Cartel Evolution Revisited: Third Phase Cartel Potentials and Alternative Futures in Mexico

Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

Publication Date



Defense and Security Studies | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) – commonly called drug cartels – are challenging states and their institutions in increasingly brutal and profound ways. This is seen dramatically in Mexico's drug wars and the expanding reach of Mexican organized criminal enterprises throughout Latin America and other parts of the world. This essay updates a 1998 paper ‘Cartel Evolution: Potentials and Consequences’ and examines current cartel and gang interactions. The paper links discussion of cartel phases to gang generations; updates and applies the discussion of third phase cartel potentials to Mexico; and assesses four alternative futures for Mexico, as well as their cross-border implications for the United States.

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© 2010 Taylor and Francis

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