Thursday, January 12, 2023

The cartels versus the Mexican and U.S. governments - a state of war


Two recent articles have highlighted the fact that the security situation on the US-Mexico border amounts to nothing less than a de facto state of war.

Real Clear Wire describes it as "The Invasion Equation".

Rape trees, river floaters, skeletal remains, and fentanyl candy. The new vernacular of illegal immigration is an indictment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) loss of operational control along the U.S.-Southern border. A consequence of this is the transformation of cartel insurgencies into well-formed armies that recruit and employ uniformed soldiers, have supporting intelligence operations, and control terrain. The challenge now confronting state and federal law enforcement is no longer how to deter an insurgency; it’s how to defeat an army.

Modern armies are resourced by nation-states who provide moral leadership in times of war. But the accountable governments of nation-states can falter and fail. Mexico in particular has a compromised central government that is not protecting its own homeland from subversive actors. When this happens, a conglomerate of paid professionals, mercenaries, conscripts, and criminals fills the void to either protect or exploit the resources of a community. It was true within the first communities of Mesopotamia, and it is happening now in communities across Mexico. This is how armies begin. A state is incapable of securing its communities, accountable governments lose legitimacy, and subversive actors start vying for control of terrain to exploit resources.  

The hallmark of any effective army is its ability to control terrain. The cartel armies have done that by co-opting the gangs of the U.S. and operate the world’s largest crime syndicate complete with narco distribution hubs throughout the U.S.. In Mexico they cordon cities and run roadblocks to collect information and extort residents. To date, as much as 20 percent of Mexico has come under control of the cartels as previously reported by CIA analysts. Their center of gravity is the illicit drug and human trafficking revenues from which they derive their strength. The illegal aliens that they infiltrate, the drugs that they smuggle, and the terrorist that they give safe passage each infiltrate the Southern border under their control and further empower their control of terrain.

There's more at the link.

Austin Bay claims bluntly that "Mexican Crime Cartels Wage Narcotic and Demographic War on USA".

In early 2009 sensationalists claimed that Mexico was a failed state. Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa rebutted the accusation, pointing out the 2009 Mexican federal government was quite strong. Failed states have no real government.

. . .

December 2018: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) becomes president after winning an overwhelming electoral victory. In his inaugural address he invoked a word that transfixes Mexico: Impunity. Under his administration "Corruption and impunity" will end he said.

For angry and disenchanted Mexican citizens, "impunity" means embedded injustice within their nation's governing institutions and society.

Donald Trump gets credit for understanding a border wall not only hindered illegal immigration it obstructed cartel smuggling. AMLO eventually agreed that Trump's U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was a good deal for Mexico -- real jobs and honest income.

The Jan. 5 shootout in Sinaloa state is a warning for Mexico that it still faces well-armed and well-financed internal enemies. Three days before Biden's El Paso photo op, 3,600 Mexican soldiers and security personnel captured Ovidio Guzman, the son of jailed Sinaloa (aka Pacific) cartel kingpin Joaquin Guzman. The operation resulted in a 10-hour battle with gunmen in a town near Culiacan. Security forces captured 50-caliber sniper rifles and two dozen vehicles with add-on armor.

Culiacan is 500 miles from the US-Mexico border but the cartel wages war throughout North America -- yes, the border war now reaches New York City. In December the DEA announced during 2022 the U.S. seized 50 million fentanyl-laced pills and 10,000 pounds of powder -- "379 million potentially deadly doses." The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels produced most of the fentanyl at "secret factories in Mexico with chemicals largely sourced from China."

. . .

An undefended U.S. border increases cartel profits and makes Mexico more vulnerable. Drugs, crime and social support costs sap the U.S. The demographic shifts present additional challenges.

Who benefits? Communist China, drug cartels and corrupt politicians. Quite a strategic consequence.

Again, more at the link.

Our border security is like most other problems tackled by the US government.  It's been addressed more in the breach than in the observance.  Partisan political interests, pressure groups and the influence of outside funding on politicians (a.k.a. "re-election fund contributions") have neutered any effective response.  The can has been kicked down the road far too often, so that a problem that could have been addressed relatively easily in its early years has now ballooned out of control.  There is no longer any easy fix for our border problems.  Even a full-scale border wall would now face military-style breaches by the cartels, who have more than enough weapons and gunmen to do the job.  Perhaps the only thing that would now work is a "no-mans-land" along the border;  two border walls, one about 10 miles inside Mexico, the other about 10 miles inside the USA.  Anything and anyone moving between those walls would be targeted, if necessary by "shoot-on-sight" automated defenses.  If there's any other practical, effective way to stop the current invasion, I can't think of it.

Folks, we're in a state of war with the Mexican drug cartels.  They're now making almost as much money out of illegal alien smuggling as they are out of drugs.  They're rolling in money, and money talks.  We can't cut off the money, thanks to feckless politicians who worry more about lining their own pockets than about securing our borders.  Therefore, we have to face up to the fact that this is a war, and right now we are being defeated in detail.

How to fix it?  Well, I know how to fix it.  Any military veteran can tell you how to fix it.  However, the politicians will never allow that solution - so we're stuck.



Maniac said...

I've heard about some of the videos that the cartels post online to intimidate potential opponents.

Yeah, pray that they don't get too much more of a foothold in our country.

Jess said...

The money being slushed to unscrupulous officials on both sides of the border guarantees little being done with the cartels. Until a shooting war starts on U.S. soil, and the media finally does its job, the headlines will never show the true scale of criminal activity on both sides of the border.

LL said...

I disagree, most respectfully. The Mexican President, AMLO, rules at the pleasure of the narcos. To say that the cartels only control 20% of Mexico with a straight face would be difficult. It's not your granddaddy's CIA, unfortunately. I could tell tales out of school, BRM, but I won't. Suffice to say that there isn't much that happens within Mexico that is not under the complete control of the narcos. It's been true for a number of years but under AMLO it has been an order of magnitude worse.

I recall sitting at a private dinner with the then Chief of Naval Intelligence and a very senior Mexican admiral who effectively ran SEMAR (Mexican Navy & Naval Infantry) and a SEMAR Colonel. Together, they told me that outside of them, ALL of SEMAR/SEDNA was directly run by narcos to include the USGOV fusion center where all of the employees received a broad scope polygraph. Yes, my friend, that bad.

Mind your own business said...

I don't take seriously that the US Government is doing anything significant to combat the cartels. I think the hypothesis that the USG is actually using the cartels, pulling their strings, giving them access to the border, to wage war on US citizens. The more we are destabilized by drugs and illegal aliens, the easier it is for the USG to go authoritarian on us and gaslight us about the drugs and illegals.

The same way we used the Taliban to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.

Then again, seeing how that all turned out, maybe it is the narco cartels running the USG.

Old NFO said...

See LL's comment... sigh

Beans said...

And to make matters worse, look behind the Cartel leadership for the hand of Han.

Not Han Solo. Nope. The hand of the People's Republic of China. Communist China, West Taiwan, you know, those Godless Red Chinese.

We've been at war with the American Cartels for at least 40 years, whether Mexican or Columbian. It is past time to treat these cartels as terrorist organizations that directly threaten the safety of this country. Time to whack them, rendition them, blow up their hives of evil, bomb their convoys, blast their troops, and be allowed to fire back when fired upon.

Seriously, the US gov has had the floorplans and satellite scans of all the big cartel hangouts and castles and fortified villas, along with ground penetrating radar scans under said places. For at least 30 years. Time, past time, to spend one day and strike everywhere. Send the Cartels to Hell.

Worry about innocents being killed? We'd kill far fewer innocents in killing 90% of the cartel members than the cartel members would kill if allowed to stay alive.

And this goes for here on US soil. Gang member affiliated with a cartel? Welcome to Gitmo at best, oh, look, an enemy combattant not in uniform at the worse.

Chuck Pergiel said...

The only solution is to legalize all drugs. However, there are a couple of problems that will prevent this happening. Problem #1 is Congress won't do it because of people who think drugs are bad and prohibition is the answer. Problem #2 is Congress won't do it because that would impact the profits of the American drug cartel (you never hear about these guys, gray men in gray suits working out of gray offices). Problem #3 is even if drugs were legalized, all that would happen is control would pass from the cartels to big-pharma, and we know how much they can be trusted to do the right thing. Money pays for propaganda and propaganda rules. Our government is essentially a mafia. They may say things that sound like they are operating on principle, but they are not. They are lying. All the time. They are so immersed is their culture of crime that they are not even aware that they are lying.

Aesop said...

We aren't losing, we've never entered the arena. (Potemkin "enforcement" doesn't count.) This is a deliberate forfeit.

See OP and comments at SiG's place last week:

Mind your own business said...

Beans, I'm for stepping up hostilities against the cartels, but I'll tell you what would work better. Take Malaysian law about illegal drug consumption and apply it to US citizens who habitually use. Overdose? Jail time. Ten year sentence. Second overdose? No more trips to the Emergency Room or narcan. Just a bullet to the head. Caught dealing? Death sentence. Mandatory. Caught trafficking? Death sentence. Mandatory.

We create the demand. They create the supply. Who is more guilty?

Storm said...

Kinda makes me wonder how this book I've got on the back burner would be received...

"Pirates of the Mojave" in its current incarnation is about a fictional "vigilante" group composed of former military/spooks who have chosen to apply a ballistic solution to the cartel problem.

The main character's induction to the group involves the group's recruiter pulling over on the side of a gravel road a fair bit back from the border near El Paso, and pointing the MC toward what he says is a cartel helo prepping to cross the border as he opens the big pelican case in the back of the truck to reveal a NIB stinger system.

Not sure if my impression concerning the border and the folks around it is correct, but I doubt anyone familiar with situations like that would be surprised that the story as planned doesn't exactly have a happy ending.

Paul Chappell said...

Interesting read, but not a lot seems to have changed since the 90's when I was playing Army... We had "unscheduled live fire exercises" as "unknown hostile groups" would enter the country and try to kill/capture federal agents. Made for excellent training even if unofficial. I suppose if anything it has gotten worse now that they are not even pretending to secure the border... A concern to those of us living in Texas of course...

Philip Sells said...

The one and only time I ever wrote to President Trump was on this topic. I figured it was that important.

Aesop said...

@Chuck P.,

If you can, explain why laws against certain narcotics are bad and "Prohibition", but laws against murder and rape are a good idea because they work so much better, given human nature.
What laws are good, and why?
How do those laws intrinsically differ from laws that are bad?

Or did you figure good and bad are just like naming flavors of ice cream, and wholly subject to personal whim...?

If you're going to legalize all drugs, will you be handing them out to kids at school, or will they have to buy their own just like adults?
Why, or why not?

Anonymous said...

"Mind your own business" is probably correct. Attacking suppliers decreases supply... which increases prices.... when prices are high, then supply goes up. It is just the law of supply and demand.

Attacking demand (persecuting users) is probably one of the only ways to effectively decreases supply.

Chuck Pergiel said...

@Aesop. I'll start with the easiest one first - kids would have to pay for their drugs just like everyone else. Now it gets a little tougher. Laws against murder and rape are traditional. I am pretty sure they are in the bible. Laws against drugs are a recent development. Seem to me that the prohibition of alcohol is near identical to the prohibition of drugs. In both cases it led to gangs of criminals making tons of money and widespread corruption of government agents. Some people might argue that drugs are bad and people shouldn't use them, and there is a lot of truth there, but there is a world of difference between telling people they shouldn't do something and persecuting them if they fail to obey. This is a free country after all, you should be able to do what you want, and it's pretty obvious that people do what they want anyway. Then there is the argument that these laws are protecting people from harming themselves. That sounds nice, but I don't think it's working. The anti-drug laws are there to do two things: keep the DEA busy and to protect the profits of the American Drug Cartel.

Anonymous said...

A berm. A Big , tall, 1000 mile berm. With wire on top.