Category: Related News

‘They don’t even try’: Hungary’s new border fence called ‘spectacular success’

(WORLD TRIBUNE) — by WorldTribune Staff, May 2, 2017

Skeptics who believe a border wall will not stop illegals from entering the United States may want to look at what’s happening in Hungary.

On the day its border fence was completed, the influx of illegals entering Hungary went down from 6,353 one day to 870 the next. For the remainder of that month, illegal border crossings were steadily below 40 per day, officials said.
Border patrols prevent dozens of crossings every day and catch migrants who make it into Hungary within the first few miles of the border, according to authorities. /Reuters

“They don’t even try,” a local border guard told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We haven’t had a Syrian in six months.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s pledge to stop illegals from flowing into the country appears to be a spectacular success.

Hungary’s 96-mile long, 14-foot tall double-line fence includes several layers of razor-wire capable of delivering electric shocks. The barrier features cameras, heat sensors and loudspeakers ready to tell migrants they’re about to break Hungarian law if they as much as touch the fence, the April 30 Daily Caller report said.

Nearly every police officer in Hungary is part of a rotation to monitor the border fence at all times. Temporary military bases house the police while they do their rotation.

Additionally, Hungary will train and pay more than 1,000 volunteers to deploy as “border hunters”.

Illegals who are caught are arrested and dropped off on the Serbian side of the fence. They don’t get a chance to apply for asylum unless they do so at a “transit zone” where they are held in housing containers while their cases get processed, the Daily Caller report said.

In September 2015, thousands of migrants streamed across the border every day as they made their way north to Austria, Germany and Scandinavia.

“It was an invasion,” Laszlo Toroczkai, the mayor of Asotthalom, told the Daily Caller. “Illegal immigration is a crime in a normal country. It’s not a normal thing to break into a country.”

“By the mid-year it was well beyond 100,000 people who came across,” said Zoltan Kovacs, a spokesman for the Hungarian government. “You should at least have the ability to handle what’s going on.”

Kovacs added: “You might not like it, it’s not a nice thing, but … the only way to stop illegal border crossings is [to] first build a fence, man it, equip it, and also, in parallel, build up your capabilities in terms of legal confines, legal circumstances to be able to handle what is coming.”

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Turkey has completed more than half of its Syria border wall

(WORLD TRIBUNE) — by World Tribune Staff, February 27, 2017

Turkey has finished construction on more than half of its 511-kilometer (317 miles) security wall along its border with Syria.

The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons.

“The construction works are ongoing and we will complete it as soon as possible,” said Ergun Turan, president of Turkey’s state-owned housing agency TOKI.

Turkey shares a 900-kilometer (559 miles) border with Syria. Turkey has taken in more than 3 million Syrian refugees since conflict in the neighboring country erupted.

Ankara has been under pressure from the United States and Europe to seal its porous southern border, which has been used by the Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadist groups for smuggling weapons, supplies and fighters. After a military intervention into northern Syria in August, the Turkish military and allied rebel groups cleared ISIS from a section of the border.

Seeking to stem migration to Europe, the EU has remained largely silent about the wall’s impact on refugees.

Turan said 290 kilometers (180 miles) of wall is finished. The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons. The blocks are 2-meters thick (6.5-foot) at the base and 3-meters (10-foot) high, topped by a meter of razor wire. Along the entire wall roads are being built for military patrols and watch towers are being erected.

The completed section covers the provinces of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Sirnak.

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Violence in Mexico hits 20-year high

(OCCRP) — Mexico witnessed a record-breaking number of homicides and murder investigations in May, according to government data.

Last month, 2,186 murders were committed surpassing 2011’s record, statistics that go back two decades show.

The number of murder investigations also peaked in May dating back to 1997. Several probes likely include multiple homicides.

“Pretty grim. Not shocking, because we’ve seen this for months,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.

Mexico recorded 9,916 murders since the beginning of 2017, roughly a 30% increase over the same period last year, underscoring the country’s struggle to deal with escalating organized crime groups.

The deadliest state was Guerrero, in the south, a hotbed for Mexico’s war on drugs where 216 people were killed.

In the western state of Sinaloa 154 people were killed – the highest number in six years -due to violence driven by rival groups vying to fill the void left by the arrest and extradition of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Mexico launched a militarized offensive to fight drug trafficking in 2006. Since then, over 200,000 people have been presumed dead or missing as rival cartels wage war on each other and the army.

The country’s escalating violence has hit journalists especially hard claiming most recently the life of well-respected drug trafficking reporter, Javier Valdez Cardenas.

The ensuing conflict has further damaged President Enrique Pena Nieto’s popularity.

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Women kicked out organized crime in this Mexican town

(MY SAN ANTONIO) — More than 180,000 people have been killed in Mexico since then-President Felipe Calderon sent the army to fight organized crime groups in his native state of Michoacan in 2006.

But one small town in that state says it hasn’t had a homicide since 2011 because its residents – led by women – took up arms to kick out groups who had expanded from drug trafficking into illegal logging.

While overall in Michoacán, federal authorities say 614 people have been killed this year, a 16 percent increase from 2016, the people of Cherán say they’ve become immune to serious crime. They expelled the politicians and local police, and community members now patrol the area wearing uniforms emblazoned with the slogan “For Justice, Security and the Restoration of Our Territory.”

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Journalist’s murder underscores growing threat in Mexico

(BREITBART) — MEXICO CITY — The staff of the weekly newspaper Riodoce normally meets on Wednesdays to review its plans for coverage of the most recent mayhem wrought in Sinaloa state by organized crime, corrupt officials and ceaseless drug wars. But on this day, in the shadow of their own tragedy, they’ve come together to talk about security.

It’s important to change their routines, they are told. Be more careful with social media. Don’t leave colleagues alone in the office at night. Two senior journalists discuss what feels safer: to take their children with them to the office, which was the target of a grenade attack in 2009, or to leave them at home.

Security experts have written three words on a blackboard at the front of the room: adversaries, neutrals, allies. They ask the reporters to suggest names for each column — no proof is needed, perceptions and gut feelings are enough

Allies are crucial. In an emergency, they would need a friend, a lawyer, an activist to call.

The longest list, by far, is enemies. There are drug traffickers, politicians, business people, journalists suspected of being on the payroll of the government or the cartels, a catalog of villains who make the job of covering Mexico’s chaos perilous.

There is no respite from the violence, and as bodies pile up across the country, more and more of them are journalists: at least 25 since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, with at least seven dead in seven states so far this year. A total of 589 have been placed under federal protection after attacks and threats.

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Trump administration preparing Texas wildlife refuge for first border wall segment

(TEXAS OBSERVER) — by Melissa del Bosque

For at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have been quietly preparing to build the first piece of President Trump’s border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas.

The federally owned 2,088-acre refuge, often called the “crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system,” could see construction begin as early as January 2018, according to a federal official who has been involved in the planning but asked to remain anonymous.

“This should be public information,” the official told the Observer. “There shouldn’t be government officials meeting in secret just so they don’t have to deal with the backlash. The public has the right to know about these plans.”

CBP plans to construct an 18-foot levee wall that would stretch for almost three miles through the wildlife refuge, according to the official. The structure would consist of a concrete base, which would serve as a levee, and be topped with a fence made of steel bollards, similar to a levee wall built almost a decade ago near Hidalgo, Texas. A second federal official confirmed these details to the Observer.

The official said that the Department of Homeland Security picked the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge as the first site for a border wall segment because it’s owned by the federal government, avoiding legal entanglements with private landowners. At least 95 percent of the Texas border is privately owned. As the Observer’s June cover story, “Over the Wall,” detailed, at least one-third of the 320 condemnation suits filed against landowners in 2007 are still pending.

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US-Mexico drug tunnels evolving amid increased border security

(KPBS) — By Jean Guerrero
The inside of the

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Under the corrugated steel plates that divide the U.S. and Mexico in Otay Mesa, dozens of clandestine cross-border tunnels slash through the soil.

As President Trump looks to build new barriers along the border, criminal organizations in Mexico are improving the tunnels they use to smuggle people and drugs under the border fence – making them smaller and maintaining a high level of sophistication, featuring electricity and railways.

Smuggling tunnels vary in shape and size, but generally fall under one of these three categories, according to U.S. Border Patrol:

— Rudimentary tunnels, or “gopher holes,” are cheaply made and stretch short distances, maybe 50 feet. They are used to smuggle humans or small quantities of drugs under the border.

— Interconnecting tunnels exploit existing municipal infrastructure, linking up with storm drains and sewer lines. They are used to smuggle humans and drugs under the border.

— Sophisticated tunnels can stretch for long distances (the longest ever found was equivalent to the length of eight football fields) and are often equipped with lighting, electricity, ventilation, water pumps, railways and more. They are used to move large volumes of drugs under the border.

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US government confirms connection between Mexican drug cartels and ISIS

(PANAM POST) — By Elena Toledo

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that a “very different approach” will be implemented for fighting Mexican drug cartels and other transnational criminal groups from now on.

Tillerson, who spoke of connections between Mexican crime groups and the Islamic State, told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives that the United States and Mexico are now concentrating on the “supply chain of how drug trafficking, human trafficking and other criminal activities are conducted in a cross-border manner.”

“This is a comprehensive effort that we have been promoting, with the cooperation of our Mexican counterparts,” he said. “I think they will see a very different approach to how we attack the cartel problem.”

Tillerson was questioned by Texas State Rep. Michael McCaul about whether he shared concerns with National Security Secretary John Kelly regarding the connection between “criminal networks and terrorist networks.” Kelly had previously said “cartels share ties with terrorist networks, with the possibility of smuggling not just drugs or people, but dirty bombs.”

To this, Tillerson responded that the the connections are certainly there, including with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which, he said, “is part of our global effort to deny funding to terrorists.”

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Mexico’s war is hell. It’s next door. It’s getting worse. Why?

(DAILY BEAST) — Wars are not won by targeting the enemy’s generals and leaving their ground forces intact. That’s not a military campaign; it’s not even a serious strategy.

As Tolstoy notes in War and Peace, the French would still have gone on to invade Russia, even if someone had bumped off Napoleon.

And the same rule applies to fighting organized crime groups. You can’t defeat them by just busting top-dog mobsters, while allowing their armies of henchmen to grow and take over the countryside. Somebody always moves up, and from an historical perspective (here’s looking at you, Prohibition), such trickle-down tactics appear futile.

The powers that be in Mexico, however, would have you believe otherwise.

Our southern neighbor is now home to the second deadliest conflict zone in the world after Syria, according to a recent survey. Although there is some debate about the metrics used in that study, there’s no question that, as of now, the Mexican government is losing the fight against the cartels.

And there’s a good reason for it: The so-called “Kingpin Strategy” employed by military and police in their fight against the cartels has proven itself almost as effective as holding a pocket magnifier over a termite den under a hot sun. You might focus on and fry a few that way, to be sure, but the rest will go right on happily devouring your house.

A Lack of “Pax”

So far, 2017 has been a very rough year for Mexican crime fighters. The regional security plan established by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2013—which divided the country into five zones and included large-scale military deployments—seems to have backfired. Violence is up by as much as 60 percent in the region that includes Sinaloa, where the crime syndicate formerly run by Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán is based. And homicides have increased sharply in each of the other four security zones as well.

As opposed to previous spikes in violence, which tended to be localized, the first five months of this year have seen a nationwide rise in murders—putting it on track to be the worst year for drug war mayhem since such records started to be kept in 1997.

So what’s behind the surging death tolls?

“Throughout the drug war the Kingpin Strategy has been the primary tool of the Mexican government in counter narcotics operations,” David Shirk, director of the Justice in Mexico program, tells The Daily Beast.

“The effect of that strategy has been to cause internecine conflicts among criminal organizations that are vying to fill the leadership vacuum,” Shirk says.

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Journalists bear invisible scars of Mexico’s drug war

(RAPPLER) — CHILPANCINGO, Mexico – After drug cartel thugs kidnapped him and threatened to burn him alive, Mexican journalist Jorge Martinez was so traumatized he couldn’t leave the house.

He and 6 colleagues were returning home after covering a police operation in the violent southern state of Guerrero on May 13 when some 100 masked gunmen from La Familia cartel hijacked their cars.

The narcos ended up letting them go after about 15 minutes. But it took Martinez, 44, two weeks to go outside again.

“Maybe it’s just nerves, but I feel like people are following me,” he almost whispered into the phone at the time, afraid to come out for an interview.

Two days after the kidnapping, another journalist – noted crime reporter and Agence France-Presse contributor Javier Valdez – was shot dead in broad daylight in the state of Sinaloa, scene of some of Mexico’s most brutal drug violence.

It was one of the highest-profile attacks targeting journalists in Mexico – a country where the phenomenon has become almost banal.

Journalists face harrowing risks to cover the bloody wars between Mexico’s rival cartels and the army, which have left a trail of tens of thousands of mangled bodies and hundreds of mass graves in their wake.

Reporters take their lives in their hands when they write anything that could be perceived as threatening, or even unflattering, by narcos or the corrupt government officials in bed with them.

Watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranks Mexico as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists after Syria and Afghanistan.

Since 2006, when the government first sent the military to fight the cartels, nearly 100 journalists have been killed, more than 20 have disappeared, and more than 200 have been assaulted by drug traffickers.

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