Posts Tagged ‘Mexican Drug War’

From December 4th, 2012

The war on drugs has claimed the lives of thousands on both sides of the US/Mexico border. Although many critics blame America’s policies for fueling the fire, they aren’t too far off. Of the arms seized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, over 70 percent of of them have originated from the US. Matthew Feeney, associate editor for Reason.com, gives his take on the war south of the border on how the US can help end the violence.

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Leaked emails from the private U.S. security firm Stratfor cite a Mexican diplomat who says the U.S. government works with Mexican cartels to traffic drugs into the United States and has sided with the Sinaloa cartel in an attempt to limit the violence in Mexico.

Many people have doubted the quality of Stratfor’s intelligence, but the information from MX1—a Mexican foreign service officer who doubled as a confidential source for Stratfor—seems to corroborate recent claims about U.S. involvement in the drug war in Mexico.

Most notably, the reports from MX1 line up with assertions by a Sinaloa cartel insider that cartel boss Joaquin Guzman is a U.S. informant, the Sinaloa cartel was “given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago,” and Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for information used to take down rival cartels.

An email with the subject “Re: From MX1 — 2” sent Monday, April 19, 2010, to Stratfor vice president of intelligence Fred Burton says:

I think the US sent a signal that could be construed as follows:

“To the [Juárez] and Sinaloa cartels: Thank you for providing our market with drugs over the years. We are now concerned about your perpetration of violence, and would like to see you stop that. In this regard, please know that Sinaloa is bigger and better than [the Juárez cartel]. Also note that [Ciudad Juárez] is very important to us, as is the whole border. In this light, please talk amongst yourselves and lets all get back to business. Again, we recognize that Sinaloa is bigger and better, so either [the Juárez cartel] gets in line or we will mess you up.”

In sum, I have a gut feeling that the US agencies tried to send a signal telling the cartels to negotiate themselves. They unilaterally declared a winner, and this is unprecedented, and deserves analysis.

Bill Conroy of Narco News reports that MX1’s description matches the publicly available information on Fernando de la Mora Salcedo — a Mexican foreign service officer who studied law at the University of New Mexico and served at the Mexican Consulates in El Paso, Texas, and Phoenix.

In a June 13, 2010, email with the subject “Re: Get follow up from mx1? Thx,” MX1 states that U.S. and Mexican law enforcement sent their “signal” by discretely brokering a deal with cartels in Tijuana, just south of San Diego, Calif., which reduced the violence in the area considerably.

It is not so much a message for the Mexican government as it is for the Sinaloa cartel and[the Juárez cartel] themselves. Basically, the message they want to send out is that Sinaloa is winning and that the violence is unacceptable. They want the CARTELS to negotiate with EACH OTHER. The idea is that if they can do this, violence will drop and the governments will allow controlled drug trades.

The email went on to say that “the major routes and methods for bulk shipping into the US” from Ciudad Juárez, right across the border from El Paso, Texas, “have already been negotiated with US authorities” and that large shipments of drugs from the Sinaloa cartel “are OK with the Americans.”

In July a Mexican state government spokesman told Al Jazeera that the CIA and other international security forces “don’t fight drug traffickers” as much as “try to manage the drug trade.” A mid-level Mexican official told Al Jazeera that based on discussions he’s had with U.S. officials working in Ciudad Juárez, the allegations were true.

WikiLeaks has published 2,878 out of what it says is a cache of 5 million internal Stratfor emails (dated between July 2004 and December 2011) obtained by the hacker collective Anonymous around Christmas.

11 January, 2012

Marijuana plants are burned during an anti-drug operation in Guatemala (AFP Photo / Getty Images)

Marijuana plants are burned during an anti-drug operation in Guatemala (AFP Photo / Getty Images)

The Mexican Drug War has so far yielded around 50,000 deaths and has become one of the biggest problems poised on North America during the last century.

It might be a tremendous tally of lost lives, but just as impressive though is the amount of money that the US has invested in the war. Since attempting to cooperate in the battle against dangerous cartels in the south, the United States has moved millions of dollars of narcotics and profits around the world in a money laundering scheme meant to infiltrate the seedy underbelly of Mexico’s drug trade.

What America did, instead, was consequentially fund a deadly campaign that has left a bodycount built with the massacre of thousands of journalists, officers, agents and civilians.

Recent reports obtained by the New York Times reveals that American drug enforcement agents posed as money launderers in an elaborate scheme that was meant to install men within the ranks of the cartels and take them down from the inside. The documents suggest that American agents worked hand-in-hand with Mexican law enforcement officials and a Colombian informant working undercover in 2007 to try to get to the inside. Doing so, they participated in massive felonies, moving millions worth of contraband and cash all over the world.

According to the documents made possible through an extradition order by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, US efforts in conjunction with Mexican and Columbia contacts included a plethora of wire transfers of tens of thousands of dollars at a time and the illegal smuggling of millions of dollars in cold, hard cash. The Times reports that there was also at least one in-depth international incident that led to American agents accompanying a massive coke shipment from Ecuador, into Dallas, Texas and then Madrid,

Five years down the road, however, the Mexican drug war has been incredibly disastrous and all too deadly. While the number of drug war-related deaths in 2007 peaked short of 3,000, that statistic only worsened for the next several years, with 2011 showing the only significant decrease in casualties since then.

Even still, an estimated 12,000 people were killed during the war in 2011 alone.
By 2006, the Mexican drug cartels had already infiltrated American soil, operating out of an estimated 100 US cities. In 2007, the DEA-led initiative attempted to curb that distribution, but two years later the US Department of Justice upgraded the scope of the drug cartels’ presence in the US to 200 diverse markets. Between 2006 and 2007, assaults against Border Patrol agents on the US/Mexican boundary rose by 46 percent, with attacks on US authorities leaving at least two dead on US soil in the two years that followed.

While the DEA was conducting their attempted sting, agents were forced to improvise their moves in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. While one official close to the matter talking on condition of anonymity tells the Times that such stings involve an “enormously complicated undertaking when it involves money laundering, wires, everything,” others add that the massive campaigns that seem to have failed massively required a strategy that left agents scrambling by the seat of their pants.
“The same rules required domestically do not apply when agencies are operating overseas,” Morris Panner of the Center for International Criminal Justice at Harvard tells the Times, “so the agencies can be forced to make up the rules as they go along.”

Panner acknowledges the dangers created by working in such grey territory, adding that “If it’s not careful, the United States could end up helping the bad guys more than hurting them.”

Only less than five years after the operation has ended, America is just seeing by way of the document leak that their attempted investigation might have really been detrimental to their efforts.