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Old 01-09-2007   #1
jonSlack
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Default Latin American Drugs & links

Moderator's Note

Two threads on the impact of the Maras have been merged into this thread(ends).

Military Review Nov-Dec 06 - Are the Maras Overwhelming Governments in Central America?

Quote:
Location, organization, and numbers.
El Salvador’s National Police (PNC) say there are 36,000 gang members in Honduras, 14,000 in Guatemala, 11,000 in Salvador, 4,500 in Nicaragua, 2,700 in Costa Rica, 1,400 in Panama, and 100 in Belize. That’s nearly 70,000 in the region. In addition to MS-13 and 18, there are Los Cholos (The Half Breeds), Los Nicas (Nicaraguans), and Los Batos Locos (Crazy Boys) in Guatemala; La Mau Mau (derived from the name of rebels in Kenya and a New York gang in the 1950s) and La Maquina (Machine) in El Salvador; La Mau Mau, Los Batos Locos, and Los Rockeros (The Rockers) in Honduras; and the Gerber Boys and Los Charly in Nicaragua.

The maras are not just a Central American phenomenon; they are transnational. MS-13, for example, reportedly has 20,000 members in the United States, 4,000 members in Canada, and a large presence in Mexico.6 The numbers fluctuate—mara membership being dynamic, and gang membership is difficult to gauge.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-26-2012 at 12:34 PM. Reason: Updated link. Note and merging.
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Old 07-04-2007   #2
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Default The Maras: A Menace to the Americas

Military Review, Jul-Aug 07: The Maras: A Menace to the Americas
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....Although the mara problem in Central America mainly affects Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, the region’s other countries should not consider themselves immune: most of the conditions that have given rise to the maras’ appearance in the region’s northern triangle are also present in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Sooner rather than later, these countries will experience similar problems. The mara threat is a serious one. Not controlling it increases risks to the social and democratic stability of the region and has consequences for Mexico and the United States, our neighbors to the north....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-18-2010 at 04:12 PM. Reason: Updated link.
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Old 07-05-2007   #3
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...just for some additional background material on the subject, here are some decent gang assessments published by USAID last year:
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Rising crime is threatening democratic development and slowing economic growth across Central America and Mexico. Gang activity has transcended the borders of Central America, Mexico, and the United States and evolved into a transnational concern that demands a coordinated, multi-national response to effectively combat increasingly sophisticated criminal gang networks.

Recognizing that gang activity is a complex, multi-faceted and transnational phenomenon, the USAID Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean Office of Regional Sustainable Development (LAC/RSD) initiated the Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment in 2005 to study the phenomenon and propose solutions in five countries—El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment - Full Report April 2006
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Old 07-19-2007   #4
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Reuters, 18 Jul 07: U.S. Offers Funds to Fight Central America Gangs
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The United States pledged $4 million on Wednesday to help Central American governments draft a regional security strategy to fight violent youth street gangs and drug trafficking.

Thomas Shannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, made the cash pledge while in Guatemala to sign an agreement with the Central American Integration System (SICA) to improve intelligence sharing and policing.....
DoS, 18 Jul 07: Combating Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico
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Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. today announced the Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico. Under this comprehensive strategy, the United States will work with partner countries to combat transnational and other gangs that commit crimes in Central America, Mexico, and the United States through both prevention and enforcement. It will help prevent youth from entering gangs and strengthen the fight against gang-related violence and other crimes. This strategy is one component of a larger regional security plan that was discussed by President George W. Bush, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger Perdomo, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon and now is under development by the Central American countries.....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-18-2010 at 04:09 PM. Reason: Updated link.
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Old 08-14-2007   #5
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CRS, 4 Dec 09: Gangs in Central America
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....Several U.S. agencies have been actively engaged on both the law enforcement and preventive side of dealing with Central American gangs. The National Security Council (NSC) created an inter-agency task force to develop a comprehensive, three year strategy to deal with international gang activity. The strategy, which is now being implemented, states that the U.S. government will pursue coordinated antigang activities through five broad areas: diplomacy, repatriation, law enforcement, capacity enhancement, and prevention.

In the 110th Congress, immigration legislation has been introduced – H.R. 1645 (Gutierrez), S. 330 (Isakson), and S. 1348 (Reid) – that includes provisions to increase cooperation among U.S., Mexican, and Central American officials in the tracking of gang activity and in the handling of deported gang members. The House passed version of the FY2008 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 2764; H.Rept. 110-197) would provide $8 million to the State Department to combat criminal youth gangs, an increase of $3 million from the Administration’s request. In Central America, that funding would support a regional anti-gang initiative aimed at prevention, police training, and judicial reform. On July 31, 2007, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved H.Res. 564 (Engel) recognizing that violence poses an increasingly serious threat to peace and stability in Central America and supporting expanded cooperation between the United States and Central America to combat crime and violence....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-18-2010 at 04:07 PM. Reason: Updated report link.
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Old 01-15-2008   #6
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SSI, 15 Jan 08: A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil.
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....The purposes of this monograph are to (1) introduce the gang phenomenon as a major nonstate player and a serious threat in the global and regional security arenas;( 2) examine the gang phenomenon in Central America in general and in El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil more specifically; and (3) summarize the key points and lessons and make brief recommendations. These cases demonstrate the analytical commonalities of various types of gang activities as they contribute to the instabilities that lead to the erosion of national security, nation-state sovereignty, the processes of state failure, and the struggle between democratic and criminal values.....
Complete 67 page paper at the link.
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Old 01-21-2008   #7
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Default Guatemala, ¿Estado fallido?

Ran across an interesting post in El Pais today that discusses some of the ongoing issues within Guatemala and their new president's challenges to include narco-trafficking and the possibility of failing state.

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¿Es Guatemala la Somalia de América Latina? O, más próximamente, ¿el Haití de Iberoamérica?
http://www.elpais.com/articulo/inter...pepiint_10/Tes
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Old 01-22-2008   #8
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For your posting this, muy agradecido....Haven't been there in a while, but greatly suspect hyperbole, especially in regard to the extent to which the country is singled out for some generic Central American issues (maras, narcotrafficing)...Enough in the article to elicit a "same old Guatemala..." but the narco angle has brought about one huge difference--the customary "saviours of the nation," the Guatemalan Army, have been bought. Interesting to see who will pull the country's chestnuts out of the fire this time..or whether they'll simply muddle along (more likely, I suspect). Historically, Guatemalan solutions have been far from democratic ones. In the early 70's when Arana was president, the sardonic sense of humor of the Guatemalan people labelled one tactic ascribed to COIN forces "TACA"--same as the acronym of the Salvadorean airline, but in this case, "Transportes Aquaticos Carlos Arana," i.e., the bodies of leftists from the Zacapa/Izabal insurgency floating down the Rio Motagua. After left-right conflict lasting a lot longer than the thirty years the article stipulates (You'd want to take it back at least to Arbenz in the early 50's, if not Arevalo), sad (but not unforseeable) that the long awaited peace degenerated seamlessly into gangsterism.

Cheers,
Mike.

Last edited by Mike in Hilo; 01-22-2008 at 02:25 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 03-15-2008   #9
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Default Latin American Drugs

ICG, 14 Mar 08: Latin American Drugs I: Losing the Fight
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Years of efforts to reduce coca crops in the Andes by aerial spraying and manual eradication and, to a lesser extent, alternative development programs have had little success. UNODC estimated that combined coca cultivation in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru largely remained stable at a high level between 2004 and 2006. ONDCP now admits not only that 2006 may have seen higher production figures than the peak year of 2000 but also that the 2007 flow of cocaine out of South America exceeded previous record highs. Andean cocaine production potential and availability of the drug in the U.S. and European markets has stabilised at a high level.

Transnational trafficking organisations and cocaine retailers across the Americas and Europe have not been controlled. To the contrary, they have proven capable of adjusting to law enforcement and interdiction by adopting new forms and methods, exploring new routes or reopening old ones and expanding their reach. Despite an increase in seizures worldwide until 2006, there are no convincing indications that availability has been interrupted for any significant length of time in the U.S. and Europe, or the growing Southern Cone markets. Experienced traffickers avoid ostentatious displays of money and power and opt for stealth and corruption in moving hundreds of tons of cocaine annually, relying on street and criminal gangs as retail distributors.

Political tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela, which has become an important trans-shipment point for Colombian cocaine, U.S. inability to control its 2,000-mile border with Mexico and limited EU disposition to coordinate among member states on more rigorous interdiction efforts are major obstacles to supply reduction. The latest flare-up between Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, following Colombia’s raids on a FARC camp in Ecuador, while seemingly resolved by diplomacy, is likely to futher complicate border cooperation. But while more cooperation on and from both sides of the Atlantic is certainly needed to reduce cocaine supply, it will never be sufficient. It is, therefore, at least equally important to focus on preventing coca cultivation in the first place through more ambitious alternative and rural development programs in the source countries.....
Complete 42 page report at the link.

Edit to add: Latin American Drugs II: Improving Policy and Reducing Harm

Last edited by Jedburgh; 03-18-2008 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 05-04-2008   #10
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Default Maras in Central America

Maras in Central America
National Security Implications of Gang Activity South of the Border


By COL Terry Saltsman and LTC Ben Welch III, Small Wars Journal

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The strategic nature of conflict and violence, in addition to the definition of insurgent, is in a state of rapid change in both the defense and intelligence community. In the post September 11, 2001 world the United States is compelled to take a 360 degree view of the world in its efforts to “observe, orient, decide and act” against potential threats to vital national interests.

The challenge facing today’s defense establishment is an asymmetrical enemy that most Western militaries are ill equipped to challenge and defeat in a manner that is acceptable to the civilian population. If Iraq has taught us anything it is that even the best publicly supported military plan can turn sour, and that support can wane, if the operation morphs into a perceived tar pit. It is imperative that the public’s discernment of the events that will lead to ultimate victory be molded in an honest and realistic manner. This is increasingly essential in our pursuit of terrorists.

In the months following the unthinkable acts of 9/11, many terrorism experts specializing in violent conflict began to ponder the expanded dimensions of the new face of terror as it might apply toward the United States. Soon after, when President Bush introduced the American public to the “War Against Terrorism,” many of these same individuals turned their attention on the obvious avenues of Middle Eastern and Islamic Fundamentalist centric terrorism.

In the past several years the United States has pursued the “War Against Terrorism” on a number of fronts. In one, fighting in a conventional manner, territory has been the central issue with military forces seeking and then taking control of entire countries (Afghanistan and Iraq). In another scenario, Special Operation cells have worked with the military forces of concerned regimes in order to restrict the use of territory by terrorists seeking to establish training camps in countries such as Algeria and Mali.

With so many issues confronting the National Security interests of the United States it is easy to overlook one particular unprotected, and often ignored, flank – the maras (gangs) of Latin America...
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Old 06-24-2008   #11
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The authors have produced an unfocused, surface treatment of an important issue. The piece adds nothing to the discussion beyond what is already found in existing articles such as Are the Maras Overwhelming Governments in Central America? (Nov-Dec 06 Military Review) and The Maras: A Menace to the Americas (Jul-Aug 07 Military Review).

The first four paragraphs, where they are supposedly setting the stage for their presentation of the Mara issue, wastes space discussing our other security efforts world-wide in an attempt to provide substance to the false premise that the Mara issue is overlooked by our government. There are a couple of federal agencies in particular, not to mention certain elements within the IC, that may take issue with that premise. And a recent surge in legislation focused on the issue – as delineated in a recent CRS Report, also clearly demonstrate that the situation has got the attention of the government in general. The failure of the authors to take these existing and planned measures into consideration and to put them in critical context, demonstrating their shortcomings and/or failure to address certain aspects of the problem, shows that they have not done their homework. (or purposefully ignored such information so as not to disturb a pre-determined premise for the paper)

In the section titled Background, their elaboration on the origins and background of the Maras is much weaker than that presented in the above two articles. In a piddling quibble, I didn’t care for the use of the term “mara” in the statement, In the United States maras can be viewed as the result of….. Here, they are supposedly looking at the gang issue in general, and they should just use the term “gang” – to me, “maras” connotes Hispanic gangs specifically. By using maras in that manner at the outset, they forego an opportunity to effectively put the Hispanic gangs in the context of broader US gang culture.

The authors spend quite a bit of space discussing economic disparities, but never get into specific context for the three countries most under threat: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Getting to my charge of “unfocused” – they also discuss the economic aspect in both Background and Factors Contributing to the Mara Problem, without really providing any substantive context specific to either section. The ’06 USAID gang assessment, which does a very good job of putting the economic part of the problem in context, isn’t even cited by the authors. Surprising, since this is one doc that pops up in any simple google search on Central American gangs.

General statements and dated statistics are overly used throughout the piece – more current stats are readily available open-source; yet another indicator of the authors' failure to do their homework.

In The Emerging Mara-Terrorism Nexus and Political Solution the article veers all over the place in this section's few short paragraphs without making a cogent point, and talks more about communist insurgencies in South America than substantive links between the Maras and terrorism. And at the end, the final paragraph is vague and fuzzy, not providing a focused conclusion nor offering even the outline of a political solution as in the section title. The closest the authors come to recommending a COA is in the last paragraph on page 6 of the 10 page paper, in the section on Factors Contributing to the Mara Problem. That section is also where they've put all their conjecture and assumption about the Mara-terrorism nexus.

Poorly researched, poorly written, poorly structured.
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Old 05-24-2009   #12
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Default Panama - next narco battleground?

Panama could become next narco battleground, by Chris Kraul. Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2009.

FARC insurgents are increasingly crossing the border from Colombia. Authorities fear that they will spread the drug violence that has convulsed parts of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
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Panamanian and U.S. officials say it's no coincidence that drug-related violence has risen in tandem with the more frequent sightings of the guerrillas, whom the State Department labels drug traffickers and terrorists.

U.S. counter-narcotics officials believe that the FARC and other Colombian traffickers are shipping more drugs from Colombia overland across Panama to avoid tighter control of Pacific and Caribbean coastal waterways by the Panamanian and U.S. naval forces.

All this has Panamanian and U.S. officials concerned that Panama could become the next battleground in narco-wars that have convulsed parts of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
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Old 06-19-2009   #13
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Small Arms Survey, 30 May 09: Gangs of Central America: Causes, Costs, and Interventions
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....Although gangs have long been a feature of Central American societies, they have come to the fore in the region in an unprecedented manner since the early 1990s. Estimates of the total proportion of contemporary regional violence attributable to gangs vary widely—from 10 to 60 per cent—as they have been accused of a whole slew of crimes and delinquency, ranging from mugging, theft, and intimidation to rape, assault, and drug dealing. There have even been attempts to linkthem to revolution and global terrorism. A 2005 US Army War College publication, for example, contends that Central American gangs constitute a ‘new urban insurgency’ that has as ultimate objective ‘to depose or control the governments of targeted countries’ through ‘coups d’street’ . Along similar lines, Anne Aguilera, head of the Central America office of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs branch of the US State Department, asserted in an interview published in the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Gráfica on 8 April 2005 that gangs were ‘the greatest problem for national security at this time in Central America’. Although gangs are unquestionably a significant contemporary concern in the region, such sensationalist pronouncements suggest that they remain profoundly misunderstood. The purpose of this Occasional Paper is to debunk some of these myths and present a balanced assessment of the causes, costs, and interventions relating to Central American gang violence....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 06-20-2009 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 06-19-2009   #14
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FYI: Samuel Logan's (of ISN) narrative non-fiction work This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha is being published in July.
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This is a true story of Brenda Paz's last three years of life as a member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

She was a young member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, who became a federal informant before she was killed after running away from witness protection. This book uncovers little known truths about the MS-13, one of America's most violent street gangs, and reveals how the street life can be alluring to even well loved kids like Brenda.

This narrative also takes a close look at the the realities of living inside the United States as part of a Latino immigrant community, underscoring the challenges with policing these communities and the fluidity of illegal movement across the US-Mexico border.
SWJ contributor John Sullivan's endorsement is quoted in the promotional material:
Quote:
"Logan captures the ethos and lethal brutality of Mara Salvatrucha in his groundbreaking case study...The insight presented here adds depth to the discussion of the maras and the networked nature of gangs, their members and cliques in a way that facilitates an understanding of contemporary transnational gangs."

- John Sullivan, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism, and originator of third generation gang theory.
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Old 06-19-2009   #15
John T. Fishel
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Default The Mara phenomenon

has been a problem for Central America and the US since the mid 90s. One of the early articles published was "From Revolutionary Warfare to Criminalization: The Transformation of Violence in El Salvador" by Kimbra L. Fishel (yes, if you want to know, my wife) in LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT & LAW ENFORCEMENT, vol 6, no 3 (Winter 1997), pp. 48-63. A point made in her article that is often overlooked is that the USG under a 1996 law expanded deportations of felons. What was most often overlooked was that at the time, there was no coordination with the HN for receipt of these gang members. They were simply dumped back home where they quickly created an organizational revolution in criminal activity. By the time the USG began to coordinate the deportations with the HN it was too late and we all had a new problem on our hands. The maras were well established in Central America and Mexico and were being re-exported to the US. A classic case of unintended consequences!

Cheers

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Old 06-19-2009   #16
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Default Or our accursed

arrogance...
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Old 06-19-2009   #17
John T. Fishel
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Default "Arrogance and

stupidity, all rolled into one! How efficient of [us]." Amb Londo Mollari, Babylon 5.
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Old 06-19-2009   #18
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Default The Comancheros Are Coming

Music for the revolution 1961 The Comancheros by Claude King, John Wayne starred in the Movie a most excellent Gang/COIN Movie by the way.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC2gT...eature=related




Trailer from the movie..pay attention to the part about a Secret Society!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMR9L...eature=related

Last edited by slapout9; 06-19-2009 at 11:38 PM. Reason: add good stuff
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Old 02-11-2010   #19
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Default Ecuador at Risk: Drugs, Thugs, Guerrillas and the Citizens Revolution

Ecuador at Risk: Drugs, Thugs, Guerrillas and the Citizens Revolution, by Douglas Farah and Glenn R. Simpson. International Assessment and Strategy Center, January 24th, 2010. (PDF, 77 pages)
Quote:
The changing internal situation in Colombia and the expanding influence of the Mexican drug cartels have, over the past three years, helped turn Ecuador into an important and growing center of operation for transnational organized criminal gangs. This poses a significant threat not only to the Ecuadoran state but all of Latin America and the United States.
Quote:
Research for this paper was conducted over a four‐month period, including three weeks in Ecuador visiting the border regions and Quito. It is based on interviews with Ecuadoran officials, academics and military personnel, as well as interviews with police and military intelligence officers in Mexico, Colombia and the United States. Farah also interviewed senior deserters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who worked in Ecuador for significant periods of time.
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Old 05-18-2010   #20
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WWICS Mexico Institute, 17 May 10:

Drug Trafficking Organizations in Central America: Transportistas, Mexican Cartels and Maras
Quote:
...This chapter is about drug trafficking organizations (DTO) operating in Central America. It is broken down by theme rather than by country. It provides a brief history of DTO activity in the region; descriptions of who operates the DTOs, both locally and internationally, and their modus operandi; the use of street gangs in DTO activities; DTO penetration in government and security forces; local, regional and international efforts and challenges as they try and combat DTOs. The chapter is centered on the three countries where the problem of DTOs appears to be the most acute: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.....
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