Sunday, September 18, 2016

Criminal Entrepreneurship: "How Drug Cartels Operate Like Silicon Valley Startups"

From Motherboard:
Tunnels, catapults, drones, and manned semi-submersibles.
Breast implants, fake carrots, and puppies.

These are just a few examples of smuggling tactics used by Mexican and Central American organized crime groups to move illegal drugs and people across borders and past law enforcement. But they also exemplify the kinds of innovative behavior and problem-solving prowess that in other, legal contexts, such as Silicon Valley, often result in groundbreaking businesses.

However, reductionist and neocolonial theories of Mexican cartels have for too long hamstrung efforts to properly understand these complex entities and capture the vast potential therein, according to Dr. Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez. We, in essence, have failed to study these organizations within the right framework.

Nieto-Gomez, a research professor at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security and at the National Security Affairs Department of the Naval Postgraduate School, has spent much of his time over the last few years reconceptualizing our notion of this mysterious world. He has found that far from anything resembling The Godfather, the behavior of organized crime in Mexico more closely resembles the entrepreneurs and startups of Silicon Valley.

I caught up with Nieto-Gomez to talk about criminal entrepreneurship, the potential for capturing these innovation skills, and how organized crime in Mexico really works.

Motherboard: What are you currently working on?Nieto-Gomez: My key research agenda right now is based on analyzing criminal entrepreneurship. When you see what it takes to smuggle drugs from Mexico to the US, those are the kinds of skill sets we go and admire at a maker’s faire in San Mateo [California]. You take a compressor and mix it with a potato gun and you start shooting cocaine or marijuana ... over the border. It’s freaking amazing. It’s completely unhindered by regulation. If you want to see what true libertarian, Ayn Rand capitalism looks like, don’t look at the US, but Mexico, and specifically the drug cartels.

“Sorry Amazon, you aren’t the first to deliver products via drone.”

What kind of innovations are you expecting to see from drug traffickers in the next few years?If you want to get funky and think about the future of drug smuggling: UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] or unmanned semi-submersibles. You can send them from Colombia or Venezuela and program the coordinates all the way to the US. If you send 10 of them and only one makes it, you are still making a hefty profit.

What we are actually seeing are off-the-shelf drones bringing payloads of cocaine. Sorry Amazon, you aren’t the first to deliver products via drone; the Gulf Cartel did it first. Cocaine is the perfect product for a drone payload. It’s compact, stable, and highly profitable....MUCH MORE
HT: Borderland Beat