MEXICAN DRUG VIOLENCE THREATENS U.S. SECURITY
Mexican Drug Violence Spills Into U.S.
By Victor Thorn
Death and destruction are two words that have become synonymous with Iraq and Afghanistan, courtesy of George W. Bush’s War on Terror. Yet, an equally bloody and violent war is being waged much closer to home, only miles across the U.S. border.
Fueled by the multi-billion dollar drug industry, Mexico is now the most dangerous place on Earth. Worse, the bloodbath threatens to spill over into the U.S., especially if our sovereignty is erased by impending American Union legislation.
The carnage precipitated by ruthless drug barons has escalated to such heights that it’s become a national emergency. On June 27, hit men toting semi-automatic weapons leaped from two speeding cars and killed six policemen in Sinaloa. A day earlier, senior officer Igor Labastida was slain in a Mexico City restaurant after being ambushed by assassins. Labastida knew he was a marked man because his name was included on a hit list posted by local drug gangs.
A month earlier, on May 8, Mexico’s chief of police was shot nine times, while on May 1, the nation’s top federal agent in the organized crime division was murdered. According to The Economist, other notables killed that same week were “a top official in Mexico City’s police force; the second-in-command in Juarez, and the administrative head of the Estado Mayor, a military body charged with protecting the president.” In all, more than 100 people were murdered in a single week due to narcotics-related violence.
Illegal drugs have become a $20 billion per year industry, with approximately 90 percent of all cocaine (300 tons) consumed in the U.S., and 80 percent of methamphetamines, passing through Mexico. To protect their interests, the gangs have resorted to some of the most blood-curdling tactics imaginable. In mid-June, four decapitated skulls were discovered in a plastic cooler alongside a roadway in Durango. An attached note read, “This is a warning.” This ghastly occurrence wasn’t the first. To intimidate citizens and the law, gangs often leave dismembered corpses and severed heads in very public places to show that they mean business.
Two beheaded bodies were uncovered in Ciudad Juarez (near El Paso, Tex.), and other gangs have been known to blindfold and hood their victims before killing them. Even gorier, after a victim’s head is chopped off, the skull is either placed atop a fence post, stuffed in a garbage bag or, in one instance, rolled out onto the dance floor of a crowded discotheque. It doesn’t stop there. Other types of torture include beatings, pulling teeth, chopping off arms and legs, strangulation, or wrapping people in duct tape and dumping them along a highway.
To combat this carnage, Mexican President Felipe Calderon dispatched 30,000 federal troops into those areas most plagued by the cartels. One of the major problems, however, is that many of the police officers have either been bribed, deal drugs themselves, or have been recruited into the gangs via the promise of big money. The gangs even post flyers for ex-army veterans, and one—the deadly Los Zetas—is comprised of Mexican military “special forces” soldiers who learned their death squad skills at the infamous School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga.
Undaunted by Mexico’s corrupt law enforcement officials, anywhere from 1,600 to 2,500 drug murders have already taken place this year. The violence is so rampant that security consultant George Friedman has called it “psychological warfare.” He added, “The drug gangs want to demonstrate a sense of overwhelming power, and the killings, the threats, the messages are a very public demonstration of what they are capable of.”
One gang, referring to itself as “The Squadron of Death,” is posting hit-list videos on YouTube. Another has taken to hanging banners in town squares with the names of police officers they plan on exterminating. To date, over 450 government officials and policemen have been killed in 2008, including mayors, federal lawmakers, and a consumer protection advocate. One police station was machine gunned and bombed with grenades. The attackers were well-prepared, garbed in body armor, camouflage military uniforms, and sporting AK-47 rifles.
In addition, the drug cartels have established training camps in which inductees learn the latest brutalization techniques. In Juarez, police located a mass grave holding at least 36 bodies, along with numerous severed heads, arms, and torsos. Also on the rise are the serial killing and sexual abuse of women across the country.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (R-Tex.) says dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in Mexico. “There are 60 missing Americans today in the Nuevo Laredo area, and there has not been a single arrest or prosecution,” he said. Those who have been recovered tell of being held hostage in metal cages by masked men. Daniel Escobedo was recently driving across the border from El Paso, when armed men performed a carjacking, then beat, shocked, and burned him while negotiating a ransom. Some kidnappers have demanded upwards of $300,000 from families for the return of loved ones. In Phoenix, Detective Reuben Gonzales reports they “investigated more than 350 kidnappings last year, a 40 percent increase.”
Despite the urgency of this violent situation, the Bush administration has characteristically done little, if anything, to warn Americans of the danger, including issuing travel alerts.
Mexico has become a war zone, and if the NAFTA Superhighway ever becomes a reality, the blood will wash across into this nation at an even more alarming rate. As Government Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino stated that the drug cartels “have a clear objective to intimidate, frighten, paralyze society, and with that, force the federal government to retreat.” In light of this grisly war being waged so close to home, allowing southern U.S. borders to remain open is treason.
(Issue # 28 & 29, July 14 & 21, 2008)