Academic journal article Parameters

Studies in Gangs and Cartels

Academic journal article Parameters

Studies in Gangs and Cartels

Article excerpt

Studies in Gangs and Cartels

By Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan

New York: Routledge, 2013

232 pages

$155.00

Studies in Gangs and Cartels is written by two eminent scholars in the field of law enforcement and transnational criminal organizations. Robert J. Bunker was a Distinguished Visiting Professor and Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College; while John P. Sullivan is a career police officer and an Adjunct Researcher at the Scientific Vortex Foundation, Bogota, Colombia. This important work is the culmination of the authors' works from the mid-1990s to the present with new chapters written specifically for this anthology. Readers will see the progression of gangs and cartels and their nefarious activities from third-generation or third-phase cartel typologies.

Studies in Gangs and Cartels addresses the broader challenges gangs and organized crime can present to states. (1) Gangs and cartels in the twenty-first century have become more than an annoyance to governmental authorities and law enforcement agencies. Crime and criminally illicit activities have become more global in scope and can destroy the social fabric of a society while also undermining the authority and legitimacy of a state. One only has to think of the current situations in Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil to realize the impact of criminal elements in society and its detrimental effects. As Bunker and Sullivan point out, "extending their reach and influence by co-opting individuals and organizations through bribery, coercion and intimidation to facilitate, enhance, and protect their activities, transnational criminal organizations are emerging as a serious impediment to democratic governance and a free market economy. This danger is particularly evident in Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and other parts of the former Soviet Union where corruption has become particularly insidious and pervasive" (63). The traditional view of crime as a localized issue and therefore a concern only to the police on the beat is no longer valid in the twenty-first century. As Bunker and Sullivan argue, "rather than being viewed only as misguided youth or opportunistic criminals or, in their mature forms, as criminal organizations with no broader social or political agenda, more evolved gangs and cartels are instead seen as developing political, mercenary, and state-challenging capabilities" (xi).

Criminal organizations and cartels are emerging phenomena of the third-generation street gang typology advanced in the Studies in Gangs and Cartels. According to Bunker and Sullivan, third-generation gangs have sophisticated political aims. "They operate--or seek to operate--at the global end of the spectrum, using their sophistication to gain and secure power, drive financial acquisition, and engage in mercenary-type activities" (3). This proliferation of street-level gangs across neighborhoods, cities, and countries is partially a consequence of the process of globalization, that is, the greater interconnection of the world due to advancements in transportation, economics, the death of distance facilitated by the internet, and interdependence. In the globalized world of the twenty-first century, gangs have become transnational when the following characteristics are present. First, the criminal organization is active and operational in more than one country. …

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