Fourth Generation Warfare

Why Mexican Cyber-Cartels Threaten U.S. National Security

By Amanda Suárez

Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) are expanding into cybercrime to form “cyber-cartels,” which present unique threats to U.S. national security interests. Mexican drug cartels have already begun to use technology to further their business operations, including doxxing and surveillance software. Now, these new Mexican cyber-cartels strategically leverage technology to pursue profit, security, and influence in three main areas: cybercrime, dark web markets, and cryptocurrency.

This trend is particularly alarming given that Mexican TCOs already pose the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States, and narcotrafficking-related violence has embroiled a weak Mexican state into a security crisis. As the recent ransomware attack by a Russian cybercriminal group on Colonial Pipeline demonstrated, American critical infrastructure and private companies are also highly vulnerable to attack by non-state cybercriminal actors. It is urgent that the U.S. respond to TCO innovation and counter Mexican cyber-cartels by relying on comprehensive interagency cooperation and collaboration with international partners.


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