The greater Monterrey metropolitan area (MMA) presents a compelling story of how transnational organized crime can from one moment to the next bring a city to a halt, snap from the picture of serenity to a “narco terror” attack, or evolve from an island of security to a significant cause for concern. As Mexico’s industrial powerhouse in the north, Monterrey is a case of resiliency within a strong business community to protect its city. It is also a case of how street gangs evolve, adapt, and ultimately present a public security challenge that neither the Mexican government nor many international businesses are prepared to confront.
To contribute to the conversation about the direction of public security in Mexico, Southern Pulse published in January 2012 its first ebook, Beyond 2012
, which presented a chapter on public security in Mexico. This chapter concluded with a consideration of a future when “super-empowered” street gangs will eclipse groups such as Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation:
As we theorized in 2005, the devolution of Los Zetas, of the Gulf Cartel, and the predictable dissolution of the Sinaloa Federation points to the formation of several criminal organizations, not a Mega Cartel. Whereas Mexico under the guise of six large, national-level criminal enterprises in 2006 could have been considered a sea of tranquility punctuated by islands of violence (less than 100 municipalities out of 2,000-plus with violence) the opposite may be proven true by early 2014, as the number of well-armed criminal groups jumps from the six significant groups we counted in 2006 - Sinaloa Federation, La Familia, Gulf Cartel, Beltra-Leyva Organization, Arellano-Felix Organization, Carrillo-Fuentes Organization - to over 10 in 2012 with a steady growth of new groups to bring the total number to possibly over 20 by the end of 2014.
By the end of 2014, the men organized by El Chapo and his principal rival Heriberto Lazcano will no longer be the principal drivers of violence across Mexico. At the hyper-local level, super-powered street gangs, armed with Twitter, You Tube, the weapon of fear, and an enviable armory will man-handle local politicians and municipal police.
We believe that while the above process continues forward beyond March 2012, there are certain cities in Mexico today that present an advanced case of how the criminal system in Mexico will evolve as street gangs become more powerful.
Monterrey lists among the top five.
Within this brief report, Monterrey Street Gangs
, we would like to present our assessment of street gang activity in Monterrey from both a strategic and tactical viewpoint to support an understanding of how the evolving criminal system in Monterrey could impact the daily lives of those who live there, as well as the business operations of the dozens of companies that rely on the MMA as a crucial element of a global enterprise.
We would like to add that in the best interest of time and space, this primer on street gangs in the MMA makes some general assumptions:
- The top-tier transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) are the primary drivers behind violence in Mexico in 2012;
- The Mexican government will not significantly alter its current strategy in 2012 or beyond, into the next administration;
- TCOs in Mexico are in constant communication with leadership elements of street gangs;
- TCOs do not solely rely on drug trafficking as a source of illicit revenue; and,
- The line between TCOs and street gangs is so blurred that many in Mexico still consider the two to be one single unit of criminality.
Though outside the scope of this report, the above issues hold value and are certainly open to conversation and argument. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss with you the above topics, and how they play into the overall criminal system in Mexico.