Archive for the 'U.S. Border Patrol' Category



Changes In Mexican Border Strategy

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 6 months ago

From Tucson Sentinel:

EL PASO – Border Patrol agents might soon switch from sitting in trucks along the U.S.-Mexico border to helping traffic move more efficiently on the international bridges in this Texas city.

This scenario comes from the idea of Border Patrol agents collaborating with other government agencies.

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher in May announced a strategy to fight transnational crimes and drugs, support Homeland Security efforts and aid U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

One possible outcome might be reassigning Border Patrol agents to Customs border crossings to reduce the long wait.

“Currently Customs and Border Protection needs all of the staffing help that they can get – in particular at our ports of entry,” said El Paso City Representative Steve Ortega in an email.

As Border Patrol agents apprehend fewer undocumented people each year, its mission as an agency with resources focused on deterring and apprehending undocumented crossers is being reconsidered.

Currently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel in the El Paso area of responsibility are apprehending and removing more undocumented people through the Secure Communities Program, employment raids and by catching crossers at major ports of entry than the Border Patrol, according to Border Patrol and ICE enforcement and removal figures.

That is why the Border Patrol 2012-2016 Strategic Plan calls for redirecting its agents’ efforts toward relieving congestion and waits at the ports of entry, as well as combating terrorism and transnational crime.

By the close of fiscal year 2011, the typical Border Patrol agent working from Texas to California was apprehending 17.7 undocumented people a year, from a high of 352.2 “illegal alien apprehensions” per agent in 1993. In comparison, the numbers fell even more for agents in the El Paso Sector, from a high of 470 apprehensions per agent in 1993 to only 3.8 apprehensions by 2011.

More agents at entry checkpoints would be a relief for some people of El Paso.

“People would cross to go to work, or to go to restaurants and enjoy the nightlife.  They would cross to see family and they would cross to engage in trade. It used to be pretty easy to cross and it’s gotten more and more difficult,” said border journalist Louie Gilot.

Gilot is the publisher of Newspaper Tree, a nonprofit online news organization in El Paso. Previously, she covered immigration issues as a reporter for the El Paso Times.

For those who cross the border back and forth as part of their daily lives, long waits are too time consuming.

“There used to be no lines when you were going on foot and now there is. I have spent an hour on foot,” Gilot said.

Analysis & Commentary

The reason for the decrease in border apprehensions is more complex than simply painting a picture of success.  The story being peddled here is that border security is improved to the point that the border patrol can now focus on making cross border traffic even easier and more efficient.  The truth is that illegal border traffic is becoming more knowledgeable and efficient, the border patrol (and DHS) is under-reporting “got-aways,” and “soft metrics” are making things look better than they really are.

The U.S. has operational control over only 13% of the Mexican border, regardless of the stories peddled in the media.  This change in strategy has nothing whatsoever to do with being able to focus on efficiency because of improved border security.  It is part of a larger push for more trans-border traffic which has been in the works for some time.

U.S. and Mexican officials are meeting today as a first effort to decide where new border crossings and connecting roads may be necessary, reports HispanicBusiness.com.

At the first Border Master Plan meeting today at the University of Texas at El Paso, representatives will begin identifying future projects, along with project priorities and timelines.

Objectives will also include increasing understanding of the planning process and designing a process that ensures participation from everyone involved in the port of entry projects.

“All sorts of transportation projects and issues will be discussed,” Bob Kaufman, a spokesman for Texas Department of Transportation, told the website. “It will be a binational, multi-government agency meeting. There will be federal, state and local officials that have responsibilities for transportation. The end result will be a list of transportation infrastructure priorities.”

Representatives from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, City of El Paso, the Texas Department of Transportation and the New Mexico Department of Transportation will also be present at the meeting, in addition to U.S. and Mexican federal officials.

“The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative,” said Roy Gilyard, El Paso’s MPO executive director. “California has a plan and so does Laredo.”

Just to make sure that you understand what is happening, read that last paragraph again: “The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative.”  Nothing is happenstance or happening by accident.  It’s all part of a larger plan to make the border less significant, make it easier to cross, and raise cross-border shipments of goods and products, especially with Mexican truck drivers.

But take note that ignoring the border (or pretending that is is secure) has its consequences.  The Mexican cartels have the capability to seize control over large geographical areas with great ease.  There is the influence of cartel corruption in New Mexico, and Mexican drug gangs control parts of Arizona.  The cartels have become adept at extreme brutality, but these organizations [previously] “settled matters with a bullet in the head. Not anymore … Now there is a psychopathology at work. Some of these people obviously enjoy this, and they are teaching their surrogates, teenagers, to enjoy it.”

Due to the facts that there are no arming orders for the National Guard troops on the border (causing the troops simply to perform clerical duties), misapplication of the rule of law to these troops (i.e., Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner), and confusion about the Posse Comitatus Act (i.e., the belief that it applies to border security caused by foreign threats), the law enforcement battle (fought with law enforcement officers, and not enough of them doing the right things) has been substantially lost at the border.

This criminal insurgency crosses the border with as much ease as illegal immigrants, and the lack of border security is as much of a cause of the diminution of U.S. sovereignty and security as it is the increased cost of insurance, health care and other costs associated with illegal immigration and the influx of low skilled workers.

The new strategy at the border isn’t without planning and forethought.  It just isn’t the planning and forethought that one might have guessed would attend issues of national security.  It has more to do with trade, facilitating transcontinental traffic, and enforcing the idea that the United States is an idea rather than a place.

Prior:

Border Lies And What National Guard Troops Do

The Border Is Not Secure

Stability Operations In Mexico

The Texas Border Coalition On Border Security

Losing The Border War

Threat Assessment: Transnational Jihadists and Mexican Cartels

Legalization Of Drugs Won’t End The Border War

Border War

Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Stability Operations In Mexico

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

The Mexican military has retooled, adapted and retrained to conduct stability operations within its own borders.

Woe is the diplomat who uses the wrong word, no matter its veracity. Over the past year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal separately have used the word “insurgency” to describe the Mexican government’s fight against indigenous criminal cartels.

Maybe it comes too easily after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Mexico the word stirs cultural memories of heroic freedom fighters-not exactly the message that the government wants to convey-and drew cries of outrage from Mexico City, resulting in diplomatic retractions from U.S. officials.

I have called the cartel and gang violence both warlord-ism and an insurgency.  But of course, I have no romantic notion of insurgents as freedom fighters.  The insurgents in South America throughout the last quarter of the last century were mainly communists.  They weren’t fighting for anyone’s freedom from anything.  But since South and Central America is steeped in Marxist thinking, and thus conflates freedom with revolution, Mexico City became outraged.  Mexico City might prefer to think of them only as criminals, but at least they seem to be reacting to the problem with the correct tools.

Still, insurgency or no, one thing is for certain: The cartels present a serious, multifaceted, and increasingly well-trained and well-armed challenge to the state, but Mexico is reconfiguring its armed forces to meet the challenge.

Frequently outgunned and sometimes corrupted, entire police forces have been sacked and their duties assumed by the Mexican military in recent years. In December 2011, the entire Veracruz police force was fired, with the 800 officers replaced by 2,400 marines. The military has taken over policing in other places, such as Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Leon and the border state of Tamaulipas.

At the same time, according to analysts, there also has been a real shift in the training and equipping of the military to meet the cartel threat. The army’s training doctrine has been realigned to address stability operations, doing things like setting up checkpoints and working to implement law and order in towns that have been overrun by violence. “They’re conducting stability operations in areas the size of Belgium,” says Inigo Guevara, a consultant on Mexican security and defense issues based in Washington. In one effort to rebuild its presence in the north, the armed service recently spent about $100 million to buy battalion- and company-sized “mobile headquarters” that can be easily constructed and taken down, in preparation for longer-term domestic stability operations, he adds.

Yet, these operations occur against an increasingly sophisticated enemy, with heavily armored “infantry” carriers dubbed “Los Monstruos” (the Monsters) by the Mexican media, as well as more professional infantry tactics refined at training camps in the barren spaces of northern Guatemala and southern Mexico. Cartel gangs are armed with everything from assault rifles and crew-served weapons, to military-grade explosives, .50 caliber rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as using insurgent weapons like car bombs.

As a result, the army and marines have started to look for alternatives to the older, thin-skinned Humvees-Mexico has produced several thousand in local plants in a deal with AM General-and toward a variety of new armored vehicles like Oshkosh’s SandCat, of which 250 have been delivered so far. The navy also has conducted operational testing of Renault’s Sherpa light scout vehicle, most notably in operations in Veracruz late last year, but has not made a final decision on whether to buy it.

This is reminiscent of the need for MRAPs due to the IED threat in Iraq.  Note that Mexico isn’t relying on the police to curb the violence.  Mexico City has enlisted the assistance of the military in a big way, and the military is purchasing weapons and equipment needed for fighting large scale, violent, and highly effective insurgencies.

Aviation Week continues into the weeds concerning equipment, organization of the Mexican military, and various problems they sustain due to inefficiency in structure.  But continuing with this theme of warlord-ism, and insurgents, if we’ve learned nothing else from the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we understand the need to control the borders, even if we didn’t effect that control.

The Arizona legislature might just act in lieu of the federal government to control their own section of the border.

The Republican-led Arizona Legislature is considering a bill to fund an armed, volunteer state militia to respond to emergencies and patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gov. Jan Brewer could deploy the volunteers using $1.9 million included in the bill making its way through the state Senate. The militia itself was created by a law signed by Brewer last year.

The Arizona Republic reports the bill has a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 1083 has already passed one committee along mostly party lines. It would provide $500,000 in one-time funding and $1.4 million a year from a gang task force fund.

The state is expecting a budget surplus this year, but lawmakers must deal with long-term debt and the May 2013 expiration of the 1-cent-per-dollar sales-tax increase, so it is unclear how much support this bill will receive.

“Something has to be done about the situation at the border — people are being terrorized,” Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Snowflake who is sponsoring the bill, told The Republic. “There are plenty of ex-law-enforcement officers who could do this. I don’t have any illusion that we can solve our border problem, but this would help.”

Former LEOs or not, they would be operating under rules that apply to everyone, i.e., deadly force can only be used in the case of imminent danger to life or sexual assault.  It isn’t clear that they would even have arrest authority.

What I have recommended is that the rules for the use of force be amended to move away from the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner.  This has also been termed “exempting the Border Patrol from the rule of law,” but I have recommended that the U.S. Marines be used to patrol the Southern border.

The rules of warfare are clear.

The law pertaining to the conduct of hostilities (jus in bello), which has developed since antiquity and includes certain provisions of the modern Geneva and Hague conventions, permits the sanctioned killing of an opponent in an armed conflict, regardless of whether he is armed at the moment he is engaged. So long as the opponent meets the minimum criteria to be regarded as a combatant (even an unlawful combatant), he may be engaged with deadly force, even if he is separated from his weapon. He may be killed while sleeping, eating, taking a shower, cleaning his weapon, meditating, or standing on his head. It is his status as an enemy combatant, not his activity at the moment of engagement, which is dispositive.

So the following situation is posed to help the reader understand how serious he or she is concerning security on the border.  You are a border patrol officer, or a U.S. Marine, and you have charge of border security in your area of operations.  A string of what appears to be several dozen illegal immigrants is heading across the border (and is now on the U.S. side of the border), as you have ascertained using night vision.

In the front and bringing up the rear are two individuals, each toting what appears to be an AK-47, but what is most surely a weapon.  No one has fired any shots towards you at this point.  Is it morally justified to shoot and kill the individuals holding the weapons?  This is a different question that is it currently legal.

Border War

BY Herschel Smith
3 years ago

We have previously discussed the adoption of military style tactics, techniques and procedures by the Mexican cartels, the increasing corruption of the U.S. border patrol, and the recruitment of large numbers of High Schoolers by the cartels.  After observing that the use of the National Guard is problematic for a number of reasons (including the lack of training, the lack of appropriate rules for the use of force, etc.), I 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.

We now know that gang members are being recruited by the cartels to do street-level jobs, and the loss of border security has wreaked ecological disaster.

“I have learned to live with trash,” said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton.

He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated — and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies.

Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor.

“I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash.”

Chilton saw southern Arizona not as the headline-grabbing political flashpoint of the Justice Department’s failed “Fast and Furious” guns-to-smugglers tracking project, but as the land-grabbing opportunism of Obama’s resource management agencies and, sadly, the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to secure that bloody line separating the United States from Mexico.

The land-grabbing chapter of the trash story has gone largely unnoticed, but surfaced last year when the Bureau of Land Management proposed to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument — and in large swaths of other public lands as well.

The reason? Monument manager Richard Hanson claimed shooters were leaving trash at the shooting sites, an outrageously trumped up excuse, but Hanson’s claim couldn’t be refuted at the time.

The BLM had closed 400,000 acres of publicly owned, national monument lands across three states to recreational shooting activities in 2010, labeling recreational shooting as a resource-harming activity and a public safety threat.

That was a clear signal showing that the SDNM move was just another step in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s obnoxious “lock-it-up-and-kick-’em-out” plans that have drawn the ire of Congress.

If it seems that the administration is taking an un-serious view of border security (intentionally conflating the trash left by illegals with shooters), then this report shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they’re hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed.

A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the GOP-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.

While the cartels develop intricate intelligence networks and adopt military style tactics, the U.S. prohibits access to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management due to EPA regulations, and blames trash at the border on shooters.  It’s no wonder that insurgents have gone hunting at the border – not hunting for animal game, but human game.

Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

Commenter Scott Wilson recommends the following:

They should take the 7th Army (and the Ghost of Patton), and all its subordinate units, and move it lock, stock & barrel to Del Rio, TX. They can then patrol the banks of the Rio Grande with Bradley’s, Apaches & Cobras. Then, let’s see how much success these border insurgents, armed with the semi-auto AKs have against that.

Germany has the strongest economy in Europe. It can afford to defend itself from Russian aggression. If it can’t, then we have PLENTY of military contractors that can sell them the weapons that they need. Europe needs to stand on its own. Our resources need to be protecting our borders, not Germany’s.

This sentiment is certainly in line with my own, but unfortunately, roving the border with Bradley Fighting Vehicles won’t work.  This requires combat outposts and Marines (or Soldiers) on foot patrol.  Infantry – not mechanized infantry – is the order of the day.

But it will require more than that.  As long as we continue to treat the border as a law enforcement endeavor, with agents subject to rules such as those outlined in the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner, with criminals imprisoned or sent back to Mexico to try it all again, we will continue to lose the war at the border.  Imprisonment of drug traffickers and illegals won’t work any more than prisons work in counterinsurgency.  Prisons are a costly ruse.

Make no mistake about it.  This isn’t a war against drugs, or a war against the drug cartels, or a war against illegal immigration, or even a war against human trafficking or Hezbollah fighters entering the U.S. at the Southern border.  This is a war for national sovereignty – a border war.

Law enforcement cannot do the job when people are afraid to call them for fear of retribution and are being told to wear body armor to work out in their own fields.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A border war.  Only when we militarize the border with combat outposts and shoot all trespassers will we even begin to wage the war on the enemy’s terms.  In spite of claims that the Posse Comitatus Act applies, this war is against non-U.S. citizens, and it is a fight for the survival of what defines America.  Presidents in both parties have seen America as an idea rather than a location with secure borders.

If America is an idea and the Southern border is to be just an imaginary line, then we have already lost.  If America deserves defending, then we must do what is both uncomfortable and necessary to effect its security.

Prior on Border War: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Prior Featured: Analysis of Brief For The U.S. In Opposition to Sean Masciandaro

Massive Corruption in the U.S. Border Patrol?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 3 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?


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