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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

McCaul Chairs Hearing to Develop Strategy to Defeat Mexican Drug Cartels

Citing the United States’ present approach as “failing”, Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX) called on multiple cabinet level agencies to develop a new, cohesive strategy to help the Mexican government combat the drug cartels that have taken over much of Mexico and that pose an increasing threat to both nations.

“The fundamental question of this hearing is ‘what is our strategy down there?’”, said Rep. McCaul at the Homeland Security Oversight, Investigations and Management Subcommittee hearing, which he chaired. “It is time for the United States to take decisive action.”

“We need to act now because it is a crisis. We cannot afford for Mexico to become a failed state overtaken by these drug cartels where terrorists could operate out of.”

In the latest effort, the 2008 Merida Initiative, Congress approved $1.3 billion in military resources for the Mexican government. To date, however, the State Department has allocated only one-quarter of the funding and the violence has escalated.

Luis Alvarez, Assistant Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, described the level of cooperation with the Mexican government as “excellent”. However, he testified that the increased threat to US law enforcement, highlighted by the recent murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata, has put a chilling effect on his agency’s efforts.

“One of the problems that we face now is trying to recruit ICE agents to actually go down to Mexico and work on our behalf. It’s getting more and more difficult as a result of the increased violence,” Alvarez said.

As part of a new strategy, Congressman McCaul has introduced legislation to designate Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terror Organizations. This designation would allow the United States to limit cartels’ financial, property and travel interests, and to impose harsher punishment on anyone who provides material support tocartels.

The cartels have killed more than 35,000 people in Mexico in five years employing gruesome tactics and in the past year have increased the number of assassinations and murders of high profile Mexican officials in efforts to intimidate and control.

“It’s going beyond just a criminal enterprise,” Rep. McCaul said. “They actively affect the political, judicial and law enforcement systems in Mexico to gain political and economic influence.”

“We’ve got to get out of this mindset where we are only dealing with the phased fanatic that is a suicide bomber screaming “Allahu Akbar!” agreed Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “We need to call it for what it is. And we need to respond accordingly. I completely support you on that,” Adler testified.

Congressman McCaul has further proposed examining successful tactics used in Plan Colombia, a joint military and intelligence operation,which helped undermine that country’s drug cartels and restore its national and economic security.

“We could work jointly in a military fashion as partners. We have the capability to wipe out these drug cartels if we have the leadership to do it,” Rep. McCaul said.

Today’s was the first of a two-part hearing. Congressman McCaul plans a second hearing in April to focus on efforts on the US side of the border.


  1. The failed strategy has more to do with the root causes of this drug war, not a failed strategy. When we start focusing on decreasing the demand for drugs here in the consumption country, then we might see progress. The Mexican government has been battling these drug couriers since December 2006. The only thing that changes are the players. The causes remain the same. Drug demand in the U.S. fuels organized crime syndicates. Calling them terror cells will require that we also label drug users terrorists. After all, it is their use of illicit drugs that is the basis of crime groups existence.

  2. This is going all the way in a direction that continues to fail. Why do they continue to bring up success in Columbia when in fact, isn't that where 90% of the cocaine comes from? Oops, I forgot, the DEA is involved in that so it's ok!

    When at any given time Texas, Florida, California and New York can be the largest prison system in the world (because they rotate), should we not open our eyes. I mean the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's inmate count is bigger than China, Russia and even Mexico not to exclude the US Federal system. In just 4 US states, we have 4 times the inmate count of any nation. At an average cost of $35,000 per bed per year, what are we thinking. Texas keeps cutting budgets and jobs to offset the 13 billion dollar deficit, but can't patch the hole in the ship. The hole is narrow minded politicians that continue to get elected on "get tougher on crime" platforms by uninformed and easily influenced voters. We are filling our prisons with addicts with longer sentences and when they come out, they really are criminals. A substance abuse treatment bed costs, $45 a day but Houston has 6 indigent detox beds for a city of millions. We are so head strong, it's become stupid. On top of that, the high prison bed counts are not getting resolved but the state is cutting the overhead costs in the prisons therefore cutting guards.

    Don't get me wrong, I would like to see the US get involved with cleaning up Mexico. But it seems if you knock out a big cartel, the splinter groups are more aggressive and violent and do more harm to Mexico's social structure.

    At some point, I pray we hear our leaders say, "know we know that the time has come to legalize, tax and regulate substance use." That would offset treatment costs for sure kind of like the large tax on tobacco because of the cost of cancer treatment.

    The US has openly sought out wars to get involved in for the past 10 years. Truthfully, I feel this one is the more justified as Mexico is more than just a neighbor to the US, they are part of our roots and our US culture. Our assistance could be very good to reduce the violence and the abuse of Mexican citizens. But we need to open our eyes and do our part to, legalize and control substance use or the need for criminal groups in Mexico will never go away.

    Trust me, I could do a dissertation on this topic in 3 days.


  3. @T_R_C
    Amen brother, your are so right. Talk the talk, walk the walk, go libertarian and let's get rid of hypocrites on both sides of the border.

  4. How would we control black market drug sales/purchases that could not be taxed? I really wonder about how it could be successfully organized and our system changed to accommodate a new legality and new illegality? Generally, the concept of legalization and taxation is viable, but logistically poses the same problems as use/abuse does but from the standpoint of tax evasion. How plausible is it to assume that drug dealers would be inclined to pay sales taxes? It might be a different kind of crime, but illegal none the less.
    What about insurance, child neglect, Medicaid?
    It would be a seriously sticky wicket for quite sometime and perhaps that is the reluctance of many politicians to broach the subject.

  5. Legalize and regulate leaves drug dealers all the way out of the picture. How our government wants to regulate sales is up to them. They seem to be doing this with marijuana in 17 states "for medicinal purposes."


  6. Believe me, I am not arguing with you, but I wonder what the stats (reported) are in those states regarding illegal sales. Has the legalization actually curbed illegal sales?

  7. "Calling them terror cells will require that we also label drug users terrorists. After all, it is their use of illicit drugs that is the basis of crime groups existence."

    It's ironic that Michael McCaul is leading the way on this. The most dangerous drug cartel in the United States is the alcohol industry. Alcohol has produced far more violence and deaths each year than the Mexican drug cartels. Congressman McCaul received more than $38,467 from the alcohol industry, more than any other Texas Congressperson. So is his labeling casual users of pot as terrorists, merely an attempt to boost profits for the alcohol industry? Of course, the whole war on marijuana is strongly supported by the alcohol industry. They campaigned against Prop 19 in California.


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