Monday, March 22, 2010
'Spillover' Violence ranges beyond the U.S.-Mexico Border
By Jerry Brewer
As the knee jerk and handwringing
starts with officials pondering the continued graphic violence in Mexico, the geographic analysis of the spillover into the
U.S. demands much more centralized direction than simply sugarcoating the obvious effects.
One of the curious signs of government
rhetoric has been in the attempts to define the new phenomenon known as “spillover.” The interagency community, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),
defines the spillover violence as follows:
entails deliberate, planned attacks by the cartels on U.S. assets, including civilian, military, or law enforcement officials,
innocent U.S. citizens, or physical institutions such as government buildings, consulates, or businesses. This definition
does not include trafficker on trafficker violence, whether perpetrated in Mexico or the U.S.”
A generic, well-manicured and
spoon-fed explanation of spillover makes it extremely difficult to swallow, whether we are actually being spilled on, saturated,
or could expect flood stages. The U.S. at bare minimum deserves a better threat
assessment by at least accurately standardizing the true measurement process.
Drug violence and murder with
impunity is what it is, regardless of where it takes place. Are we so na´ve as
to believe that the 2,000 mile USA/Mexico border is the dividing line where transnational drug traffickers check their manners,
respect the locals, and simply go after the competition?
While government officials
in Mexico have been quick to describe a figure of 90% of murders in Mexico targeting members of drug trafficking organizations
(DTOs), the numbers morally fail the test of humanity.
In fairness, the recent
targeted assassinations of three people tied to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez are an exception, albeit DTOs are suspected
of the hits. Far more incidents demonstrate the ritualistic murder style of these
brazen murderers that go far beyond the retaliation mentality. In late January,
13 high school and college students were killed by gunmen. It is believed that
approximately 500 women were murdered in the state of Chihuahua since the late 1980s.
Who are those attributed to?
Much of the U.S. violence
from DTOs is rationalized away as essentially being confined to the border areas where drug production links up with smuggling. In fact, in 2006 it was reported that the Tucson (Arizona) Sector of the U.S. Border
Patrol had reported "more than a hundred" attacks against Border Patrol agents along the border by "paramilitary-looking attackers." It was further reported that the narcoterrorists had placed bounties on the lives
of U.S. law enforcement officers.
The ritual slaughter of
police, government officials and media representatives by DTOs within Mexico is, by definition, out-and-out terrorism. UN Security Council Resolution 1566 delineates terrorism as "… criminal acts,
including against civilians, committed with the … purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or [other]
persons, intimidate a population or compel a government … to do or abstain from doing any act….”
The U.S. memory must not fade
from prior murderous events on U.S. soil by DTOs. In 2005 a report in Dallas,
Texas described “execution-style murders, burned bodies and outright mayhem.”
Phoenix’s huge kidnapping rate has also been linked to human smuggling operations. Narcoterrorists have been blamed for killings in many other U.S. cities, including Birmingham, Alabama
and Atlanta, Georgia, as well as for operations in at least 230 U.S. cities. Those
are just the hub networks, with expansion dispersed from urban, suburban, and rural areas to cover supply efforts to meet
the demand for drugs and other contraband.
The simple fact is that DTOs
have been on U.S. soil for quite some time. They have established highly sophisticated
smuggling infrastructures within the country. And for distribution they utilize,
among others, U.S. street gangs, prison gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs. Much of this assimilation by Latin American gangs
has been from within U.S. prison walls.
As well, competition retaliation
is going far beyond routine execution. Homicide experts know the definition of
the term “overkill,” and displayed beheadings, torture, and burned bodies are just that. Moreover, it has certainly been disturbing to hear U.S. Border Patrol agents report that they were not prepared
to fight an enemy "this sophisticated and well armed.”
The U.S. threat dilemma,
having gone unchecked without viable attention and strategies, or simply due to misdiagnosing or ignoring the symptoms of
this plague and the need to interdict the narcoterrorism threat, has graphically worsened due to associated violent street
gangs in major metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles.
The "mega cartel" is continuing to merge as many rival factions fuse together in a unified effort of superior power
There are an estimated 100,000
gang members in greater Los Angeles alone. Perhaps our “spillover”
is a little out of check.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm
headquartered in Miami, Florida. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.