Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, February 25, 2011

A "Forceful Message" to the Mexican Cartels

This article by Jan Crawford builds on these two stories posted on Borderland Beat yesterday. Some information is repeated, but its underlying theme is that law enforcement's approach to the cartel drug war - on both sides of the border - does not seem to be evolving from year to year. Though raids are still ongoing at the present moment, my guess would be that this operation will be little more than a drop in the bucket for the cartels, given their massive financial and political power.

"Anyone working for a Mexican cartel that we can take off the street is a good thing. But it's like killing ants in your house; you can spray them all you want and kill plenty, but you're not going to truly solve the problem unless you deal with the huge anthill outside."
-Sylvia Longmire (

The massive, ongoing sweep of suspected Mexican drug cartel members in the United States, Latin America and Central America is a direct and calculated response to last week's killing of a U.S. law enforcement agent in Mexico.

Named "Operation Fallen Hero" or "Operation Bombardier," the sweep involves every federal law enforcement agency, as well as state and local agencies in all 50 states. And it started in the hours following Tuesday's funeral of Customs and Immigration Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.

"We're sending a message. We're showing all the cartels that you're not going to bully us. You're not going to push us around. You're not going to murder or harm or pose a threat to a U.S. law enforcement officer," said Carl Pike the assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency's special operations division. "We're saying, 'we know who you are. We are coming after you, and we will continue to come after you.'"

In the past two days, officers have arrested more than 200 people and seized more than $6 million, in addition to cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine and more than 100 weapons, Pike said. Most of the arrests were of suspects who had been monitored in ongoing criminal investigations, and Pike said he expects many more as the raids continue through tomorrow and possibly through the weekend.

Pike said there was something like a "school yard mentality" to the ongoing raids.

"A bully comes up and pushes you, and if you don't push back, you're a victim," he said. "We're pushing back."

That pushback has been far-ranging.

The operation is not limited to border cities or big cities. Agents in St. Louis, for example, seized a quarter million dollars, Pike said. In New Jersey, they seized $1 million. And in Dallas, agents found seven assault weapons packaged and ready to be sent to Mexico.

Nor does the operation just involve the federal law enforcement agencies, though all are involved: DEA, FBI, ICE, U.S. Marshals Service, Customs and Border Patrol and the Secret Service. Local law enforcement officers also are working closely with the federal agents, which Pike said was "a huge key to our success."

"When this idea was being formulated, the state and locals all stood up. Small departments. Big departments. They all raised their hands and said, 'we want to be a part of this.'" he said.

In Houston, one local police officer was shot while serving a warrant with federal agents Thursday morning. He is expected to fully recover.

The operation also is not limited to just one cartel. Pike said law enforcement initially decided to focus on the Zetas gang, which is believed to be behind the Zapata killings. But officials concluded that narrow focus would have limited their efforts geographically in the United States, since the cartels operate within specific regions.

"Why just say this to one cartel? All the cartels are culpable. We see them as the same," Pike said.

That makes the sweeps different than other recent operations in the U.S. against Mexican cartels. In October 2009, for example, more than 3,000 federal agents conducted a 20-state sweep that led to more than a 1,000 arrests--but that focused on suspected members of just one cartel, the La Familia gang.

Some intelligence professionals said the 2009 raid had only a temporary impact, and that the La Familia gang is back in force. They questioned the effectiveness of the raids.

"Anyone working for a Mexican cartel that we can take off the street is a good thing. But it's like killing ants in your house; you can spray them all you want and kill plenty, but you're not going to truly solve the problem unless you deal with the huge anthill outside," said Sylvia Longmire, a former intelligence analyst and author of several treaties on the Mexican cartels.

Longmire said the arrests are "a positive thing in the short run," but overall are ineffective in disrupting drug trafficking and dismantling the cartels.

"It's easy for cartels to recruit the kind of people our agencies are arresting in these sweeps, so they'll be replaced soon enough by others," she said.

Pike agreed that raids alone aren't enough.

"The big perception out there is that we take a big action, and all drug trafficking will stop. It doesn't," he said. "What we are doing today is we are disrupting the flow of drugs into the U.S. and the flow of money out of the U.S. as best we can. We are making their lives miserable.

"Is it going to stop them? No," he said. "But we want them to know we are here. We are going to do this. And we will continue to do this. This is an ongoing event."



  1. I prefer them killing ants to regulate the rules of trafficking than to kill the queen and have all ants uncontrolled. The cartels will be recycled until the US addresses the root cause.. us drug hungry Americans. We put Toucan Sam to shame when following our "nose".


  2. Van a volar pelos de Los zetas y Los narcos. No se la van acabar! (hell is about to come crashing down on Los zetas they messed with the wrong team this Time)

  3. Well, i guess the U.S. Finally got off their asses and done something on this side.
    I Expect itll look similar to Mexico in a few years, When Calderon set the dogs loose there were 62 Killings, now we are up to over 15,0000 per year.
    I wonder if the U.S. can keep a total so we can see how much better they handle it.

  4. Quick, the american people are watching, lets get off our donut eating duffs and put on a show! We are no better than the mexican police because we let these criminals run loose even though we know who they are,where they are,and what they are doing..why wait till one spook gets killed to send a message? Why not do what you fat pigs are getting paid to do all year long?is that too much to ask? You disgust me you leeches...sincerely your boss, the american taxpayer

  5. If marajuana were legalized (and regulated) in both the USA and Mexico, the narcos would have a lot less money to work with, and both the USA and Mexico governments would be receiving tax from the sales to help with the remaining drug problems. This would not solve the entire problem, but it would take a big bite out of it. Just like proabitiob in the USA, its time will come to an end.

  6. Agent pike Knows who they are.

    Only after the murder of a law enforcment officer is he now "going after them"

    Maybe he and those of his colleagues possessing a "schoolyard mentality" (and i must admit every time i hear anything from this pike i think of a five year old and the mentality they posses)should have gone after the cartels american infrastructure before they killed so many american citizens.

    Just a thought.

    p.s. i have little hope of any kind of resolution with people like agent pike on the job.

  7. Law enforcement in the United States sent a message to those cartel cockroaches February 24,2011. They may have just put a chip in the pile of fossilized cartel shit, but a message was sent. It has to start somewhere and little by little the narcoterrorists will be decimated.
    Here in Del Rio six houses were raided by US,state,county and the local police. In one of the houses, they found an illegal alien with a handgun. No telling what else was found but not reported. I know a dealer by sight who took a leave of absence since Sunday, hasn't been seen. Probably knew something was coming down.
    They run like the proverbial roaches caught on the kitchen walls when the lights are turned on.
    Todos esos narcocriminales son puros cobardes,montoneros y aqui en los estados unidos se van a chingar. Go ICE.

  8. Will "The Carteles" start hanging "Mantas" all over Mexico in response to the message or will they finally learn to SHARE with each other. The senseless killings are the reason for all this. They keep fighting over bullsh!t but eventually all that is gonna get snatched out of their hands. It would be an act of god to hear Chapo is alive a month from today...These men don't play! (DEA, FBI, ICE, U.S. Marshals Service, Customs and Border Patrol,..cia..) lolololol

    "mejor portense bien"


  9. to " February 25, 2011 2:21 PM
    Anonymous said...
    If marajuana were legalized (and regulated) in both the USA and Mexico, the narcos would have a lot less money"

    lol the cartel will just kidnap and extort more.

  10. I agree with "american taxpayer". I doubt they gathered so much intel in a matter of days. why wait till one of ours got killed to act?

  11. @2:48 pm
    If marijuana were legalized the cartels would double their profits. Not all americans would have enough money to buy high grade US taxed marijuana, the vast majority of potheads are too lazy to grow their own or don't even know the difference between a male and female plant.

  12. These people are not afraid of prison, nor death they just need to be exterminated. before they start exterminating us, as is happening in mexico.
    many of you americans do not have an idea of just how bad things are there not even in your craziest imagi-NATION.

  13. "Pike said law enforcement initially decided to focus on the Zetas gang, which is believed to be behind the Zapata killings. But officials concluded that narrow focus would have limited their efforts geographically in the United States, since the cartels operate within specific regions"

    It looks like part of the strategy by the US government was to disrupt other cartels's operations to make them hate zetas even more. CDS will now be looking to kill zetas more than ever before, they lost millions because of them during these raids.

  14. @777
    The possibility of catching or killing chapo in in mountains where he hides is about the same as getting osama in the rough terrain where he lives. The only difference is that us special forces are hunting osama.

  15. Yeah, they are correct it will not stop, but it will affect distribution and sales which will effect cash flow, which will piss of the cartels. Good Job USA!

  16. The fact is this drug problem is not really a problem, not to the U.S. government, nor the Mexican and south american governments. It's become a ludicrous business. One country criminalizes it while every other allows it to be cultivated, processed, and distributed. Smells to me like a coordinated effort across the Americas on behalf of wealthy businessmen and corrupt officials. These drugs were not a problem when they were legally sold at your local pharmacy.

  17. U.S. law has been turning up the heat on these asshole catrtels since last summer and alot of sorry worthless dope dealing ass wipes are now dead or on thier way to a cage in a U.S prison where they will wish they were dead.
    You will now witness the dismantling of the filty Zeta gang banger ignorant teenage gang. Not by other common criminals, but by the Mexican goverment with great cooperation from Uncle Sam.
    A good Zeta is a Dead Zeta!!

  18. The funny thing is that the government 'sent a message'. What an idiotic thing to say. That implies that they were letting these rats operate freely and now because they killed one person they decided it was no longer acceptable. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am happy that these thugs are in jail, but c'mon, these arrests should have happened a long time ago...


  20. why is it that one ICE agent has to be killed for American agencies to come to the sudden realization that MILLIONS of INNOCENT people have been killed because of drug cartels and trafficing? Way to open your eyes and see what's right in front of you, America.

  21. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble...But the Mexican Cartels aren't going anywhere...You can take out the leader you can take out the soldiers...they will just regroup recruit more men and in a matter of time be fully operational again...Its happened before...You can capture the biggest Narco in Mexico.. doesn't matter cuz there's his friend waiting and ready to be the new boss..


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