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Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction

Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction

Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction
    Book Description:

    Mexican drug networks are large and violent, engaging in activities like the trafficking of narcotics, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, and mass murder. Despite the impact of these activities in Mexico and abroad, these illicit networks are remarkably resilient to state intervention.

    Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with US and Mexican law enforcement, government officials, organized crime victims, and criminals, Nathan P. Jones examines the comparative resilience of two basic types of drug networks-"territorial" and "transactional"-that are differentiated by their business strategies and provoke wildly different responses from the state. Transactional networks focus on trafficking and are more likely to collude with the state through corruption, while territorial networks that seek to control territory for the purpose of taxation, extortion, and their own security often trigger a strong backlash from the state.

    Timely and authoritative,Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reactionprovides crucial insight into why Mexico targets some drug networks over others, reassesses the impact of the war on drugs, and proposes new solutions for weak states in their battles with drug networks.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-296-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction (pp. 1-18)

    I will be discussing profit-seeking illicit networks (PSINs), which I will refer to as drug networks (though I acknowledge that not all PSINs are solely in the illegal drug industry), and their resilience in the context of Mexico’s battles with organized crime. Drug networks come in two incarnations: “transactional” and “territorial.”¹ Let me explain. Trafficking-oriented drug networks focus on “transactional” activities, such as the trafficking of drugs and the logistics involved in moving commodities from point A to point B.² Territorial drug networks, in contrast, focus on the control and taxation of territory.³

    Territorial drug networks and states are enemies...

  7. 1 The State Reaction and Illicit-Network Resilience (pp. 19-46)

    Illicit networks include insurgent networks such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Mexican drug networks such as the Arellano Félix Organization (AFO), prison gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood, and street gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).¹ These “dark networks” threaten the security of states by directly challenging state governance and flouting legal norms.² States have expended great resources attempting to combat these networks, to little avail.³ How do they structure themselves to be resilient? How can they be dismantled? Why do states attack some illicit networks and not others?

    An extensive literature identifies...

  8. 2 The Arellano Félix Organization’s Resilience (pp. 47-74)

    The arellano félix organization (AFO) was considered one of the most powerful illicit networks in Mexico in the late 1990s.¹ In the first decade of the twenty-first century, it lost nearly all of its first-generation, top-level leadership figures to arrest or death. It fragmented into a short but bloody internecine conflict that challenged the Mexican state at a time of high narco-violence.² The historical context of the AFO is critical to understanding its business strategies and resilience over time. I will apply here the conceptual framework developed in the previous chapter to the empirical case study of the AFO to...

  9. 3 The State Reaction (pp. 75-96)

    The successful destruction of the territorial drug network led by Eduardo Teodoro “El Teo” García Simental in Tijuana in 2010 represented an important victory of the state over a violent extortionist network. To understand the victory that led to an enviable reduction in violence in a once violent plaza, we must comprehend the historical preconditions that made the state reaction possible. In reality, it was not one state reaction but the reaction of two states, the United States and Mexico, and many levels of government in two federal systems. Interestingly, state responses via kingpin strikes against the AFO directly led...

  10. 4 The Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, and Los Caballeros Templarios (pp. 97-124)

    This chapter will apply the state-reaction theoretical framework to three minicases: the Sinaloa cartel, the Gulf cartel and its off shoot Los Zetas, and Los Caballeros Templarios (CT), an off shoot of La Familia Michoacána (LFM). The comparison will use George and Bennett’s method of “structured focused comparison” and is an example of what they call “plausibility probing.”¹ By developing these three mini historical case studies and comparing them to the main historical case study, I gain analytical leverage for the state-reaction argument and also show where the argument falls short, though, as I will argue in the conclusion, the...

  11. Conclusion (pp. 125-142)

    The state-reaction argument provides us with important insights into the resilience of drug networks, not just in Tijuana but also throughout Mexico. By assessing the proposed relationship between the variables of business strategy, risk, and the state reaction, we gain a conceptual framework for understanding the resilience of drug networks in Mexico. The state-reaction argument demonstrates which business strategies will increase the risk of state reaction and how strong that reaction will be, and it allows us to effectively measure the resultant drug network’s resilience via the resilience typology. This answers important questions about Mexico’s practical behavior in targeting some...

  12. Appendix: Comparison of Territorial versus Transactional Drug-Trafficking Networks (pp. 143-146)
  13. Bibliography (pp. 147-182)
  14. Index (pp. 183-194)