Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

U.S. urged to help more in battle against cartels

Saturday, May 28, 2011 |

By Dane Schiller and Dudley Althaus Houston Chronicle

As gunbattles raged across western Mexico this week, a new U.S. Senate report warns the United States must do more to bolster the south-of-the-border war on drug-trafficking cartels.

"Violence in Mexico continues unhindered without any signs of slowing," states an accompanying letter signed by the seven members of the U.S. Senate's Caucus on International Narcotics Control, including Texas' Sen. John Cornyn.

Skirmishes more akin to guerrilla warfare than underworld score-settling killed dozens of people and drove several thousand more from their homes this week as gunmen battled both criminal rivals and security forces.

The Senate report praises Mexico's efforts and partially echoes Mexican officials' complaints that the United States isn't doing enough to stop the southward flow of narcotics proceeds. And it concurs in part with the official Mexican position that escalating violence reflects the desperation of drug gangs battered by the government offensive.

Organized crime mayhem has killed about 40,000 people in Mexico since in little more than four years.

The Mexican government's efforts have resulted in the capture of dozens of the country's most wanted traffickers. But those arrests actually have spawned more criminal organizations, notes the report, prepared in part with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Work together

The report declares that United States needs to work with Mexico to take on everything from how the cartels tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border; to the way they move billions in narcotics profits home. The cartels exploit weaknesses of police in both countries, the report notes.

Mexico has about 450,000 law enforcement personnel, notes the report, which contends police remain under trained, under equipped and that corruption runs rampant.

Among the glaring shortcomings pointed out is the need by both governments to learn more about how the cartels sneak home between $18 billion and $39 billion in cash proceeds each year: "Trucks filled with bulk cash literally are being driven across the U.S.-Mexico border," notes the report. "Far too little is known about the financial structures and procedures of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations," it continues.

"On both sides of the border, U.S. and Mexican authorities' efforts to understand drug trafficking organizations' finances are severely lacking."

One of the ways in which gangsters launder money is with prepaid gift and credit cards, which allow them to hide cash and avoid bank reporting requirements.

The senators' call for a redoubled U.S. effort comes in a week when bloody battles, among gang rivals and between them and security forces, rampaged through much of Western Mexico, claiming dozens of lives.

At least 30 men were killed in Nayarit state, on the Pacific Coast north of the tourist mecca of Puerto Vallarta, when gunmen ambushed a rival convoy making its way down a major commercial and drug trafficking route that ends at the Arizona-Mexico border.

Feuding factions of the La Familia narcotics organization fought it out in rural areas of Michoacan state, down the coast from Nayarit, forcing as many as 2,500 villagers to flee for their lives. Hundreds of Mexican troops and federal police were dispatched to the conflict zone Friday to restore order.

"What we are witnessing is the power and the firepower of these criminal bands," Oscar Herrera, Nayarit's attorney general, told a news conference. "Of course, these aren't ordinary criminals."

'True desperation'

Thomas Harrigan, the DEA's chief of operations, told senators this week the lessons learned from the rise in violence from fighting Mexico's drug cartels should be used to shape new efforts to fight the cartels' spread to Central America.

"We must manage expectations, and accept that as (counternarcotics) efforts increased in Mexico, so too did violence," he said.

"We will work with our foreign partners to explore means of lessening the degree of any similar outcome in Central America," he continued. "We must recognize that, in such violence, we are witnessing acts of true desperation — the actions of wounded, vulnerable, and dangerous criminal organizations."



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15 Borderland Beat Comments:

Matt said...

Boy, if that much money is being hauled around by the cartels, then government licensed privateers could be allowed to go after those prizes. If you want a company like DynCorp or Blackwater to go after the cartels, you must create an offense industry that is lucrative enough for them to get involved. Offer bounties for killing or capturing cartel folks, and fire up the Letter of Marque and Reprisal and allow companies to profit off of the destruction of the cartels. That would put one industry against the other.

'lito'brito said...

mucho bla bla ..poco glu glu

Anonymous said...

Organized crime in Mexico is very aware that the more violence there is the stronger the opposition grows from the more romantic sector. Narcos have every reason to engage in random horrors ,evidently there are a number of Mexicans who have chosen to cower in fear, rather than be infuriated. Again and again on this site people have asked the Question what does it take to inspire the Mexican people to rise up and take back their country,SOME HAVE, but the big press goes to the poet love heal go back to what Mexico has always been, INSTEAD OF UPGRADING INTO A LEGITIMATE CIVALIZED FUNCTIONING STATE,one Responsible Mexicans can be proud of.

Anonymous said...

Both countries need those dollars crossing the border.
The Mexican government needs those dollars so that it does not have to invest its own resources into governing its outer territories while the US government benefits from the ever increasing defense spending that keeps the police and military agencies paid.
Where it becomes problematic for both sides is when lawlessness reigns to the point that only Mexico City is not under full cartel control. Already there are strong signs of Mexico becoming another Afghanistan where the central government has power only in the capital and all other lands within its stated borders are lost to cartel control.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. had been warning Mexico about the spread, negative affects and influence of drug gangs for years, they went virtually unchallenged, they failed miserably in their sworn duty to investigate and arrest these criminals because of the millions of dollars in bribes that the gangs were spreading throughout Mexico's political class, now they want our help? To hell with these corrupt savages, we can't win a war when the overwhelming majority of your allies army (police, politicians and many in the military) work for the enemy.

Anonymous said...

The US and Mexico military need to make an all out non stop offensive against the cartel terrorists instead of these sporadic skirmishes that have prolonged this nightmare for years now......

Anonymous said...

ROFL, teabags and ignorant Americans still think Mexico needs welfare?
that is the biggest Urban myth out there.
the biggest crooks are the Bankers, why not go after them first? on your side of course, why is Latin America held hostage to a war on Pharmaceuticals?

Anonymous said...

I truly believed Calderon would have had, at least some success. Unfortunately, as an American who owns and operates businesses in Mexico I am beginning to doubt that their war against drugs will ever end.
Mexico's rich history is filled with contradictions.
The sad fact is that the combination corruption that permiates every nook and cranny of Mexico, and the economic impact of winning the drug war, thus loosing that flow of cash into the Mexican economy.
I don't claim to be an expert on Mexican economy, but I think it's safe to assume that the Mexican economy has never been stable. If the flow of drug money, into the Mexican economy, was shut off, the peso could blow up again. The U.S. May even be complacent, because the last thing our economy needs is another economic crisis so close to home. Lest anyone believe to the contrary, there is no way we could avoid bailing Mexico out if their economy were to fail.

Ardent said...

Let's see now? Ignorant Republican clowns in Texas are urging the US government to 'get more involved' inside Mexico with troops and police, gun, bombs, and drones?

'"Violence in Mexico continues unhindered without any signs of slowing," states an accompanying letter signed by the seven members of the U.S. Senate's Caucus on International Narcotics Control, including Texas' Sen. John Cornyn.'

Or, is it that I am wrong about this? The Texas Republican clown force simply wants us to send more taxpayer money to Mexico's elites so that they can keep the killing going on between different groups of Mexicans inside Mexico. That way Texan Republican Anglo clowns can watch from afar?

So just who is this Senator John Cornyn? Here is one thing I found out about him...

John Cornyn has received $576,550 in oil contributions during the 110th congress. $140,300 of those dollars were from industry PACS. In total, Cornyn has accepted $1,404,275 from oil companies since from 2000 to 2008, which makes him one of the top recipients of oil money. In addition to oil money, Cornyn has accepted $54,400 in coal contributions during the 110th congress. $47,000 of those dollars were from industry PACS.

So Cornyn is worried about the corruption in Mexico that results in trafficking drugs? How noble of the man... NOT.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Matt. I hope Americans start taking out these damn mexican criminals on our side of the border. One of these days there will be a youtube video of an American vigilante group beheading cartel members, and until then, this story will just repeat itself. They should be hanged or dragged like the old days when the Texas Rangers mercilessly dragged bandidos over the bush and nopales. YeeeHaaaawwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

When i tune in to the american news and see reports on iraq, afghanistan, libya, or iran i ask myself "do those countries or elements of those countries really pose a threat to american democracy or the american population greater than that of the cartels of mexico?...really?" if the U.S. has troops halfway around the globe to protect democracy and its people, i can't comprehend why they haven't been more active against terrorist cartel groups on its southern border? is it that there is no economic interest in mexico like there is in iraq or other middle eastern countrie$????
-Ivan

Anonymous said...

What happens in Mexico does not stay in Mexico. The US has a vested interest in the stability and performance of govt. in Mexico. Mexicans long ago accepted the fact that the entire country is crooked,are they willing to change that reality? If so then help any and all from the US,God,Mohamed,whoever should be welcome. Mexican politicos have been hostile,protecting their payoff money,but that may be changing. Those of us who are invested in Mexico want a functioning ,ethical,honest country in Mexico, SOUNDS LIKE A DREAM.

'lito'brito said...

i agree... ta hell with wasting our blood and treasure fighting the screw inspired wars...we need to pay attention to Mexico..starting with a sane immigration policy...make it easier to get a visa... 50 bucks for six months..maybe another 50 for a six month work visa.. ...and harder to be here illegally..crack down on people who want to flaunt our laws ...

i really think 99% of Mexican people would love to be able to be here legally ..with respect and security...and it would add to the US bank account in a significant way..

Anonymous said...

I think that blackwater would get chewed up and spit out by these cartels. Americans just aren't as hard as we used to be. Most mexicans who pick up guns had a rougher, tougher growing up than we did here in America. I don't get it. We are in debt up to our eyebrows, but we still want to put more money into Mexico? Mexico needs help, but we have the key to unraveling much of the cartel's power. If we cut off their money, then they won't have the manpower or guns to keep up as much violence. The money that is fueling this violence comes from our black market on narcotics. If we continue to keep the black market the way it is, the Mexican cartels will eventually be more powerful than our law enforcement groups here in the states. Then we will have a war on our hands. But why let it get to that point? We can cut a lot of this bullshit out right now with a few changes in policy.

Aaron H

Anonymous said...

The More Money and Arms you give to The Mexican Governemnt, it ALL will end up in the hands of the Cartels, specifically Cartel de Sinaloa. Why hasnt Washington realized that??????

This is a Narco Insurgency. Lets call it what it is.

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