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The Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations

The Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations: An Assessment of Mexican Security Based on Existing RAND Research on Urban Unrest, Insurgency, and Defense-Sector Reform

Christopher Paul
Agnes Gereben Schaefer
Colin P. Clarke
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 108
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  • Book Info
    The Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations
    Book Description:

    A RAND team conducted a Delphi expert elicitation exercise, the results of which offer an assessment of the contemporary security situation in Mexico through the lens of existing RAND research on urban instability and unrest, historical insurgencies, and defense-sector reform. Assessment scorecards from these projects were used to obtain input from the expert panel and to guide the resulting discussion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5830-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Drug trafficking and drug-related violence are not new to Mexico. However, the current level of violence is. In December 2010, Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chavez announced that more than 30,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006.¹ To put that in context, during the same four-year period, approximately 43,000 civilians were killed in Iraq, a country in the late stages of a significant insurgency.² Areas of Northern Mexico, including the states of Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas, have been particularly affected. The cities of Ciudad Juárez, Nuevo Laredo, and...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Methods and Approach: Applying Existing RAND Research Tools to Mexico
    (pp. 15-28)

    This chapter describes the three scorecards developed through the three strands of RAND research used in this study:

    the Urban Flashpoints Scorecard

    the COIN Scorecard from theVictory Has a Thousand Fathersseries

    the DSART scorecard.

    The Urban Flashpoints Scorecard provides a relative estimation of a city’s vulnerability to outbreaks of urban unrest. Note that this is a tool to assessvulnerabilityto unrest, not unrest propensity.¹ It also does not seek to make predictions. This follows from the Urban Flashpoints project’s central understanding of urban unrest and is whyflashpointsis used as the metaphor to describe the process:...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Results from the RAND Mexican Security Delphi Exercise
    (pp. 29-38)

    The RAND Mexican Security Delphi exercise was an iterative Delphi exercise based on the classic model. It was completed via iterative email exchange between November 19 and December 22, 2010. The first section of this chapter details the process used.

    By definition, an expert elicitation is only as good as the experts elicited. An initial list of candidate participants was generated in consultation with senior RAND managers and RAND colleagues involved in research on Mexico and by considering authors of recent books, reports, studies, and articles on Mexican security issues. An initial list of 29 candidates emerged from this process....

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Findings from the Urban Flashpoints Scorecard
    (pp. 39-52)

    The Urban Flashpoints Scorecard portion of the RAND Mexican Security Delphi exercise sought to elicit worst-case analyses of Ciudad Juárez, Tijuana, and Nuevo Laredo to assess the general vulnerability to continued and future unrest of Mexican border cities currently experiencing significant drug-related violence. As noted in Chapter Two, these three cities are worst-case examples of Mexican border cities experiencing drug violence and are not broadly representative of all border cities or all Mexican cities. In others words, this is a worst-case analysis of worst-case cities.

    Table 3.1 in Chapter Three presented the raw average scores for the Urban Flashpoints Scorecard....

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Findings from the Counterinsurgency Scorecard
    (pp. 53-68)

    Overall, we remain agnostic as to whether the current security situation in Mexico should be regarded as a form of insurgency. Instead, without presupposing the answer, we ask to what extent the factors currently present in Mexico make it appear similar to any historical insurgencies. If Mexico is viewed as facing an insurgency (counterfactually or otherwise), how would it compare to historical insurgencies? What, if anything, would such an examination tell us?

    Like the Urban Flashpoints Scorecard (see Chapter Four), the COIN Scorecard requires binary scores (1,0) rather than the raw proportions represented by the Delphi exercise means (and presented...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Findings from the Defense Sector Assessment Rating Tool Scorecard
    (pp. 69-74)

    Participants in the Delphi exercise were asked to use the DSART Scorecard to score Mexico on its core capabilities related to counternarcotics, counterterrorism or COIN, and border and maritime security along the following scale:

    1.very low:entirely lacking

    2.low:beginning to develop

    3.neither low nor high:minimal but functioning

    4.high:functional but room for development

    5.very high:strong and no major improvement needed.

    Overall, the Delphi panel scored all of Mexico’s capabilities across the three security issues at 3.18 or below, indicating that Mexico’s core capabilities related to these three security issues are minimal but...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions and Suggestions for Further Research
    (pp. 75-80)

    The findings from this research effort highlight consistencies across the three assessment scorecards and common conclusions among the expert panelists in the RAND Mexican Security Delphi exercise.

    First, according to the expert panelists’ responses on the Urban Flashpoints Scorecard, Mexican border cities are at risk for continued urban unrest, specifically the depredations of the VDTOs. Several very concerning factors work in combination to sustain this form of unrest: the preexistence of the VDTOs, unmet economic expectations and high unemployment, the presence of a demographic “ youth bulge,” a high level of corruption in government and law enforcement, and low rule...

  15. References
    (pp. 81-86)