Monday, March 19, 2012Mexico's
War vs. Organized Crime, Goons and Savage Gangsters
It has taken many years
for the U.S. to answer a wakeup call to the Mexican border. As far back as 2005, when the sophistication of Mexican
and other transnational organized criminals graphically manifested their superior tactics and armament on the streets of Nuevo
Laredo, a nation scrambled to demand walls and fences regardless of the associated costs.
The "gang" culture of violence from Latin America had long since penetrated the U.S. border and set up
shop in many major U.S. cities. As well, these gangs had been building personnel infrastructures for years, assimilating
with U.S. prison gangs -- particularly in southwestern states and California. People were later shocked to learn that there
were well over 300,000 gang members in California alone.
While local U.S.
police jurisdictions were valiantly working to interdict gang crime activities and violence at local levels, for the most
part many remained narrowly focused on a continuing problem of illegal migrants. Other astute strategic intelligence
forecasters began to place their eyes on U.S. Border Patrol reports of being stalked along the border and mountainous regions,
shot at, and speaking of tactical and military-like strategies in cover and concealment used against them, surveillance, and
the use of radios in communication to "spot" law enforcement movements and patrols.
We would later learn that these new violent and cancer-like enemies, known as Los Zetas, were former Mexican tactical
military troops that had abandoned their ranks and quickly became enforcers contracting to another drug cartel. Many
of those subsequently recruited into their ranks had similar military specialties, such as those from the tactical Kaibiles
The evil criminal drug empire that remained in the shadows
while pumping billions of dollars in drugs into the U.S. was now looking to build and expand drug routes, eliminate competition,
and confront any police, government, or military interdiction effort head on. They needed to graphically make their
presence and strength known - and they did.
Now, seven years later, we
continue to scratch our heads, stare in bewilderment, and try to figure where to stick our finger in the dike and plug the
Reportedly more than 50,000 people have been killed due to drug
trade violence in Mexico alone since late 2006. This new culture of extreme violence goes well beyond a war on drugs.
The weary, as well as armchair quarterbacks are quick to offer easy solutions to end the massive violence and deaths. Their
options range from legalizing drugs, to leave the traffickers alone and they won't bother anyone, let them work it out
among themselves, and stop the extreme enforcement methods that are driving the violence.
The war on drugs is most definitely a war against crime. The fact is that there will always be a war to confront
murder with impunity, lawlessness, mayhem, and graphic examples of barbaric brutality. Should the aggressive crime interdiction
efforts be curtailed?
It was astonishing to recently hear, during a top
military commander's testimony before the US Senate, the claim that the targeting of drug cartel leaders "did not
have an apparent positive effect in Mexico."
U.S. Northern Command
leader General Charles Jacoby told the Senate's Armed Services Committee that Mexico had successfully killed or captured
22 out of 37 of Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers, as identified by the Mexican government -- adding that the results
had "no appreciable effect," as violence continues to escalate in Mexico.
What he failed to acknowledge is that violence has sky-rocketed in many of the nations of Central America -- some
rising to world record homicide rates.
The United Nations joined the
quick-fix pundits to urge "the withdrawal of military forces from public safety operations." A noble thought
but an impossible and unrealistic suggestion since the transnational organized criminal insurgents could easily defeat nearly
any armed enforcement action against them, with their superior firepower and web of corrupting influences via their massive
As it applies to a "drug war," much of the drug
cartels' power is now centralized in low-level decision-making, and not consolidated in hierarchy or top-down accountability
as was most prevalent before the aggressive enforcement interdiction.
fragmented nature has unleashed and relaunched traditional crime gangs in Honduras and Guatemala, and in some neighboring
nations, where gang members have stepped-up acts of murder for hire, extortion, human trafficking, kidnapping, and other violent
actions. Moreover, when it comes to drugs -- the Mara Salvatrucha gangs have been in U.S. cities since the early 1990s.
In essence, outside of a "war on drugs" there must be a war on crime in Mexico
and Central America, with appropriate law enforcement and judicial processes overhauled.
Powerful street gangs are increasingly approaching a take-the-lead posture. And a Latin American culture of violence
could experience a renaissance with these new "super-powered" street gangs.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.