Mexico Must Take Control of Nuevo Laredo
By Jerry Brewer
The massive death toll and extreme violence in the
city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico is a horrendous war that knows no boundaries. The
murder of two more police chiefs in cities between Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo last week must be a wakeup call for proactive
attention by Mexican authorities.
The importance of this Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, Texas
corridor for traffickers must be incredibly obvious by now. Not even the Mexican
media is safe. Forget about walling this violence in and fencing it out, for
it is a beast of epidemic proportions bursting on both sides of our border. We
must remember that the voracious drug habit of US$26 billion is on our side of the Rio Grande, although we hate to be reminded
of this fact. The demand brings the supply, and the providers have a sophisticated
and highly trained core of killers carrying the load.
Texas Governor Rick Perry announced a border security
plan last year. He should be lauded for his efforts for Texas, but he may have
lacked credible intelligence and analysis information on what was to come over the many months after his announcement.
Pouring millions of dollars into what too often becomes
a bottomless pit, without strategic and innovative design, is never the answer to situations that require long-term results. Governor Perry’s assessment of local law enforcement as “on the
ground experts” fails to recognize the strategic and tactical capabilities and training that are lacking in the confrontation
with such a highly trained force of well-armed assassins.
What appears to be lacking is a statewide quality-control
process to ensure that allocated funds are used efficiently. The most common
mistake in law enforcement is simply putting money into the pot for more manpower and overtime. Manpower allocations should be scrutinized as to what those officers and officials actually do and accomplish. The overtime “band-aid” unfortunately creates a greater individual workload,
and in many cases less efficient results while also causing individual safety concerns.
In Nuevo Laredo nearly 200 people were murdered in
2005, and other victims simply vanished. The statistics for 2006 are already
mounting. What is just as appalling is that nearly 20 police officers, including
a chief of police, plus a Nuevo Laredo city councilman have been gunned down in a city of around 335,000 people. Armed violence that actually resulted in the closing of the U.S. Consulate for a brief period of time.
Omar Pimentel was selected last year as Nuevo Laredo’s
police chief, replacing Alejandro Dominguez who was killed in a hail of gunfire on his first day on the job. Pimentel brought to his new position an experienced administrative background, but a lack of initiative
to confront the inherent problems of the city.
Pimentel stated that he himself was “not looking
for bad guys to fight, nights on patrol, (or) raids” – and no crime scenes for him. “I have simply come here as a political figure for the Mayor.
The Mayor told me I was not going to get directly involved in any police matters,” he stated. Best described maybe as a common sense approach, for he is still alive and serving today.
Just as disturbing are the numbers of rose-colored
glasses being worn by officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. As an
example, soon after one of last year’s gun battles in Nuevo Laredo, in which AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket propelled
grenade launcher, and related automatic weapons were used, Mexican presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said that federal
efforts to stop the violence in Nuevo Laredo “have been successful.”
U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza may have said it best,
when he described Mexico’s “inability to police its own communities south of the border.” Too, the problems are exacerbated as Mexican drug lords are also in the United States recruiting hired
killers and transborder enforcers.
An influx of recent incursions across the border
by alleged Mexican military personnel, or look-alike paramilitary forces, appears to be fueling increasingly hostile criticism
of Mexico in the U.S., with demands for greater enforcement, walls and fences along the southern border. Yet David Aguilar, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, was quoted on January 26th as saying “the number
(of incursions) has decreased in recent years.”
As for Nuevo Laredo, it and many other border
towns must take back their streets from organized criminals. Gangsters and killers
who must be met head-on, in a strong and unified effort, for the common good, with both free nations giving each other helping
hands when needed.
Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm headquartered
in Montgomery, Alabama, is also a columnist with MexiData.info. He can be reached via e-mail