Skip to comments.A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border
Posted on 05/30/2010 6:09:47 PM PDT by Bad~Rodeo
Increasing Coordination Between Mexican Drug Cartels, Human Smuggling Networks, and U.S.-Based Gangs
Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials are witnessing a growing nexus between the Mexican drug cartels, illegal alien smuggling rings, and U.S. based gangs.The human smuggling networks that operate along the Southwest border cannot move their human cargo through drug cartel controlled corridors without paying a fee. The typical Mexican illegal alien now pays approximately $1,200 to $2,500. For aliens from countries other than Mexico this price is often considerably higher, and may even be more alluring for the cartels. Foreign nationals are often charged an exorbitantly higher fee ranging anywhere from $45,000 to $60,000 per person. Indeed, it is estimated that human smuggling through Mexico into the United States each year puts billions of dollars into criminal hands.
According to U.S. law enforcement officials, tremendous incentive exists for drug cartels to diversify their criminal enterprises to include the human smuggling trade. Human smuggling can be more lucrative than the illicit drug trade and the benefits far outweigh the risks for the cartels. There are many reasons for this. Law enforcement is dealing with a different type of commodity drugs dont hide themselves as humans are able. Consequently, smugglers can transport large numbers of illegal aliens across the border at one time and meet with some success.
Moreover, prosecutions for human smuggling are abysmally low. Typically, groups of illegal aliens apprehended attempting to cross the border will not identify the smuggler in the group. For those smugglers that are identified and captured, most are simply returned to their country of origin. Thus, there is a revolving door for the smugglers. Since it is unlikely the smuggler will be prosecuted he or she can opt for voluntary removal, face no criminal penalties and smuggle again. As human smugglers charge anywhere from $2,000 to $60,000 per alien and face little or no consequences if caught, human smuggling is a far less risky business endeavor than the drug trade.
Federal law enforcement officials also report that the cartels are not only increasingly engaged in the human smuggling business, they are also actively coordinating with existing human smuggling rings, using diversionary tactics to protect their loads. It is not uncommon for cartels to facilitate the crossing of fifty or more illegal aliens across the U.S.-Mexico border to divert Border Patrol resources away from an area they plan to transport large amounts of drugs across.
Mexican drug cartels have also increasingly cemented ties to street and prison gangs on the U.S. side. U.S. gangs retail drugs purchased from Mexican traffickers and often work as cartel surrogates and enforcers on U.S. soil. Mara Salvatrucha, (MS-13) is one such gang involved in the cross-border drug smuggling business. MS-13 has established a growing presence in cities across the United States. Law enforcement agencies in twenty-eight States have reported MS-13 members are engaged in retail drug trafficking. Drug proceeds are subsequently laundered through seemingly legitimate local 44 businesses.
On September 28, 2006, in Laredo, Texas, twelve gang members were indicted in Laredo, Texas on seventeen counts of illegal drug and firearm offenses. Charges against the defendants include engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to posses with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine, felons in possession of weapons and possession of weapons during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
All twelve defendants are believed to be members of or associated with the Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos (Brotherhood of Latin Gunmen) prison gang and working for the Gulf Cartel. Federal and State officials report that a growing number of gangs are increasingly collaborating with the major drug cartels to facilitate cross-border smuggling of not only drugs, but also humans.
These gangs include MS-13, Mexican Mafia, and the Texas Syndicate. In August 2006, Mexicos Deputy Attorney General for Organized Crime, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, postulated these gangs are becoming increasingly more powerful as they fill the void left by the cartels when their leadership is arrested by the Mexican government.
In February 2005, FBI Director Robert Mueller described U.S. based-gangs as more organized, more violent, and more widespread than ever. The Department of Justice estimates there are approximately 30,000 gangs with more than 800,000 members in the U.S. Mueller believes these violent gangs pose a growing threat to the safety and security of Americans.
Many members of violent street gangs are actively involved in other crimes such as rape, robbery, and murder. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has found that approximately half of the apprehended gang members have violent criminal histories, with arrests and convictions for crimes such as robbery, assault, rape and murder. This figure includes only those whose criminal histories are known. Approximately 90 percent of U.S. MS-13 members are foreign-born illegal aliens and depend upon the Texas-Mexico border smuggling corridor to support their criminal operations. MS-13 members are involved in a variety of other types of criminal activity, including rape, 52 murder, and extortion.
The foreign nationals who belong to these gangs often ignore Federal immigration laws, regularly entering the United States illegally. They then travel to the nations interior cities to join with other gang members and participate in criminal activity. A Federal investigator told Committee staff of a recent interview he conducted with an MS-13 member who described the ease with which he had routinely traversed the Southwest border. The gang member decided to return to his native country of Guatemala to spend Christmas with his mother. To save his own money, he voluntarily turned himself into authorities and was flown home at U.S. Government expense under the expedited removal program, spent the holidays with his family, and returned by illegally crossing the Southwest border. The gang member boasted this process is so easy he has repeated it several times.
The Zetas are also one of the main groups smuggling illegal aliens and drugs into the United States from Mexico. A recent FBI bulletin noted that FBI intelligence indicates that Los Zetas are becoming increasingly involved in systematic corruption as well as alien smuggling, including smuggling special interest aliens into the United States. The Zetas wield their control over the movement of people across the border through an elaborate network of spies, checkpoints and use of sophisticated technology. Some of those networks are deepening their ties to Texas cities, including Houston and Dallas, with the help of gang members.
In 2005, law enforcement linked at least three drug related killings in the Dallas area to the Zetas. Texas law enforcement authorities believe a squad of Zeta members, as many as ten, might be operating inside Texas as assassins for the Gulf Cartel. Authorities said Zetas are the cartel is protecting nearly $10 million in daily drug transactions in Texas. also known to have established smuggling routes in residential neighborhoods on the U.S. 57 side of the border that are used to smuggle high-value illegal aliens.
obammy sure seems to be playing right into the illegals hands..............he apparently couldn’t care less.
wow, thanks so much federal government!
Think I’ll go shopping for a little more protection
Obama is holding border security hostage to amnesty.
eine gutes idee!
“Think Ill go shopping for a little more protection”
Yeah, with ya. Btw, anyone know what became of the Minuteman program? Haven’t seen or heard much about it in awhile....
Are you kidding? They would be crazy NOT to take advantage of the weakest POTUS on foreign policy, border control, immigration and crime control ever.
Banding together can secure significant permanent inroads into the USA we will be trying to clean out for a generation or more.
We have No American government by and for the people we are on our own!
Why does the movie “Escape from New York” come to mind
The same report also says “Hezbollah has crossed into the U.S. from the southern border”.
They could use a lesson from Joe Arpaio. He charges illegal aliens with smuggling themselves. Then you don't have to ID the coyote until later when you have them all in custody.
NOTE The following text is a quote:
Northcom Chief Cites Mexico Partnership as Top Priority
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., June 1, 2010 Confident in the strength of the U.S.-Canada security relationship, the new commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command said hes turning his focus southward.
The Number 1 priority is going to be our partnership with Mexico. There is just no question, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. told reporters here last week.
Winnefeld is touring the southwestern U.S. border region today, accepting the invitation extended by Arizona Sen. John McCain during Winnefelds April confirmation hearing. Its Winnefelds first visit there since assuming command on May 19, and he told reporters hes looking forward to getting a deeper understanding of the issues involved.
Although detailed plans are still being worked, the up to 1,200 National Guard troops expected to deploy to the U.S.-Mexican border as part of President Barack Obamas border-security initiative arent expected to report to Winnefeld. The Guard members will serve under Title 32 authority, paid for with federal funds but under their state governors authority.
However, Winnefeld sees himself as instrumental in helping to ensure the Mexicans understand what their role will be and more importantly, what it wont be.
This is not militarizing the border. There is no intent to do that, the admiral said. This is a civil support mission that is a bridge until some of the $500 million that the president has identified to plus up the [federal law enforcement capability along the border] gets into place.
Winnefeld recognizes the importance of perception. We have to make sure it is shaped appropriately so we dont achieve a tactical victory and end up with a strategic loss, particularly with our partners in Mexico, he said.
Obamas plan ensures these and other issues are addressed, he said, and recognizes that both countries have a stake in controlling cross-border trafficking.
We are looking at stuff going south primarily cash and weapons as much as we are looking at stuff going north narcotics and other illicit materials, Winnefeld said. And that is important to our partners.
He emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Mexico partnership and the role Northcom can play.
Working in cooperation with U.S. Southern Command, Winnefeld sees tremendous opportunity to build closer ties between the U.S. and Mexican militaries in ways that both countries find acceptable.
The military-to-military relationship with Mexico we have has never been better, Winnefeld said. He credited efforts made by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. Victor Eugene Renuart, Winnefelds predecessor at Northcom.
Its an equal partnership built on full respect for Mexicos sovereignty, he said.
The relationship-building also recognizes that addressing these challenges does not require U.S. boots on the ground, Winnefeld said, at least in the operational sense.
We are just not interested in doing that and the Mexicans are not interested in having us [to] do that, he said. But, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity in between that to share training, information and intelligence and to help the Mexican military build capacity and capability.
Winnefeld emphasized during his confirmation hearing the importance of both Northcoms and NORADs relationships, particularly with Canada and Mexico. Ive observed that there are no other combatant commands where support for their partners [is] more important than these two, he told the Senate panel.
NORAD, which celebrated its 52nd anniversary this year, stands as a testament to the enduring U.S.-Canadian defense relationship, Winnefeld told reporters.
Winnefeld expressed concern during his confirmation hearing that drug-dealing and other criminal cartels threaten U.S. national security as well as the Mexican government. He praised Mexican President Felipe Calderons leadership and courage in confronting these challenges.
During his visit here last week, Mullen emphasized the importance of strengthening the relationship between the United States and Mexico.
Were looking for ways to assist them and support them where they ask us to support them, he said at a town hall session. I also think there are wonderful opportunities to strengthen the relationship between our countries and between our militaries.
It all boils down to trust, Mullen said, and the ability to see issues from another countrys perspective.
It is critical that you try to see it from their perspective, he said. They are a neighbor. They are a good friend. And we want to do as much as we can to support them.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.
U.S. Northern Command