think that a local group should appropriately be termed a drug cartel, even if they meet the other terms.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

El_Bujo
In reply to this post by Anon


What you see above are the “carteles mayores”, the major cartels..

The latest article on BB front-page does an excellent job at narrating the chaos/fragmentation of today, with all of the many splinter groups fighting for control.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2019/09/pandoras-box-war-on-drugs-organized.html

As for a hard number for how many cartellitos are fighting today? We can never really know.

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
In reply to this post by Podrido
Podrido, I agree with you and that is why I think these new groups should be labeled "Bandas Criminales", BACRIM. I think it de mystifies these groups and is actually more accurate.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
In reply to this post by El_Bujo
Right, and 7 of the 9 here are remnants of cartels.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Podrido
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Anon
I think the terminology is certainly debatable, though I have already expressed my reasons for feeling many of the remnants still qualify as cartels and that in most cases that is the most applicable term, and wouldn't want to bore you to death with any repetition haha. (Though certainly share in what I perceive to be frustration when I hear of smaller independent gangs being referred to as cartels!)

I do agree that Criminal Bands is an interesting and applicable term, though from what I have read about it on Insight Crime it's usually limited to describing groups in Colombia, is it not? I think this may be because in many cases criminal groups in Colombia are fundamentally different from the ones in Mexico.

As stated, Mexican criminal structures are typically a collective or coalition of various gangs. Some of which are created for specific purposes and are promptly disbanded afterward.

Whereas BACRIM in Colombia are the remnants of non-Marxist politically motivated paramilitary groups (which engage in criminal activity). This leaves them operating under a different set of parameters, both in structure and how they work, as well as their primary function of existence.

Insight Crime wrote
"The BACRIM are principally armed groups. They do have territorial control and they do control movement corridors across the country. They can secure departure points and they do have the ability to punish anybody that interferes with the flow of narcotics."
Mexican cartels certainly have armed sicarios, but their primary operations and hierarchies differ. The armed element in the Mexican example is secondary to the movement of drugs, securing of extortion payments, kidnapping of individuals, etc. I've always thought cartels were much more like mafia's than paramilitary groups, myself.

Many paramilitary groups move drugs to secure financing, after all. KLA in Kosovo, the Taliban, FARC, etc.

Anyways... I don't mean to push this off topic!

I just find this sort of thing interesting, because even if you look at how nations classify the differences between 'rebels' 'dissidents' 'insurgents' 'militants', etc there are a lot of nuances that go into those labels, and that legally those labels are a big deal in terms of how international law dictates you can react to them.
Just a lurker.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

canadiana
Administrator
In reply to this post by Anon
Great article on main board by Yaqui that answers your questions on the groups and including the names of many dozens of subgroups I’ve never heard of but they’re probably very regional and Wow Guerrero having 350 groups !
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
In reply to this post by Podrido
I just find this sort of thing interesting, because even if you look at how nations classify the differences between 'rebels' 'dissidents' 'insurgents' 'militants', etc there are a lot of nuances that go into those labels, and that legally those labels are a big deal in terms of how international law dictates you can react to them.

Here is where I think you hit the nail on the head. These labels do matter, and I think the term “drug cartel” is an outdated label that doesn’t best fit what we are talking about. They aren’t exactly like the Colombian BACRIM, but to me that is a looser term that fits better.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
In reply to this post by canadiana
That main article is what got me thinking. The thing is that one article will say there are nine cartels, one will say twelve, another thirty etc., I think it comes down to definitions.
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

canadiana
Administrator
In reply to this post by Podrido
I think of the Mafia and compare when referring to Mexican criminal elements (either Cartel or gangs) because $$$ is why they exist rather than a political leaning or religion or idealogy.Comes down to the basics of why they exist and yeah you are right I never thought about that definition (like a terrorist organization) can determine how they could be dealt with in the future (although the Mexican Politicians enjoy more protections than the criminals so I highly doubt they would ever ask for help internationally because it would put a crimp on their style unless the country gets so out of hand whatever that definition is).
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Re: How many actual cartels are operating?

Anon
I think they are VERY different from the mafia.