TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME’S
THIS CHAPTER EXPLORES the recent transformation of transnational organized crime. It analyzes the nature of this transformation; the origins of this transformation; the relationship of this transformation to the clash among anarchy, sovereignty, and interdependence; the emerging security threat; the debate over the dangers associated with this transformation; and the ultimate resulting security disruption. The emphasis throughout is on how challenges are evolving within the contemporary security environment.
During the spring of 2009, unprecedented world attention was focused on the growing scope and power of organized crime reflected through two startling predicaments, summarized here to illustrate the current pervasiveness of the threat. The first predicament centered on Mexico’s war on its powerful drug cartels—the primary suppliers of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine to the United States (which brings in about $38 billion a year)—declared by President Felipe Calderón in 2007.1 About 60,000 Mexican police are fighting five major drug cartels, which are struggling hard to maintain control of key areas. In 2008, nearly 6,300 people were killed in this war, many through gruesome means—including kidnappings, torture, and beheadings—by the ruthless criminals armed with assault and sniper rifles, grenades, and missile and rocket launchers (most acquired in the United States).2 During the first eight weeks of 2009, over 1,000 people were killed in Mexico in drugrelated violence.3 The susceptibility to bribes of many Mexican police, law