Washington, D.C., United States - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plans to launch a new spying operation against Mexico's two most violent drug cartels in 2010 that also is designed to discover possible links to terrorist organizations, according to Mexican press reports.
Called Operation Black Flag, some details of the plan were revealed in the DEA's 2010 budget.
The plan calls on DEA agents to use electronic eavesdropping and payoffs to informants to break up the Sinaloa and Golfo drug cartels. Federal law enforcement officials have expressed concern terrorists could use established smuggling routes to enter the United States.
The Sinaloa and Golfo drug cartels are involved in a violent struggle to determine who will control drug traffic along the U.S. Southwest border.
Operation Black Flag would be run out of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico as well as DEA offices in Houston and Phoenix, the budget says.
Although the U.S. government has combated Mexican drug cartels for years, Operation Black Flag is directed more at determining how leaders of the groups plot their actions. The effort is scheduled to include 128 new DEA agents stationed along the border.
Other law enforcement efforts have included Operation Armas Cruzadas, which sought to prevent illegal imports of weapons into the United States.
A summary listed in the DEA budget says Operation Black Flag is designed to:
•"Determine relationships of the drug trade or drug trafficking organizations with terrorists or other insurgent groups to include human smuggling organizations;
•"Determine if illicit drugs are financing terrorist or insurgent groups."
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano hinted that additional law enforcement efforts like Operation Black Flag were coming during a March 24 press briefing.
In listing Homeland Security efforts against drug cartels, Napolitano said, "Some we have already undertaken in the last several weeks. Others are being taken either today or in the immediate future."
One goal is to assist the Mexican government against the cartels, "the second is to guard against an increase in violence in the United States as a result of the actions undertaken in Mexico," Napolitano said.