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Drug Gangs Have Mexico on the Ropes

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by ronduke, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. ronduke


    Jan 24, 2007
    Drug Gangs Have Mexico on the Ropes
    Law enforcement south of the border is badly outgunned.

    A murder in the Mexican state of Chihuahua last week horrified even hardened crime stoppers. Police Commander Martin Castro's head was severed and left in an ice cooler in front of the police station in the town of Praxedis with a calling card from the Sinoloa drug cartel.

    According to Mexico's attorney general, 6,616 people died in drug-trafficking violence in Mexico last year. A high percentage of those killed were themselves criminals, but many law enforcement agents battling organized crime were also murdered. The carnage continues. For the first 22 days of this year the body count is 354.

    President Felipe Calderón began an assault on organized crime shortly after he took office in December 2006. It soon became apparent that the cartels would stop at nothing to preserve their operations, and that a state commitment to confrontation meant that violence would escalate.

    As bad as the violence is, it could get worse, and it is becoming clear that the U.S. faces contagion. In recent months, several important American voices have raised concerns about the risks north of the border. This means there is hope that the U.S. may begin to recognize the connection between American demand for prohibited substances and the rising instability in Mexico.

    The brutality of the traffickers is imponderable for most Americans. Commander Castro was not the first Mexican to be beheaded. It is an increasingly popular terror tactic. Last month, eight soldiers and a state police chief were found decapitated in the state of Guerrero.

    There is also plenty of old-fashioned mob violence. As Agence France Presse reported on Jan. 19 from Chihuahua, 16 others -- besides Commander Castro -- died in suspected drug-related violence across the state the same night. Six bodies were found, with bullet wounds and evidence of torture, in the state capital. Five of the dead were police officers. On the same day, Reuters reported that Mexican vigilante groups appear to be striking back at the cartels.

    Tally all this up and what you get is Mexico on the edge of chaos, and a mess that could easily bleed across the border. The U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., warned recently that an unstable Mexico "could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States." In a report titled "Joint Operating Environment 2008," the Command singles out Mexico and Pakistan as potentially failing states. Both "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse . . . . The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels."

    The National Drug Threat Assessment for 2009 says that Mexican drug-trafficking organizations now "control most of the U.S. drug market," with distribution capabilities in 230 U.S. cities. The cartels also "maintain cross border communication centers" that use "voice over Internet Protocol, satellite technology (broadband satellite instant messaging), encrypted messaging, cell phone technology, two-way radios, scanner devices, and text messaging, to communicate with members" and even "high-frequency radios with encryption and rolling codes to communicate during cross-border operations."

    Here is how he sees the fight: "The outgunned Mexican law enforcement authorities face armed criminal attacks from platoon-sized units employing night vision goggles, electronic intercept collection, encrypted communications, fairly sophisticated information operations, sea-going submersibles, helicopters and modern transport aviation, automatic weapons, RPG's, Anti-Tank 66 mm rockets, mines and booby traps, heavy machine guns, 50 cal sniper rifles, massive use of military hand grenades, and the most modern models of 40mm grenade machine guns."

    How is it that these gangsters are so powerful? Easy. As Gen. McCaffrey notes, Mexico produces an estimated eight metric tons of heroin a year and 10,000 metric tons of marijuana. He also points out that "90% of all U.S. cocaine transits Mexico" and Mexico is "the dominant source of methamphetamine production for the U.S." The drug cartels earn more than $25 billion a year and "repatriate more than $10 billion a year in bulk cash into Mexico from the U.S."

    To put it another way, if Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state, look no further than the large price premium the cartels get for peddling prohibited substances to Americans.
  2. Mexico has always been on a razor's edge since I was a kid in San Diego in the late sixties. Friends who have houses there report the decrepit conditions street cops have for equipment and pay. One friend, who is an FFL, tells of pitiful revolvers in poor condition and some officers being allotted less than a handful of bullets. Friends who have immigrated (lawfully) from Mexico fear to return, saying that crime is so pervasive and rampant that it is completely unreal to Americans (who complain when what is considered a minor event).

    I have a hunch the Puro will echo some of this from his perspective. However, I really fear and admire those honest souls that work there in an effort to try to keep their society moving. The reality is that criminal and drug gangs could very well turn Mexico into the next Liberia, a nation built of cartels and factions versus states.

    I do pray for my honest brothers in Mexico.


    SPDSNYPR Zippy's Friend.

    Jun 12, 2006
    OK, USA
    This is incredibly disturbing, but not really surprising.
  4. GlockerMike

    GlockerMike God Help Us

    Jul 4, 2007
  5. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    Looks like we're headed for a showdown!
  6. ronduke


    Jan 24, 2007
    Auto Thefts Plague Border Region
    Mexican Drug Cartels Drive Much of Illicit Vehicle Trade; Laredo, Texas, Is Hit
    LAREDO, Texas -- This city along the Rio Grande is on the verge of becoming the stolen-car capital of the U.S., according to data set for release Monday that underscore how drug cartels are helping make the U.S.-Mexico border region a hot spot for vehicle thieves.

    The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit body that collects law-enforcement reports, said 1,960 vehicles were reported stolen in the Laredo metropolitan area last year, an increase of more than 47% since 2005, when Laredo ranked 32nd nationally. That comes to 827 thefts per 100,000 people, putting Laredo just behind No. 1 Modesto, Calif.

    Of the 20 U.S. metropolitan regions with the highest theft rates, according to the crime bureau, seven are near the Mexico border: Laredo; San Diego; Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; El Centro, Calif.; El Paso, Texas; and Phoenix. El Paso in particular has jumped up the charts; it ranked 17th in 2008, compared with No. 81 in 2005.

    While Mexican drug cartels aren't behind every stolen car along the border, police say their money drives the professional side of the trade.

    President Barack Obama will visit Mexico this week to show support for President Felipe Calderón, who is using Mexico's military to crack down on the drug cartels behind an epidemic of violence in northern Mexico. The White House says boosting federal law-enforcement efforts on the U.S. side is a priority.

    Although drug violence in Laredo is down from the historic highs of a few years ago, people from all walks of life -- including police officers -- are falling prey to roving bands of car thieves.

    One Laredo detective's Dodge Durango disappeared from outside his house, with his bulletproof vest and a semiautomatic handgun inside, police say. The local U.S. border-patrol chief recently had his pickup truck stolen, too.

    Mindy Casso, a news anchor at the Laredo NBC affiliate, stepped outside one morning to load her two kids into her Ford Ranger, only to find it was gone -- even though a private security car was patrolling her upscale neighborhood.

    "It's overwhelming," said Carlos Maldonado, who was named Laredo's police chief last May. "I don't have an officer to put on every car in the city."

    Perched on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, the city is the busiest inland port in the U.S., with four bridges to Mexico. On the other side is a key center of the $30 billion-a-year Mexico-U.S. narcotics trade.

    Drug cartels have several uses for stolen cars. In some cases, traffickers provide the stolen vehicles to smugglers who move weapons bought in the U.S. across the border, according to a recent internal report by the Department of Homeland Security. It says cars sometimes are "laundered" with different plates.

    Using stolen cars makes good business sense for the cartels, which can minimize losses if the vehicles are seized, police say.

    Sgt. Eduardo Garcia, 39 years old, has led Laredo's stolen-vehicle task force, with nine men, for about eight years. He says Mexico's traffickers provide wish lists of makes and models to the best thieves -- preferably U.S. citizens who can legally drive an American-plated car into Mexico. Traffickers pay up to about $1,000 apiece for highly valued vehicles, such as new Ford or Dodge pickup trucks.

    Usually, police say, thieves work in three- or four-man teams. "Spotters" will find the cars they want, then quickly dispatch a car filled with thieves.

    The city of Laredo runs along the Rio Grande, meaning Mexico is just a few minutes away from almost any spot in town. "If it's stolen at 3 [p.m.], for example, it's in Mexico by 3:05," Sgt. Garcia said. The city has tried to use license-plate readers to detect stolen cars, but the vehicles are frequently over the border before their owners even know they have been stolen.

    Detectives patrol the thieves' favorite areas, hoping to spot the crooks before they strike. But as the police watch the thieves, the thieves also watch the police. Although the city swaps undercover cars driven by auto-theft detectives every six to eight months, thieves often pinpoint the police cars. After his arrest last week, a ringleader rattled off the models driven by two detectives, Sgt. Garcia said.

    Laredo police have few ways to track the traffickers calling the shots, who are largely in Mexico. Because of fears they would be targeted by drug cartels, the city's police officers are barred from crossing into Mexico. And Arturo Galvan, the longest-serving member of the task force, said corruption on the Mexican side has made it impossible even to work by phone. "Who can you trust?" he asked.

    One tactic has proven effective: makeshift checkpoints on the city's busiest thoroughfare to Mexico, known as Bridge No. 2.

    Manning the checkpoint one evening last week, Sgt. Garcia stood amid two lanes of traffic rolling into Mexico, his eyes darting back and forth for telltale signs: a valued vehicle, such as an expensive pickup truck, with a young male driver and no passengers. Then he looked for other signs, such as damage on a door handle or keyhole.

    Many thieves get by when his overburdened team isn't watching. Still, Sgt. Garcia said that the checkpoints are effective. Police have noticed that when the checkpoints are manned, patrol car lights flashing, the number of reported thefts goes down.

    "What we can do," Sgt. Garcia said, "is be a deterrent."
  7. evilwill

    evilwill Speaks Jive

    Aug 21, 2006
    New York City
    imagine how many more index crimes they would have if 80% of their population wasn't here in the US :shocked:
  8. shooter757


    Sep 1, 2007
    Mexico is a great example of how strict gun laws decrease violence
  9. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

    The only sure cure is for us to help out the legitimate Mexican forces, with their permission. However, we're so tied up elsewhere, I don't see us doing it any time real soon. Maybe it's time for strength increases in National Guard. They are over strength by current standards, but you would think it could be changed. Then deploy half of the units along the border.

    That and work with legitimate LE in Mexico.
  10. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    It's the massive remittance out of the country that scares me. Our money is escaping us off-shore.
  11. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Mexico, beautiful beaches, lots of oil, great food, wonderful people, and it's a mess. It just goes to show you how much a goverment can **** something up.
  12. blueiron


    Aug 10, 2004
    Mexico has been a mess for at least the past two generations. Without direct foreign aid from the U.S., indirect aid from what their people sent home from here, and with the criminals in the ultra corrupt dominant political party - P.R.I. repressing the people and encouraging illegal immigration, they would have had a revolution by now.

    P.R.I. refuses to build up the middle class, preferring to continue political patronage and favoritism. This alienates those who want to get ahead and they come here for better pay and a better life. The Mexican criminal class has learned to come to the U.S. to prey on the Mexicans here and then run for the border before they are caught. The drug trade gets bigger every year and if they wanted the country, I strongly suspect they could wrest it from the Army and the ruling class in order to build a narco-state.

    Mexico has become a failed nation-state and it is going to get far worse for them and for the U.S. very soon.
  13. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    Yep. There's nothing a government can't destroy if they put their collective heads together in the name of trying to "improve" it. Look at us.
  14. APD

    APD Trunk Monkey

    Oct 5, 2002
    Travis County,TX
    Mexico is a third world country...expect anything less?

    If we were not their neighbor they would set a precedent as being then ranked a fourth world country.:crying:
  15. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    If you get the corrupt government out of Mexico it would instantly be a 2nd world country. How's that for a solution?:whistling:
  16. steve1988


    Feb 5, 2009
    Ft. Meade, MD
    If you are going to buy drugs, please buy American.

  17. AZ Husker

    AZ Husker

    Mar 25, 2003
    Why in the world would the Mexican Government honestly try to stop the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the United States? Both return huge amounts of cash to their economy. Until we shut off our aid to them and force them to deal with their own problems, nothing will change.
  18. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    But that would just be racist and where's your compassion for your fellow man?!??!?!?:whistling:
  19. blueiron


    Aug 10, 2004
    That will never happen as of now.

    If illegal aliens and U.S. dollars are stopped, the civil unrest will begin in earnest and the citizens will revolt against the government, with the narco-gangs support. Before the government collapses, we'd see hundreds of thousands to millions of refugees flooding across the border in a period of a few months. It would overwhelm the border states and the U.S. military would have to respond. There aren't enough U.S. troops to deal with this scenario and they'd end up fighting the remnants of the Mexican Army and the narco-gangs.

    The U.S. is willingly being allowed to absorb some of the crisis and we are betting that the Mexican government can stem the tide. Unfortunately, the Mexican police, even the FJP, can't get it done. The Mexican Army is their last resort and it isn't going well for them.

    This adminstration's plan [along with the past few] has been to hope for a turnaround and as someone once said: 'Hope is not a viable strategy'.
  20. ronduke


    Jan 24, 2007
    U.S. Pledges to Stem Flow of Guns to Help Mexico
    President Barack Obama on Thursday told Mexican President Felipe Calderón that the U.S. would stem a flow of weapons across the border into Mexico. But while Washington has spent more than $30 billion since the early 1990s to keep illicit goods and illegal immigrants from entering the U.S., it has had virtually nothing in place to check -- let alone stop -- what is flowing out.

    Mexican authorities have long pressed the U.S. to do more to stop the southbound trafficking of American-procured weapons, dubbed the "Iron River." But just how little the U.S. has done in the past is on vivid display at border crossings in Laredo, Texas, a town perched on the northern bank of the Rio Grande.

    A recent internal government assessment of the gun trade named Laredo as a top pipeline for Mexican drug cartels. Nearly six million passenger vehicles, 1.6 million trucks, 3.8 million pedestrians and nearly 40,000 buses crossed the border in Laredo last year, making it one of the busiest transit points in the nation.

    At Laredo's biggest international bridge, checking vehicles for Mexico-bound contraband is such a foreign concept that the U.S. government doesn't even own the six outbound lanes. They belong to the city.

    The only infrastructure dedicated to stopping motorists heading south is a toll gate, so Laredo can collect $3 for every passing vehicle. It is the same at the nearby crossing for pedestrians, where the toll is 75 cents.

    "Our resources and our equipment are set up to do the northbound examinations," said Eugenio "Gene" Garza, the Laredo port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    Although Mr. Garza has one of the few permanent teams conducting outbound checks along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, he doesn't have staff for round-the-clock examinations, which he said are crucial to making a difference.

    "The key to outbound enforcement is you have to do it 24/7," he said. "That has been the key. When our officers work it, they get these seizures. But, you know, we need to be able to do the same inspections southbound that we do northbound."

    Outbound enforcement led to an average of just 183 weapon seizures at all federal ports along the Southwestern border in each of the past four years, according to internal U.S. government data seen by The Wall Street Journal. The assessment estimated that to be less than 1% of the total number of arms flowing south.

    Even after Mr. Obama's administration said last month that it would boost enforcement, local police are often the ones who do the checking.

    That was the case from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. one day last week, when the nation's outbound enforcement in Laredo boiled down to Detective Arturo Galvan and another officer, who were aided by a flashlight and battered orange traffic cones.

    Just past sunset, as they tried to spot and stop suspect vehicles amid streams of southbound cars and pickup trucks, an automated license-plate scanner flagged the tag of a wanted felon, a man identified as "armed and dangerous."

    The scanner is the only piece of gear focused on vehicles leaving the U.S., but Laredo police working the bridge don't have access to its data because it is operated by federal agents. Mr. Galvan learned of the hit when a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent scampered toward him from a distant booth on the federal side of the bridge, where 12 lanes of traffic lead into the U.S.

    The luxury sport-utility vehicle was already gone.

    It would be difficult to imagine a similar scene across the yellow curb dividing the two sides of Laredo's bridge.

    Every vehicle coming into the U.S. passes through a radiation-detection portal. Every driver faces an agent. Every tour bus is emptied of passengers and luggage, before it is checked by dogs or scanned by a huge X-ray machine permanently mounted on a flatbed truck. Soon, electronic scanners will read travel documents and the faces of the travelers holding them.

    Similarly stringent efforts are apparent at Laredo's port for commercial truck traffic, known as the World Trade Bridge. There, inbound tractor-trailers roll into cement buildings constructed to house massive X-ray machines, or get offloaded by hand in the search for contraband.

    To boost outbound enforcement, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to deploy more license-plate scanners along the border, more temporary teams and more X-ray machines. But the police in Laredo, who know the local turf well because they are battling a plague of vehicle thefts, say only an around-the-clock presence will make a real difference.