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Column 112612 Brewer

Monday, November 26, 2012

Needed: A New Focus on US-Mexico Border Area Crime and Drugs

By Jerry Brewer

From its inception, the term "drug war" has gone from a decades old cliché of saving us from ourselves, to what is now a battered moniker of perceived failure and frustration that is widely misunderstood.

Many of the protagonists of the drug war profanity posture stem from a general lack of comprehensive analysis of the intricate issues involving threat assessment and conflict resolution. Yes, billions of dollars have been spent in drug interdiction, and yes drugs appear to be more prevalent than ever -- and in a myriad of ever-increasing mind altering highs and body numbing flavors.

Will an actual war on drugs ever be truly won?

The first step in resolving the conflict resides in understanding that the US drug demand is enormous and not declining. The illicit drug market (demand) is estimated to be at least $US64 billion. The second stage of thought in this hedonistic demand conundrum is recognizing that drug use is escalating exponentially throughout the hemisphere.

Within the context of a necessary shift in strategic and proactive enforcement, mental acuity must be directed to the reasons Mexico, Central and South American nations are experiencing some of the highest homicide rates in the world.

The answer is transnational organized crime.

The controversial but popular thought processes and opinions on legalizing drugs appear to be in contrast to those in actually understanding the true business of organized crime, which is essentially massive illicit profits, regardless of the contraband commodity or sources. A popular quick retort, lacking sufficient research on the drug scourge and its misery, is "just legalize [and] tax it and the traffickers will be out of business."

The situational astute thought process realizes that although some drug(s) could be legalized, a myriad of others would not. Regardless, there would be a continued worldwide illicit demand for narcotics contraband that would theoretically always push the envelope of medical tolerance and human safety medical limits. 

Apart from the war on drugs itself, which is somewhat unfairly attributed to all the massive death and carnage throughout Mexico and Latin America, are the highly and financially lucrative crimes of organized criminal activity (much as a supplement to drug trafficking) in kidnapping/extortion, human/sex trafficking, robbery, murder for hire, and related acts of violence and human rights abuses. As well, the smuggling of illegal migrants from many nations continues.

In focusing on Mexico (and it pertains to many areas of Central and South America), the years of nebulous haze have hidden the true homeland security deficiencies that have brought a nation to what some say is near failed state status -- an absence of the rule of law, and/or the inherent inability to successfully confront an enemy, control their movements, and arrest and convict with cases resulting in extended incarceration.

Mexico and its contiguous northern neighbor, which is of course the United States, must focus on interdicting transnational organized crime in all its forms and contexts along the shared border of nearly 2,000 miles. Border fences and/or walls that are in place, and those planned, have shown major weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Sophisticated tunnels (some simple) to go under; ladders to climb over; catapults on the Mexican side to toss contraband; cranes; car carrier bridges to allow vehicles to drive over the fences; and even ultra-light aircraft to buzz over the walls to drop contraband are sobering messages that securing a homeland is much more than artificial barriers of little significance to criminal traffickers.

Border ports of entry and checkpoint locations continue to face significant numbers of altered vehicle/truck compartments and contraband stash locations for people, drugs and other illicit commodities.

Moreover, the navies of Mexico and the US, plus the US Coast Guard, face maritime submersibles or semisubmersibles traveling north, vessels with sophisticated parasitic containers (torpedo-like) attached to their undersides, and the so-called go-fast boats.

Due certainly to the illegal air and maritime smuggling, the need for protecting the US-Mexico border also calls for technical military expertise and support to law enforcement.

Not unlike a formidable military enemy that is heavily armed and also kills with impunity, US/Mexico border security is a continuously evolving process. It is a bold enemy that must be interdicted with enhanced air and ground electronic security measures, as well as surveillance aircraft. The US cannot simply keep adding people in mass numbers to compensate for what a fence or wall will not do and never could.

Geographical quadrants or operational zones must be strategically mapped, much like traditional police patrol zones, and staffed for sufficient response to realistic distances for calls of spotted activity. Special units or task forces made up of numerous policing jurisdictions should be utilized for more complex and tactical operations -- many that result from the collection and dissemination of intelligence.

And, all these efforts require meticulous honorable supervision and coordination to be successful, and to eliminate waste in personnel, time and money. Enforcing the rule of law in Mexico, and on both sides of the border with the US, must take precedence even beyond drug seizures.


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

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