Economics/Class Relations

Modern drug cartels resemble corporate entities

tennessean.com
Christopher Sherman , AP

Accountants, managers, security and more all part of criminal organizations

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS — When a regional manager for the Mexican Gulf cartel moved his operation to a more lucrative territory on the border, he took along not only his armored trucks and personal army, but also his department heads and a team of accountants.

In the grotesque violence that has enveloped Mexico, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, ultimately, these criminal organizations are complex businesses that rely on careful accounting as much as assault rifles.

Rafael Cardenas Vela, a Gulf cartel member who ran three important “plazas,” or territories, testified last week about the organization’s structure and operations in such detail that it could compose a short course.

Massive flow chart

When prosecutors asked Cardenas to walk jurors through a decade of moves in the cartel’s command and control structure, he turned to a giant organizational chart that would be recognizable to anyone in the corporate world except for spaces at the bottom for those “arrested” and “deceased.”

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