What We Lost on the Border
By Shields Fair
By Shields Fair
IF YOU CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU ARE DETAINED INDEFINITELY.
IF YOU CROSS THE AFGHAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET SHOT.
IF YOU CROSS THE SAUDI ARABIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE JAILED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CHINESE BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU MAY NEVER BE HEARD FROM AGAIN.
IF YOU CROSS THE VENEZUELAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE BRANDED A SPY AND YOUR FATE WILL BE SEALED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CUBAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO POLITICAL PRISON TO ROT.
IF YOU CROSS THE U.S. BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET. A JOB, A DRIVERS LICENSE, SOCIAL SECURITY CARD, WELFARE, FOOD STAMPS, CREDIT CARDS, SUBSIDIZED RENT OR A LOAN TO BUY A HOUSE, FREE EDUCATION, FREE HEALTH CARE, A LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON. BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN YOUR LANGUAGE. THE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRY’S FLAG WHILE YOU PROTEST THAT YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH
Mexican Drug Cartels Armed to the Hilt, Threatening National Security
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
By Matt Sanchez
In November, along the border with Texas, Mexican authorities arrested drug cartel leader Jaime “el Hummer” Gonzalez Duran — one of the founders of “Los Zetas,” a paramilitary organization of former Mexican soldiers who decided there was more money to be made in selling drugs than in serving in the Mexican military.
As El Hummer was being transported to the airport in an armed vehicle, his fellow cartel members launched a brazen attack against the federales.
They were armed to the teeth. Their arsenal ranged from semi-automatic rifles to rocket-propelled grenades. When the smoke finally cleared and the government had prevailed, Mexican federal agents captured 540 assault rifles, more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 150 grenades, 14 cartridges of dynamite, 98 fragmentation grenades, 67 bulletproof vests, seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles and a Light Anti Tank (LAW) rocket.
Click here to see video of the Mexican military’s fight with the drug cartels.
This is modern Mexico, where the leaders of the powerful drug cartels are armed to the teeth with sophisticated weapons, many of which are smuggled over the border from the United States. It is with this array of superior weapons that drug cartels are threatening the very stability of their own country. And it’s why America’s outgoing CIA Director, Michael Hayden, says violence in Mexico will pose the second greatest threat to U.S. security next year, right after Al Qaeda.
“Americans are understandably focused on the flow of drugs and migrants into the U.S. from Mexico,” says Andreas Peter, author of “Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide.”
“But too often glossed over in the border security debate is the flow of weapons across the border into Mexico,” he told Foxnews.com in a statement via the Internet.
The cartels are obtaining arms from America by using “straw man” buyers, who legally purchase weapons at gun shops and gun shows in the U.S. The weapons cross into Mexico, where border security is much weaker heading south of the border than it is going north.
Authorities don’t know how many firearms are sneaked across the border, but the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) says more than 7,700 guns sold in America were traced to Mexico last year, up from 3,300 the year before and about 2,100 in 2006. Mexican authorities say 90 percent of smuggled weapons come from the United States.
In Northern Mexico, high-powered American weapons have enabled drug cartels to control whole territories. There is the Colt AR-15, the civilian version of the military M-16. And there is the “cuernos de chivo” — Spanish for goat horns . . . the 30-shot curved banana clip of the AK-47.
The AK-47, long the symbol of guerrilla revolution, is not the most accurate or technical assault rifle, but it gets the job done. It is the workhorse of drug cartels, and ammunition can come from a variety of world sources, including the United States.
And then there are the sniper rifles.
“The .50-caliber was interesting because we haven’t seen that type of arm used in Mexico yet,” said Scott Stewart, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and an analyst for Stratfor, a geopolitical security firm. The .50-caliber long-range sniper rifle is incredibly accurate and dangerous; a trained operator could kill a human being with a round from well over a mile away.
For criminal cartels like Los Zetas, greater firepower means greater influence in not only the drug trade; it has enabled them to infiltrate and threaten the entire power structure of Mexico. In December, the Mexican attorney general announced the arrest of Maj. Arturo Gonzalez Rodriguez for allegedly assisting Mexican drug trafficking organizations — allegedly for $100,000 a month.
The connection between the drug cartels and the Mexican army has given cartel leaders access to military grade weapons like the high powered Five-Seven semi-automatic pistols.
A favorite with the cartels, the Five-Seven has the advantage of being light: under 2 pounds, with a 20-round clip filled with bullets the cartels call “matapolicias’ — “cop killers.”
“The 5.7 x 28, armor piercing (AP) rounds are not available for sale to the general public and are probably coming from the Mexican military,” said Stewart who has analyzed U.S.-Mexican border security issues for half a decade.
The drug-related murder rate in Mexico doubled in 2008 from just one year before, and as the violence escalates, the power of the drug cartels has destabilized Mexican authority to the point of threatening national security.
Last week Gen. Ángeles Dahuajare announced that more than 17,000 soldiers had deserted in 2008.
“The Mexican Army is becoming a revolving door for the enforcement arm of the drug cartels; they simply pay better,” Stewart said.
“If they don’t get the weapons from the U.S., they’ll get it from somewhere else: Brazil, Guatemala, Argentina or even former satellite state ‘gray markets,'” he said.
Despite the efforts of his comrades in crime, El Hummer wound up in jail — and Mexican authorities paraded him before the media to reassure the public that they are still in control.
But that was largely for show. As long as weapons flow into Mexico, the drug cartels will be able to develop an arsenal. “Control” will be unstable, at best.
By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Security: A new Pentagon forecast warns that Mexico is so embattled by drug lords it could rapidly collapse. The study says the only other state so threatened is Pakistan. This ought to be a wake-up call about U.S. priorities.
As the Obama administration moves into office, new faces at the national security establishment with fresh perspective and a few long memories will be a good thing. That’s because the U.S. may be forced to shift national security resources toward Mexico, based on the grim possibility that it might not make it out of its drug war.
Vicious traffickers plaguing its border cities have a good chance of taking over the nation. If the worst happens, it will have major implications for the U.S. It’s time to pay attention now.
In its assessment of worldwide security threats, known as the “Joint Operating Environment,” or JOE 2008 report, the United States Joint Forces Command warns that Mexico and Pakistan face the possibility of 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. How that international conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone,” the report said.
Some of those implications are very grim indeed.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last week that the U.S. needed to be prepared for a spillover of the drug violence into the U.S. and would have to be prepared to fight it.
That means a military surge — not to defend faraway Iraq, but defending our own homeland. A collapsed state will bring millions of Mexicans spilling over our border, not as illegal immigrants, but war refugees, fleeing for their lives from violence.
The U.S. will have no choice but to accept such refugees on humanitarian grounds, just as Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela have had to do from over their own borders in the past. Criminals often embed themselves among them, to prey on the helpless and to expand their operations, creating a new internal threat to the U.S.
It sounds like extreme contingency planning to warn of these threats, but history, for one, is not entirely on Mexico’s side.
Mexico’s history has been of warring caudillo fiefdoms, which drug lords thrive in. Mexico’s history as a modern state is brief, dating from 1930 after PRI socialists consolidated power.
Its history as a democracy is even briefer because the PRI went on to rule as a one-party state for 70 years, stunting democratic development, although it inched forward and gained a two-party system in 2000.
That leaves Mexico with only eight years of multiparty democracy. Again, it’s ideal for drug traffickers, whose aim is to corrupt it to their own ends — just as in Colombia, where a duly elected government is at war with Marxist FARC narco-guerrillas.
That’s where Mexico could be not too long from now and unlike any other drug empire, it sits right on our border waiting to spill over. Clearly, some important action needs to be taken.
First, the U.S. must find more money to strengthen and support the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative designed to professionalize Mexico’s military and civil forces to fight the well-armed and well-funded drug traffickers. The U.S. has given out the first $400 million, but in an era of big bailouts it should find room to give Mexico the additional resources it has asked for.
Second, U.S. defense contingency plans need to be stepped up, as the report implies. We shouldn’t be caught napping.
Third, we need to educate the public about the threat so that Congress will have less trouble scaring up the resources.
All of these things are important, and will undoubtedly be considered by the Obama administration.
If there is one sign of hope from this Pandora’s box of coming trouble, it’s that President Clinton and then-Senator Joe Biden took the lead in helping to crush the drug war in Colombia in 1998.
A Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden are likely to understand the implications of a potential narco-state, and on our border no less.
Let’s hope they put the experience and success of 1998 to an even greater task of defending the U.S. from an outside threat every bit as serious as that seen in Pakista