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Thread: Of Mice and Men: Gangs, Narco-Terrorism, and the USA

  1. #61
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    Default Hi J37

    Please introduce yourself (Hint: go to Hail and Farewell) and give us some background. Welcome and thanks in advance.

    There are three basic situations (some of the real situations we see will be consistent with the legalistic concept of the nation-state's "monopoly on violence"; some not):

    1. Nation-state vs nation state.

    2. Nation-state vs violent non-state actor.

    3. Violent non-state actor vs violent non-state actor.

    Much of the present construct is based on Westphalian nationhood, and is often too legalistic (e.g, where a "nation-state" exists de jure under I Law, but does not really exist de facto).

    The extent of violence generally determines whether the situation is one of armed conflict or not armed conflict. A grey area does exist between armed conflict or not armed conflict, but usually we have a pretty good common sense of whether the situation is one or the other.

    All situations involve a choice of violent and non-violent COAs to handle the situation. In armed conflicts, for example, we might see only a military effort, or a mix of military and political efforts.

    Global Law, particularly with respect to violent non-state actors, is a mess; and anyone who attempts to solve present problems with present legalisms, is often standing on some very shifting sands.

    When reality is not well-defined, law is often inadequate. Once a area becomes better defined, law usually manages to catch up - unless it becomes dogma-bound.

    A good monograph, worth reading and then studying to induce independent thinking, is Mark O'Neill, Confronting the Hydra (2009).

    Cheers

    Mike

  2. #62
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    Default Can COIN help LE?

    Nathan Hodge's article in 'The Wired':http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009...ks/#more-19759 is an interesting commentary on the 'COIN can help LE' debate, mainly applied to Washinton DC. I would have thought there were many other placesin need in front of DC; taking a longer view the Mexican border states.

    He cites:
    Want to see what a place looks like when counterinsurgency starts to seep into policing? For a softer example, take a look at the United Kingdom...has a pretty expansive surveillance system that in part was developed in response to IRA terror. (It also has a more robust Official Secrets Act.)
    Yes some of the surveillance the UK has can be traced back to Ulster and IRA attacks, such as automatic number plate readers (ANPR) and CCTV. A lot more weight should be added to the massive changes in IT, data management and technology is running far ahead of customer, public and political understanding.

    The surveillance - which I am sure could, maybe is happening in the USA and elsewhere - has to be looked at in different ways:

    1) pre-incident or preventive surveillance (mainly CCTV)
    2) post incident use evidentially
    3) matching suspects to crimes (from CCTV, DNA, official documents)
    4) providing a starting point for intelligence gathering / investigation

    The curious fact is that much of the CCTV surveillance system here has little deterrent value, the vast majority of the imagery is useless and countermeasures are simple.

    There are also whole community sub-groups that are largely beyond it's "eyes", young black males and illegal immigrants to cite two.
    davidbfpo

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    Thanks for the tip jmm99. I posted a little bit about myself. To save you the hassle though, my name is John and I study criminal justice and international relations at the University of North Texas. I will actually be graduating in the spring of 2010. This semester though, my focus has been on IR and in particular conflict in the Middle East.

    I will be reading Confronting the hydra: big problems with small wars in the next few weeks. I've got to finish reading Peace Process by William B. Quandt (and a few assorted articles on varying topics) for finals in two weeks first.

    Davidbfpo- you're exactly right. Technology has gotten far ahead of public and political understanding.

    CCTV does seem to have very little deterrent value, especially in its current incarnation;however, that could change. I hate to use another danger room article ( I read many other things, I swer ): http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009...ce/#more-17293

    The idea is to design software that, on its own, can detect a threat. That would make CCTV a very effective tool when it comes to preventing some sort of negative event.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by j37 View Post
    There has been a recent debate about applying COIN to LE in the US. The parallels between COIN and community policing are quite striking. One of the arguments is that gangs don't have a political agenda. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009...ks/#more-19759

    And while I full heartedly believe that "Gangs/Narco-Terrorist- use violence to corner a market and make money," creating an ungovernable space where law enforcement and local/state/federal government can not exercise their full sovereignty is critical to their success in cornering a market and making money. Don't insurgents do the same thing?
    John,

    Thanks for the article. It's good commentary, but it also shows some misinterpretation over what we call COIN. For example, in the Salinas project, no one was suggesting to treat an American city like Baghdad and enforce strict population control measures- checkpoints, walling off neighborhoods, entry/ID cards, etc. Instead, the volunteers were mostly teaching basic military problem solving methods and good policing skills learned in small wars- ID your area of operations, determine where the enemy is at, figure out where you should be patrolling (mounted/dismounted), learning how to better communicate with your people, tightening your rules of engagement so you're not harming innocent civilians, etc.

    To answer your question, gang use violence and political influence to make money. Insurgencies use violence, money, and drugs to achieve political goals.

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    John,

    Thanks for the article. It's good commentary, but it also shows some misinterpretation over what we call COIN. For example, in the Salinas project, no one was suggesting to treat an American city like Baghdad and enforce strict population control measures- checkpoints

    Mike
    They tried that in Montgomery not to long ago. It was successful from a decreasing crime standpoint but there were some howls from the citizenry. The whole concept (checkpoints) is where the word "Dragnet" comes from. It does work but you can not do it for a long period of time in the USA before voters will get pissed about living in a Police State.

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    Default Technology needs watching

    There is an EU-funded project that is looking at the issues involved in Detection Technologies, Counter-Terrorism, Ethics, and Human Rights called DETECTER, see their website:http://www.detecter.bham.ac.uk/ . This has some fascinating links. Some of the technology on offer, at R&D stage, was bizarre and needed some reality injected into discussions.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Hey Slap and David,

    My impression (about which, I'm asking your views, and those of anyone else who cares to comment) is that, besides sound crime scene workups and sound situational awareness, one of the primary LE tools (and I hope it continues) has been and is informants and infiltration - as to which specific, targeted surveillence technology certainly comes into play. I prefer that to setting up high-tech, "dragnet-type" McNamara Lines in every community.

    Thoughts from you all ?

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 12-06-2009 at 08:20 PM.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    My impression (about which, I'm asking your views, and those of anyone else who cares to comment) is that, besides sound crime scene workups and sound situational awareness, one of the primary LE tools (and I hope it continues) has been and is informants and infiltration - as to which specific, targeted surveillence technology certainly comes into play. I prefer that to setting up high-tech, "dragnet-type" McNamara Lines in every community.

    Thoughts from you all ?

    Mike
    1-A good jobs/education program.

    2-Better Neighborhood watch program.

    3-Police cell phone communications system.

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    Posted by slapout,

    1-A good jobs/education program.

    2-Better Neighborhood watch program.

    3-Police cell phone communications system.
    I agree with all of these, but do we really need good jobs and a good education system to prevent crime? The reason I ask is that both of these may not be politically feasible based on the available tax base, so if we can't get good jobs and a good education system (I'm thinking Hawaii), will that automatically lead to an increase in crime?

    A better neighbhorhood watch program may be best described as mobilizing the populace to take action against crime (by alerting law enforcement) and developing trusting relationships between the residents and law enforcement. The residents know if they call, a police officer will respond relatively quickly. Over time the zeros (crooks) will get the word not to operate in this area.

    Jmm99, in addition to infiltration (enemy centric) and good crime scene work ups (enemy centric) the police need to maintain a presence by active patrolling (foot, horse, bike, motorcycle, vehicle, and undercover) to deter and if deterence fails to quickly react. Amazing how quick crime rates drop when the police are actually out on the streets. That is getting tougher now due to the economic crisis. If they can use technical surveillance to augment their efforts without being overly intrusive I'm all for it. Not sure where that line between augment and too intrusive is though.

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    Default Hey Slap and Bill

    Two of Slap's programs:

    1-A good jobs/education program.

    2-Better Neighborhood watch program.
    could work together if, with respect to the common link (a solid, independent community organization, whether formal or informal), Bill's KISS principle would be followed.

    The folks in the community know what is really needed re: jobs, education and security. Their solutions, I expect, would be better and cheaper than those imposed from above.

    All of this fits into active patrolling and establishes a personal link between the cop and the community (as long as the cop doesn't act like an Imperial Storm Trooper and the community is not a bunch of knuckleheads).

    The "friendly local cop" (who ain't going to be that if he locks himself up in a vehicle) can then explain technical surveillance measures (a video camara looking up and down the street) as being "my backup" and "your backup too".

    The "political elites" (of whatever political spectrum) would hate this setup because they would lose a large measure of control over both the community organizations and the cops. And, it would kill a lot of their pet programs and controlled organizations. This paragraph a bit of a mini-rant.

    Cheers

    Mike

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    The problem with stepped up enforcement is that crime becomes displaced. In other words, it just moves from one geographical location to another. There are tools that help LE identify where crime is occurring so that they can focus their efforts. One such tool that comes to mind is http://crimereports.com/

    To address the better education system/better jobs:
    They help, but I think law enforcement needs to be careful. LE can't just assume that the reason people commit crime is because they are uneducated or lack good jobs. It's not that I don't think the education system and economy don't play an important role;however, it's better to study the populace one polices to make sure you are truly getting down to the roots and sources of the issue.

    Just to throw this out there, what can a police department do about lack of jobs and a bad education system?

    Checkpoints:
    I would have to wonder what good they would do here in the United States. LE can set up checkpoints;however, the stops can not be random. Before the start of the check point, LE has to come up with a pattern. For example, we will stop every fourth car. I do believe the Supreme Court set up a few exceptions to that rule.

    MikeF - would gangs that do things for the community start to cross the line between money and political goals? For example, motorcycle gangs participating in toy runs during the holidays.

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    Default Checkpoints

    Let's leave the law about checkpoints on the shelf and consider the public reaction to them. I'd suggest that it depends on the purpose of the checkpoint, and the reactions of individuals. Let's take two examples: prison escapees and drunk drivers.

    1. Prison escapees.

    Because I live in God's Country (it's so far from everything earthly, it must be Heaven ), we have and have had, near the route between Hancock and Marquette, two state correctional facilities (one at Marquette and one at Baraga). When I was a kid (late 40s and early 50s) we traveled that route quite a bit. Several times, we ran into State Police checkpoints which did a thorough search of interior and trunk and ID'd occupants because prisoners had escaped. The primary thought was not that the drivers were likely to be accomplices of the escapees, but that an escapee might take a car hostage. Looking at it from that standpoint (obviously, my dad's standpoint), the checkpoints were for our protection and to get the bad guys - and some were very bad guys.

    2. Drunken drivers.

    Here, the sole purpose is to nail drunken drivers (let's say everybody agrees that drunken drivers are bad guys - degree of bad will vary). Now, some in the line of cars three miles long (seen that in WI) will say: "Hey, I'm not a drunk driver, and we should do everything to nail those buzzards." Others will say: "Hey, I'm not a drunk driver either, but I resent being classified as a possible drunk driver where there is no probable cause to think I am."

    In the first case, most people will take it as a "we-we" situation. The State Trooper is on our side. In the second case, some will see it as "we-we"; but others will see it as "us-them". In that case, the State Trooper becomes an adversary.

    Tricky things, cordoning off villages and interrogating the villagers. There are more subtle methods, but they take skill, time, patience and a bit of showmanship.

    My take.

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by j37 View Post
    Just to throw this out there, what can a police department do about lack of jobs and a bad education system?
    One firm conclusion that I've come to is that gangs are not a police problem just as insurgencies aren't a military problem. They are societal problems that must be addressed holistically.

    Quote Originally Posted by j37 View Post
    Checkpoints:
    I would have to wonder what good they would do here in the United States. LE can set up checkpoints;however, the stops can not be random.
    Checkpoints have limited value regardless of the restrictions.

    Static/Fixed Checkpoints. Think of a toll road. If you have the time, you will choose to bypass a toll road in order to not have to pay to drive.

    Snap/Temporary Checkpoints. Think of a DUI checkpoint. You may get lucky and catch the first of a group, but a single cellphone call can alert the others of the location of the CP.

    Quote Originally Posted by j37 View Post
    MikeF - would gangs that do things for the community start to cross the line between money and political goals? For example, motorcycle gangs participating in toy runs during the holidays.
    Certainly yes. Remember Robin Hood and his merry band (gang) of thieves robbing from the rich and giving to the poor? In civilian terms, this is good Public Relations (PR). In military terms, we would call this good psychological operations or the "narrative."

    In theory, it's easy to differientiate between gangs and insurgencies. In practice, it can become more difficult particularly when the group morphes or evolves. My recommendation is to consider both gangs and insurgencies as social networks.

    Mike

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    1-Jobs/education are a lot cheaper than LE. LE can have a long tail. There are the cops....then court....then prison.....then parole and probation gets very expensive when it is viewed as a whole system. Jobs/education create productive tax paying citizens. It is no a panacea but it is a vital element.

    2-Everybody and there brother has a cell phone and most have a camera built in. 911 systems should be able to collect video not just audio.


    3-More cops......we need them!


    4-Future technologies......Air Policing, as in ISR capabilities with UAV's would be incredible. If they were just half as good as what you see on TV from Iraq that would be a game changer. They would not be as intrusive as fixed surveillance either. A camera would be able to respond faster than any police car. A great big Amber alert system

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    Default U.S. drug cartel crackdown

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34466436...ews-americas//

    U.S. drug cartel crackdown misses the money
    Criminals find a variety of ways to funnel billions into Mexico each year

    "This is the brilliance of the drug cartels. They pay ordinary people to get cash across the border for them, and then easily launder it into working capital to build and expand their violent and illicit operations," said Louise Shelley, who directs the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University.
    Interesting article

    They seized $16 million in 10 years? That's absolutely nothing. That doesn't amount to a deterrent. That is an unsuccessful effort," he said. "We haven't begun to curtail the flow of illicit money generated by the cartels, and as a consequence of that we have not begun to curtail the drug trade."
    Out of an estimated 25 billion a year.

    The problem that prevents the problem from being solved,

    Once the money gets to Mexico, the cartels put it to work. About 10 percent of Mexico's economy — the world's 13th largest — is based on cartel operations, analysts say.

    As a result, lawmakers have refused to pass anti-laundering laws such as reporting requirements when people pay cash for mansions and luxury cars or regulations for salaries paid in cash.

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    The cartels - specifically, the Zetas - are also tapping into oil pipelines, stealing the oil, shipping it northward into the US, and then selling it to various businesses. There was a Washington Post article last week on this activity, which is estimated to net over $700M a year...and it's particularly painful to the Mexican state which relies on oil revenues to fund the Federal Budget.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...202888_pf.html

    The shadow economy is growing like wildfire in Mexico. Also note the one Mexican minister stating that there is a "parallel government" within the state.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Default Economic targeting or just business?

    Sunday morning quarterbacking...

    The theft is both a symbolic and financial blow to the Mexican government. Taxes paid by Pemex account for 40 percent of the federal budget.
    Mexico's oil industry is already in the hurt locker due to their fields becoming less and less productive, so any additional dents in this business which accounts for 40% of their federal budget is a significant risk to Mexico's National Security.

    Mexico has launched an all-out campaign to defend the pipelines, drawing in the army, the attorney general's office, the Interior Ministry and the customs service. During the past two years, the government has conducted helicopter overflights, installed electronic detection devices inside the pipelines and beefed up Pemex's private security force.
    Security forces guarding pipelines are not chasing drug cartels, so this is a double win for the cartels (oil profits and diverting security forces)

    Suárez estimates that Pemex will spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three years defending its pipelines. With the company's maintenance staff overwhelmed, Pemex assembled 20-man teams this year to repair breaches caused by theft.
    Who pays for this in the long run? Oil prices will have to go up, so the Cartels will even make more money.

    Pemex sent out a call for help to the federal government in 2007. In June that year, Mexican customs officials informed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that they had discovered dozens of Mexican companies that appeared to be conspiring with U.S. firms to export stolen petroleum products across the border.

    Working closely with the Mexican customs service, ICE investigators said, they soon uncovered a network of Mexican and American companies that shipped stolen oil to the United States in tankers, stored it in aboveground containers in Texas and then shipped it in barges to end users in the United States.

    With oil prices then at record highs, the scheme allowed U.S. companies to buy petroleum products at below-market value.
    Of course oil prices are not currently at record highs, and they have been falling (although that is forecasted to stop soon), so I wonder if oil prices decrease enough if it will make illegal sells unprofitable, or not worth the risk? However, decreased oil prices would probably hurt the government of Mexico even more.

    U.S. companies in bed with organized crime? Who is really surprised?

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    Bill

    The more I read and understand about Mexico, the more I worry.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Default Booby traps target California Police

    Interesting increase in acts of intimidation.

    v/r

    Mike


    Booby traps targeting California police lead to $200K reward offerEmanuella Grinberg, CNN

    On December 31, 2009, the unmarked headquarters of the Hemet Gang Task Force was targeted by someone who redirected the natural gas line on the roof into the building, filling up the office with deadly gas. Two task force members entering the office smelled gas and backed away before flipping the light switch and potentially causing the building to explode.

    On February 23, a task force member at the Hemet headquarters opened a security gate outside the building, which launched a homemade zip gun attached to the gate. The weapon fired, missing the officer's head by inches.

    The headquarters has since been moved to an undisclosed location, where extra security precautions are being taken, Hall said.

    On March 5, 2010, criminals targeted a task force member who had parked an unmarked police car in front of a convenience store in Hemet. The officer found what appeared to be a homemade pipe bomb hidden underneath the vehicle.

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    Default Splinter Gangs Wage War in Acapulco

    Splinter Gangs Wage War in Acapulco

    Entry Excerpt:



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