Archive for the 'Mexican Cartels' Category



Mexican Cartels Are Warlords and Insurgents

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 1 month ago

But a State Department official doesn’t think so.

A State Department official resisted pressure from congressmen to call Mexican drug cartels “terrorist” or “insurgent” organizations during a Oct. 4 joint hearing of subcommittees from House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security.

“I agree with virtually all of the suggestions that the facts are consistent with the label [terrorist group],” said William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

But so labeling Mexican drug cartels could have unknown implications, Brownfield said. “What does it give us that is more than we already have?” he asked.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland subcommittee on oversight, investigations and management, contended that the designation would “provide additional authorities to help Mr. Calderón win this war,” referring to Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

Mexican ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan suggested in a April 11 Dallas Morning News letter to the editor that a consequence of calling the cartels terrorist would be “to start calling drug consumers in the U.S. ‘financiers of terrorist organizations.’”

But the degree of psychological [un]appeal of a conclusion is no excuse for not completing the syllogism.   This is logic 101.  As to what would be accomplished were we to treat the Mexican cartels as warlords and insurgents as I have recommended, we could unleash the U.S. military and unshackle their efforts from the constraints of the SCOTUS decision in Tennessee v. Garner.  As for decriminalizing drugs as a solution, I continue to claim that it is a Potemkin solution.  Further, it isn’t legitimate to discuss this issue unless and until the legal and political framework is in place where I am not required to pay for the food, housing, medical care or any other cost associated with drug users.  Reconstruct this framework and we’ll talk.  Until then, as long as my tax dollars go to support half of the country (and could support more if drugs are legalized), I have the right to say how they live.  You can’t have partial libertarianism.  It’s all or nothing.  Continuing with the report:

“Our interest is less in the semantics, less in the label but what the label implies operationally for us. And for us we find that the law enforcement tools that we have are best-suited for the job,” said Mariko Silver, acting assistant secretary within the Homeland Security Department office of international affairs.

“I believe our authorities, our federal narcotic laws are sufficient to address the trafficking problem that exists now,” said Rodney Benson, Drug Enforcement Administration chief of intelligence.

Thus is Rodney Benson an idiot.  No one goes on record saying that everything is just fine and all the tools necessary to secure the border and fight crime are available.  Some people want to legalize drugs, some people (me) want to treat this as a war (no, not with some ridiculous “war on drugs” slogan, but a real war against warlords and insurgents, killing the bad guys with robust rules of engagement), and some want to increase law enforcement assets.  But no one says that every thing is fine.  Except for Rodney Benson, who thinks that everything is just fine, and who is an idiot.

Prior: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Border Security and Potemkin Solutions

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 1 month ago

Dan Riehl conveys a report on one of Governor Rick Perry’s solutions to the war at the border.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said on Saturday that as president, he would consider sending American troops into Mexico to help defeat drug cartels and improve border security. He indicated that any such action would be done “in concert” with the Mexican government.

“It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their network,” Mr. Perry said during a campaign appearance here.

Dan observes that:

As I suspect there’s little to no support across America for deploying troops to Mexico under any circumstances – and it would likely never happen in the first place – it was, in a word, dumb to even bring it up. Pssst, Rick, if you have to cross the border to deal with a problem, maybe the border IS the problem to stay focused upon if you’re running for President of a, you know, sovereign nation? Imagine that. Suggesting sending troops into Mexico only reinforces the idea of a reluctance, or inability to deal with the core issue – sealing the border. It may even be somewhat honest on his part. But it’s simply not good politics. Perry may not only be in Texas right now. But if this keeps up, he will be and will remain there after 2012.-

I suspect that Dan is right and there is no stomach for sending troops of any kind into Mexico.  I have advocated some variant of what Perry is suggesting, although it’s difficult to know exactly what he is suggesting since he has given no detail.  In Texas Border Security: A Strategic Assessment (and also previously) my advocacy has included (but has not been restricted to) the following:

  1. Searching every vehicle that crosses the border checkpoints.
  2. Increased sting and undercover operations by law enforcement to root out corruption.
  3. Sending the U.S. Marines to the border to (a) construct and occupy combat outposts and observations posts, (b) conduct regular foot patrols of the border, and (c) be allowed (by the U.S.) to cross the border if necessary to chase Mexican insurgents.
  4. Taking Congressional action to remove legal requirements such as the SCOTUS decision in Tennessee v. Garner, thus allowing the Marines to conduct combat operations at the border rather than law enforcement operations.
  5. U.S. Special Operations Forces raids against Mexican cartel high value targets inside of Mexico (with or without the permission of the Mexican government, unilaterally, and without Mexican involvement).

Several military and former military friends and contacts have weighed in with me recently with the view that the gravest national security risk faced by America today comes from South of the border, not Pakistan or Yemen.  I have recommended treating this as a war against warlords and insurgents rather than a law enforcement operation, and my sense of things is that the American public, even if they don’t support sending U.S. troops into Mexico in companion operations with Mexican troops, support some sort of militarization of the border.

For the American public, however, it always seems a legitimate solution to send the National Guard to the border.  We tried this, and because of lack of training, the application of Tennessee v. Garner to their operations, arming orders that focus on prevention of incidents, misunderstanding of the Posse Comitatus Act and why it doesn’t really apply to border troops, and host of other problematic bureaucratic entanglements, a National Guard outpost was overrun by Mexican fighters partly because the troops didn’t even have weapons.

Sending National Guard troops to the border is a Potemkin solution as we have previously demonstrated.  But military operations alongside Mexican troops – as Perry has suggested – will be equally ineffective while the border isn’t secure.  There is absolutely no replacement for securing the border, regardless of how the solution might be dressed and served up.

Another Potemkin solution is given to us by Terry Goddard, Attorney General of Arizona (lengthy quote).

As the Attorney General of Arizona, I have been part of law enforcement on the southwestern border for most of the past decade. My office confronted border crime on an almost daily basis. From that view, it is clear that much of the “secure the border” debate is nonsense. Again and again, symbols trump reality, misinformation buries the truth. Programs like building a bigger border wall or enlisting police in the local enforcement of immigration laws are sold as ways to make the border more secure. They will not. In the latter instance, the “cure” could actually make the crime problem worse. Equally misguided is the idea that a force buildup alone can keep the border secure in the face of increasingly sophisticated smuggling organizations—the cartels.

Since improved border security is a common denominator in the immigration debate, both sides should be anxious to know what actually works. This paper is based on the assumption that sincere parties on both sides want to go beyond the rhetoric and the symbols. I believe a more effective border defense is possible, but not on the present course. Not by the Administration’s defense-only buildup of Border Patrol and National Guard on the border, and not by the huge investment in bricks and mortar or the quasi-military responses proposed by the Administration’s critics.

A more effective border strategy starts with the money; the torrent of cash pouring across the border into the cartel pocketbooks. Cartels are, first and foremost, business enterprises.  Sophisticated cartel organizations are formed not for any lust for power or to employ the bosses’ relatives, but because they maximize profits. Cartel agents do not threaten, terrorize, and kill because they love the work, or out of religious zeal. They do it because they are very well-paid. So, go after the money. Taking away the profit cripples the organization. Conversely, as long as the money from drug sales and human smuggling—which may total more than $40 billion a year—flows to the cartels, the violence in Mexico, the sophisticated smugglers crossing our border, and the perception that nothing is being done to defend the border will continue.

We can also do a much better job of taking the fight directly to the drug cartels using the full arsenal of law-enforcement methods. We can significantly reduce the number of illegal crossers and the amounts of illegal drugs smuggled, as well as the violence in Mexico. The answers are straightforward; the mystery is why they have not been taken up long ago.

Read all of his report.  We should indeed use all tools at our disposal, including freezing assets and other tools mentioned by Goddard.  But this notion that “force alone” cannot secure the border is juvenile, and similar to the population-centric counterinsurgency mantra that “you cannot kill your way to victory.”  Of course you can, and of course force can make the border secure.  And of course the involvement of local law enforcement can help federal efforts (if such efforts exist at all).

It strikes me as silly and and stolid to suggest that something we have never tried won’t work.  It also strikes me as silly and stolid that Perry’s advisers haven’t to this date informed him that he cannot score the nomination while holding his current views of immigration and the border.  Finally, it strikes me as particularly dangerous for the American voting public not to be informed enough to know when a recommendation (such as sending National Guard troops to the border, or going after cartel assets to the exclusion of all other efforts, including border security) is a Potemkin solution.  It’s the sovereignty and security of America that is at stake.

Prior: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 2 months ago

Two very important individuals in the military (and now consulting) community, Barry McCaffrey and Robert Scales, have penned a much-anticipated study entitled Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment.

The state on the ground in the war with the Mexican cartels is remarkable.  We’ve already discussed how the Mexican cartels have adopted military-style tactics, techniques and procedures.

Mexican drug cartels are using military weapons and tactics while also recruiting Texas teenagers to carry out their operations, which are evolving into full-blown criminal enterprises, experts said.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said last week in a report given to Congress that the cartels “incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.”

There is apparently massive corruption in the U.S. border patrol, and the Mexican cartels have law enforcement officials at the local, state and national levels on their payroll.  In order to combat the smuggling operations across the Rio Grande, Texas is creating a marine division.  The reach of the cartels goes into the High Schools in Texas where they are recruiting children for cartel work.

McCaffrey and Scales add to the bleak picture by showing how the cartel strategy has changed from control through locations South of the border to control via operations at least one county deep into Texas, and they discuss the increased criminalization and violence associated with the cartels.  The bleak picture dovetails with an assessment by Robert Bunker at Small Wars Journal.

Ten years after the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda, the United States has reached a pivotal strategic decision point in our national policies. Are we to continue with our national security policy of focusing on that terrorist entity (and its group of networks) as the dominant threat to the US and the homeland or will the Mexican cartels (and their supporting gang networks) now be recognized as replacing Al Qaeda as the number one threat to our government and safety of our citizens? While the violence potentials of Al Qaeda are universally recognized— we will never forget the thousands of our dead mourned after 9/11— the violence associated with the criminal insurgent potentials of the Mexican cartels and their ability to corrupt and undermine governments in the Western Hemisphere must now be considered far more threatening to our nation.

The cartels’ influence expands to thousands of U.S. cities and communities, and there are on the order of 18,000 cartels members or associated workers in Texas alone.  The ability to intimidate and corrupt is unmatched in U.S. history – there is no national analogue to which the U.S. can refer to combat this menace.

The task for McCaffrey and Scales is big, and the bar set high.  As for their recommendations?  They sweep across a range of options, coordinated relationships, and increased efficiency in law enforcement.  Counterintelligence and sting operations are of course important, as is rapid response capabilities and increased manpower.

McCaffrey and Scales do recommend the involvement of state troops (i.e., National Guard), but all efforts in this program are seen as led by Texas Rangers.  It is fundamentally a civilian-led operation.  Perhaps this focus is in deference to the Posse Comitatus Act (Section 1385, Title 18 U.S.C.), but it isn’t at all clear that U.S. troops should be forbidden or even could be forbidden from participating in border security under this act.

Furthermore, McCaffrey and Scales have a problem with their recommendation to use National Guard under the current circumstances.  Recall that in Arizona, a National Guard-manned post was attacked and overrun by cartel fighters.  Immediately after this, the following assessment was proffered.

Unfortunately, I must report that “Armed does not always mean “armed” as most Americans would understand. There are various states of being “armed.” These are called “Arming Orders (AO)” which define where the weapon “is,” where the magazine “is,” where the bullets “are” and where the bayonet “is.” They start at Arming Order One which could best be described as a “show of force” or “window dressing” in the worse case.

After considerable searching, I was able to find a complete copy of the Memorundum of Understanding/Rules of Engagement pertaining to the National Guard Deployment (“Operation Jump Start”), which I could then review.

After reviewing the MOU/ROE, I contacted several senior “in the loop” National Guard Officers that I have previously served with, to determine how many soldiers would be “armed” and their Arming Order number. After confirming The El Paso Times article that “very few soldiers there would carry weapons,” I was advised that during the next 90 days, amongst the few soldiers that have weapons, no soldier will have an Arming Order greater than AO-1, which means that an M-16 will be on the shoulder, there will be no magazine in the weapon (thats where the bullets come from), and the magazines stored inside the “ammunition pouch” will in most cases have no ammunition, they will be empty.

It was also conveyed to myself that in the unlikely event that a soldier is ever harmed on the border, the Arming Order will not be raised. Every individual I spoke to envisions no circumstance where there will ever be soldiers at AO-3/4, where a magazine with ammunition would be immediately available. Instead the soldiers will simply be kept farther away from the border if needed. They will be deliberately kept out of harms way.

I know you are thinking (maybe screaming), “but Why?” The easy public relations answer is that a soldier could kill someone. The National Guard is going to ensure that there is not a repeat of the incident in which Esequiel Hernández was killed by a US Marine along the Border.

There are also numerous regulations pertaining to weapons. There is a requirement that a soldier must qualify with his weapon on an annual basis. Reasonably, you must be “qualified” with your weapon before you may carry a weapon. However, ranges for weapons qualification are extremely limited. National Guard soldiers normally perform their once a year required qualification when they go to Annual Training at Ft. Stewart, Ft. McCoy…… This year they are going to “the border” and unless there is a “regulation M-16 qualification range” down the road, they will not be able to get qualified. There is also the question of weapon storage and how do you prevent theft.

Even disregarding all of this, the rules for the use of force will prevent the effective use of the National Guard to accomplish border security.  That is, unless something drastically changes.

I have recommended that we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border.  I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).

While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work.  All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow.  Every other option is mere window dressing.

While McCaffrey and Scales have done a service in their outline of the scope and magnitude of the problem, their recommendations are, needless to say, underwhelming.  They kick the can down the road, and the road only becomes more dangerous with time and distance.  Above it was said that there is no national analogue to the menace at the border.  The only analogue to this problem is the most recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The problem has exceeded the ability of law enforcement to cope.

Taxpayer Dollars Used To Purchase Weapons for Mexican Cartels

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 2 months ago

From David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh writing at Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars we learn how Operation Gunwalker (or Fast and Furious) was no botched sting operation.

In a letter dated June 1, 2010, then Phoenix ATF Group VII supervisor David Voth instructed a Federal Firearms Licensee in Arizona as follows:

Dear Sir,

Per Section 925(a)(1) of the Gun Control Act (GCA) exempts law enforcement agencies from the transportation, shipment, receipt, or importation controls of the GCA when firearms are to be used for the official business of the agency.

Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62×39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson. These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of the performance of his official duties. In addition, Special Agent Dodson has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. If you have any questions, you may contact me at telephone number 602-605-6501.

Sincerely,

(Signature)
David Voth
ATF Group Supervisor
Phoenix Group VII

In the lower left-hand margin of the one-page letter is the hand-written notation:

“Picked guns
up 6/10/10
Paid Cash”

“Paid Cash” is underlined.

The existence of this letter provided to these reporters by a previously reliable source familiar with the Fast and Furious investigation, coupled with interviews of other sources across the country which put it into context, provides startling proof that the Federal government did not merely “lose track” of weapons purchased by “straw buyers” under surveillance by the ATF and destined for the Mexican drug cartels. In an undercover operation ordered by Fast and Furious supervisor David Voth, the U.S. government purchased firearms with taxpayer money from licensed firearms dealers, instructed them to conduct the sales “off the books,” and used an ATF agent, John Dodson, to deliver them directly to people that Dodson believed were conducting them across the border.

They go further to discuss how Dodson was almost surely set up to keep him from becoming a whistle-blower for the illegal operation.  This isn’t news.  But what is certainly news is how the news treated this revelation.  Bob Owens followed up this story with analysis of his own, and then remarks concerning a Fox News article on the same subject in one of the comments:

Fox News pretty much lifted their article part and parcel from Codrea and Vanderboegh, and should be considered plagiarists. No link to either of their sites, and Sispsey Street was only mentioned in passing; the Examiner not at all.

David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh have been out front on this scandal ever since it broke.  In fact, they helped to break it.  Their contacts beat any other in the main stream media.  Yet as Owens notes, there isn’t even a single link to Sipsey Street Irregulars or Examiner.  The failure properly to source simply propagates, with The Daily Mail sourcing Fox News.

For a period of time Matt Drudge had a link to the Fox News article as his headline.  This, my friends, is stolen traffic.  Fox News stole the content investigated and written by Codrea and Vanderboegh and posted it as their own.

This is shameful in professional journalism.  Fox News owes David and Mike an apology and explanation.

One final note concerns the explanation by Voth of how the Gun Control Act allowed exemption from its stipulations for LEOs.  One commenter remarks at Owens’ post:

Using agency funds (taxpayers’ money) to buy the weapons to be transferred to the cartels means that the operation has, prima facie, violated U.S. Code Title 18, Part 1, chap. 96, section 1960-61, defining the use of federal funds to illegally obtain and/or transfer controlled substances and/or items to unauthorized third parties.

To do this within the law (as in a drug transaction) requires a bench warrant from a state or federal court. The buying or selling has to be done in a controlled manner, the item(s) must never be out of law enforcement control (meaning they at least must be tracked), and they cannot cross state lines or national boundaries without proper notification of authorities on the “receiving end”.

“Fast & Furious” and “Gunwalker” have, on the face of it, violated all of the above provisions.

The argument that the exemptions were intended to allow the trafficking of weapons across national borders is ridiculous in the superlative.  Of course, this won’t fly anywhere, not in court or even with the court of public opinion.  Also note how Voth failed to mention the Arms Export Control Act.

Massive Corruption in the U.S. Border Patrol?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 2 months ago

From UPI:

Two former law enforcement officers say their allegations of Mexican cartels corrupting U.S. law officers and politicians have brought no investigations.

The El Paso Times reports Greg Gonzales, a retired Dona Ana County sheriff’s deputy, and Wesley Dutton, a rancher and former New Mexico state livestock investigator, said their whistle-blowing led to threats against them and retaliation.

The Times said both had been confidential sources for the FBI in El Paso and assisted with an 18-month investigation.

They said the FBI dropped them after “big names” on the U.S. side of the border were revealed in drug investigations. Dutton said an FBI official who had worked in El Paso sent a memo to area law enforcement agencies urging them not to talk to or have anything to do with him or Gonzales.

FBI Special Agent Michael Martinez said the FBI cannot comment on former or current relationships with confidential sources.

“I lost my job for a security company at the federal courthouse in Las Cruces because I would not keep my mouth shut, and someone threatened me by holding a knife to my throat,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales and Dutton say one or both of them had helped with federal investigations, including one that led to the arrest of a special agent, convicted of weapons-related charges after a weapon he sold was found at the scene of a Chihuahua firefight between Mexican soldiers and drug traffickers.

Dutton said he had told the FBI street gangs working for the Juarez cartel had put a hit out on an FBI special agent.

Gonzales and Dutton said they have contacted lawmakers and the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch about the lack of investigations.

Analysis & Commentary

This report is very involved and complicated; see the El Paso Times for a more detailed report.  Both the U.S. Border Patrol and the FBI are buried neck deep in this sordid affair.  On a related note, there is currently a jailed U.S. Border Patrol agent who is in prison for drug running activities and assisting the Mexican cartels.  His report is extremely self-serving, and no exoneration is possible for his crimes regardless of how hard he tries.  So his report must be tempered by the fact that he is apparently attempting to “explain and justify” his actions.  Exaggeration might be present in his report.  Nonetheless, his report is chilling reading.

A corrupt U.S. border agent sitting in a federal prison cell is offering a chilling view of the Mexican drug cartels whose drug shipments he protected for years in return for hefty bribes.

He is so terrified of the cartel’s famous vicious streak that he fears for his own life — and the lives of his family — if he is identified as speaking to ABC News. He depicts a dangerously paranoid crime organization that has spies throughout U.S. law enforcement …

“In my opinion they have unlimited power..they have informants of all kinds, good and bad,” he said. “They have informants in the city level, county level and, from what they claim, federal” …

In a disturbing trend, new figures show 122 current or former U.S. federal agents and employees of the Customs and Border Protection agency have been arrested or indicted for corruption since October 2004. It’s not just for money, some agents are accepting payment from the cartels in the form of sexual favors.

Just last week, a police officer, a state trooper and three TSA officers in Florida and Connecticut were among 20 arrested for allegedly running an interstate drug ring. “

Corruption in some doesn’t mean corruption in all, and sweeping judgments can be overstated.  But when cartel violence, largesse and corruption have begun to reach into U.S. law enforcement in a significant way, it’s time for not only a comprehensive agency wide investigation (the Border Patrol and the FBI included), but probably a good house cleaning as well.  These kinds of problems cannot be allowed to fester.  Corruption breeds corruption.  Unfortunately, in the wake of the Holder leadership and Operation Fast and Furious, no one can entrust such an investigation to the Justice Department.  If not them, then who?

Obama Allows Mexican Police To Violate U.S. Sovereignty

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 months ago

From St. Louis Today:

President Barack Obama’s administration has expanded its role in Mexico’s fight against organized crime by allowing the Mexican police to stage cross-border drug raids from inside the United States, according to senior administration and military officials.

Mexican commandos have discreetly traveled to the U.S., assembled at designated areas and dispatched helicopter missions back across the border aimed at suspected drug traffickers. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration provides logistical support on the U.S. side of the border, officials said, arranging staging areas and sharing intelligence that helps guide Mexico’s decisions about targets and tactics.

Officials said these so-called boomerang operations were intended to evade the surveillance — and corrupting influences — of the criminal organizations that closely monitor the movements of security forces inside Mexico. And they said the efforts were meant to provide settings with tight security for U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officers to collaborate in their pursuit of criminals who operate on both sides of the border.

Former U.S. law enforcement officials who were once posted in Mexico described the boomerang operations as a new take on an old strategy that was briefly used in the late 1990s when the DEA helped Mexico crack down on the Tijuana Cartel by letting the specially vetted Mexican police to stage operations out of Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

Recall that I recommended combined and even unilateral military operations against the cartels by U.S. forces.  Do you reckon that Mr. Obama bargained for unilateral U.S. operations against the cartels?  Or perhaps was it just a one-way agreement?  Which is most likely?

CIA Operatives Engaged in War on Mexican Cartels

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 months ago

From The New York Times:

The United States is expanding its role in Mexico’s bloody fight against drug trafficking organizations, sending new  C.I.A. operatives and retired military personnel to the country and considering plans to deploy private security contractors in hopes of  turning around a multibillion-dollar effort that so far has shown few results.

In recent weeks, small numbers of C.I.A. operatives and American civilian military employees have been posted at a Mexican military base, where, for the first time, security officials from both countries work side by side in collecting information about drug cartels and helping plan operations. Officials are also looking into embedding a team of American contractors inside a specially vetted Mexican counternarcotics police unit.

Officials on both sides of the border say the new efforts have been devised to get around Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating on its soil, and to prevent advanced American surveillance technology from falling under the control of Mexican security agencies with long histories of corruption.

“A sea change has occurred over the past years in how effective Mexico and U.S. intelligence exchanges have become,” said Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. “It is underpinned by the understanding that transnational organized crime can only be successfully confronted by working hand in hand, and that the outcome is as simple as it is compelling:  we will together succeed or together fail.”

Robert Haddick writing for Foreign Policy observes:

Policymakers responsible for the U.S. assistance effort in Mexico seem to be applying some lessons learned during America’s decade of war. The intelligence analysis centers the U.S. contractors are now setting up in Mexico are innovations developed by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and elsewhere. As described by General Stanley McChrystal in an essay he wrote for Foreign Policy, the centers are deliberately located down at the tactical level and gather collectors and analysts across intelligence agencies together in one room. The goal is to improve collaboration and more rapidly respond to incoming information and adversary activity. A decade of practical experience across the globe has refined this concept, which the United States is now exporting to Mexico.

We’ve heard this before – this notion of shared organic intelligence assets, different perspectives from different agencies working in concert and in real time, the employment of electronic assets and signals intelligence combined with on the spot analysis, all being used by real operators on the ground who know more about their enemies than they know about themselves – and it has become folklore that General McChrystal and his special operators hitting high value targets put an end to the insurgency in Iraq.  It’s a narrative that I reject, and it isn’t born out of good historiography.  It’s just myth that high value target hits won the campaign in Iraq.

Forecast: We shouldn’t oppose high value target hits in the war on the cartels, since they seem to operate with a more centralized focus than classical insurgencies (which tend more towards swarm theory).   But this will not itself end the cartels, or even hold their growth and the increase in terror in abatement.  This will prove to be a failed effort if it is the only point of impact in the campaign.

The tools exist to seal the border (Marines deployed to combat outposts on the border, with loosened rules for the use of force, conducting daily patrols and combining their efforts with force multipliers such as drones, increased numbers of border agents and comprehensive searches of all vehicles crossing the border, etc.).  The question is will they ever be put to use, and this is a direct function of the will to win the campaign against the cartels?

Was The CIA Behind Operation Fast And Furious?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 months ago

Robert Farago has a hard hitting report at The Washington Times.

Why did the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) let criminals buy firearms, smuggle them across the Mexican border and deliver them into the hands of vicious drug cartels? The ATF claims it launched its now-disgraced Operation Fast and Furious in 2009 to catch the “big fish.” Fast and Furious was designed to stem the “Iron River” flowing from American gun stores into the cartels’ arsenals. The bureau says it allowed gun smuggling so it could track the firearms and arrest the cartel members downstream. Not true.

During the course of Operation Fast and Furious, about 2,000 weapons moved from U.S. gun stores to Mexican drug cartels – exactly as intended.

In congressional testimony, William Newell, former ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Division, testified that the Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were “full partners” in Operation Fast and Furious. Mr. Newell’s list left out the most important player: the CIA. According to a CIA insider, the agency had a strong hand in creating, orchestrating and exploiting Operation Fast and Furious.

The CIA’s motive is clear enough: The U.S. government is afraid the Los Zetas drug cartel will mount a successful coup d’etat against the government of Felipe Calderon.

Founded by ex-Mexican special forces, the Zetas already control huge swaths of Mexican territory. They have the organization, arms and money needed to take over the entire country.

Former CIA pilot Robert Plumlee and former CIA operative and DEA Director Phil Jordan recently said the brutally efficient Mexican drug cartel has stockpiled thousands of weapons to disrupt and influence Mexico’s national elections in 2012. There’s a very real chance the Zetas cartel could subvert the political process completely, as it has throughout the regions it controls.

In an effort to prevent a Los Zetas takeover, Uncle Sam has gotten into bed with the rival Sinaloa cartel, which has close ties to the Mexican military. Recent court filings by former Sinaloa cartel member Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, currently in U.S. custody, reveal that the United States allowed the Sinaloas to fly a 747 cargo plane packed with cocaine into American airspace – unmolested.

The CIA made sure the trade wasn’t one-way. It persuaded the ATF to create Operation Fast and Furious – a “no strings attached” variation of the agency’s previous firearms sting. By design, the ATF operation armed the Mexican government’s preferred cartel on the street level near the American border, where the Zetas are most active.

Operation Fast and Furious may not have been the only way the CIA helped put lethal weapons into the hands of the Sinaloa cartel and its allies, but it certainly was an effective strategy. If drug thugs hadn’t murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry with an ATF- provided weapon, who knows how many thousands more guns would have crossed the U.S. border?

If Robert’s report is accurate, the list of culpability runs from the ATF to the DEA to the FBI and … now … to the CIA as perhaps the ringmaster.  One very astute commenter to one article I wrote about the Mexican cartels adopting military tactics has pressed down on me for details in my recommendation to utilize the U.S. military in response to cartel violence (as he should – I have some of the best readers on the web, and they help keep me honest).  Would I use combat outposts, would I use ex-infantry and role them into the border patrol, would I use invasive techniques, and so on.  I have been struggling mightily to craft a cogent and coherent response, while also keeping in the back of my mind that there are stipulations: Tennessee v. Garner for the use of force, the Posse Comitatus Act, the sovereignty of neighboring nations to consider, the Arms Export Control Act, etc., etc.

It seems that the CIA (and someone higher in the administration?) doesn’t care about the law as much as I do.  We’ve decided to take sides in the Mexican cartel war as a means to keep the current Mexican administration in power.  And this possibly runs to the top of the CIA, and recently confirmed defense secretary Leon Panetta.  This is just a horrible, horrible commentary on the curent U.S. administration and the lengths to which they are willing to go to skirt the law.

UPDATE #1: Agent Terry’s family has been denied crime victim status in Gun Walker case.

Coffey and others wonder if Burke has a conflict. It was his office that led Operation Fast and Furious. The operation, while executed by agents for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was managed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. Hurley drafted the response to the family’s motion. It was signed by Burke.

Congressional investigators are expected to subpoena both to appear before the House Government and Oversight Committee next month to answer questions about the flawed operation that put some 2,000 weapons in the hands of the Sinaloa cartel.

LaJeunesse goes on to speculate that Avila might have cut a deal with prosecutors that would keep him out of jail, a development that would go over especially poorly if Terry’s family was seated in the courtroom, armed with official crime victim status.  The family may also be considering a wrongful death suit against the federal government, which would involve Burke.  Victim status would pump a lot of energy into that case.

Note again.  His own family has been denied crime victim status.  With this threshold, who could have ever met the criteria, whatever it is, for crime victim?

Mexican Drug Cartels Adopting Military Tactics

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 months ago

We have discussed the notion that the Mexican cartels, rather than being simply related to drugs and drug trafficking, should be seen as warlords and insurgents.  Warfare has come to Mexico and the border states of the United States.  Their reach now goes all the way to Idaho.  But the degree of militarization of the cartels and their armies is still relatively unknown to most Americans.

Mexican drug cartels are using military weapons and tactics while also recruiting Texas teenagers to carry out their operations, which are evolving into full-blown criminal enterprises, experts said.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said last week in a report given to Congress that the cartels “incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.”

[ ... ]

“Cartel-run training camps are typically located in Mexico,” testified Zapata County Sheriff Gonzalez. “However, in 2008, law enforcement authorities discovered a training camp in South Texas that was operated by members of the Gulf cartel’s (former) enforcement arm, Los Zetas.”

The Sinaloa cartel, which is waging a bloody battle against the Carrillo Fuentes cartel for control of the Juárez-El Paso corridor, also employs a military-type approach.

According to another U.S. government document, “the Sinaloa cartel uses military-style training camps high in the Sierra-Durango mountains.”

[ ... ]

McAllen’s police chief said there is a war going on between drug-trafficking organizations. “It has taken the form of direct challenges and firefights with authorities in Mexico,” Rodriguez said. “If they, the drug trafficking organizations, were forces from another country, Mexico could be seen as being at war and not winning.”

The cartels aren’t simply drug cartels, and are now engaged in human trafficking.  This isn’t about the war on drugs.  This is about warlords and insurgents across the border in Mexico … and indeed, here in the United States.  War has come to America, and unless it is fought like a war, we will lose it, and not just in the border states.

Expansion of Mexican Drug Cartel’s Area of Influence

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

So do you think that the insurgency in Mexico, and not coincidentally, in the border states of the U.S., is related only to drugs and the war on drugs, rather than to insurgents, warlords and criminals?  Think again.

The Salvadoran single mother was hoping to support her children in the United States. Instead, gunmen from the Zeta drug cartel kidnapped her in Mexico and forced her to cook, clean and endure rapes by multiple men.

Now the survivor of this terrifying three-month ordeal is a witness for a growing group of legislators, political leaders and advocates who are calling for action against the trafficking of women in Mexico for sexual exploitation.

As organized crime and globalization have increased, Mexico has become a major destination for sex traffic, as well as a transit point and supplier of victims to the United States. Drug cartels are moving into the trade, preying on immigrant women, sometimes with the complicity of corrupt regional officials, according to diplomats and activists.

“If narcotics traffickers are caught, they go to high-security prisons, but with the trafficking of women, they have found absolute impunity,” said Rosi Orozco, a congresswoman in Mexico and sponsor of a proposed law against human trafficking.

In Mexico, thousands of women and children are forced into sex traffic every year, Orozco said, most of it involving lucrative prostitution rings.

“It is growing because of poverty, because the cartels have gotten involved and because no one tells them no,” said Teresa Ulloa, the regional director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are fighting so that their lives and their bodies are not merchandise.”

“This is an inferno of sexual exploitation for thousands and thousands of women,” President Felipe Calderon told officials in mid-July after they heard the testimony of a young survivor. “With this new law, we will all be obliged to act, and no authority can say it’s not my responsibility or turn a blind eye to the terrible crime of human trafficking.”

More laws.  The ultimate, always-ready progressive answer to crime and sin.  Except it won’t work.  Not with warlords who routinely behead their enemies and gun down women and children without so much as a blink.

And do you believe that they aren’t in central, everyman’s-town, U.S.A.?  Think again.

Many of the nation’s top lawmen have been in Idaho this week. More than 150 federal and state prosecutors are wrapping up a convention of the National District Attorneys Association in Sun Valley. And while the DAs heard from a number of speakers this week, a bit of a bombshell was dropped in an address from El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparaza.

In today’s Idaho Mountain Express, officials are quoted as saying that one of the most dangerous gangs in the Western world has made its way to Idaho. The so-called Barrio Azteca, which works with Mexican drug cartels primarily at the U.S.-Mexico border, is now present in Idaho, according to Esparaza.

And in spite of the legalization of Marijuana in California and other states, cartel business is booming.  That’s because this isn’t about the legalization of drugs.  That’s a tangential issue, and you can take whatever position you wish on that.  This is about warlord-ism South of the border, and it will ultimately affect every man, woman and child in the U.S.  No amount of silly gun tracking programs will end the insurgency.


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