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March 21-27, 2024 | Issue 12 - SOUTHCOM and Weapons & Tactics

Léonard Vacelet–Revolio, Zara Price, Leon Kille, Mateo Maya, Agathe Labadi, Nicholas Novak, W/T

Alya Fathia Fitri, Senior Editor

Argentinian Marines[1]

Date: March 21, 2024

Location: Argentina

Parties involved: Argentinian federal government; Argentinian Congress; Argentinian armed forces; Santa Fe provincial authorities; Argentinian drug gangs; Argentinian civilians; Government of El Salvador; Government of Honduras

The event: The Argentinian government will introduce legislation to Congress, allowing military involvement in domestic security operations to combat organized crime and illegal smuggling. The new legislation will modify the current internal security law which only supports domestic operations through equipment supply. Congress needs to back the bill to enact it.[2] Drug trafficking-related violence has increased in some regions, such as the city of Rosario in the Sante Fe province. Following measures to toughen detention conditions in the region, local gangs have been at “war” against the provincial authorities, who requested the assistance of federal security forces.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The new legislation and the broader anti-narco gang strategy will likely result in increased violence, likely leading to human rights abuses. The Argentinian government will very likely conduct massive arrest operations without due process, likely incarcerating suspects without hearings and conclusive proof. Argentina will very likely continue developing maximum security prisons and extreme incarceration measures following the El Salvador and Honduras models. The creation of "anti-mafia” units to improve prevention and investigation operations will unlikely be effective in weakening the influence of organized crime groups without addressing corruption and collusion of public officials with local gangs.  

  • The direct intervention of the army and the toughening of the legal framework will likely intensify violent actions by local gangs, worsening the security situation for civilians. The militarization of internal security operations will likely make civilians question the tactics employed by the security forces. The new legislation has a roughly even chance of reinforcing the secrecy of internal security operations, likely weakening public trust in the authorities. The population will likely organize protests in affected areas, such as the city of Rosario, the Triple Border region, and the capital, with a roughly even chance of disrupting economic activity in these areas, impacting transport and trade networks.

Date: March 26, 2024

Location: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Parties involved: Ecuador; Ecuadorian government; Ecuadorian armed forces; Police chief General Víctor Herrera; Ecuadorian law enforcement services; Ecuadorian organized crime groups; criminal groups located in Guayaquil Los Tiguerones; foreign criminal groups involved in Ecuador’s black market; Ecuadorian politicians; Ecuadorian border guards

The event: Approximately 1500 police and military personnel conducted a large-scale security operation, executing roughly 200 search warrants. They found 58 kilos of drugs in an apartment, several handguns, and a replica rifle. At the time of reporting, they arrested  17 suspects, including four involved in recent violent murders and dismemberments in the area. Herrera said that Los Tiguerones, a gang the Ecuadorian government classified as a terrorist group, operates in the area.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The large-scale security operation in Guayaquil will likely temporarily disrupt the activities and logistics of Los Tiguerones and criminal groups within the area as the significant seizure of drugs and the key arrests likely hamper the group's operations in the short term. Without sustained law enforcement pressure and community engagement strategies, such operations will unlikely have a lasting disruptive impact on organized crime's structure and influence, likely only pushing gangs to re-organize their networks and activities. Gangs will likely adapt by diversifying their operations, relocating resources across multiple locations, and minimizing the risk of significant losses in weapons and drugs in a single security forces operation.

  • Ecuadorian criminal organizations will likely retaliate with targeted assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion of politicians and law enforcement personnel. Gangs will likely intensify recruitment to replace arrested members, likely forcing civilians to participate. Foreign criminal groups involved in Ecuador’s black market will likely support local gangs by sending weapons, sharing intelligence and information, and helping to re-organize operations and corrupt high-profile figures such as border guards and politicians. These dynamics will likely result in further hostilities between gangs, the military, and law enforcement, very likely increasing violence, displacements, and regional instability.


[1] Final Demo - Amphib landing, by Cpl. Brian Slaght, licensed under Public Domain

[2] Argentina gov't plans bill giving military greater role in domestic security, Reuters, March 2024, 

[3] Federal troops arrive in Rosario as drug violence, paralyses city, Buenos Aires Times, March 2024,

[4] Megaoperativo en Socio Vivienda tras desmembramiento de varios jóvenes; hallaron 58 kilos de droga y hay 17 detenidos, El Universo, March 2024,



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