A Border Under Siege – Horsedooty

In the border region of south Texas, Laredo in particular, the landscape is dry and dusty most of the year.  Between San Antonio and Laredo it is about 150 miles.  There a lot of pretty big ranches that offer deer hunting privileges and there have been a few Hollywood movies shot in the area.  The first one that comes to mind is the new movie about the Alamo.  Billy Bob Thornton was the star.  There are a lot of plants in that area that will stick you and ruin your day.

The population gets increasingly more ethnic the further south you go on I 35s.  The closer you get to Mexico, the more Latinos you encounter.  Shipping is a main stay industry in Laredo.  There are trucking terminals all over and there are 4 or 5 different bridges that will take you into Mexico all from I 35s.  The other end of I 35 is the Canadian border at Duluth, Minn.  This story is about the Mexican border.

Nuevo Laredo sits directly across the Rio Grande River from downtown Laredo.  There are 2 bridges that allow you to walk over to Mexico or bring you back out.  It’s a famously porous international border that, given the shared culture of people on the two sides, has always seemed seriously smudged.  The US Border Patrol has a very large presence on the Texas side.  Even with all the BP, the drugs are still smuggled across at an alarming rate.  I once sat on the side of a hill looking down at the BP cut a Chevrolet Suburban into little pieces in the search for drugs.  It did not take the BP long to find the contraband.

Nuevo Laredo has a problem.  There are several gangs that are attempting to control the flow north of the drugs and the flow south of the money made selling the drugs.  Lawlessness is the order of the day.  Few countries could be as different as the United States and Mexico these days. The critical nature of that difference takes hold as soon as a southbound traveler sets a foot — and it had better be a cautious foot — past the border formalities. In Nuevo Laredo, the walls of many homes and government buildings are pockmarked with bullet holes. Some have high concrete walls, four inches thick, in front of their property — protection against grenades and assault weapons. Nuevo Laredo hasn’t had a police chief in two years. The last one quit in fear of his life after only three months in office. The one before that was shot and killed in broad daylight after seven hours on the job.

Up the river in Juarez, across from El Paso, about 1,200 people have been murdered thus far this year, and the total could hit 1,500. The brutality of many of the murders is stunning. Newspaper headlines announce decapitations, people being burned alive or tortured to death, mass murders. In early November, a headless body was hung from an overpass over the city’s main road.

This violence is pretty much the same from California to Texas along the border.  The drug cartels are fighting with each other and the Mexican government.  This is no longer the drug war that has chugged along for decades along this border, where there was always violence, but where headlines were more likely to be about the size of drug shipments seized or the latest local Customs or Border Patrol agent found to be in cahoots with the smugglers. Nor is American involvement any longer limited simply (and profoundly) to providing the market for drugs that makes the whole narco trafficking world possible, or to low-level corruption of the occasional border cop. The level of power of the Mexican drug cartels is completely out of control, and nothing the U.S. and Mexican governments are doing seems to be working to slow it down.

Instead, the money generated by the sale of drugs in this country is so impossibly vast that corruption in local Mexican police forces, the Mexican military, and even the federal government is at the saturation point — and many times more lucrative, not to mention healthier, than staying honest. The drug gangs are now recruiting and killing people on the U.S. side of the border, and murders and corruption are on the rise in towns from El Paso to Brownsville. Unless something changes quickly, it looks as though things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Already, the Mexican side of the border has become such a horror show that many Americans will find it difficult to comprehend, no matter how many movies about it they have seen. The transformation of Mexico into a drugocracy is nearly complete, with no institution completely free from its influence, including the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Many of the most murderous units of the drug armies know very well how to use those weapons because they were taught by the U.S. military — on the assumption that they were going to fight against the cartels. Now they fight for the cartels — or control them. What’s more, American corporations are getting into the act, working under contract with the Mexican and U.S. governments to train specialized soldiers, including in torture techniques, and to act as private security agents on both sides of the border, a prospect that is as chilling to some as the drug lords themselves.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006 vowing to eliminate the drug scourge and its attendant violence. George W. Bush’s administration handed over hundreds of millions to help with that quest. But all that’s happened since Calderon took office, despite his efforts, is that the violence and corruption have increased. It’s not just the death toll that’s up; robberies, extortions, and kidnappings are on the rise as well.  Some Mexicans are having ID chips inserted under the skin to help authorities locate them in case they are kidnapped.  More than a little of the people of Nuevo Laredo have moved into Texas and some have moved as far as Minneapolis.

The firepower of the cartels is as frightening as their ruthlessness. Where do they get their weapons? From Texas and other border states, where the gun lobbies have kept the gun laws weak. Texas is considered to be the number-one supplier of weapons to the cartels.

But their artillery goes beyond anything found at your local gun shop. The cartels have M-16s, hand grenades, and grenade launchers — that is, U.S. military weapons, by the truckload.

Law enforcement in Laredo and the Border Patrol are out gunned in every way imaginable.

Part one of a multi part post.

¡yo soy Horsedooty!

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94 Comments

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94 responses to “A Border Under Siege – Horsedooty

  1. From my understanding the main “drug” being smuggled across the Mexico – US border is weed. Legalize it and a big part of the problem is fixed!

  2. Palin soap opera: Drug in Levi’s mom’s case is oxycontin

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/254/story/58245.html

  3. hey Doots! I was just hearing about all this the other night when surfing the channels……look at this report from AMW

    http://www.amw.com/fugitives/case.cfm?id=52331

    “Since that day, Marshals suspected Garcia was not only a kid running loose with a rifle: instead, they feared Garcia had aligned himself with drug cartels across the border to make a name for himself.”

  4. dnd

    Great post Doots. I think from a pragmatic perspective, I have to think Brian’s solution just might work.

  5. dnd

    “Former Denver mayor Federico Pena has withdrawn his name from the list of possible candidates to succeed Sen. Ken Salazar.”

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/dec/20/pena-withdraws-name-succeed-salazar/

    Another name being floated is Mike Miles, who ran against Salazar in the primary. I feel sorry for Gov. Ritter. Whomever he picks, a lot of people are going to be pissed at him 😉

  6. BevnTempe

    AZ Senator John Kyl hessitant to get involved with the border issue this coming session.

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2008/12/20/20081220kyl-immig1220.html

  7. Brian…

    From your comment above.

    “Palin soap opera: Drug in Levi’s mom’s case is oxycontin.”

    What else would you expect. She’s a follower of Oxycontin Limballs.

    God Bless.

  8. What is truly horrible is that totally innocent people are being victimized by these gangsters. In a way it does make me think of the Berlin Airlift. If we legalized pot (something that should have been done long ago) and temporarily shut down the border in its entirely and moved all tourism, workers and trade to air and sea while mounting an onslaught against the gangs it would cost a fortune, but just might be a real WAR on drugs.

  9. unlikely_burrito

    I am planning the first distributorship….called ” W4theW”
    Weed for the world….

    Just think of the good it would do
    🙂

    peace~

  10. dnd

    Happy first day of winter everyone. Sure feels like it here.

  11. dnd

    “Continental Airlines Flight 1404 bound for Houston ran 200 yards off a runway at Denver International Airport and into a ravine Saturday night, catching fire and injuring 38 of the 112 people aboard, authorities said. ”

    http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_11281378

    Half of DIA’s runways are shutdown because of the crash.

  12. chefsheila

    Morning guys. I’m snowed in at least until tomorrow. I am going to be on until after Christmas……tired. lol

  13. chefsheila

    Oh and the Wind was nothing here. The Cascaded GOT IT and so did the Olympics. I’m glad Harbor and I are in the South Sound region.

    We got a good snow, but no damage

  14. dnd

    It’s 2F at DIA with 10mph winds -> -14F windchill factor. Gonna be a cold day for those NTSB investigators.

  15. chefsheila

    Muskegon, Detroit Tops in Jobless Rates

    A new Census Bureau report on U.S. communities with at least 20,000 people says Muskegon and Detroit are first and second in unemployment.

    The report compares the jobless rate in 2000 with the average for 2005 through 2007 and says unemployment increased in 71 percent of the cities and towns.

    It says Muskegon’s unemployment averaged 22.1 percent in the latest period, more than twice its rate in 2000. Detroit’s rate was 21.6 percent, while Pontiac was ninth at 19 percent.

    Muskegon’s poverty rate, meantime, was also among the nation’s highest, at 31.2 percent.

    Hamtramck and Auburn Hills each saw a 28 percent decline in income, according to the data. That was the sixth-worst among the U.S. cities tallied.

  16. chefsheila

    dnd, that plane wreck was a close call!

  17. dog's eye view

    I wonder if it was icing, or mechanical, or pilot error? But very lucky with no loss of life.

    I read the overnight coverage; the Denver Post’s was far more comprehensive than the RMN’s. Maybe an indication of resources….

  18. dnd

    Shelia,
    Those unemployment figures are frightening.

  19. dnd

    Biden on This Week.

  20. chefsheila

    DND…..I have friends…..its not going to get better either. Obama knows something. That is what I have felt by his subtle talking….

  21. Nannymm

    Good morning! I finally found time to read Doots’ excellent post about the current border crisis. It is stunning how much it has changed since I lived there. Back then, I had no fear about walking across the border and spending time in Mexico. I regularly shopped and dined there. No more. My last two visits to Texas did not include trips to Mexico. I was advised that it is simply to dangerous.
    I wish it would be so easy to solve this problem as to close the border or legalize marijuana, but I doubt either would do it.
    Alot more than pot is flowing through that border, alot of cocaine and heroin is what I’ve been hearing from ICE and BP agents. And it isn’t possible to “seal” the border. There are hundreds of miles of wide open ranch lands on that border. It’s wilderness. I’ve driven 50 miles along that border without seeing another car, a house, or any sign of human life. Even this new border fence won’t work. People tunnel under the border, cut holes in fences, climb over them. Hell, they land small planes on the US side when they have to! So, I agree that we need to do something. But the so called “War on Drugs” model isn’t working now, hasn’t worked in the past, and won’t work in the future. We need some new creative ideas to staunch the flow of blood, drugs, and money. Hopefully, we can go back to square one and get started on it soon.

  22. dnd

    Shelia,
    Even those in MI who have secure jobs will be hurt by those unemployment numbers. On top of that, they’ve been hit by severe weather.

    I stand by my plan to get all those unemployed autoworkers to start engineering and assembling wind turbines! That’s infrastructure I can believe in!

  23. dnd

    dog,
    The current rumor going around is that a huge wind gust caused the crash. We’ll know more later.

  24. dnd

    Nannymm,
    That chipolte butter is really, really good smeared on warm tortillas!

  25. dog's eye view

    McClatchy DC bureau reporter Marisa Taylor:

    Did Bush officials commit war crimes? Maybe, but trials aren’t likely

    “…But even some who believe top officials broke the law don’t favor criminal prosecutions. The charges would be too difficult legally and politically to succeed.

    Without wider support, the campaign to haul top administration officials before an American court is likely to stall.

    In the end, Bush administration critics might have more success by digging out the truth about what happened and who was responsible, rather than assigning criminal liability, and letting the court of public opinion issue the verdicts, many say.

    “It is mind boggling to say eight years later that there is not going to be some sort of criminal accountability for what happened,” said David Glazier, a law of war expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a retired naval officer. “It certainly undermines our moral authority and our ability to criticize other countries for doing exactly the same thing. But given the legal issues and the political reality, I am hard pressed to see any other outcome.”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/58210.html

  26. chefsheila

    Just wait until these schleps try to take an overseas trip…..They’re going to be prisoners in their own country and most likely their own homes.

  27. dog's eye view

    I think this LATimes story will make a positive difference for this mother and daughter (with leukemia) living in a Ford SUV in the San Fernando Valley. The power of newspapers to shine a spotlight on human misfortune and sometimes improve as well as explain a situation.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lopez21-2008dec21,0,2074216,full.column

  28. dog's eye view

    I hope so, Sheila! That would be a start on justice!

  29. Nannymm

    Soon this whole country is going to be in as bad an economic mess as Michigan already is. I think we are headed into a depression and that there may not be enough time now to avert it. No matter what new economic stimulus programs Obama and his new administration adopt, they will take time to implement. In the meantime, the economy is likely to continue to slide.

  30. Nannymm

    Sheila, I hope some foreign country surprises them with a sealed indictment when one or more of them land for a visit. Then whisks them off to jail…. there I go, dreaming again. 😀

  31. dog's eye view

    nanny: my mom has been saying for months that we are going to hear the word “depression” used more frequently once Bush has left office.

    This recession is unlike any we’ve experienced in 40+ years. Global economy, not the usual recourse to jobs that are just gone.

    Will post a link in a few. It’s been suggested this situation is more akin to the 1873 economic shock than the Depression. The 1873 crisis resounded for years.

    We were not getting hit by severe storms and unusual weather patterns then either. Our feedback loop seems to have changed.

  32. chefsheila

    Nanny.

    We are no fools and as a population we are very aware and very sharp.

    In Michigan, we were all talking depression around the corner for a while. On “Crawfordslist” I mentioned how Michigan was entering a mini depression while the rest of the country didn’t pay attention.

    BUT, everyone has been paying attention and holding our collective breaths.

    I think its time to starting putting some aside….maybe even under the mattress? No….everyone knows that trick!

  33. Nannymm

    Sheila, we’re kitchen creatures… we can find all kinds of little hidey-holes to stash a bit away.

  34. Nannymm

    “Cheney says Biden hasn’t asked for any VP advice”

    Thank God!!!!

  35. Nannymm

    Sheila, I vaguely remember some mention of a mini-depression a while back. I think you were right then and I think we’re right now, including dog’s mother. This recession has a different feel than anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m not sure about the comparison to 1873 as I know very little about that. But it wouldn’t surprise me to find out a year from now that we are already in a depression. Just as I was not the least bit surprised to find out that we entered a recession last December.

  36. Optimism High About Obama Policies, Poll Finds

    Majorities think Obama should help make major changes to the health-care system, enact new energy policies and institute a moratorium on home foreclosures. Majorities expect him to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, improve health care and turn around America’s image abroad.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/20/AR2008122001498.html?wprss=rss_politics

  37. nann I think the what I sense as a lack of “holiday cheer” is very palatable. It seems to me that even holiday advertising on TV is down.

  38. Nannymm

    Another sign of the times:

    Squeezed on All Sides, Parents Forgo Day Care
    Education, Safety Sacrificed in Fiscal Crunch
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/20/AR2008122002113.html?wpisrc=newsletter

  39. dnd

    Condi on MTP. She say’s Iraq is now “mulit-confessional.” Huh? WTF is “multi-confessional?”

    I will say she’s learned to spin well from her time in the WH.

  40. Nannymm

    I agree with you, Brian. There is a slight malaise this year, a real palpable pall over the season. We’ve seen few party invites and less lavish parties all around. People are hurting up and down the economic spectrum. Friday night, the Boy Scouts rang the bells at local stores for the Salvation Army. While people were putting money in the bucket, it seemed to be alot more loose change and far fewer bills. That can’t bode well for those in need.

  41. Maybe it means a lot of people will be confessing to crimes against humanity! Hey we can hope!

  42. Nannymm

    dnd, I couldn’t watch MTP today. I don’t want to listen to any more of Bush’s minions spouting talking points and trying to re-write history or re-tool his image. IMO MTP would be wise to look forward and book Team Obama guests from now on.

  43. Nannymm

    Now you’re the one who is dreaming, Brian!

  44. dnd

    After seeing Condi, it dawns on me that we haven’t had a decent SoS since Warren Christopher or James Baker. Some, like Powell were qualified, but didn’t have the complete backing of the president. Most were failures. It’s a tough job, so that can be expected. Hillary’s got tremendous challenges and opportunities here (assuming Bill’s donor list doesn’t torpedo her). I’m rooting for her.

  45. Not sure I agree with you there. You didn’t like Albright?

  46. dnd

    Nannymm,
    “IMO MTP would be wise to look forward and book Team Obama guests from now on.”

    I agree 100%. Gregory has yet to get a good “get.”

  47. dnd

    Brian,
    I liked Albright fine. But look at her record as SoS. Not many successes. Serving during Lewinsky-gate was probably a major distraction. Bosnia was her biggest success. She’s a hawk, not a diplomat. Smart gal. I think Kissinger is smart too, but that doesn’t mean I agree with him 😉

  48. dog's eye view

    nanny: WRT daycare: a new ad is airing on local TV here in DC area. It’s for a daycare program that emphasizes it’s “multicultural” with college-educated staff, and maybe a mention of affordability.

    I think it’s going after the parents who have given up their personal or more expensive daycare options, or maybe those where a caregiving parent is now working a 2d job.

    Appears to be targeted at the lower and middle class parent.

  49. dnd

    If it’s Sunday it’s time for my favorite curmudgeon, Ed Quillen. Today, a little salacious Colorado history on the Sec. of Interior appointment.

    “A U.S. senator from Colorado is appointed secretary of the Interior, and there’s a scramble for the appointment to fill out his term. It’s happening now, and it happened in 1882-83, when Colorado could have taught modern Illinois a few lessons about corruption.”

    http://www.denverpost.com/quillen/ci_11266645

  50. dog's eye view

    The Rwandan genocide happened on Albright’s watch. She has a lot to answer for there. That was a preventable massacre — the weapons were machetes! Rwandan radio programming had been inciting violence for weeks, maybe months.

    The Hutu killers judged, wisely, that US appetite to intervene was reduced by the deaths of 18 US soldiers in Somalia. For that, almost a million law abiding Rwandans were slaughtered, under the eyes of their UN peacekeepers.

    Albright discouraged calling the Rwandan situation a genocide.

    She may be a brilliant woman, but she and Pres. Clinton blew it there.

    The US is not the world’s policeman, but it was immoral not to intervene there, whether we had perceived interests in Rwanda or not.

    Africans were slaughtered in churches. The scale of the killings was evident very early on.

  51. chefsheila

    This Weeks was just fantastic with Biden. I’m so glad he is Obama’s Vice President. So calming this morning. Even my boss listened to him.

  52. chefsheila

    Albright can only “Intervene” at the pleasure of the President they serve….

    So since we don’t know for sure, I think President Clinton should be asked why we didn’t intervene in the Rwanda Massacre.

    Her voice is only as “Free” as who was calling the shots. A Secretary of State doesn’t call the shots in foreign policy.

  53. chefsheila

    Nanny and all,

    My mother and I were talking unemployment and SHE at 80 years old said, “Sheila face it we’re in the beginnings of a Depression NOW.” She said of all the recessions she has experinced, this time doesn’t have any of the feel that a recession would feel like.

    I think Obama knows this, Bush has realised this, and all of our side does too. I think those ten senators are in denial.

  54. Nannymm

    Your mom is obviously an astute lady, Sheila. It is beginning to feel bleak. One of my grandson’s friends came to play today in a snow storm without any boots or hat. He told me he doesn’t have winter boots. You can’t go through winter here without good boots. But his mom is in college and living on student loans so….

  55. chefsheila

    I understand single parenthood and trying to get a lift through college because you are on food stamps now….I understand.

  56. Well that’s what grannies are for nanny!

  57. dnd

    Happy Hanukkah everyone!

  58. U2 too dnd and everyone else.

  59. Nannymm

    I’m on it, Brian! I’ll find the kid a pair of boots for sure. he isn’t my grandson, but it he may as well be considering how much time he spends here. I treat him as if he’s part of the family. Unfortunately he wears a men’s size 11 shoe so none big enough here. But, I’m not worried.

  60. big kid, I only wear a 10 1/2

  61. Nannymm

    Happy Hanukkah! Who is making the latkes?

  62. I’m out of schmaltz, not I!

  63. dog's eye view

    Happy Hanukkah and first day of winter.

    Still laughing over Shlomo the other reindeer. That was priceless.

  64. dnd

    Ummm, love latkes. Brian, can’t you use olive oil?

    I bet Nannymm’s chipolte butter would make great latkes!

  65. dog's eye view

    Would you believe Trader Joe’s was sampling some very good lattkes, with sour cream and/or apple sauce. Very tasty. Am sure you have your own, better recipe, but they would do in a pinch!

    Love from your shiksa (sp?) friend. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday and that 2009 is bright and happy for you and your loved ones (people too, not just pets!)

  66. The always taste best when made with real schmaltz, regardless of what my mother says! Or as she says “who uses schmaltz these days”.

  67. tnx dog, and the dogs and cat say thanks too.

  68. horsedooty

    really Brian who does you schmaltz these days? The things you can learn here on the Backchannel.

  69. horsedooty

    you = use

  70. dnd

    Here’s a couple of photos of the Continental 1404 crash.

    http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_11283508

    Note that the fuselage cracked just behind the wings. Must’ve been a bumpy ride.

    It wasn’t snowing last night, but it was really cold and windy.

  71. I live near a kosher butcher, they sell schmaltz. Or you can always make your own.

  72. chefsheila

    Well there you go…..leave the employ of a jewish guy and forget Hanukkah! Happy Hanukkah Brian.

    If I had been in your vicinity, I’d have made some homemade Sufganiyot (spelling) for you. YUM!

    We’ve had our latkes comversation too, but DOOTS in a large Jewish community, you can get schmaltz in your freezer case or fresh if you have a good meat store.

    I really got the taste of schmaltz in Matzo Balls…really adds to the flavor

  73. chefsheila

    oh sorry guys… Sufganiyot (spelling lol) equals jelly doughnuts.

  74. horsedooty

    but DOOTS in a large Jewish community,

    Fort Worth is not a hot bed of American Jewish Culture. I was once sitting in a car smoking a joint (maybe 35 years ago) and the parking lot was a Jewish Synagogue. The cop that interrupted that smoke fest wanted to know why we were parked in that atheist church parking lot. We said we did not know and as soon as he would let us, we left, stoned to a fairtheewell.

  75. Obviously Fort Worth has a low IQ standard for their police force.

  76. chefsheila

    lololololol 😆

  77. dnd

    Doots,
    Had you been smoking schmaltz, you’d have been in big trouble 😉

  78. chefsheila

    Thats a pretty greasy thought……

  79. smoking schmaltz, sounds like a bad rock band

  80. chefsheila

    Well I couldn’t help myself. I looked googled that and its an original name. So Gof for it Brian. Form a band. Very Catchy

    The Band is “Phat and All That”!

  81. chefsheila

    Good Morning and NEW THREAD

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