Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The danger from Mexican gangs is spreading

I'm probably regarded as a Cassandra by some people for the number of times I've posted about the danger from the current Mexican instability. Well, guess what? Each and every day, news reports and analyses are proving my warnings to be correct.

The two most recent reports are frightening. Strategic Forecasting speaks of the expansion of Mexican drug cartel operations into other countries. Here's an excerpt.

Significantly, the impact of violent Mexican criminals stretches far beyond Mexico itself. In recent weeks, Mexican criminals have been involved in killings in Argentina, Peru and Guatemala, and Mexican criminals have been arrested as far away as Italy and Spain. Their impact — and the extreme violence they embrace — is therefore not limited to Mexico or even just to Latin America. For some years now, STRATFOR has discussed the threat that Mexican cartel violence could spread to the United States, and we have chronicled the spread of such violence to the U.S.-Mexican border and beyond.

Traditionally, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations had focused largely on the transfer of narcotics through Mexico. Once the South American cartels encountered serious problems bringing narcotics directly into the United States, they began to focus more on transporting the narcotics to Mexico. From that point, the Mexican cartels transported them north and then handed them off to U.S. street gangs and other organizations, which handled much of the narcotics distribution inside the United States. In recent years, however, these Mexican groups have grown in power and have begun to take greater control of the entire narcotics-trafficking supply chain.

With greater control comes greater profitability as the percentages demanded by middlemen are cut out. The Mexican cartels have worked to have a greater presence in Central and South America, and now import from South America into Mexico an increasing percentage of the products they sell. They are also diversifying their routes and have gone global; they now even traffic their wares to Europe. At the same time, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations also have increased their distribution operations inside the United States to expand their profits even further. As these Mexican organizations continue to spread beyond the border areas, their profits and power will extend even further — and they will bring their culture of violence to new areas.

Burned in Phoenix

The spillover of violence from Mexico began some time ago in border towns like Laredo and El Paso in Texas, where merchants and wealthy families face extortion and kidnapping threats from Mexican gangs, and where drug dealers who refuse to pay “taxes” to Mexican cartel bosses are gunned down. But now, the threat posed by Mexican criminals is beginning to spread north from the U.S.-Mexican border. One location that has felt this expanding threat most acutely is Phoenix, some 185 miles north of the border. Some sensational cases have highlighted the increased threat in Phoenix, such as a June 2008 armed assault in which a group of heavily armed cartel gunmen dressed like a Phoenix Police Department tactical team fired more than 100 rounds into a residence during the targeted killing of a Jamaican drug dealer who had double-crossed a Mexican cartel. We have also observed cartel-related violence in places like Dallas and Austin, Texas. But Phoenix has been the hardest hit.

Go read the whole thing. Very sobering stuff indeed for anyone living anywhere near the Mexican border, or in any city with a large Hispanic population.

To confirm Stratfor's warning, right on cue comes this news report today.

Federal authorities arrested more than 750 people across the country in what they describe as "the largest and hardest hitting" operation to ever target the "the very violent and dangerously powerful" drug cartel known as Sinaloa.

The cartel is being blamed for much of the violence erupting along the U.S.-Mexican border, according to officials familiar with the operation.

U.S. officials said Wednesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and divisions of the Department of Homeland Security have spent two years investigating and arresting people associated with the Sinaloa cartel — which they say has been smuggling drugs, laundering millions of dollars obtained illegally and fueling a wave of violence along the Southern border.

Combating that violence was "the whole point" of the operation, one law enforcement official told FOX News.

"International drug-trafficking organizations pose a sustained, serious threat to the safety and security as of our communities," Attorney General Eric Holder said in prepared remarks at a Washington press conference Wednesday afternoon, his first as head of the Justice Department.

. . .

Federal and state narcotics-related charges have been unsealed against associates of the Sinaloa Cartel in California, Minnesota and Maryland.

But the cartel's influence stretches even farther. Other organizations with ties to those cases have been busted by authorities in parts of Minnesota, New York, Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.

According to the Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center, 230 cities across the country are faced with some form of drug cartel or Mexican gang presence.

There's more at the link.

Still reckon I'm exaggerating, or starting at shadows? I think not.



Maggie Leber said...

An additional risk is that AG Holder appears to be trying to use this violence as a phony excuse to bring back the Clinton-era "Assault Weapons" ban

Mikael said...

The war on drugs has truly become a war, with all its implications. Could be that the next country for the US to invade... could very well be Mexico.

BCFD36 said...

There was a report on NPR this morning on this very subject. I know listening to NPR is verboten in conservative circles. I do anyway. This report was much longer than the 30 seconds to 1 minute the networks give to a story.


Anonymous said...

They caught 8 of them living right here in San Angelo Texas - Pop. 89,000 souls. Makes a heart shudder at the thought.

Anonymous said...

"...just doing the jobs Americans don't want to do."