Friday, July 15, 2011

'Borderline Paranoia': Did visions of 'spillover' cause pointless border shooting?

Grits has argued repeatedly that, despite the raging cartel wars south of the Rio Grande, the concept of "spillover" violence into the United States fundamentally misunderstands what's happening at the border. Yes, there have been examples of drug loads dumped into the river following high-speed chases, and even one or two shootouts across the river as US law enforcement pursues escaping smugglers. But as a practical matter, the real "spillover" violence almost all happens in the other direction, with US gangs crossing the river into Mexcio to work as hit men in the cartel wars, murdering hundreds if not thousands in Juarez and elsewhere.

By contrast, towns on the US side of the border - particularly El Paso, sister city to the site of Mexico's worst cartel-related blood bath - ironically boast among the lowest crime rates in the state and are far safer places to live as a practical matter than, say, Houston or Dallas. That could just be because cartel leaders are smart enough not to s%*t where they sleep: According to Steve McCraw, head of DPS and formerly the Governor's top homeland security adviser, "command and control" of feuding Mexican gangs for the most part operates on the American side of the border.

At the Texas Observer, though, Melissa del Bosque describes another type of "spillover" that crime stats don't account for ("Borderline Paranoia," July 13): The spillover of irrational paranoia that's come to surround right-wing nativist thinking about immigration and border security. Her recent blog post opened:
It was an early morning in mid-May. Norberto Velez, 55, and his son Norangel, 32, were driving through ranchland in far West Texas. They were looking for a piece of property to buy near the U.S.-Mexico border in remote Hudspeth County.

The Velezes made a wrong turn onto a road  that apparently led to private land, and were met by an armed, 52-year old rancher named Joseph Denton who yelled, “Get down. Get down! I’m going to kill you!” Denton then quickly fired a rifle several times, Norangel Velez told El Paso’s KTSM-TV after the incident. “He never said freeze, he never gave us a warning, he never came out in front of us and say what we’re doing here, just boom, boom, boom,” Norangel said. Norangel was shot once. His father, Norberto, jumped on top of his son to absorb the brunt of the gunfire. The older man suffered three gunshot wounds.
The shooter has yet to publicly explain his actions, but the victim thinks they were mistaken for illegal immigrants, though "I’ve lived here all my life,” he told a local TV station. Del Bosque concludes:
The shooting comes amid growing panic in the area about “spillover violence.” Nearby El Paso was recently named the safest city of its size in the nation. Hudspeth County has seen only one murder in recent years. Yet Sheriff West has advised ranchers in the area to arm themselves in case of spillover from the drug war raging just across the border. “You farmers, I’m telling you right now: Arm yourselves,” he said during a crowded town hall meeting last year. “It’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six, and I don’t want to see six people carrying you.” Denton may have just tested that frontier wisdom.
It's terribly sad and ironic that the main "spillover" violence seen in Texas so far results from Americans shooting Americans. And nobody seems to care about the real spillover violence from US citizens committing violence in Mexico. Stopping that should be the Number One US law enforcement priority from the local to federal levels, but giving preference to that strategy would run counter to the politically convenient if tactically simplistic "spillover" myth, which holds that we only need worry when the killing crosses the Rio Grande and that Mexican violence has nothing to do with Americans. As yet, nobody in officialdom seems willing to buck that false, counterproductive narrative. (Grits believes that providing more on-the-ground detail on the drug war would protect journalists, who are among the main American "spillover" targets to date, but that idea has yet to catch on.) Eventually politicians and their MSM enablers must move beyond culture war rhetoric and confront the grim, messy realities of border corruption and violence, at least if they want to do something about the problem instead of just grandstand and demagogue about it. Despite the massive deployment of security personnel along the border, it's not entirely clear to me that's the case.


Anonymous said...

Well if Obama wasn't sending guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels, but since he did I can say for a fact President Obama is a COP KILLER!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:17, I notice you say so anonymously. What a brave one you are! Would you prefer the Obama Administration abstained from running sting operations? There's always a risk in such matters something will go wrong. Despite the bungled result, I was actually glad to learn they were looking to trace guns upstream - for years they've been satisfied with arresting mules and pretending they're accomplishing something.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you move to one of the towns on the border and find out for yourself? I bet if you visit with some folks who live down there (not in El Paso) you might get a different version of what spillover means.

The only way to stop that violence would to invade the northern part of that cesspool of corruption known as Mexico and impose martial law.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, 12:09. I don't think most people in this country have any appreciation for how bad the problem of spillover cartel violence is becoming. El Paso is hardly a good example due to the large contingent of local, state and federal law enforcement officials in or near that community. In the more remote areas along the border downstream, it's becoming the Wild, Wild West all over again!

Anonymous said...

Facts is what is needed and anonymous @ 10:17 and Grits you both need them. I am not trying to be argumentative I just think we need to look at the facts.

Fact: Fast and Furious started under Pres. GW Bush, was adopted and intensified under Pres. Obama however we don't know factually if Obama authorized letting guns walk. Fast forward the program and now it's also operational under the name Gun Walker.

What's clear: We have two dead LE officers from Border Patrol and ICE and hundreds if not thousands of dead Mexicans by 2000 weapons that were 'walked' into Mexico. Sen. Grassley and Issa have held initial hearings and BATF agents spoke clearly under oath that they were told they could not arrest straw purchasers of these weapons which then 'walked' into Mexico. We further find out this was coordinated by BATFE and DOJ and while gun dealers constantly told BATFE of these straw purchasers they were told to allow them purchase the weapons, this is proven by written communications and even video.

We also know that AG Holder has attempted to cover up when he knew about the program and it appears that this will eventually lead to the White House but it's not a fact as of yet.

There is now questions being asked by Florida Congressman Bilirakis inquiring if weapons were provided to Honduras and gang MS13 under Operation Castaway.

This story overall story is HUGE and in my opinion it is bigger than Iran-Contra, Watergate, etc. In order to inform yourselves more about this subject I would recommend reading David Codreas website along with Mike Vanderboegh website Sipsey Stret Irregulars as they originally broke this whole story along with

Anonymous said...

Only when we have a secure border along with legalized marijuana will this country be safe.

BTW using El Paso as an example of the lack of spill-over violence just proves the point of what is needed on the border. El Paso is home to thousands of ICE and BP agents, State Police and Local Police. It is also home to JOIC (joint operations information center) and other law enforcement centers. The only reason El Paso is safe is due to these thousands of officers.

The same can not be said for towns east of El Paso espcially the valley communities were river crossings occur as frequently as cars going through the drive through window at McDonalds.

However the left wing media and politicians do not want to publish the facts of just how much dope and illegals cross our border everyday. While the right wingers of big buisness want cheap labor.

I find it funny and upsetting at the sametime how this Country can put people on the moon, win the Cold War, and defeat every other nation on Earth, but it can not and will not secure it's own Border.

Just like the Roman Empire could not secure its border we too will fall if we do not secure ours.

Second Generation LEO

PS: Keep up the good work Grits, while we do not agree all the time I do find you blog very interesting.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"The only reason El Paso is safe is due to these thousands of officers."

2nd Generation LEO, then why is Laredo safe? or Del Rio? All the way down the river, the border region is safer than other parts of the state.

Anonymous said...

I don't really think the spill over is what everyone thinks it is.

The real "spill over" is the fact that millions of people come across the border who have a fundamental misunderstanding of United States law and culture.

No, it is not okay to sleep with girls that are younger than 15 here.

No, it is not okay to beat your wife into submission.

No, it is not okay to solve your differences with a stabbing.

No, it is not okay to drink until you can't walk and then get into your vehicle and drive.

No, it is not okay to get into an accident and flee the scene.

All of these things appear to be culturally ingrained in Mexican society. Oddly enough, Anglo settlers performed plenty of these "offenses" just one hundred short years ago (substitute vehicle with horse and carriage). However we gave up our medieval ways.... said...

National Geographic ran a show on how Pheonix has ONE drug related kidnapping everyday! Most of the victims are innocent relatives of people and drug smugglers according to Nat Geo. It's so bad that Pheonix has a crime dept to handle just these types of cases.

How can you say that people are over reacting?

Gritsforbreakfast said..., the numbers from Phoenix are bogus and have been debunked. The statistics were inflated by including hundreds of cases that shouldn't have been labeled kidnappings. See here. From that source, quoting an officer who at one point called Phoenix the nation's "Kidnapping Capital":

"Statistics continually are shifted and moved around to meet agendas and perpetuate the idea that kidnappings and home invasions required a huge police response with millions of dollars in federal grant money," he wrote in his August 2009 memo to Marquita Beene, an investigator in the city's Equal Opportunity Department. "This, in spite of the fact that the number of 'operational' kidnappings have drastically decreased and the organized home invasion crews seemed to be few and far between."

8:12, again, if what you say is true, why do Texas border regions with (proportionally) the most Mexican nationals have less crime than the rest of the state?

Anonymous said...

what are the latest developments on this case?