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Breaking down the big picture

By Chris Ghannam, Guest contributor to PoliceOne

While Intelligence analysts are working to put together the “big picture,” please take into consideration the following critical points of interest for any Law Enforcement Intelligence Analyst because there are several major situations unfolding that warrant serious attention.
• The present economic crisis
• An increase in prison gang collaboration
• Serious increase in violence along many border towns
• A present reshaping of cartel leadership
• An increase in police targeting for possessions and information
• Increase in corporate fraudulent practices

With the continuous economic decline, foreclosures reaching record highs, and banks turning away legitimate businesses to cover payroll, one can only attempt to capture the personal suffering sweeping the nation. When legitimate industry suffers the black market flourishes. Many law abiding citizens may begin to panic. Thinking may change and people may come to believe the only way to survive the present situation is to seek a less ethical and more desperate route. Thankfully, the focus of most law-abiding citizens remains food, shelter, and the health of their family and loved ones.

On the other side of the fence, power, greed, weapons, and drugs have become the cornerstone to ensuring local gang survival. Prison gangs are not collaborating for a mere increase in profit margin and improving efficiency on the street, but rather a last attempt at independent survival.

Independence is slipping away from those gangs once thought to run a specific region or series of streets and into the hands of the better equipped and more dangerous Drug Cartels outfitted outside of our borders. Recent trends among Mexican Cartels once again reaffirms that they do not recognize international borders. A Phoenix incident on June 22, 2008 is a good example of the level of assertion posed by a cartel hit squad.

Where members of a cartel hit squad dressed in full law enforcement uniforms portraying what appeared to be a legitimate raid.

Florida and other drug-infested states have seen a substantial increase in stolen police property – primarily weapons, ammo, bullet proof vest, etc. The police vehicle has transformed into a quick depot for supplies. Why don’t gangs just buy weaponry and supplies directly from the drug cartels that currently provide their other illegal contraband?

Why would a street gang want to encourage a police crackdown? Why would a gang want to risk the already highly profitable business of selling drugs on the street?

Many documented criminals have no other approach for obtaining high power firearms without organized crime or cartel assistance. This approach demonstrates a level of possible desperation.

Secondly, because the cartels will know exactly what the street gang’s capabilities are. If the street gang has operations controlled by a savvy life criminal inside a penal institution they know to not show all their cards; especially if they are not willing to decrease profit margins to appease new cartel leadership.

It is not just police vehicles that are increasingly targeted by gangs, but officers themselves. Officers wear bullet proof vests for a reason, to improve the probability of survival if they are engaged in a gun fight. Law enforcement personnel can not necessarily control the gang member’s attempt to shoot them. On the other hand, a gang member can immediately drop his or her weapon and say “don’t shoot” and the officer legally must refrain from shooting if the criminal no longer poses any threat to loss of life or seriously bodily harm of the officer or innocent bystanders.

Anyone who has worked against drug cartels will tell you those rules don’t apply. They get a task to take someone out and they do so regardless of who surrenders or what pleas are made. The point is, the bullet proof vest is also an indication of a possible fear for life. Gangs know and somewhat respect boundaries or territories. Drug Cartels move in – and move in quick and hard without care or concern for what some street gang has to say about it.

Law enforcement identity theft and the increasing cartel and gang targeting efforts need to be more adequately addressed. Fellow professionals are increasingly becoming soft targets. Think about that the next time you are attending a large training function or conference like a gang investigators coalition conference. These large venues are publicly advertised, providing a pool of identities and face recognition for those looking to target their opposition. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that you are exposed when you are enjoying drinks with an old friend or colleague. Remain aware of the dangers and possibilities.

Thomas J. Byrne, 40, the supervisory special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration who died Aug. 30 after he was jumped, abducted, and beaten on a street in New Orleans, where he was attending an organized crime drug enforcement conference is an example of this.

While kidnap and ransom (K&R) is on the rise among corporate executives, the legitimacy of these cases is not always known nor does it have to be due to many current client privacy privileges. There are only a handful of K&R insurance providers with that being said there are hundreds of subsidiaries under these groups.

A good indication of possible fraud and collaboration with cartels is the level of exposure of K&R insurance coverage among those who do not have a need to know. The exact details of K&R insurance should remain highly confidential among corporate executives.

Conducting business in Mexico and having the world know you have let’s say $5M in K&R insurance is like painting a red dot on your forehead in Tijuana. K&R staff negotiators carefully illustrate safe practices for their clients. Just because an executive has loose lips does not mean they are involved in fraudulent practices but it is something to take note of in the investigation.

Just some quick tips for those fellow professionals who continue to risk their lives for the safety of others, God speed!

Chris Ghannam


Chris Ghannam is president and founder of Sark Securities Inc. and chief instructor for Sark Security Group R&D. Chris is a former US Military Intelligence / Counter Terrorism professional with extensive assignments abroad. Sark Securities Inc. a highly advanced private training firm for the US Military, Law Enforcement and Federal communities. For additional information please visit www.sarksecurities.com



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