Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Goin' Down to Mexico: The front lines of a "hot" drug war

I was on my way down to Mexico,
there was trouble on the rise.

It was nothing more than I'd left behind,

which was much to my surprise.

- ZZ Top, "Goin' Down to Mexico"

I suggested earlier that last week was perhaps the most eventful in memory since I've been paying closer attention drug enforcement issues on the border the last couple of years. Here are a few more details bubbling up from the front-lines of the increasingly "hot" war in Mexico targeting multinational drug smugglers:

Wave of Mexican executions, violence
More than 160 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico so far this month. At least 15 drug-related executions took place in Mexico last week in one 24-hour span.

US Attorney General promises gun crackdown
US Attorney General Michael Mukasey met Mexico City security officials and reiterated the Bush administration's promise to crack down on smuggling firearms. Earlier, Bush officials said the crackdown would focus on (currently) legal sales at gun shows.

Law enforcement under siege
The former public safety director from Juarez - El Paso's sister city across the river - was arrested in El Chuco for "possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and bribery of a public official." He was appointed head of the Juarez police in January 2007. Four more police officers were arrested in Nuevo Laredo, along with seven other alleged cartel employees, including a US citizen. In Tijuana, seventeen died in drug violence last week, while cartel thugs attempted to assassinate the new police chief.

Sinaloa cartel leader arrested
I've been wondering whether Mexico's strategy to reduce violence was to take out the Sinaloa cartel's opposition and leave them in charge of drug smuggling, but this news complicates that theory, or perhaps dismisses it: the arrest of a key Sinaloa cartel smuggling figure yesterday as part of an Army sweep in that state's capital. Texas Congressman Brian McCaul said of the arrest,"You're really cutting the head off the snake. They lose a lot." Let's hope so, but I wouldn't expect such arrests to cause the violence or smuggling to decline; these folks lead massive organizations with significant infarstructure and a stunningly large profit stream. This is not a snake but a hydra.

Big-time US cartel connection?
Who in the United States allegedly sold 50 planes to representatives of the Sinaloa Cartel? We can only speculate for now, but according to Mexican law enforcement, someone in the US sold those aircraft to Mexico's largest and most powerful drug cartel. Mad Cow News reports that:
According to an indictment released over the holidays by Mexico’s Atty. General, Pedro Alfonso Alatorre, already indicted as the cartel’s chief financier, purchased the DC9 (N900SA) airliner, the Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA), and 48 other planes not yet identified for Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel with laundered drug money, using a company he controls which owns currency exchanges at major airports in Mexico.
I've discussed before the evidence gathered by MCN that US political interests numbered among the prior owners of a cartel-owned plane downed in Mexico full of powder last year. The Mexican indictment does not name which US interests allegedly sold the planes to the cartel, but if some US Attorney somewhere isn't vigorously trying to find out and prosecute them, I'd sure like to know why?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My bet is that a serious investigation will find secondary and tertiary ties to high ranking political figures in the US. The ties will most likely be heavy contributors and if the trends of the 70s hold true: it will be "law and order" candidates who will be the preferences of gang thugs.