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Column 071414 Brewer

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Ongoing Expansion of Organized Crime in the Americas

By Jerry Brewer

Eroding the power, control and influence of violent transnational extremist organizations in this Hemisphere, over the last decade, has been at best a near total failure.

Attributable to this assessment of much more than the intense human carnage, manifested by record breaking murder rates, is the reality of near collapse of societies, instability and ineffective/ungoverned regions, and remaining vulnerable populations – demonstrated most graphically in Central America.

The world’s highest murder rates go to number one Honduras and number three El Salvador, both in Central America. Farther to the south, Venezuela holds the number two position.  And in Argentina violent deaths among youth are at a ten-year high.

Yet there are officials who blindly look south and argue that these threats are not necessarily existential, claiming that they pose no real challenge to borders or national security.

This organized crime-terror nexus has a nucleus and norm of fear, intimidation, extortion, kidnapping, murder, political tampering, and torture. The killing and capturing of journalists, police chiefs, mayors and others, plus military and government officials in these vulnerable regions, graphically demonstrates the presence of an out of control insurgency.

What is clear is that demobilizing or disarming these criminal insurgents will require a united international model, with a goal and methodology to disrupt and deny these insurgent networks operating flexibility.

This conflict is much more than just drug trafficking. Transnational organized crime is also entrenched in a myriad of competing high revenue activities that include human and sex trafficking; kidnapping/extortion; and other acts of deadly violence that essentially take from the weak and unprotected, leaving behind greater misery and broken dreams.  Equality, dignity and respect for human life do not exist under this oppressive rule, reminiscent of a dictator’s reign.

These acts are committed from Canada to the southern tip of South America, as well as the Caribbean. Displaced adults and children fleeing their homes for perceived safer neighboring borders become even greater targets along the way, to be exploited, robbed, raped, murdered, and discarded in the many clandestine graves found in Mexico and Central America. Moreover, many of those that survive are forced into the sex trade in cities throughout the region.

National security interests in all of the affected nations must include an intense focus on human rights. Functioning justice systems that include enforcement and a rule of law must prevail to secure a homeland.

Securing land borders in manageable areas, in the face of escalating undocumented, illegal and unaccompanied minor migration alone is paramount in order not to exceed the ability of a host nation to provide essential services to its own populace.

Countering transnational organized crime therefore must be an aggressive and cooperative world priority. A key component of success in criminal counterinsurgency doctrine is to cripple the infrastructure with a major focus on interdicting, seizing and decreasing the massive revenues and related finances. This must be an inherent and boldly enforced national security and defense strategy.

According to estimates, the illegal economy accounts for eight to 15 percent of world GDP.  The incredible estimates of this worldwide illicit revenue include US$32 billion annually just for trafficking in humans.

Transnational organized crime, and its seemingly endless financial resources, is the lifeblood of corrupting police, the military, government officials, business leaders and others.  Few expenses are spared to undermine the forces directed against them, as well as the ramifications of what the rule of law could do to the criminals.

Border security along the U.S.-Mexico border is far less complicated than it appears or explained in knee-jerk reactions and exhaustive diatribes, as opposed to nations to the south that lack necessary infrastructures and expertise.

The U.S. border has an invisible line in the sand that does not necessitate a “ground military” component for regional security and stability, short of an invasion to conquer the U.S.

A recent media tour and interview on the border, with Texas Governor Rick Perry, prompted the host to say that he learned so much from it “this time,” that he now believed that fences and walls were not the real answer as he felt before.

With the regrouping of similar functions and personnel, redirecting of resources, coordinating of an integrated policing strategy, deployment of all law enforcement “ground entities” that currently exist and have existed along the border and off  jurisdictionally from Texas to California, there could be strong elements for patrol saturation. This of course supplemented and supported with the limited numbers of Border Patrol officers that could be allocated strategically and proactively, as well as other elements of the military, National Guard and government that contribute as usual.

It is not always about how many people you have, but what those people actually do or are tasked to do in a coordinated team-oriented effort. Even with tight financial constraints and when operating in cut-back governing environments, the mission must be accomplished to the best of their abilities, regardless. Simply throwing government dollars at the border won’t secure it.

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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 www.cjiausa.org.

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