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Column 081114 Brewer

Monday, August 11, 2014

Misguided Strategies versus Barbarities South of the Border

By Jerry Brewer

In an uncomfortably deluded process of knee-jerk responses, imbued with what continues to appear as a misconceived and often unreasonable set of priorities, Mexico and the northern triangle nations of Central America remain under seize by a myriad of transnational organized criminal networks.

U.S. border security has not been immune from these reflexive actions and the dynamic environmental events that require timely and proactive responses to aggressive external criminal stimuli.

A good general paradigm for strategic action against violent criminal insurgent-like    behavior is assessing threats through competent perception, thought, and action.

Regardless of how one chooses to characterize the massive death, turmoil and inhumanity that has permeated the aforementioned regions for nearly a decade, the process has been a slow, methodical and organized global insurgency of what could easily be described as revolutionary ideology.

The evil axes of terror constructionists have cleverly exploited a terroristic behavior overlap.  This overlap via fragmented elements and modus operandi of domestic and transnational criminals, to political, and with not so clearly defined narco-insurgency and related agendas.

The progressive expansion of terror and extremism throughout the hemisphere to the borders of the U.S. are more than simply fear campaigns.  The guerrilla tactics, sophisticated weaponry, unpredictable attacks, and technical expertise and organization of the insurgents have caused thousands of deaths and injuries, as well as misery.

The irony of the narcotics scourge alone is how the massive accrued wealth of the narco-terrorist’s hierarchy is at the expense of the citizenry and the victims, as nations in the path must struggle with the overwhelming massive resources needed to defend their homelands.  They remain under siege.

The U.S. also continues to be stymied by indecision, inaction, and confusion on durable border security plans that include the fluid criminal movement that has long passed through the borders and rooted in cities throughout the U.S.

Many organized and non-organized criminal element’s raison d'être now does not necessarily include elements of the narcotics trafficking trade.  Although one could argue “revenue” as a tool to perform and expand, human trafficking, assassination, weapons proliferation, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and related organized theft that includes white-collar financial frauds and schemes, provide the financial grease for the wheels for continued criminal movement.

In Latin America, criminal street gangs are elements that have evolved as not only tools of the narcotics trade, but also as merchants of crime du jour.  Too, many of these gang members, as well as many former military conscript soldiers, have been recruited throughout the Americas for their particular expertise.

We must see and anticipate, from all this death and destruction, that the safety and security of free democracies in the region necessitate a sound intelligence infrastructure to conduct better threat assessments and anticipate attacks on national sovereignty by criminals, terror elements, rogue state security services, and others looking to disrupt free government as the miscreants have clearly demonstrated.

Former U.S. drug czar General Barry McCaffrey said, in 2008: "This is the most alarming situation I’ve seen in Mexico in 15 years. Our own interests are at stake. We must stand with these people; they’re literally fighting for their lives."  And to this, retired Colonel Jennifer L. Hesterman asked in her 2013 book, The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups, Are the Mexican cartels a U.S. national security risk, or have we overblown the threat?”

More directly, in 2009 General Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, surprised many when he stated: ‘‘Escalating violence along the U.S.-Mexico border will pose the second greatest threat to U.S. security this year, second only to al Qaeda."

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government is currently promulgating historic energy reforms, and homeland security in Mexico remains a pivotal factor to ensuring the success of those and other reforms. Furthermore, Mexico's government is under substantial pressure to achieve victories in its current security strategies; other than excellent military efforts against drug organizational hierarchies.  Yet statistics reveal increasing homicides, kidnappings, and extortion rates that call for strong strategic focus and attention to policing infrastructure and strong professional development.

Honduras is continuing its hardline efforts against organized crime via its military, and Guatemala has given a greater role to its military – this due to the power, weaponry, and tactics being used against them.  However, where these nations are failing – besides a lack of competent policing infrastructure – is bowing to calls for drug decriminalization.

These nations are facing incredible numbers of deaths, from a myriad of crime sources that have virtual impunity.

And crimes against women are especially heinous.  An independent United Nations expert stated that, “incidents of violence against women appear to be on the rise, with an increase of 263.4 per cent in the number of violent deaths of women between 2005 and 2013.”  Rashida Manjoo also reported that, “there is a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes.”

It is believed that trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation purposes is also under-reported in Honduras due to the prevalence of organized crime.

Collaborative security partnerships throughout these regions are necessary and critical, and the work must go well beyond the traditional focus on drug issues. Fragile political, judicial systems and structural weaknesses in governance must be overcome to effectively combat the well-financed and heavily armed criminal threats.

The same mistakes and lack of decision must not continue. These are clearly national security issues.

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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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