Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mexico - Conflict and Disorder (Part 2)

Election 2012: GOP presidential candidates, lawmakers address narco-terrorism
Bachmann's speech against drug gangs was echoed by Republican candidate Rick Perry, who said narco-terrorists represent a “clear” and “imminent” danger to the United States
Jim Kouri
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee plans to hear testimony Wednesday on the frightening Mexican drug cartels who are attempting to establish strong footholds throughout the United States.
GOP presidential candidates are speaking out against the drug cartels and transnational organized crime gangs who use extreme violence and threats at a time when the Obama Administration released its International Organized Crime Strategy.
For example, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is calling for tougher tactics against Mexican drug cartels such as Los Zetas. She stated during a campaign speech in Sioux City, Iowa, that the Obama administration should have erected a fence over the entire southern border to keep out drug smugglers and human traffickers..
“We should build a fence on every mile, every yard, every foot and every inch of that southern border because we are engaged in a narco-terrorism war,” Bachmann said. “Narcotics are coming through. Guns are coming through and also terrorists.”
Bachmann failed, however, to point out that the Obama administration canceled the “virtual fence” project which was a compromise between Republican and Democrat lawmakers that changed the original security fence for a number of security measures such as CCTV cameras and motion detectors.
That project was canceled after the Obama Homeland Security Department spent about $1 billion on
equipment that malfunctioned frequently.
Bachmann’s speech against drug gangs was echoed by Republican candidate Rick Perry, who said narco-terrorists represent a “clear” and “imminent” danger to the United States. He said the federal government should consider all its options to respond to the “threat.” Perry spoke during a conference organized by conservative groups.
“Make no mistake,” Perry said. “What we are looking at south of the border is nothing less than a war waged by these narco-terrorists. They are spreading violence in American cities and selling poison to our children.”
Perry described Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s effort to dismantle the drug cartels in his country. Calderon ordered troops to help police fight the cartels in December 2006, prompting a war that has killed tens of thousands of people including police officials, judges, soldiers, reporters and others.
Perry angered Mexican government officials in September when he proposed sending U.S. troops into Mexico to help battle the cartels if he is elected president. Perry also boasted that as the governor of Texas he appropriated about $400 million to secure his state’s border with Mexico.
According to U.S. law enforcement experts, narco-terrorism isn’t just a Mexican problem. Drug smuggling is believed to be financing the Taliban in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda, neo-Marxist revolutionaries in South America—such as Colombia’s FARC—and Islamic and Marxist militants in Southeast Asia.
Another House hearing on narco-terrorism is scheduled for Friday, October 14, by the Homeland Security subcommittee on oversight and investigations.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the subcommittee, said, “Every American needs to be aware of the threat these narco-terrorists pose to our communities in every state, and to our national security. If the White House does not heed the warning that now is the time to commit to a comprehensive strategy to secure the border, it unfortunately may take a catastrophic event to get their attention.”
Other warnings about the danger to the United States and Americans were included in a recent report on border security conducted by the state of Texas.
The report titled, “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment,” warns readers that drug cartels are trying to establish “safe houses” or “sanctuaries” from the Mexican military in border areas inside the United States.
The Texas report also claims the Mexican military’s successes against drug cartels are likely to drive more gang competition and violence into Texas.
Fast and Furious weapons were found in Mexico cartel enforcer's home
Guns illegally purchased under the ATF operation were found in April hidden in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, court records show
By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
October 8, 2011,0,6431788.story
This arsenal uncovered by police in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in April turned out to include weapons from the ATF's ill-fated Fast and Furious operation. (Associated Press)
Reporting from Washington— High-powered assault weapons illegally purchased under the ATF's Fast and Furious program in Phoenix ended up in a home belonging to the purported top Sinaloa cartel enforcer in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, whose organization was terrorizing that city with the worst violence in the Mexican drug wars.
In all, 100 assault weapons acquired under Fast and Furious were transported 350 miles from Phoenix to El Paso, making that West Texas city a central hub for gun traffickers. Forty of the weapons made it across the border and into the arsenal of Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, a feared cartel leader in Ciudad Juarez, according to federal court records and trace documents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The smugglers' tactics — quickly moving the weapons far from ATF agents in southern Arizona, where it had been assumed they would circulate — vividly demonstrate that what had been viewed as a local problem was much larger. Six other Fast and Furious guns destined for El Paso were recovered in Columbus, N.M.
Full coverage: ATF's Fast and Furious scandal,0,3828090.storygallery
"These Fast and Furious guns were going to Sinaloans, and they are killing everyone down there," said one knowledgeable U.S. government source, who asked for anonymity because of the ongoing investigations. "But that's only how many we know came through Texas. Hundreds more had to get through."
Torres Marrufo, also known as "the Jaguar," has been identified by U.S. authorities as the enforcer for Sinaloa cartel chieftain Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman. The Fast and Furious weapons were found at one of Torres Marrufo's homes April 30 when Mexican police inspected the property. It was unoccupied but "showed signs of recent activity," they said.
The basement had been converted into a gym with a wall covered with built-in mirrors. Behind the mirrors they found a hidden room with the Fast and Furious weapons and dozens more, including an antiaircraft machine gun, a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher.
"We have seized the most important cache of weapons in the history of Ciudad Juarez," Chihuahua state Gov. Cesar Duarte said at the time, though he did not know that many of the weapons came from the U.S. and Fast and Furious.
Torres Marrufo has been indicted in El Paso, but authorities have been unable to locate and arrest him.
In the U.S., intelligence officials consider the Sinaloa cartel the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world. Weekly reports from U.S. intelligence authorities to the Justice Department in the summer of 2010, at the height of Fast and Furious, warned about the proliferation of guns reaching the Sinaloa cartel.
Under Fast and Furious, begun in fall 2009, the ATF allowed illegal buyers to walk away with weapons in the hope that agents in Phoenix could track the guns and arrest cartel leaders.
Three months into the program, El Paso began to emerge as a hub, perhaps the central location, for Fast and Furious weapons. On Jan. 13, 2010, El Paso police stumbled upon 40 firearms after following a suspicious dark blue Volkswagen Jetta that backed into a garage at a local residence, according to federal court records.
Alberto Sandoval told authorities he acquired the weapons three days after they were purchased from someone he knew only as "Rudy." He said he was paid $1,000 to store the guns and "knew the firearms were going to Mexico."
Sandoval pleaded guilty in federal court in El Paso and was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. A month later, on Dec. 17, 2010, he escaped from a minimum-security prison in Tucson; officials believe he fled to Mexico.
Two others, Ivan Chavira and Edgar Ivan Galvan, were subsequently charged in that gun recovery, along with the recovery of 20 Fast and Furious weapons on April 7, 2010, in El Paso. Those guns also were discovered by chance by local authorities, and ATF trace records show that the weapons were purchased in Phoenix two weeks before they were found in El Paso.
Chavira and Galvan pleaded guilty. Chavira received eight years in prison; Galvan is to be sentenced next month.
Times staff writer Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City contributed to this report.
Also See:
Across the Border in Mexico Mexico
27 March 2010
Conflict and Disorder (Part 1)
23 January 2010
Illegal Aliens and a New American-Mexican Border
08 July 2008