Mexico's drug violence slowly seeping into the U.S.

  1. beentheredonethatagain
    Gang violence that plagues Mexico is worsening and could spill over into the United States, according to a new report by a consultant on Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Border Security Council.

    While Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed as many as 20,000 troops and federal police to battle the country's powerful drug cartels, gangsters are fighting among themselves for 0dominance as the flow of drugs continues into America.

    The 17-page document to be released Wednesday said that more than 2,100 people were killed in drug-related violence since Jan. 1, making 2007 the deadliest year yet.

    The U.S. side of the border is vulnerable because, the report asserted, law enforcement is poorly coordinated, undersupplied and sometimes corrupt.

    But drug violence, which has become a part of daily life in many Mexican border communities, has not materialized to a significant extent in American sister cities.

    The document's chief author is Fred Burton, a former State Department counterterrorism agent, now of the Austin-based Stratfor consulting firm. It comes as U.S. and Mexican officials are putting the finishing touches on an anti-narcotics aid package worth at least $1 billion.

    Praising Calderón's resolve to take on the drug traffickers in the first 11 months of his six-year term, U.S. officials said the aid for Mexico is essential for both countries.

    "We can't afford to screw up this opportunity," U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week as he left for a meeting in Mexico City to discuss the aid package with senior Calderón administration officials. "We've not seen this kind of opportunity to impact the gangs."

    Although Calderón's offensive against the cartels appeared to have little effect in its early months, gangland killings steadily declined through the spring and summer after peaking at 319 in March, according to the Mexican government. Some 195 gangland-style killings were reported in August.

    The bloodletting has slackened in Nuevo Laredo - across the border from Laredo - in Acapulco and in the towns of Michoacan state where many of last year's killings took place.

    "There is a lessened expression of violence," Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora told foreign reporters recently. "We think the criminal organizations have changed their strategy as a reaction to the forceful response by the Mexican government."

    But Burton's report asserted that despite Calderón's efforts, the security situation in Mexico is deteriorating, even if the cartels have generally been careful about who they kill.

    "Cartel hitmen use a variety of techniques to kill and intimidate rival drug traffickers, as well as uncooperative or corrupt police and civil officials," it said. "The level of brutality involved rivals that of tactics used by death squads in Iraq, but Mexican cartel violence is noteworthy in that it is usually more precise and carefully targeted."

    Few systems are in place to keep the violence from spreading across the border, Burton's report said. "The majority of this vulnerability comes from Mexico, where an institutionalized system of corruption and intimidation exists."

    It continues: "On the U.S. side, however, the under-reporting of crimes ... and corruption among low- and mid-level U.S. law enforcement officials facilitate the northward spread of cartel activity."

    The Associated Press reported in August that at least seven killings in Laredo in the last two years were linked to the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels; arrests have been made in most cases. Rosalio "Bart" Reta, a 17-year-old U.S. citizen and alleged soldier for the Gulf cartel, pleaded guilty this summer to a Laredo killing and still faces charges on others.

    Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores told the Associated Press that Wednesday's report points out what he and his officers already know firsthand in the Laredo area.

    "We know that the warring cartels have the resources, and we know that they have a lot of control over the border communities and we know that the threat is imminent," Flores said. "Yes, we do have spillover violence on this side."

    Traffickers are fighting for control of smuggling routes from ports and to northern border cities they use as trampolines into the United States.

    Despite the report's criticism, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Steve Robertson said the United States and its Latin American partners have landed major punches in the past year.

    He pointed to more than $205 million in cash found in an upscale home in Mexico City in March, believed to be the largest cash seizure in law-enforcement history, and the seizure that same month of about 21 tons of cocaine aboard a ship believed to be headed for Mexico.

    Also, as U.S. and Mexican officials negotiated the aid package, Mexico's successes stacked up. Its soldiers captured 3.2 tons of cocaine from a private jet forced to crash land in the Yucatan Peninsula in September, and they recovered nearly 12 tons of the drug after a raid on a warehouse in Tampico earlier this month.

    This week, Mexican customs agents seized 15 tons of precursor chemicals used to make crystal methamphetamine.

    "Actually, 2007 has been very successful for DEA and our Mexican counterparts ... ," Robertson said. "We are optimistic we are making a difference. To the naysayers - the apologists who say we are not making progress - we will continue to fight the good fight."

    Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Perry, said the state is trying to fortify the border but needs more federal help. She pointed to a recent program in which state funds have been used to pay overtime to keep more police and other officers on guard along the Rio Grande.

    "There are people who seek to do us harm," she said. "This report underscores why we must remain vigilant."

    (Associated Press Staff Writer Kelly Shannon contributed to this report. To reach Dane Schiller, e-mail [email protected])

    ©Laredo Morning Times 2007

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  1. Heretic.Ape.
    A lot of this sort of thing coming out now that Bush has asked for a billion dollars. Now Mexico's drug woes pose a direct threat to US safety... oh my!
  2. beentheredonethatagain
    I understand what you're are saying, but I have heard from many many sources , the border city of Laredo Mexico is and has been a very very dangerous place.

    The drug lords and their armies own that town and violent hits are the norm.

    They have chased people across our border , guns blazing, right into Texas.

    I will search for some detailed examples , this is a seriously dangerous situation that has been going on for some time.

    I wonder if our member in Texas Old Hippie has a story or two on the subject?
  3. beentheredonethatagain
    Here is just a little bit from a 2005 news article

    Search Drug violence rises on U.S.-Mexican border
    By Ginger ThompsonPublished: MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 2005
    LAREDO, Texas: Five months ago, Brenda Cisneros, a community college student, went across the border to Nuevo Laredo to celebrate her 23rd birthday with her best friend, Yvette Martinez, a 27-year-old mother of two small daughters.

    They have been missing since.

    Gerardo Contreras, 18, a construction worker from San Antonio, Texas, and father of a small son, has been missing since May, when he went to the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras to attend his sister's baby shower. Samuel and Gerardo Gonzalez, brothers who are 18 and 24, have been missing since December. Their mother, Rosita, said they last called home from a military checkpoint outside Nuevo Laredo as they returned from a trip to Monterrey.

    "Mexican authorities do nothing, and the American authorities tell us that there is little they can do," said Priscilla Cisneros, Brenda's mother. "Most times we feel like we are fighting to find our children on our own."

    Mexico's drug war has begun to move north of the border. In recent months, fighting among Mexico's most powerful drug rings has spawned a wave of violence that at times has turned the streets and plazas into battlefields overtaken by gunmen firing grenades and assault weapons. Mexican law enforcement officials report a sharp rise in killings and kidnappings as cartel leaders struggle for control of this coveted corner of the border. American officials have warned that Mexican drug traffickers with false identification have taken up residence on the U.S. side of the border.

    Nuevo Laredo's official figures said that 68 people were killed in the border town last year. However, Mexican law enforcement officials acknowledged that the real number was probably at least twice as high.

    An FBI agent assigned to Laredo said he believed that at least one person was killed in Nuevo Laredo each day and at least two people were kidnapped every month.

    Often, the agent said, the kidnappings are carried out by municipal police officers who are secretly working for the drug traffickers. The officers pull their victims over for routine traffic violations and take them away. Michael Yoder, the U.S. consul in Nuevo Laredo, sounded alarms last month when he warned that the numbers of Americans kidnapped and killed had soared from about 3 a year to more than 25 in the last six months.

    "We believe that local drug organizations have gone into the business of kidnapping for ransom," Yoder said. "For a long time, there was the assumption that people who stayed out of the drug business were safe. But that's not the case anymore."

    Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, sister cities that are linked by a bridge across the Rio Grande, have long been coveted by drug cartels because more people and products move through Laredo than any other inland port in the hemisphere.

    Americans in other border cities have also reported being kidnapped. Dr. Charles Rogers, 57, a Brownsville, Texas, oncologist who ran a cancer clinic in the Mexican city of Matamoros, which is just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville near where it feeds into the Gulf of Mexico, was abducted at his clinic and held hostage at gunpoint for several hours on Dec. 9, until he arranged for his wife to pay an $88,000 ransom.

    In an interview, Rogers said he had been stopped by three men who identified themselves as Mexican federal police officers. After the ransom was paid, he said, he jumped from a moving vehicle to escape because he was afraid the kidnappers were going to kill him. He left his clinic to Mexican physicians and now consults by videoconferencing.

    "I have not been back since," he said. "I am never going back."

    On Thursday, at least six prison guards and workers at the maximum security prison in Matamoros were found dead outside the prison. A week earlier, gunmen kidnapped about 25 people from a fishing village on the coast. Three of the victims, the former mayor of the village and his two sons, were killed.

    The killing last year of a journalist for El Mañana, a Nuevo Laredo newspaper, has had a chilling effect on all news organizations.

    "We censor ourselves," said Ramón Cantú Deandar, the editor of El Mañana. "The drug war is lost. We are alone. And I don't want to put anyone else at risk for a reality that is never going to change."

    The families of the missing Americans said they had been oblivious to the violence in Mexico until their families were shattered by it. Many still seem paralyzed by fear.
  4. beentheredonethatagain
    Nieman Reports
    Summer 2006 Issue

    Self-Censorship as a Reaction to Murders By Drug Cartels

    'The message of this newsroom assault was obvious: stop messing with drug-trafficking affairs.'

    By Raymundo Riva-Palacio

    Jose Luis Ortega Mata was a brave publisher of Semanario, a weekly newsmagazine in the Mexico-U.S. border town of Ojinaga, Chihuahua. He denounced drug trafficking in that northern region of Mexico and the relationship between drug lords with local police, politicians and businessmen. Early in 2001, he was about to publish a new report on how drug money was being used to finance political campaigns when a gunman shot him twice in the head, killing him on his way to his office.

    He was murdered in February, and his death marked the opening of a violent five-year killing season against journalists in Mexico. Since then, at least 15 journalists have been killed or "disappeared" allegedly by drug kingpins, giving birth to a new phenomenon in the Mexican press: self-censorship because of fear.

    Drug-lord mercenaries have expanded their original realm of violence from the border towns in the southern United States to places such as Veracruz on Mexico's Gulf Coast and Acapulco on its Pacific Coast.
    ... 15 journalists have been killed or 'disappeared' allegedly by drug kingpins, giving birth to a new phenomenon in the Mexican press: self-censorship because of fear.
    Drug trafficking has expanded from only five regions, where it was concentrated 15 years ago, to the whole country; there are now 32 states where organized crime is fully operational. This has created waves of fear that are felt even in Mexico City, which previously was immune to such dangers.

    No journalist in Mexico who dares to write about drug trafficking should feel safe today. Since the federal government has been unable to stop the carnage, journalists who pursue this story have become the drug lords' enemy.

    • In 2004, Javier Ortiz Franco, coeditor of a leading investigative newsmagazine, Zeta of Tijuana, was in charge of a special task force appointed by the Mexican government and the Inter American Press Association to investigate the 1998 murder of Zeta's cofounder, Felix Miranda, and the 1991 killing of its columnist, Victor Manuel Oropeza, from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. That happened when he arrived home with his two kids; he was murdered in front of them.

    • In February of this year, a few days after El Mañana newspaper cohosted a seminar in its hometown of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas about how to confront drug-related violence against journalists, gunmen stormed its headquarters. They fired assault rifles and tossed a grenade, injuring reporter Jaime Orozco Tey, who was shot five times. The day of the assault was a holiday, which explained why there was only one death, of a copy boy, and no other victims aside from Orozco.

    The message of this newsroom assault was obvious: stop messing with drug-trafficking affairs. Its recipient was not necessarily meant to be El Mañana, but the Mexican press, as a whole.

    News Reporting Is Silenced

    El Mañana was one newspaper that didn't need a fresh delivery of this message. Since 2004, when its editor, Roberto Javier Mora, was stabbed to death, the newspaper had begun to censor its coverage on drug trafficking and organized crime. Every drug-related story was published without any identifying details or further investigation. Nuevo Laredo is one of the two hottest places in Mexico where drug lords are fighting for control of the city. The main drug cartels, the Gulf and the Pacific, are trying to gain full control of that border town that is home to the main commercial border point of entry to the United States and the access to Interstate 95, which runs into the most lucrative emerging cocaine market in the United States. Dead bodies are found almost every day in Nuevo Laredo from one side or another, and their names, background or liaisons are never published by El Mañana. The newspaper publishes only the body count on the city streets.

    As with El Mañana, newspapers and magazines in many cities in Mexico have stopped giving details of the ongoing urban battle for markets and cities. In places like Tijuana and Hermosillo, Sonora, reporters stopped going to cover stories at night or very early in the morning because they fear it might be a set up. They have in mind the case of young reporter Alfredo Jimenez, from El Imparcial in Hermosillo, who disappeared in April 2005 on his way to meet a federal police source. Jimenez was a notorious investigative reporter who had several scoops on the whereabouts of a number of members of one drug cartel in the region. Federal authorities investigating the crime didn't know that Jimenez was fed information from a rival cartel to damage its enemy and, when the "enemy" found out the original source of information; they are presumed to have murdered him.

    It is now presumed that drug cartels feed information to reporters to blast their enemies. A number of Mexico City reporters recently went into a panic after El Universal newspaper broadcast on its Web page the full video of the execution of one gunman of Los Zetas,
    Los Zetas is now synonymous with bloody violence, and a growing number of news outlets, most of them in northern Mexico, have stopped naming this cartel hit squad in their stories out of fear for their own safety.
    the Gulf Cartel hit squad. They realized they might have been used months before by the mercenaries that taped that video when they printed a description of the execution. When pushed by the federal authorities after the video broadcast to reveal who told them of the content of the tape before the Mexican government knew about it, the reporters decided to no longer pursue the story. A number of reporters who cover the federal police beat followed their colleagues' lead in solidarity.

    Los Zetas is now synonymous with bloody violence, and a growing number of news outlets, most of them in northern Mexico, have stopped naming this cartel hit squad in their stories out of fear for their own safety. (Lawyers and media consultants pressure editors and reporters not to do it, as well.) Even more dramatic, the highly respected syndicated column of reporter Jesus Blancornelas, the cofounder and former editor of Zeta who survived a murder attempt by the former all-powerful Tijuana Cartel, was cancelled by a number of newspapers in Mexico because of the sensitive issues he covers.

    A few years back self-censorship happened for financial reasons as newspapers and magazines stopped fighting hard against government repression of the press. Although there were cases in which government officials put pressure on publishers and editors to fire journalists they felt were "uncontrollable," there were only sporadic cases of physical violence against reporters and editors. These are new times. Now the drug wars provide new reasons for self-censorship to exist. In 2004 and 2005, among Latin American nations, Mexico had the highest number of journalists killed, more than long war-torn Colombia and the highly unstable Haiti. This recognition is nothing to be proud of, and there are many reasons for journalists to still be afraid.

    This year some Mexican news organizations decided to confront this challenge by working together. Their model is based on the U.S. experience of the Arizona Project, created by independent journalists to continue the work of investigative reporter Don Bolles, who was assassinated while researching mob activities in Arizona. The Mexican newspapers agreed to investigate collectively the whereabouts of El Imparcial reporter Jimenez and publish every step in their investigation on the same day, without a byline, to protect the reporters involved in the project. This is a unique experience for Mexican newspapers, whose relationship is usually characterized by envy and distrust. But now there is no other choice; they must come together to face the drug kingpins at whatever cost might result and regardless of what the government does. This is especially the case since so far the government is losing the war against the drug cartels.

    Raymundo Riva-Palacio, a 1992 Nieman Fellow, is managing editor of El Universal, a newspaper in Mexico City.
  5. old hippie 56
    "I wonder if our member in Texas Old Hippie has a story or two on the subject?"
    Old swim stays away from the border, he had some dealings before down in that area years ago. Was able to do business dealings without bodyguards and guns, but not no more. He misses the good old days.
  6. beentheredonethatagain
    thank you for the post. In your opinion and from what you have heard, the news reports of Laredo Mexico , a border city with Texas, Is a very danerous area? has it been known to cross into Laredo Texas? from what you have heard?
  7. 23smooches
    Gang violence is out of control here in LA. A friend of mine lives in a zone of Echo Park that has five gangs trying to take control over it. You get shot at just for standing outside. I hear its a BIG no no to have weed that isnt from his local skinheads. Especially if its the super dank. They get real pissed when yours is better than theirs.
    Its a problem that just has to be lived with, now matter how ridiculous it seems. I still love los angeles though.
    -my 2cents
  8. beentheredonethatagain
    I live 100 miles east of Los Angeles, and the young people around here are into that gang mentality , just not as bad. they are walking around with slugs still in them from being shot and not being able to have the bullett removed.

    It is a mess and thinking it is going to be worse before its better.

    Just dont know why their lives are so un important that getting shot , going to prison , and just being in a street gang is a thing to die for?
  9. 23smooches
    Yeah, its the new cool thing to do for the youth of today. It makes you somebody when you have stories and battle wounds. The big thing is going to prison, once you come out, you all the sudden have this crazy aura of respect around you. When a guy dies of getting shot its also a really big deal....Its all really stupid bullshit.
    These suburban kids getting into crime and gangs are the next generation of criminals. Its spreading like a virus.
  10. old hippie 56
    "Is a very danerous area? has it been known to cross into Laredo Texas? from what you have heard?"
    Damn right it is, hadn't been on the border in 6 yrs., then it was bad, from what swim have heard from his Mexicans friends it worst now than ever. One of them say he will not drive there going to see his parents, too dangerous and costly. He flying this year.
  11. beentheredonethatagain
    Thats what H.A. had to say on the subject^^, But sadly its not the administration telling us stories to justify the terrible waste of tax payers money, this is one lie that is true.

    U.S. cities that border mexico, especially Laredo and Nuevo Laredo are breeding grounds for vial inhuman drug smugglers who would kill you as to look at you.
    In a non satirical manner SWIM types: They should push on with the legalize it and set up HARM reduction centers. They've already proven that with Needle-exchange programs and centers that allow the drug users to shoot up in a "safe" environment, many of the stats diminish towards good results. It almost feels counter-intuitive; yet it works. SWIM is all for slaying all the scum who abuse meth and other drugs that destroy their lives - which in turn severely hurts the communities and ultimately the country... but it's not currently plausible to enact on such solutions.

    Witnessing gangs fall because of economic ruin would be fun and interesting. At the very least, a major blow to what allows them to flourish.
    BTW, it's difficult to blame THEM for the violence they spawn.

    What keeps the drug industry going is its huge profit margins. Producing drugs is a very cheap process. Like any commodities business the closer you are to the source the cheaper the product. Processed cocaine is available in Colombia for $xxxx dollars per kilo and sold on the streets of America for as much as $xxxxx a kilo (retail). Heroin costs $xxxxx/kilo in Pakistan, but can be sold on the streets of America for $xxxxxx/kilo (retail). And synthetics like methamphetamine are often even cheaper to manufacture costing approximately $xxx to $xxx per kilo to produce in clandestine labs in the US and abroad and sold on US streets for up to $xxxxx/kilo (retail).

    price discussion is not allowed
  13. 23smooches
    Swim thinks the only reason they have not pushed to legalize it, is because of all the government jobs that would be lost, there is a whole branch of law enforcement dedicated to the war on drugs. People are also so brainwashed since the whole "just say no" campaigne, I dont think America is ready for such a thing as legalization. Swim thinks that in time it will become a reality though.
    Also, imagine this, you live in downtown Los Angeles, your family is poor and always has been, you grow up too fast, you need money to support yourself, you have no time to go through 12+ years of school. What are you going to do for money? Then think about if you were surviving of selling crack to support you dying mother, or w/e.... and it became legally tolerated, you would lose alot of your income. I think the situation with gangs would get worse, whats next? dealing firearms, illegal alien slave trade, under age sex slavery? This stuff is happening already, but its getting bigger, idk, I think we should be careful about legalizing drugs, because no matter what, someone somewhere will be impacted, there is no "cure-all"
    Crime rings wouldnt dissolve, they would just find new ways to make money.
  14. beentheredonethatagain
    23sm, I dont think that is a good argument, it goes to the same as the opposing side would say , " they are going to do it anyway" crowd is wrong too.

    The real argument IMO is harm reduction , the user are punished so badly and by both sides. The drug dealers are not a friend to the users, they take full advantage of their position. The lowering of puriety, the amount of profit, the having to find a good connection, having no set hours of operation, its a lot of hoops and traps that have to be avoided in order to ever begin to try to get high.

    And the Government, penalizing the user monetarily and physically with fines and imprisonment, also just because they don't physically put the "cut" on the products, they allow the dealers to get away with jacking the user. because there arent any options.
    The price is so inflated, that real addicts who are physically dependant , that do not have an option unless they can handle the hell of withdraw, but to go and steal to make it through a few hours.

    Legalize , in some cases , give away free to those who are in the worse shape. and lets move on to handle real issues of the World.
  15. 23smooches
    Im not clear on exactly what you mean, but my point was that if we legalized drugs, gangs would not automatically dissolve from lack of income. They would most likely begin to use other ways to get money. There will always be criminals taking advantage of people to get their money. I think legalization would be a positive step forward, and it should be done, but we need to consider the consequences too. The way the system is set up, there are beneficiaries on both sides of the law, and there always will be. Drug dealers take advantage of the illegality and scarcity of the drugs, and police take advantage of the drug dealers, creating jobs and positive image for them. Its always a good guy-bad guy thing.
  16. beentheredonethatagain
    I guess what I was trying to say , is just because of the way organized crime would be affected, shouldn't play into our decision or lack there of, on the way we change our stance on drug laws.
  17. enquirewithin
    The War on Drugs is a failure in terms of reducing the use of drugs, but not for the prison-industrial complex. It's also another inroad into Mexico.

    Harm Reduction is the only real way forward.
  18. beentheredonethatagain
    drug cartels are comming over the border Into the U.S. , california, arizona, new mexico, and texas.

    The blood is still being spilled here
  19. monkeyspanker
    Btdt, ya dragged this this thread up?? Ok, my take, bad here in the southern deserts of AZ, getting to where ya don't know who's good and who's bad, silly shit, everyone fighting over it, Mine...Mine...Mine..silly really when you think of all the monkeys, cats and dogs looking for a safe outlet for refuse and some such...
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