Monday, September 18, 2006

The Reality of a Mexican Mega-Cartel

Will the gang wars in Nuevo Laredo and beyond result in creation of a single, $50 billion per year criminal organization that controls all smuggling into the United States across our southern border?

That's the premise of a new e-book by reporter Sam Logan, whose writing on the Latin American drug wars I recently cited in these two posts. The book is titled "The Reality of a Mexican Mega Cartel." Here's the description:
Mexican organized crime has become known around the world as the source of smuggling into the United States. The various factions that battle over control of the busiest border crossings into the United States are extremely adept at smuggling drugs, chemicals, humans, or just about anything across the border to the north. They smuggle weapons and bulk money back south. From the Tijuana-San Diego crossing to the Matamoros-Brownsville crossing, the Mexico-U.S. border is more porous now than ever before. As Mexico’s organized criminal factions fight over control of the border, it is inevitable that one gang will rise to the top. When this happens, the US-Mexico border, already a soft-under belly will be controlled by one Mega-Cartel with the potential to earn over 50 billion dollars a year. It is a reality that is not far off in Mexico’s future and very well could emerge during the term of Mexico’s next president, Felipe Calderon the hand-picked successor of out-going president Vicente Fox.
Here's a sampling from one of Logan's recent reports describing how the cartels facilitate not only drugs flowing north across the US-Mexico border, but also money and guns flowing south:
Over 10,000 cargo trucks pass through Nuevo Laredo on their way to Interstate 35 and cities throughout the US. Another 10,000 vehicles cross the border daily, totaling over 20,000 vehicle-crossings a day. At such high volumes, it is impossible for US customs to stop, search, and process every vehicle. It is inevitable that drugs, humans, guns, and other contraband cross the border daily. At the same time, it is economically destructive to close the border crossing even for a day. The Nuevo Laredo-Laredo border crossing is a smuggler's paradise.

The turf battle between El Chapo Guzman and his jailed rival Osiel Cardenas Guillen has resulted in the death of US citizens, Mexican journalists, and dozens of Mexican policemen, criminals, and innocent civilians. Murder rates are inconclusive, but according to conservative estimates, Nuevo Laredo saw some 80 drug-related murders in both 2003 and 2004. In 2005, there were 182 drug-related murders. As of April this year, there have been over 80 drug-related murders there.

Other estimates claim that some 1,500 people died in organized crime-related violence in Mexico from early 2003 to June 2005.

Due to constant demand for cocaine, heroine, methamphetamines, ecstasy, and other drugs, the Mexican criminal enterprise earns over US$50 billion a year. A considerable amount of this money makes its way back to Colombia to purchase pure cocaine and heroin. Millions of dollars a year land in the hands of policemen, intelligence agents, mayors, port masters, pilots, and many other officials who face the infamous "plata o plomo" decision.

Mexican organized crime spends millions to purchase weapons and munitions. Every year, authorities trace between 5,000 and 7,000 guns from when they are seized in Mexico back to sources in the US. According to J.J. Ballesteros, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Chief in Corpus Christi, Texas, this number represents "a drop in the bucket". Ballesteros admits that criminals can literally outfit an army from one gun store, "and it's being done", he said. The most popular guns are the AR-15, AK-47, and Tec-9 pistol.

Check out his new e-book for more. Logan's reporting on these subjects enjoys few peers, and I intend to buy and read his new offering. I appreciate him emailing to tell me about it.

1 comment:

Richard Grabman said...

Welll... if folks on this side of the border are so worried about it, then they can stop buying drugs. Nobody's forcing them to buy half the world's narcotics.