In this recent Al Fin post I made the following comment in part:
Gang hierarchy requires that membership and economic growth be continuously expanded, if only to provide advancement possibilities, and thus greater authority both within and outside the membership, for maturing members.
The other aspect that was only barely glossed over is that, by and large, criminal gangs are run by their most senior members; ie: those who have been imprisoned. To quote from the film "American Me", Inside runs outside.
By their nature gangs are competitors of (and not just working in opposition to) the social and legal structures within which they operate. Gangs offer a counter-government to the more mundane societal structure that more often than not disdains any such claims. Impartial students of history know that the National Socialist political party of 1920's Germany was infiltrated and it's leadership usurped by the then criminal gang element that subsequently transformed itself into the Brownshirts.
Gangs are a lot more dangerous then most people are willing to credit. My own TEOTWAWKI scenario revolves around some expression of "street gangs" gaining control of substantial swathes of territory which also host military weaponry stockpiles. It sounds like a bad '70's made-for-TV movie script, and the acting would actually be worse, but how do you counter a gang armed with SAW's and morters and members just as cyber-smart as anyone available to the cops? Of course they couldn't maintain control for very long - and they know that too - without their spreading the radius of damage so far beyond their immediate region of influence that countering forces are tied down elsewhere.
That's the problem with Sun Tzu; anyone can read his book. And prison inmates have a lot of time to think about what he has to say as it applies to them.
How likely do you think it that groups like this won't find some advantage to be taken from events like these? Or that Hugo Chavez won't think this a wonderful time to renew his association with FARC in Colombia or with others in Bolivia itself for that matter?
You know, this is the problem with keeping a watch out for danger - after a while you see it in every event that occurs. If I'm wrong (and I really hope I am) then I'll happily admit it next weekend ... after plenty of time has passed.
Hey! I was a Dad once upon a time, the reflex's are still there.