U.S. officials still fail to grasp threat posed by the cartels
May 21st 2012 · 1 Comment
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill which allows the prosecution of anyone who conspires or attempts to build a tunnel under the U.S./Mexican border, used to transport large quantities of illegal drugs and human cargo into this country.
The Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012 which was sponsored by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), passed with more than 400 votes also allows for such drug tunnels to be wiretapped by U.S. law enforcement.
The bill will now move on to the Senate where it has already received large, bipartisan support.
Though it has been a federal crime since 2006, to either build or finance the construction of cross-border tunnels, many in Congress believe that new legislation was needed because the number of tunnels being discovered has dramatically increased in recent years.
In fact, since 2006, 40 such tunnels have been discovered in California with another 74 found in Arizona, according to a House Judiciary Committee report.
The technology deployed in the tunnels is also becoming increasingly sophisticated, as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official testified in 2011.
ICE Associate Director James A. Dinkins described to a Senate panel “a nearly half-mile cross-border tunnel discovered in San Diego, California on November 25, 2010. The tunnel traveled 2,200 feet at a depth of 90 feet and included shoring, electricity, ventilation, and a rail system to assist in ferrying contraband. The entrance was concealed under a hydraulic steel door in the kitchen of a Tijuana, Mexico residence. The tunnel exited into a warehouse near the Otay Mesa port of entry in California. It is estimated this tunnel took more than a year to construct at a cost of more than $1 million.”
In light of the mounting evidence that the cartels are becoming better equipped at getting their goods to market, so to speak, despite existing laws…Congress felt it needed to take further legislative action.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said of the latest measure: “This bill reaffirms our determination to bring an end to cross-border tunnels.”
However, while politicians enjoy patting themselves on the back for a tough stance on drug trafficking, these self-offered accolades and even the bills themselves truly speak to the incredibly naïve U.S. response to the threat posed by Mexico’s drug cartels.
For example, as House members were congratulating one another for passing yet another bill, Mexican authorities were still struggling to identify the remains of the 49 decapitated bodies found on a highway about 80 miles from the U.S. border.
Of course, the woefully inadequate response is nothing new.
In February 2011, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a rather laughable warning to the cartels, saying: “Don’t even think about bringing your violence and tactics across this border. You will be met by an overwhelming response.”
However, seven months earlier, Nogales, Arizona Police Chief Jeff Kirkham announced that his department had been warned by a Mexican drug cartel that his officers would be targeted for murder if they carry out another off-duty drug bust.
In June 2010, two off-duty Nogales officers riding horse back came upon a smuggling operation, which resulted in the seizure of 400 pounds of marijuana.
Chief Kirkham told reporters: “The warning was … that the officers, if they are off duty, are to look the other way and ignore any drug trafficking loads that are coming across the border, otherwise they will be targeted.”
That was only one in a series of outrageous acts taken by the cartels against the U.S., demonstrating the boldness with which they feel will go unanswered by a weak U.S. government.
-In April 2010, someone tossed an explosive device onto the grounds of the U.S. consulate in Nuevo Laredo. The bomb broke windows and caused some minor damage, but no injuries were reported.
Nuevo Laredo is just across the river from Laredo, TX.
-In March 2010, U.S. consulate employees in Juarez were murdered in targeted attacks, after leaving a child’s birthday party.
On March 13, in two separate attacks, cartel gunmen murdered two Americans attached to the U.S. consulate in Juarez.
Lesley Enriquez Redelfs, a consulate employee, along with her husband, Arthur Redelfs, a detention officer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department were gunned down on as they were leaving a child‘s birthday party. The couple was murdered after being chased-down by the hitmen. Their baby daughter who was in the backseat survived the assault.
Also shot to death in the coordinated attacks was the husband of consulate worker, Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, after the gunmen boxed-in his car. His wife, Hilda Antillon, was traveling in the car behind him was uninjured, though the couple’s two children were wounded in the attack.
The hit squads used AK-47s as well as 9mm handguns.
A member of the Mexican drug gang known as the Aztecas was later charged with the murders.
President Obama failed to respond to either the bombing of our consulate, or to the coordinated murders of U.S. consulate employees. That inaction, combined with his unwillingness to defend the border undoubtedly sent a message of weakness to the cartels, and has already resulted in the deaths of more U.S. law enforcement officers, such as U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Of course, Obama’s predecessor was equally weak on this issue. The threats began in earnest under the Bush administration, as assaults on Border Patrol agents began rising at unprecedented rates. By 2007, assaults (which include shootings) had tripled from 2001, with 987.
In 2007, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported that they had obtained a confidential Department of Homeland Security memo. The function of the document was to issue an Officer Safety alert to U.S. Border Patrol agents that human smugglers were bringing MS-13 gang members into the country for the sole purpose of murdering the agents.
The alert reads: “Unidentified Mexican alien smugglers are angry about the increased security along the U.S./Mexican border and have agreed that the best way to deal with U.S. Border Patrol agents is to hire a group of contract killers.”
A Border Patrol agent speaking on the condition of anonymity said: “It’s not just people coming over here to pick lettuce. These gang members, criminals, are endangering American lives.”
He went on: “Our vests won’t stop a rifle bullet, and many of us feel like sitting ducks.”
On August 25, 2008, federal and local law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that Mexican drug cartels are now sending hit men into the U.S.
Officer Chris Mears of the El Paso Police Department told reporters: “We received credible information that drug cartels in Mexico have given permission to hit targets on the U.S. side of the border. One of the first things we did was to notify all officers in our department of the situation.”
In July 2008, police in New Mexico and Texas received a cartel hit list, uncovered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The list contained the name of at least one New Mexico police officer.
Luna County Sheriff’s Capt. Arturo Baeza told the press: “We have been concerned for quite some time that this thing will spill over here.”
Snipers, who at one time, operated only on the Mexican side of the border, now move about freely. They fire a few shots at agents, then move to cover–only to fire again from another location. The tactics are typical of military sniper training. More than likely, the snipers are creating a diversion so that the smugglers can cross in another location. They know that the U.S. agents cannot pursue them into Mexico, and their own government is seemingly powerless to stop their activities.
In 2005, Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame said: “We believe the vast majority of these assaults are directly tied to alien and drug smugglers based in Mexico.”
Of course, with a largely unprotected border combined with a President who seems oblivious to the threat posed to American cities, it is very easy for cartel hit men to cross into the U.S.
While the seriousness of U.S. officials is up for speculation…the threat now posed to this country by the violent cartels is indisputable.
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