A few days ago I wrote about an assault by Mexican drug cartel gunmen in Phoenix, AZ, which resulted in the death of their target and an attempt by some of the gunmen to ambush pursuing police officers. Initial reports that the gunmen were members of the Mexican military now appear to have been exaggerated, although it's possible that some of them were former service personnel.
Strategic Forecasting has now issued a fairly detailed report about the incident, pulling together information from numerous sources and providing a useful summary of events, implications and prospects for the future. A snippet:
While it now appears that the three men arrested in Phoenix were not former or active members of the Mexican military or police, it is not surprising that they employed military- and police-style tactics. Enforcers of various cartel groups such as Los Zetas, La Gente Nueva or the Kaibiles who have received advanced tactical training often pass on that training to younger enforcers (many of whom are former street thugs) at makeshift training camps located on ranches in northern Mexico. There are also reports of Israeli mercenaries visiting these camps to provide tactical training. In this way, the cartel enforcers are transforming ordinary street thugs into highly-trained cartel tactical teams.
Though cartel enforcers have almost always had ready access to guns, including military weapons such as assault rifles and grenade launchers, groups such as Los Zetas, the Kaibiles and their young disciples bring an added level of threat to the equation. They are highly trained men with soldiers’ mindsets who operate as a unit capable of using their weapons with deadly effectiveness. Assault rifles in the hands of untrained thugs are dangerous, but when those same weapons are placed in the hands of men who can shoot accurately and operate tactically as a fire team, they can be overwhelmingly powerful — not only when used against enemies and other intended targets, but also when used against law enforcement officers who attempt to interfere with the team’s operations.
Although the victim in the Phoenix killing, Andrew Williams, was reportedly a Jamaican drug dealer who crossed a Mexican cartel, there are many other targets in the United States that the cartels would like to eliminate. These targets include Mexican cartel members who have fled to the United States due to several different factors. The first factor is the violent cartel war that has raged in Mexico for the past few years over control of important smuggling routes and strategic locations along those routes. The second factor is the Calderon administration’s crackdown, first on the Gulf cartel and now on the Sinaloa cartel. Pressure from rival cartels and the government has forced many cartel leaders into hiding, and some of them have left Mexico for Central America or the United States.
Traditionally, when violence has spiked in Mexico, cartel figures have used U.S. cities such as Laredo, El Paso and San Diego as rest and recreation spots, reasoning that the general umbrella of safety provided by U.S. law enforcement to those residing in the United States would protect them from assassination by their enemies. As bolder Mexican cartel hit men have begun to carry out assassinations on the U.S. side of the border in places such as Laredo, Rio Bravo, and even Dallas, the cartel figures have begun to seek sanctuary deeper in the United States, thereby bringing the threat with them.
The whole article is worth reading. This is going to become an ever-more-present reality in terms of US crime. Those living in states adjoining the Mexican border would do well to think about preparing themselves, and those of us a bit further inland need to be aware that this sort of thing is undoubtedly going to move further North as time passes.
Furthermore, look at the prevalence of drug violence in Mexico itself. The Los Angeles Times provides this graphic:
With the incidence of drug violence so high just South of our border, anyone who takes bets that it won't spread North is living in a fool's paradise.