Tags: mexico | drug | cartels

Mexico Spirals Into Chaos

Monday, 23 Feb 2009 11:50 AM

By Paul E. Vallely

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A Justice Department report by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) says that Mexican drug gangs pose the biggest organized crime threat to the United States.

The report, the "National Drug Threat Assessment 2009," evaluates the threat posed by illegal drugs by examining availability, production and cultivation, transportation, distribution, and demand. State and local law enforcement agencies shared information for this report through personal interviews with the National Drug Intelligence Center.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States, says the report. They control drug distribution in most U.S. cities, and they are making strides in markets they do not yet control.

The study estimates that Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking organizations make and launder between $18 billion and $39 billion in wholesale drug profits annually.

Mexican drug smugglers smuggle most of the cocaine available in the U.S. across the U.S./Mexico border.

Enhancing border control and increased awareness of drug trafficking organizations may help to control the U.S. drug market.

Mexico ranks now behind Iran as the second largest security threat to United States.

Drug cartels are pitted against each other (and Mexican law enforcement) fighting for a piece of the drug pie and violence is escalating — more than 6,000 Mexicans have been killed from such violence in 2008, double the number from 2007. There are over 70 Americans that have been kidnapped or missing.

A visit to Tijuana, Juarez, or any of the border towns/cities provides clear examples.

The U.S.’ borders are flooded with gangs, drug cartel operations, illegal immigrant flow (back and forth), murders, human trafficking and kidnappings.

Here is some of the more recent news:

  • Authorities arrested a man accused of dissolving as many as 300 bodies in vats of acid for a Tijuana-based drug lord ( "El Pozolero," named after a local stew).

  • Prosecutors reported three heads found in an ice box and a headless body was a discovered in a canal in Ciudad Juarez, a town known as Mexico's deadliest — just over the border from El Paso, Texas. The headless victims were policemen.

    By all accounts the federal government, politicos, the military, and the police face criminal gangs dealing in methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. The public is ruthlessly intimidated.

    It has poured across the border into cities such as Los Angeles, El Paso, and Phoenix.

    Despite this, the U.S. government fails to develop a national strategy as part of the overall national security plan to take the necessary action to protect the United States (a fence will not do the trick). Military and other aid packages to the Mexican government do not seem to help that country's stability.

    The drug cartels are well armed with assault weapons, RPGs, and land mines and plenty of aircraft, SUVs and trucks to move wherever they want. They are high-tech too, using encrypted communications and night-vision goggles. They have the best means of transportation including helicopters and even mini-subs.

    President Felipe Calderon is attempting change but he's up against rampant corruption that reaches deep into his government, anti-drug police, and armed forces. (Mexico's former top organized-crime cop was arrested last fall on narcotics-related corruption charges.)

    Despite reforms, the judicial system is plagued by payoffs, lack of investigative resources, and overloaded courts. The police are poorly paid, equipped and trained, leaving them in dire straits battling the drug lords. Some of the cartels' foot soldiers are former military commandos that the United States trained at Fort Benning, Ga.

    Mexican gangs obtain their weapons from international arms merchants, who traffic them illegally on this side of the border.

    American demand for drugs (cartel gangs feed an estimated 200 U.S. cities) isn’t abating. As a result, popular support for Calderon's fight against the cartels has waned.

    The widespread violence leaves many Mexicans ready to throw in the towel, saying drugs are an American problem. Mexico is a country of 110 million people and it has become a narco-controlled state.

    The U.S. is by far the largest consumer of illicit drugs in the world and therefore provides a huge market for the Cartels to supply.

    Like Colombia before it, Mexico is now a frontline state in fighting these problems. Programs such as the Merida Law Enforcement Initiative, a U.S.-assisted, Mexican counter-drug program, are vital to opposing the drug lords. But Merida's funding is up for renewal and Congress and the White House may not fund it.

    Paul E. Vallely was a major general in the U.S. Army. He is chairman of Stand Up America USA, and author of "Operation Sucker Punch — Blood for Our Future."

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