Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

NarcoTerrorists or NarcoParamilitaries: What is the Threat Facing Mexico ?

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Infobae
                      Narco-terrorists or narco-paramilitaries: what is the threat facing Mexico ?
Former military members who became drug traffickers, criminals who use terrorist tactics and more combinations: the Cartels have become an almost indecipherable threat.

Narco-terrorism and narco-paramilitarism are two concepts that in recent weeks have featured in the headlines of all Mexican newspapers. After the murder of nine members of the LeBarón family and the failed capture of Ovidio Guzmán López , national and US politicians have suggested that the cartels should be considered terrorist organizations.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump , said Tuesday that his government will designate these criminal organizations as terrorist groups. His position is clear: drug traffickers adopt terrorist tactics to promote their ends, instilling fear among the population. The violence to which they subject to the citizenship meets, even partially, the criteria for it to be considered terrorism.

There is a group of analysts that suggests that the drug cartels are actually paramilitary groups, while they have a complex armament, and their lines are formed by former soldiers , who defected to the Army and joined the criminal groups that in a Start should fight.

In 2008, the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) itself was forced to recognize that in those last seven years, more than 100 thousand soldiers had deserted and in many cases, had swelled the ranks of criminal groups, mainly drug trafficking The specific case is "Los Zetas" , an armed arm of the Gulf cartel, which even recruited elite personnel from the US Air Force.

From both sides there have been arguments and counterarguments to reinforce the idea that Mexico has been overwhelmed by organized crime and has even opened a new chapter in narco-violence, which could well derive a designation as a terrorist cell.

Narco-paramilitaries or narco-terrorists, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera considers that both terms are misused in the Mexican case. In interview for Infobae Mexico, the professor at George Mason University and author of the book "Los Zetas Inc.", said that none of these concepts defines the situation of cartels in the country.

To be a terrorist group, cartels should have a political or social motivation. However, his main interest remains economic. That is why for the analyst the statements of national and US politicians are out of context, trying to match the tactics of drug cartels with terrorist organizations .

Although their practices provoke terror, it must be clear that they extort and exert that violence as part of their business model, not with a political purpose. In contrast to Hezbollah, which attacks civil society to have an impact on the government and send a message, the political issue here does not exist.
Designating the cartels as terrorist organizations could result in the total militarization of the country.

The insistence of equating the cartels with terrorist organizations carries a great risk to the country, which is summed up in one word: militarization. Therefore, Cabrera is emphatic in stating again and again that care must be taken with the creation of terms that do not adhere to reality.

The confusion comes from the indiscriminate use of the word Cartel , which has been diluted to such an extent that today it is used generically to describe any criminal organization, even if it does not engage in drug trafficking.

Organized crime has referrals that go from extortion to kidnapping and many of them are cells, that is, they do not represent the total part of the criminal group . “They have slippery slopes; some of those who participate where the LeBarón family is engaged in extortion, others in drug trafficking, ” the analyst recalled. He added that, so far, the investigation into the massacre of the Mormon family has not been well conducted. “We do not know well, there is no good research, there is no will to apply justice. In the LeBarón case, the poor coordination and communication makes doubt of many things , and it is not necessary to forget that still the person in charge is not determined ”.

The attack on the LeBarón family was the last trigger. As Mexican-American citizens, the neighboring government has pressured the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to resolve the case, promising to intervene if necessary . Meanwhile, the survivors of the attack issued a formal request for Washington to consider the cartels terrorist organizations.
            U.S. Army soldiers placing a wire fence near the Mexican border (Photo: Reuters)

The request, if fulfilled, would bring great repercussions that would even lead to US intervention in national territory . "What would cause the cartel to call terrorist groups would be that it would give the country (USA) a white letter to intervene in Mexico ," Cabrera said.

The most conservative and militaristic side in the United States is pushing the agenda to make it happen, “the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) are spreading, especially in Texas, propaganda that equals cartels with terrorist groups without sticking to the definition of agencies, ”he warned.

The State Department, the FBI and various international organizations are very clear that in order to be considered a terrorist, the organization must have a political or social motivation. It is not enough to use terror strategies , you need a common goal. That the cartels prioritize economic interest isolates them from this definition.

Narco-paramilitarism: a support from the State
              Hundreds of former Mexican military have swelled the ranks of organized crime

Former military who became drug traffickers; It is a scenario reproduced in Mexico for decades. At some point, the judicial forces considered more lucrative to join the crime than to fight it. With Army weapons and training received by the US agencies themselves , certain cartel cells appear to have surpassed the government. What happened in Culiacán after the failed capture of Joaquín's son "El Chapo" Guzmán is an example of this.

This scenario that reproduces tirelessly could suppose that one lives in a state of narco-paramilitarism in Mexico, where the instrumentation of violence and the articulation of a capacity to finance communities in their basic needs before an inaction of the State have granted them the power to criminals to govern in parallel to the official regime.

However, the true strength of a narco-paramilitary group comes from its link with the government . This was explained by Correa-Cabrera, saying that, no matter how much a criminal group that uses military tactics would only enter the definition of a paramilitary if it were "fed by state forces and supported by it."

Narcoparamilitarism implies a control of the illicit economy of drug trafficking in the territory, which the government allows in exchange for certain tasks delegated to these groups so as not to stain the image of the Army. In the analyst's words:
This criminal group collaborated with the federal government during the presidency of Felipe Calderón 

Some of them are hired by state forces to commit acts of enforced disappearance. There are alliances with the State, such as "Los Mata Zetas", who collaborated with the Navy in the fight undertaken by Felipe Calderón.

Michoacán is another state in which there has been presence of paramilitary groups. However, its isolated existence and the diversification of its criminal activities annuls the possibility of talking about narco-paramilitarism in Mexico. In any case, according to Cabrera, one could speak of criminal paramilitarism.

“ Some time ago some criminal organizations had links with the State . You have to see today which ones keep it, but you can't typecast all criminal organizations in the same concept. This is very dangerous and is irresponsible when the characteristics are not analyzed, ” he added.

Given the indiscriminate use of these concepts, the only thing that is clear to Cabrera is that Mexico is experiencing a terrible problem of insecurity and organized crime violence, in which there is a danger of militarizing the country entirely.


  1. It’s true they’re terrorizing the Mexican people and destroying their beautiful culture in places. AMLO is wrong and Mexico knows it. The cartels must be destroyed.

  2. Best thing i heard all day.

  3. And the left wing chimes in again...oh, no you can't do that...why not, because it might work and then all the people who make money off of the criminal organizations in mexico would have to get a job.

  4. They are terrorists with drug money!

  5. Interesting article thanks for posting this topical subject Yaqui, not sure I agree with it though. If we take Michoacan as an example, at one point the KT were the defacto government in the state, controlling everything that went on. Ill define this futher by saying that they placed a tax on all businesses, provided benefits for the poorest ( allegedly ), controlled movement of all goods and services, decided which businesses should be allowed to continue to trade, controlled when and where the police and armed services could operate. They also subverted the local government to their own interests, made sure that their own choice of politician were elected that would follow their own agenda. The provided their own judicial system, where anyone who negated to follow their prinicples were killed, they drafted youngsters into their own ranks as soldiers.

    Given all this it seems that just judging cartels interest as economic is not the full case at all.

    Charles L Ruby also adds that when difining what terrorism is
    "Experts on terrorism also include another aspect in the definition: the act is committed in order to create a fearful state of mind in an audience different from the victims. Whether or not an act is considered terrorism also depends on whether a legal, moral, or behavioral perspective is used to interpret the act. If a legal or moral perspective is used, the values of the interpreter are the focus rather than the act itself. A behavioral perspective appears to be best suited for interpreting and reacting to terrorism."

    Also Kentucky University list the Five types of terrorism and certainly number 4 on this list definitely applies to the defunct KT as well as number 5. All cartels certainly qualify for number 5.

    You will need to be familiar with the five types of terrorism.

    1.State-Sponsored terrorism, which consists of terrorist acts on a state or government by a state or government.

    2.Dissent terrorism, which are terrorist groups which have rebelled against their government.
    3.Terrorists and the Left and Right, which are groups rooted in political ideology.
    4.Religious terrorism, which are terrorist groups which are extremely religiously motivated and
    5.Criminal Terrorism, which are terrorists acts used to aid in crime and criminal profit.

  6. It's funny (and sad) to see how these discussions always manage to avoid touching on the real CAUSES: poverty, education, jobs and health.

    I suppose the known status quo is acceptable. Hence the elites continue to fill their pockets and the middle class prefers spending a few billions a year on 'fighting crime' as opposed to changing society to solve the problems for real.

  7. Across Mexico cartel bosses are convening roundtables with lieutenants and captains. The subject is how to dodge the DEA, USA military and the inevitable guided cruise missiles that will one day soon rain down on their jungle hideouts. It's coming. Might as well take some of your rotten fentanyl now and end it peacefully. That or wait to be vaporized.
    Let the napalm fly boys.

    1. Agreed brother, just send in a few a-10’s, Apache, f35, ac-130 gunships and boom no more cartel take out from above

  8. they do have a political motivation, to take over Mexico. That is why they are killing politicians and judges who stand up to them. As usual Trump is right. This designation will bring more resources against the narcos.

  9. Usa doesnt want to irradicate drug trade... the levine book Big White Lie is dead on.... it does however only want to deal with specific players that can be controlled. The big chaos mess in mex is an issue which will be dealt with.... AMLO has no clue on how to fix it and the country has gotten worse past few years.... the fragmenting into smaller cells is an effective tactic but eventually they will kill themselves off but at great damage to the regular population

  10. Cartels are an organized terrorist outfit. They don’t have a distinct political motive. This is worse than having an allegiance to a certain political group. They control all political groups in their country, because they force cooperation with whoever is in charge. Keeping the status quo or increasing their longevity in the case of AMLO is only going to continue to move Mexico in the wrong direction.

  11. I, think the U.S. government wants to eliminate drug dealers in Mexico with this label so that later it can later give in to the legalizers demands and it can help Americans sell drugs for themselves.
    I, mean there is plenty of money involved in the game and Americans need in on it. This is why the government does not educate its citizens against using them but would rather keep them addicted so as to become future consumers.
    I, mean if it really cared about addicts health it would have done something useful about it years ago.

  12. They have killed political figures.


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