Criminal Drone Evolution: Cartel Weaponization of Aerial IEDs.

Authorda Cruz, Jose de Arimateia

Bunker, Robert J. & John P. Sullivan, eds. Criminal Drone Evolution: Cartel Weaponization of Aerial IEDs. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Publishing, 2021.

Drones have been around as toys for many years. When I was a child growing up in Brazil, I had a drone. It was fun to fly it, and I thought of myself as a military helicopter pilot. Never in my wildest dreams did I think of drones as a force multiplier in the arsenal of transnational organized criminal organizations, criminal cartels, gangs, or armed criminal groups (CAGs). In Criminal Drone Evolution: Cartel Weaponization of Aerial IEDs, Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan clarify that criminal organizations have recognized the value of drones to their nefarious activities. Robert J. Bunker is director of research and analysis at C/O Futures LLC and a senior fellow with Small Wars Journal-El Centro. Bunker has more than 500 publications, including forty books as coauthor, editor, or co-editor. John P. Sullivan is a career police officer with the Los Angeles Sherriff's Department, specializing in emergency operations, counterterrorism, and intelligence.

Drones are becoming an integral part of criminal organizations' toolbox, challenging law enforcement agencies. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or systems (UAV or UAS), are becoming more common along the US-Mexico border. Drones are replacing the coyotes and mules utilized by the Mexican cartels. As Brenda Fiegel, one of the authors in this seminal work on drones as a force multiplier for criminal organizations, point out, drones are replacing the drug mule since drones is less risky for drug traffickers. Fiegel contends that drones "cost significantly less than drug tunnels and semisubmersibles and are even able to transport cash shipments from the US into Mexico without being detected."

In addition to being used as a mode of transportation, drones replace the halcones, or lookouts and spies. Drones can be used to transport drugs without putting resources at risk, can be used for surveillance, and provide up-to-theminute intelligence information for criminal organizations as observation and reconnaissance platforms. Drones are also adding layers of complexity to the fight against criminal organizations and terrorist groups, as Bunker and Sullivan pointed out. According to Bunker and Sullivan, drones are changing the shape of non-state conflict. Furthermore, drug, crime, and gang wars are likely to include the use of drones as...

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