Posts Tagged drug war

Film: Sicario

This looks good. I have written in the past about the brutality of the drug war in Mexico, and the all out warfare that the cartels conduct against one another. Finally it looks like Hollywood is willing to go down south and explore this brutality. The director is Denis Villeneuve and his work is pretty intense.

The film will be in theaters September 18, 2015 and it will star Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber and Jon Bernthal. It has already shown in the Cannes Film Festival and it did really well. –Matt



Website for the film here.

In Mexico, SICARIO means hitman.

In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs.

Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past [Benicio Del Toro], the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive.

A Lionsgate presentation, a Black Label Media presentation, a Thunder Road production, a Denis Villeneuve film.

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Military News: 200 US Marines Join Anti-drug Effort In Guatemala

Interesting news and this goes along with the continuing drug war strategy down south. Earlier I posted a deal about FOB’s being set up in Honduras. Central America is a choke point for drug traffickers, so it makes sense to focus on trying to block it. We will see how it goes? –Matt



200 US Marines join anti-drug effort in Guatemala
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012
A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala’s western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.
The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.
“This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it’s certainly the largest footprint we’ve had in that area in quite some time,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.
It was 50 years ago when the U.S. military last sent any significant aid and equipment into Guatemala, establishing a base to support counter-insurgency efforts during a guerrilla uprising. That movement led to 36 years of war that left 200,000 dead, mostly indigent Maya farmers. The U.S. pulled out in 1978.
Guatemalan authorities say they signed a treaty allowing the U.S. military to conduct the operations on July 16. Less than a month later an Air Force C-5 transport plane flew into Guatemala City from North Carolina loaded with the Marines and four UH-1 “Huey” helicopters.

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Honduras: The US Drug War Ramps Up, And Honduras Is Still Looking For A Charter City Sponsor

Honduras is the latest focal point in America’s drug war. As Mexico puts the squeeze on narcotics barons using its territory as a transit hub, more than 90 percent of the cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela bound for the United States passes through Central America. More than a third of those narcotics make their way through Honduras, a country with vast ungoverned areas — and one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world.

The drug war is definitely heating up in Honduras. The strategy seems pretty simple, and that as you can see with the quote up top, Honduras is a main smuggling route on land and the US plans on helping to stop that. Also, the amount of land to cover is smaller and you could consider Honduras a choke point that US and Honduran forces plan on blocking. Or at least trying to.

Below I have posted two stories in regards to the efforts in Honduras. The first is about DEA’s FAST teams working with the Hondurans on operations, and the second is a story about the US applying lessons learned in Iraq towards operating bases in Honduras.

What is cool is the whole ‘outpost’ concept that is being applied to the effort. To get folks closer to the smuggling routes, as opposed to making long trips back and forth.  You can also stay closer to the cities next to smuggling routes, and do more patrols that way as well. In comparison to Afghanistan–this is moving the guys off the FOBs and out into outposts so they are closer to their AO’s.

In past drug operations, helicopters ferrying Honduran and American antinarcotics squads took off from the capital, Tegucigalpa, whenever an intelligence task force identified radar tracks of a smuggler’s aircraft. The three-hour flights required to reach cartel rendezvous points did not leave much idle time to spot airplanes as they unloaded tons of cocaine to dugout canoes, which then paddled downriver beneath the jungle canopy to meet fast boats and submersibles at the coast for the trip north.
In creating the new outposts — patterned on the forward bases in Iraq and Afghanistan that gave troops a small, secure home on insurgent turf — spartan but comfortable barracks were built. Giant tanks hold 4,500 gallons of helicopter fuel. Solar panels augment generators. Each site supports two-week rotations for 55 people, all no more than 30 to 45 minutes’ flying time from most smuggling handoff points.

No word if any contractors are helping to set up these outposts or do work in the outposts, and I will be keeping my eye open for any jobs related to Honduras.

Another note about Honduras, which is equally interesting to me, is the concept of charter cities there. Paul Romer has been working with the government to establish a charter city called the RED.  The reason for this, is all based on the hope for elevating the prosperity of the country–something like what Hong Kong did for China.

They are currently looking for a country that would sponsor this charter city, and so far no one has taken a bite. But if someone were to sponsor it, then that city would provide work for the region. The hope would be to bring immigrants south, and they would work in the RED to make a life, instead of them running to places like the US and Canada illegally.

That kind of dynamic would not bode well for the drug cartels either, just because they depend upon immigrants delivering their drugs up into the US. Or at least taking advantage of the massive flow of people crossing the border every year–because it overwhelms law enforcement. A charter city like the RED would also require excellent law enforcement/security in order to keep drugs and crime out.

Now one idea for Honduras is to let the US know that if they want to operate in Honduras for the drug war, that they should help out with the Charter City concept. Either the US could become that sponsor, or the US could help apply some leverage to get a country to jump on board? I would think that if both Canada and the US is wanting to clamp down on illegal immigration, that providing an alternative like this charter city, would be an option to help alleviate that problem. Especially if Honduras is willing to do this, and businesses are drawn to the RED because it is such a good deal.

Interesting stuff, and lots of things going on in Honduras right now. –Matt



D.E.A.’s Agents Join Counternarcotics Efforts in Honduras
By Charlie Savage and Thom Shanker
May 16, 2012
A commando-style squad of Drug Enforcement Administration agents accompanied the Honduran counternarcotics police during two firefights with cocaine smugglers in the jungles of the Central American country this month, according to officials in both countries who were briefed on the matter. One of the fights, which occurred last week, left as many as four people dead and has set off a backlash against the American presence there.
It remains unclear whether the D.E.A. agents took part in the shooting during either episode, the first in the early hours of May 6 and the second early last Friday. In an initial account of the second episode, the Honduran government told local reporters that two drug traffickers had been killed and a large shipment of cocaine seized; he did not mention any American involvement. Several American officials said the D.E.A. agents did not return fire during the encounter.

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Publications: The DoJ National Drug Threat Assessment, 2011

The National Drug Threat Assessment 2011

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Mexico: Nuevo Leon To Implement A Citizen-defense Program To Counter The Cartels

The training for people with weapons permits in Garcia is part of a phase of Rodriguez’s security program aimed at “involving the citizens in defense of the region.”
“Many of them want the training and knowledge … to defend their families and their heritage,” he said.
In addition to the weapons course, the project also includes broader training in its “urban defense” goals.
“Imagine if there is someone wounded and no one in the neighborhood knows what to do. It’s happened to us that in the street there is someone who’s been shot and the (paramedics) don’t come,” Rodriguez said.
So far, about 3,000 people from Garcia and nearby cities have signed up for the course, including engineers, teachers, housewives and retired military.

Ok, this is awesome. This is what I have been hoping and praying for in Mexico. The citizenry there needs to realize that they cannot entirely depend upon the police or military to protect them. And the government needs to realize that the citizenry can certainly be an effective tool to counter the cartels. So programs like this are a great start, but they also need to do this right in order to increase their odds of success.

It is also important to note that if you look at the rebels of Libya, that they were once civilians, yet were able to transform into a force that defeated a standing army. With a little motivation and some training/experience, a citizen force can certainly do some damage. The war against the cartels is a righteous war that must be fought and won, and I really think the citizens of Mexico can rally around defeating these scumbags. The people interested in such a program just needs to be empowered by the approval of it’s leaders, and given a little training to be effective.

It would really be cool to take this a step further and send some SF teams down to Mexico and help train these 3,000 folks that have signed up for this program. Or for this town to receive the funding necessary to get a training company down there to help out. If any contractors are looking for a way to contribute to the fight down there, you could probably get in your car and drive to this town and offer your services pro bono?

One thing though that needs to be mentioned about such a program. This is a declaration of war against the cartels. So this program needs to be conducted in an intelligent and secure manner. Training sites or gun ranges will be targets of the cartels. Folks who participate will be targets as well. The cartels will also do their best to infiltrate the program and subvert it, much like what they have done with government or police. So it will be up to the participants of this program to ‘cleanse’ itself of all cartel scum.

It also reminds me a lot of the Soviet Partisan warfare against the Nazis during WW 2. The Soviet’s at the time realized that if citizens are going to fight, that they need a basic ‘how to’ manual to fight and survive in their occupied homeland. These manuals also discussed how to defeat the Nazi anti-partisan forces intending on destroying this civilian threat. But the partisans kicked ass and certainly helped in the overall war effort. The point of all of this is that these partisan forces certainly did a number on the Nazis, and civilians can certainly play an effective role in a war.

Another example of the power of partisan guerrillas is the story of Wendell Fertig in the Philippines during WW 2. This guy was a stud, but he was also just a regular guy and engineer who was caught behind enemy lines when we pulled out of the Philippines. Wendell decided to lead a guerrilla war against the Japanese as a result of his predicament, and he was able to organize and build an effective force with very little. He was highly motivated and a smart problem solver, and his force was able to do some serious damage upon the Japanese.

Mexico needs the same type of innovative and dedicated leaders in their towns and cities to lead a guerrilla war against the cartels. So bravo to Jaime Rodriguez Calderon for taking the initiative and ‘doing something’ about the problem. Hopefully Mexico and the US will support this town in it’s efforts, and identify and help other ‘real’ leaders with similar goals. –Matt

Edit: 08/13/2011- It looks like another town is taking up arms in Chihuahua. Very cool and I hope this spreads! Quote:

“One small northern Mexico community, surrounded by Cartel thugs, is taking matters into their own hands.
The people of Uruachi, Chihuahua have begun to arm themselves in a last attempt to protect themselves against a group of 12 armed men surrounding the community, Mayor Aldo Campos said.”


Mexican city plans to train citizens to fire guns
Javier Estrada
September 7, 2011
Officials in a northern Mexican city plagued by violence say a new course will take a fresh approach toward protecting citizens: Training people to handle and shoot guns.
The aim of the approach, says Garcia Mayor Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, is putting a stop to crime in the 40,000-person city in Nuevo Leon state.
“Many people call me because their son or their husband has been kidnapped, or some family member’s car has been stolen. I said to myself, ‘Wow, how can we, the citizens, defend ourselves,’ ” Rodriguez told
Twice this year, gunmen have tried to assassinate Rodriguez, who has earned the nickname of Bronco for his strong personality.

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Colombia: FARC Military Leader Mono Jojoy Death Is Blow To Four-Decade Insurgency

They said Operation Sodom, as it has been dubbed, started on Tuesday 21 September, when the heads of all three branches of the Colombian military, the police and the Ministry of Defence met in Bogota to finalise details of the attack.

In the early hours of Wednesday 22 September, 78 aircraft headed for the area known as La Escalera in the Macarena mountain range in Meta province.

They dropped dozens of bombs on Mono Jojoy’s camp, which Defence Minister Rodrigo Rivera has described as “the mother of all lairs” for its size and the number of hidden tunnels it had.

About 400 members of the Colombian special forces then abseiled from helicopters and surrounded the camp.

After hours of fighting, another 400 soldiers and police moved in on the camp, taking it in the early hours of Thursday morning. 


     What can I say?  This is an incredible stroke of luck for the Colombian government in their war against the FARC, and bravo to them for pulling off such an operation.

     The first thing that jumped up at me was how they were able to find out who the boot manufacturer was that Mono used to make his custom made jungle boots.  Because from that little tip, this entire operation was grown.  Basically, once they had a fix on these boots, they were able to slip a GPS tracking device into them and follow the path these boots made from shop to secret jungle camp.

     Once the location was found, you can see from the quote up top that the government forces quickly took advantage.  They knew what they had, and they put everything they had into being successful.

     The use of their Embraer Super Tucanos in this operation is very interesting.  With these things, the cost of the air operation is significantly cheaper.  This aircraft is also getting a lot of looks from other countries who are fighting insurgencies where their enemies do not have jet aircraft or any serious air power.  The reasoning here is that why use multi-million dollar jets that cost thousands of dollars an hour to fuel and maintain, when you can accomplish the same task with cheaper prop aircraft?  Colombia is definitely proving the validity of the concept.

     The capture of computer hardware is impressive as well. I would suspect that the FARC is sweating bullets right now because everyone on Mono’s hard drive will now be a target. Expect to see more clean up operations designed to demoralize the FARC, and drive them to either dissolve or just surrender. I certainly hope that Colombia is able to break their will and sink this pathetic drug fueled organization. (Mexican drug cartels, you’re next. lol)

     Now onto some lessons here. The whole GPS in the boot trick is pretty damn cool and I think any chance we can do the same thing with other enemies in today’s various insurgencies would be a good thing. I say the smaller you can make the device, the better, and make it sturdy enough to insert in all and any objects.  Even troops in Afghanistan could be putting GPS devices in all types of things that the enemy could possibly pick up and want to use. These devices should not be just the tools of specialists, and they should be viewed as the tool of modern day combat trackers.

     One area that the GPS trick might be well served, is in the endeavor to track animals for anti-poacher operations.  Eeben Barlow talked about the Rhino poaching problem in South Africa the other day, and I think small GPS tracking devices would be very helpful in anti-poaching operations.

    Better yet, Joseph Kony of the LRA could be tracked using the same method the Colombians used against Mono Jojoy. Either set up some child’s AK with a GPS in the stock, or introduce several of these devices somehow into the possession of this group.  Any way possible to track these folks should be looked at and planned for. If you strive to know your enemy, you should be able to find some weakness or opening at one point in your hunt for him. The imagination is the only limit and the pay off would be incredible. –Matt

FARC Military Leader Suárez’s Death Is Blow to Four-Decade Insurgency

Colombian police examine Farc rebels’ laptops

A chip hidden in the boots of Mono Jojoy allowed to locate in the jungle


FARC Deaths

The bodies of guerrillas killed, including Mono Jojoy.

Colombia Kills Guerrilla Chief

FARC Military Leader Suárez’s Death Is Blow to Four-Decade Insurgency


BOGOTA—Colombia’s army killed the military leader of the country’s communist guerrillas in a two-day battle that involved airstrikes against his jungle bunker, dealing a major blow to the four-decade insurgency, officials said Thursday.

Victor Suárez, 57 years old, nicknamed “Mono Jojoy,” was the second in command and top field marshal of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Latin America’s biggest and oldest guerrilla group. To many ordinary Colombians, his thick moustache and Che Guevara-style black beret were synonymous with the FARC.

“Mono Jojoy is dead,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told reporters in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly. “This is the most devastating blow ever dealt to the FARC.”

The strike was a big boost for Mr. Santos, who took office in August. He dubbed the military mission, which involved more than 30 aircraft, “Operation Welcome.” In his role as defense minister under Colombia’s previous president, Álvaro Uribe, Mr. Santos oversaw some notable blows against the FARC.

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