These facts are reported in the recently released National Drug Threat Assessment for 2010, published by the National Drug Intelligence Center, a division of the U.S. Justice Department. They ought to add some perspective to the national debate raging over Arizona’s new law that requires local law enforcement officers to make a “reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of persons they legally come into contact with and whom they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally
Assaults on Border Patrol agents have massively escalated in recent years, according to the Justice Department threat assessment, which was released on March 25. “Assaults against U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents increased 46 percent from 752 incidents in FY2006 to 1,097 incidents in FY 2008,” says the assessment. Given that there are 365 days in the year, 1,097 assaults equals 3 per day.
“Contributing most to this increase were rocking assaults, which rose 77 percent from 435 incidents in FY2006 to 769 incidents in FY2008,” said the assessment. A “rocking assault,” the assessment explains, “is defined as the throwing of rocks at Border Patrol agents by drug or alien smugglers with the intent of threatening or causing physical harm to the agent.”
The assessment also noted that Border Patrol agents are sometimes murdered in the line of duty. “However, some assaults against USBP agents in California have been deadly,” it said, “including the January 2008 murder of a USBP officer who was struck and killed by the automobile of a fleeing drug suspect in Imperial County and the fatal shooting of a USBP officer investigating suspicious activity in Campo in July 2009.”
The assessment indicates that kidnappings have become commonplace in Phoenix, Ariz., because families involved in alien smuggling have moved there to escape inter-smuggling-organization violence in Mexico.
“Although much of the violence attributed to conflicts over control of the smuggling routes has been confined to Mexico, some has occurred in the United States,” says the Justice Department assessment. “Violence in the United States … has been limited primarily to attacks against alien smuggling organization (ASO) members and their families—some of whom have sought refuge from violence in Mexico by moving to U.S. border communities such as Phoenix. For example, in recent years, kidnappings in Phoenix have numbered in the hundreds, with 260 in 2007, 299 in 2008, and 267 in 2009.”
The 267 kidnappings in Phoenix in 2009 equals one kidnapping every 1.37 days—or one every 35 hours.
“Nineteen percent of youth aged 12 to 17 report past year illicit drug use,” the report says. That is approximately one out of every five teenagers in the United States.
The main drug suppliers for these American teenagers are Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), which increasingly dominate the U.S. market for illegal drugs.
“Mexican DTOs continue to represent the single greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States,” says the Justice Department assessment. “Mexican DTOs, already the predominant wholesale suppliers of illicit drugs in the United States, are gaining even greater strength in eastern drug markets where Columbian DTO strength is diminishing.”
Drug production is up in Mexico, the assessment said, and thanks to a massive network of criminal gangs on this side of the border with whom they can do business, the Mexican DTOs now distribute their wares in communities all across America.
“Mexican DTOs increased the flow of several drugs (heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana) into the United States, primarily because they increased production of those drugs in Mexico,” said the assessment.
“In 2009, midlevel and retail drug distribution in the United States was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members representing approximately 20,000 street gangs in more than 2,500 cities.”
“Mexican DTOs were the only DTOs operating in every region of the country,” said the threat assessment.