Drug Cartels, Street Gangs, and Warlords

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


The nature of crime and conflict has changed and continues to evolve. The now and future war is and will be influenced by irregular combatants – non-state soldiers – that utilize technology and networked doctrine to spread their influence across traditional geographic boundaries. This era shift in political and social organization, fueled by rapid developments of technology and exploitation of network organizational forms, blurs the distinctions between crime, terrorism and warfare. The resulting transitional period – a Dark Renaissance – benefits a range of non-state actors: drugs cartels, street gangs, terrorists, and warlords. Criminal organizations appear among the first to adapt to the new operational context resulting from this shift. This paper examines the journey of street gangs, one type of transnational criminal organization – the drug cartel – and warlords through this evolution. Respectively, these entities provide direct and indirect challenges to the solvency of nation-state institutions, potentially emerging as new war-making entities.

Rights Information

© 2002 Taylor and Francis

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.