A Border Under Siege, Part 2 – Horsedooty

Corruption on both sides of the border surely exists.  However, on the Mexican side there is no comparison really.  In the last five months, 35 agents with the Mexican federal prosecutor’s office were arrested for corruption. According to Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, each was being paid between $150,000 and $450,000 monthly by the cartels. In late October, two high-ranking officials with Mexico’s Office on Organized Crime, part of the attorney general’s office, were arrested for supplying a Sinaloa-based cartel with information on possible drug seizures. Each was being paid $400,000 per month. An Interpol agent working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at the American embassy in Mexico City, caught supplying the same cartel with inside information last month, was thought to have been earning $30,000 monthly.

The current rash of violence in Mexico, as well as the violence that erupted in Nuevo Laredo a couple of years ago, can be traced to Calderon’s policy of going after cartel leaders. His belief was that the cartels would be destroyed with their capos gone. So he sent 32,000 federal soldiers out across Mexico with orders to bring the peace by eliminating cartel bosses. Dozens were captured or killed, including many who have since been extradited to the U.S. for prosecution. But the push also had two negative side effects: First, the cartels were able to corrupt large segments of those military forces sent out against them, and secondly, the removal of the bosses created a power vacuum that’s led to the current violence among those seeking to become the new cartel leaders.

In many ways, it’s a repeat of what happened in Colombia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Medellin and Cali cartel leaders were eliminated. Violence in that country escalated to brutal heights. But interestingly, the victor in those internecine wars turned out not to be any of the Colombian cartel lieutenants, but the drug bosses in Mexico, who moved up from being middle men to running the cartels themselves.

The campaigns then didn’t stop corruption or even slow it down, and the same has been true of Calderon’s efforts thus far. Municipal police, including gun battles between them and federal officers, carried much of the violence in Nuevo Laredo out. Eventually more than half of Nuevo Laredo’s 700-man police force was fired for corruption. In June 2007, Calderon purged 284 federal police commanders from all 31 Mexican states and the Mexico City federal district. All that did, one DEA source said, was to raise the cost of monthly payments to corrupt federal agents and prosecutors.

The Texas-Mexico frontier has always been a smuggler’s paradise, and through the decades, the trade — in whatever goods were in demand at the moment — has gone both ways. These days, although the drugs traveling north grab most of the headlines, there’s an equally deadly trade, in weapons, going into Mexico, since that country has no arms manufacturing industry. According to U.S. officials, nearly all of Mexico’s drug-war violence is done with U.S.-manufactured weapons. The worst-offending states are Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, all of which permit almost anyone to purchase and own as many pistols, machine pistols, rifles, and assault rifles as they want, with no waiting time and no record of the sale going beyond the gun dealers’ files.

U.S. drug agents estimate that, every day, $10 million worth of drugs crosses over the Laredo bridges — not to mention the rest of the 2,000-mile long U.S.–Mexico border — and heads up I-35. It’s enough to pay for a lot of corruption and a lot of weaponry. Unfortunately for their victims, the drug lords don’t have to go far to do their gun shopping.

Without going into great detail, in Texas the only background check is the so-called instant background check.  Anyone who sells a gun in this country — with a major and troublesome exception — must notify NICS. The buyer is required to fill out a form, and the dealer then calls an 800 number, enters the buyer’s information, and either gets an OK or a “red light. If it’s the latter, the information will get transferred to the FBI, and the FBI will make a decision whether the transaction can go through or not.  Information on green-lighted purchasers is purged within 24 hours. Red-lighted forms are kept until the FBI determines the cause of the warning flag.  Not much oversight.

Mexican authorities have repeatedly called on the U.S. to pass laws to stop or slow the estimated 2,000-weapon-a-day pace of gun sales into Mexico. But gun restrictions are extremely unpopular in Texas and other border states, an easy way for any politician to get un-elected.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says that Texas is probably the biggest supplier of guns that make their way into Mexico. That’s both because of that long border they share and the number of gun dealers in the state. The BATF’s job is to handle the investigation of illegal gun and arms sales, as well as to trace guns that have been used in criminal activity.

The majority of the weapons being used by the cartels these days are U.S. military weapons and explosives,” he said. “They’ve got M-16s, hand grenades, grenade launchers. Even in Texas you can’t buy those. Those are U.S. military weapons. Last year an 18-wheeler full of M-16s was stopped headed to Matamoros, a border town controlled by the Gulf Cartel. Our U.S. military is either supplying the Mexican military with that weaponry, and corrupt elements in the Mexican military are selling it to the cartels, or someone in the U.S. military is supplying them. Either way, those are U.S. military guns being used in very violent cartel rivalries.

Whatever version of corruption or bad policy is responsible for massive amounts of American military weapons ending up in the hands of the cartel, there is little mystery about the more routine forms of drug-money corruption being practiced, another longstanding border tradition. In October, FBI agents arrested a South Texas sheriff and charged him with “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana” among several other offenses. Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra, who faces life imprisonment, follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Sheriff Eugenio Falcon, who pleaded guilty to non-drug-related conspiracy charges in 1998. Among many other law enforcement officers caught dealing with the cartels, in 2005 former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu was sentenced to 24 years in prison for running a criminal enterprise out of his office.

The corruption extends as far as the drug supply lines them selves extend. In September, 175 people thought to have ties to the Gulf Cartel were arrested in several U.S. states, including 22 in north Texas. The raids netted $1 million in cash, 400 pounds of methamphetamine, and 300 kilograms of cocaine — and drew the anger of drug bosses.

The Gulf Cartel isn’t exactly subtle in its recruitment of the military and others to its ranks. The Gulf Cartel has been plastering signs all over Reynosa and at times in Nuevo Laredo and elsewhere, asking soldiers and police officers to desert their posts and join the Zetas. One sign posted recently in Tampico asked soldiers and ex-soldiers to “Join the ranks of the Gulf Cartel. We offer benefits, life insurance, a house for your family and children. Stop living in the slums and riding the bus. A new car or truck, your choice.”

In Juarez, the war between cartels is still going full bore. There has also been a campaign by the drug cartels asking the gangs in the US to attack the local police.  So far, that has not happened.

End of part 2

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32 Comments

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32 responses to “A Border Under Siege, Part 2 – Horsedooty

  1. horsedooty

    Hi Brian,

    I have thought about the legalize it statement. I am not sure legalization is the correct answer. Pot would be no problem. Coke and Meth and Heroin might be a different deal. I don’t see pot as a “gateway drug.” I am sure if you talked to all the Coke and Meth users you they would tell you that they started out with Pot. That in and of itself did not make them move on to the “harder” drugs. I am not terribly sure there is a good answer.

  2. Morning peeps,

    doots I bet you if you asked what they started with it it would be beer!

  3. dnd

    I gotta agree with Doots. I don’t see any good solutions. This is a cultural issue. I think the best approach might be to decriminalize and put people in treatment programs rather than jail.

  4. dnd

    Speaking of dope, will Sherry Johnston, Bristol Palin’s future mother-in-law who got busted for pushing hillbilly heroin, request a Presidential pardon?

  5. I think by the time she’s up for trial Bush will be out of office, but she can certainly request one from the gov.

  6. horsedooty

    good point Brian beer is probably the first thing.

  7. Nannymm

    Excellent post, Doots. I wish there was an easy solution but there isn’t. I do know that we need to put alot more money and effort into prevention and treatment.

  8. However, critics of the prison system maintain that America’s crime rate does not exceed those of similar nations; therefore its high imprisonment rates are not justified. For example, a survey conducted by the Dutch Ministry of Justice found that Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand had higher incidences of eleven types of crime than the United States, including robbery, burglary, and car theft. Critics attribute America’s prison population boom not to an epidemic of crime, but to harsher sentencing laws and the nation’s war on drugs, characterized by increased antidrug efforts and stiffer penalties for drug offenders. Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project, maintains that “in 1980, 6 percent of inmates were in for drug offenses. That’s up to 21 percent in 2000.”

    http://www.enotes.com/americas-prisons-article

  9. horsedooty

    very much off topic but Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28415602

    I coulda told’em that! sheesh!

  10. I can’t help but wonder if legalization combined with treatment programs wouldn’t be smarter in the long run. Punish severely any crimes committed under the influence the way we do drunk driving. but leave the terminally stupid who use the stuff to become as terminal as they want.

  11. I saw that piece too doots, yeah go figure.

    Jamie as long as someone isn’t committing a crime why is it anyone business what people put in their body!

  12. horsedooty

    it may not be anyone’s business now but what are the long term consequences to shooting heroin? At some point, if the person lives long enough, the person is gonna need health care directly attributed to years of shooting Heroin.

    I fully realize that we as a society have members that don’t give a shit if they live or die. The question I have is should we give up hope on them?

  13. Sounds like a question for Keith Richards!

  14. dnd

    Well congrats to Bristol and her family on the blessed event. I’m glad she plans to finish her high school education. I hope she gets a college education too.
    If she doesn’t want the marry the white trash skunk who knocked her up, not a problem.

  15. dnd

    Brian,
    Proof that dogs are smarter than people.

  16. dog's eye view

    Hi guys. On vacation and have been staying away from news.

    SO my friend tells me that Bristol has had her baby and she has named him Trap. I thought it was a joke, or that maybe Levi got to choose the name.

    Turns out he misheard.

    Baby is Tripp.

  17. dog's eye view

    new Vanity Fair issue has oral history of Bush admin (presumably without expletives). Per AP and TPM, his aides contend Hurricane Katrina destroyed his credibility with the American public. Ya think?

    And some score settling. Lawrence Wilkinson, former Colin Powell chief of staff, on Dick Cheney:

    “It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president — because, let’s face it, that’s what he was — was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire,” Wilkerson said, adding that he considered Cheney probably the “most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur” he’d ever met.

    “He became vice president well before George Bush picked him,” Wilkerson said of Cheney. “And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush — personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum.”

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2008/12/ex-aides_say_bush_never_recove.php

    Vacuum it was. That vacuumed up our prosperity, peace of mind, and confidence in our fellow citizens, half of whom re-elected the worst president since James Buchanan. I think Bush will trump Buchanan as “worst of the worst” within the next 20 years.

  18. Treasury antes up in auto bailout

    Stepping into deeper waters to help the auto industry, Treasury Monday night added $6 billion to the $17.4 billion bailout announced Dec. 19, chiefly to help the financial arm of General Motors Corp.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16917.html

  19. IDF launches YouTube Gaza channel

    In the midst of its Gaza operations, the IDF is entering yet another conflict zone: the Internet. The Israeli army announced yesterday the creation of its own YouTube channel, through which it will disseminate footage of precision bombing operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as aid distribution and other footage of interest to the international community.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1230456531523&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  20. Chef Sheila

    Good morning everyone.

    Took a much needed weekend to myself and deflated from the Adventures of Snowed In with the Elderly.

    Now I’ll go read the thread!

  21. Too late Sheila, NEW THREAD!

    😆

  22. Chef Sheila

    LOL 😆

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