By the numbers:
“Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw has testified to the fact that over the last 18 months, six of seven cartels have established command and control facilities in Texas cities that rival even the most sophisticated battalion or brigade level combat headquarters. Texas has suffered 22 murders, 24 assaults, 15 shootings and five kidnappings related to the cartels.”
Source: “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment.”
The Brownsville Herald
The report also warns of the drug cartels’ intent to move operations into Texas border cities.
Titled “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment,” the report says the success of Texas’ effort depends on the ability of state, local and federal agencies to work together to expand their war against intrusion by the Mexican cartels.
“The bottom line, however, is that while today Texas is the frontline in this escalating war, the potential consequences of success or failure will affect our entire nation,” the report states.
The report, unveiled this week, results from the Texas Legislature’s call to the Texas Department of Agriculture to assess the impact of illegal activity along the border on landowners and the agriculture industry.
TDA joined with the Texas Department of Public Safety and commissioned retired four-star Army General Barry McCaffrey and retired Army Major-General Robert Scales to conduct the assessment.
McCaffrey is the former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and former commander of all U.S. troops in Central and South America. Scales is the former commandant of the United States Army War College.
TDA Commissioner Todd Staples said the report offers a military perspective on incorporating the three levels of warfare — strategic, operational and tactical — to secure the border along the Rio Grande.
“It also provides sobering evidence of cartel criminals gaining ground on Texas soil,” Staples.
The report notes that Texas has become increasingly threatened by the spread of cartel-organized crime.
“The threat reflects a change in the strategic intent of the cartels to move their operations into the United States.
“In effect, the cartels seek to create a ‘sanitary zone’ inside the Texas border – one county deep – that will provide sanctuary from Mexican law enforcement and, at the same time, enable the cartels to transform Texas’ border counties into narcotics transshipment points for continued transport and distribution into the continental United States,” the report states.
Not only are drug cartels in Mexico warring for control of lucrative drug-smuggling corridors known as plazas, they also are fighting for drug-distribution networks in the United States, the study found.
“In a curious twist of irony, the more successful the Mexican military becomes in confronting the cartels, the greater likelihood that cartels will take the active fight into Texas as they compete against each other in the battle to control distribution territories and corridors,” the report states.
The report also points to the reluctance of federal authorities to admit to the increasing cross-border campaign by narco-terrorists.
“Until lately, denial has been facilitated by a dearth of evidence that an organized and substantial campaign exists inside Texas,” the report states.
The report notes that accounts of violence compiled by federal agencies, congressional testimony and Texas Department of Agriculture underscore the “daily activity and constant threat of a larger presence of narco-terrorists than previously thought.”
The report notes that the Department of Homeland Security does not attribute many narco-crimes to the cartels and farmers and ranchers do not report many cross-border crimes due to fear of retribution from cartels.
“Living and conducting business in a Texas border county is tantamount to living in a war zone in which civil authorities, law enforcement agencies as well as citizens are under attack around the clock,” the report found.
“The Rio Grande River offers little solace to the echoes of gunshots and explosions, news of shootings, murders, kidnappings, beheadings, mass graves and other acts of violence coming across the border go far beyond any definition of ‘spillover violence’,” the report states.
The report notes that America’s fight against narco-terrorism, when viewed at the strategic level, “takes on the classic trappings of a real war.”
“Crime, gangs and terrorism have converged in such a way that they form a collective threat to the national security of the United States,” the report states.
The study notes that among the four U.S. states that border Mexico — Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas — “Texas has become critical terrain and operational ground zero in the cartels’ effort to expand into the United States.”