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Column 111014 Brewer

Monday, November 10, 2014

Unconventional Threats South of the Border Imperil the USA

By Jerry Brewer

Continuing uncertainty and heightened anxiety, due to threats emerging from south of the U.S. border, induce resonances of frustration and despair.  This due to the suggestions of dire implications for public safety and public health.

No one is crying wolf, for the threats are real, graphic, and create emotions of terror in many – especially to those actually south of the United States.

With Mexico in the center, bordering with Guatemala and Belize, these are areas where virtual criminal insurgency wars are being waged. Honduras and El Salvador form the next layer to the south facing the barbaric transnational violent criminal insurgency.  

For nearly a decade Mexican militarized enforcement techniques and related strategies pushed organized drug cartel insurgents across Mexico’s southern border into Guatemala and El Salvador.  With paramilitary-like armaments, these organized criminals brought escalated corruption, extortion and ruthless enforcement methods that promptly, and rather easily, penetrated key state institutions in Guatemala and El Salvador.  Their actions quickly destabilized and helped to practically transform the two nations into near lawless states. 

Moreover, Mexico was not rid of them. Many of the successful saturation sweeps by the military fragmented a number of the tightly grouped cartel soldiers within various Mexican cities, and forced them into lesser occupied regions to regroup, but unfortunately also to be reinforced.   

Part of Los Zetas early success in Guatemala was, remarkably, due to Guatemala’s government reducing its military in the 1990s by two-thirds.  Former Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said it best when he announced to reporters, “drug gangs are invading Central America.”  Some of the highest rates of murder currently exist in the northern cone nations of Central America.   

The permeable or porous nature of the border regions between Mexico and the U.S., and Mexico with Guatemala and Belize, demand an intense and focused organizational strategy for a solid and coherent plan of action in the design, development and deployment of comprehensive police/law enforcement actions, plans and infrastructure to be inherently successful.

Although citizens and pundits, as well as vociferous ideological politicians, chant “secure the border,” the sobering reality is that fixing or fastening down something so as not to give way does not apply to land boundaries or lines of delimitation.

You must be able to administer and enforce manageable sectors of a border to control it. Short of police holding hands from one point to the other, a border will not be secured. This would be similar to a police department mandated to secure a city.

Things are much more serious for the northern cone nations that today appear to be operationally dysfunctional in terms of having answers and/or the necessary resources to be proactive in meeting the monumental challenges of policing their homelands.  The fact is they are stymied by the often corrupt ingrained policies and practices of far too many, as well as indecision and mental paralyses due to the escalating violence and apparent unceasing threats.

Illegal immigrants from Central and South America now make up more than half of all illegal entrants into the U.S. via Mexico. Many from Central America fleeing their countries due to the corruption, violence and human carnage – including murder and unconscionable sexual assaults on women and children.

In El Salvador, 239 women and girls have been murdered so far this year, “about a tenth the number of men, with an additional 201 reported missing.  Through August, 361 rapes were reported, two-thirds of them against minors.

The organized crime insurgency throughout Latin America is a conglomerate of elements of drug traffickers, organized criminal syndicates, and youth gangs. The effects of this ruthless and violent crime insurgency have been measured graphically in body counts, as well as in demonstrating the abundance of weak government institutions.

There are those that don’t, or refuse to, recognize that this threat is a fluid epidemic that filters up through South America and points north, and that it is not just conducive to any specific nation. This transnational organized crime insurgency has dramatically expanded operational activities in virtually every country of Central America.

It is clearly a form of irregular warfare against government institutions, as these groups plan and do not hesitate to attack state institutions, fund candidates for public office, and bribe officials all the way up to the highest levels.  Those who cannot be bribed are often murdered and displayed graphically for affect.

There are border concerns also about Iran’s involvement in Latin America – concern that Hezbollah “maintains an operations presence” in the region.  Reports are that “Islamic extremists visit the region to proselytize, recruit, establish business venues to generate funds, and expand their radical networks.”

Border concerns for the U.S. in particular must include mass migration scenarios, as well as the ability to adapt to the diversifying acts of the criminal insurgents. Border enforcement strategies must also stay strategically focused on a myriad of transportation modes from air, maritime, rail, highway, and off-road travel. 

Mexico and the northern cone nations must continue to build on their weak rules of law and policing infrastructures to counter destabilizing effects on economic stability, democratic institutions, and weakening of governance.


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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