Monday, October 15, 2012
Enhancing Border Security is
a Challenge in the Americas
It is a profound statement to claim that border
security throughout the Americas, the Western Hemisphere, does not effectively exist. Yet it is, in fact, a sobering correct
The hemisphere is an environment of ever-involving risks that
continue to be manifest in thousands of record setting violent deaths, and transnational organized criminal insurgencies.
The ferocity knows no borders.
The United States is not exempt
from this scourge, albeit the death toll has eluded matching similarities. Although the wealth of the U.S., and its strength
in capable law enforcement institutions, is fundamentally inherent, critical challenges exist that seriously impact safety
and pose risks to many.
Further south, the domino effect for Mexico's
border security failures with Guatemala, and Guatemala's with Honduras, filters as far south as Brazil. Last week, Brazil
sent 7,500 troops to its borders with Bolivia and Peru "to combat criminal operations."
All of this cancer-like criminal insurgency is a recipe for further disaster.
Border patrols and security strategies must remain focused on the appropriate and meticulous attention and proper
allocation of available resources for both short and long term goals. There must be a viable border strategy that consistently
addresses evolving border threats and aggressively challenges the weaknesses.
Lessons learned, investing in proven technology, and joint integrated engagements against transnational organized
crime are collectively productive strategies. Appropriate intelligence sharing plays a necessary coordinating tool that allows
a strategic and fluid process of unified efforts against a common enemy that routinely crosses borders.
An effective border strategy will be one that is properly assessed to meet security and safety
needs, and to adequately determine system requirements to sustain secure regions or the allocated span of control desired.
This strategy must be able to provide coverage to the type of terrain and geographical topography of the border jurisdictional
Many of the northern cone nations of Central America could benefit
immensely with the acquisition of advanced security technologies as to pipelines and chokepoints to and from drug producing
nations, to illicit demand users, and the massive profits from currency flowing back in payments. As well, huge profits make
crime a hybrid with organized crime gangsters using terror strategies and tactics to threaten, coerce and control, as actual
terrorists could use the means of organized crime to endure.
of the Central American nations have begun to see what took Mexico a significant amount of time to understand -- that the
violence and murder with impunity were not all about cartel versus cartel and rival wars for drug routes, but too out and
out acts of terror to instil fear and establish control over the citizenry. As did Mexico, they have witnessed violent, barbaric
and sadistic rituals of torture and murder by transnational organized criminals that traffic in drugs and humans, murder migrants,
control land, bribe or murder officials, and destroy any form of the rule of law as they terrorize nations. And too, as in
Mexico, the military became their only effective tool with which to fight back.
In order to establish a framework for understanding the threats and dangers -- including terrorism -- nations in
harm's way must cope with today, all concerned with border security south of the U.S. boundary face a serious dilemma
when it comes to having a ready policing infrastructure. For example, in Honduras government officials recently announced
that some 4,000 police officers would be fired as part of President Porfirio Lobo's effort to purge the National Police
of members believed to have ties to organized crime.
Many Latin American
countries have often turned to their militaries that are considered to be less susceptible to corruption than police forces.
Moreover, the police within too many of these nations are not properly trained, equipped or prepared to face such well-armed
Nations within the hemisphere must also move quickly
to identify and secure security gaps to prevent narcotics from reaching borders through the source and transit zones of the
Caribbean and eastern Pacific. These strategies must also continue to increase ability to intercept aircraft attempting to
cross over borders, and also control land routes.
While operating in
the source and transit zones, integrating new technologies into missions is an essential part of managing risk on the borders
and increasing operational effectiveness and responsiveness. Innovative maritime readiness continues to be a critical
necessity to augment land and air interdiction, as well as intelligence collection. Integrated fixed towers and other mobile
surveillance systems, especially between ports of entry, serve to deter and interdict illegal entries and allow effective
response. Obviously, continuous surveillance is a critical capability needed to establish and maintain proactive border security.
The use of biometric identifiers must also become a necessary and objective measurement of
physical characteristics of individuals that can be used to verify the identity and prior entries and/or activities of individuals
The diversity of transnational organized criminals as trafficking
groups or territorial bands becomes somewhat irrelevant as to control of geographical areas or fluid contraband movements.
Border security and threat prevention are unequivocally strategic, as is proactive border management for sovereign nations
that must aggressively enforce the rule of law for their people.
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/.