Category: Related News

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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Drug Lord now available in Spanish: El zar de la droga

(DRUGLORD.COM) — El zar de la droga es la biografía de Pablo Acosta, narco mexicano que contruyó uno de los más poderosos imperios en la historia del narcotráfico mundial. También es la historia de la corrupción, violencia sin límite y opulencia del infernal mundo de los narcotraficantes.

Acosta convirtió a Ojinaga, Chihuahua, en el mayor “depósito” de cocaina del mundo occidental, desde donde abastecía la demanda de toda la Unión Americana. El zar de la droga revela los orígenes de este poderoso delinquente, su ascenso, contactos, métodos de intimidación, forma de operar y sus crímenes.

El zar de la droga es un reportaje periodístico absolutaments cierto e impresionante que a usted lo estremecerá.

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Drug War Turned Mexico Into World’s Deadliest Conflict Zone After Only Syria

(NEWSWEEK) — By Sofia Lotto Persio

Mexico’s drug war has created the second deadliest conflict area in the world after only Syria, according to a global survey.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) reported that the six-year war in Syria is the world’s deadliest conflict zone for the fifth consecutive year, causing an estimated 50,000 casualties in 2016. The Armed Conflict Survey 2017, the IISS annual summary of conflicts and casualties worldwide published on Tuesday, found that the war on drugs plaguing Central America has received ”scant attention.”

In Mexico, 23,000 people died in the fight against drug cartels in 2016. In other, smaller Central American countries battling cartels, including El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, another 16,000 have been killed.

“The death toll in Mexico’s conflict surpasses those for Afghanistan and Somalia. This is all the more surprising, considering that the conflict deaths are nearly all attributable to small arms. Mexico is a conflict marked by the absence of artillery, tanks or combat aviation,” John Chipman, IISS chief executive and director-general, said in the statement.

Just 10 conflicts accounted for more than 80 percent of the fatalities worldwide, according to the report. In order, the countries affected are: Syria, Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, South Sudan and Nigeria.

The rate of homicides in Mexico fell between 2011-14, but it began increasing again in 2015, to the point that it has decreased the life expectancy for men in the country by three years. According to IISS researcher Antonio Sampaio, the arrests and killings of top leaders in major cartels like the Los Zetas, infamous for their brutality and mass decapitations, contributed to the dip in violence. But new groups have emerged, adopting similarly brutal strategies for territorial expansion and control.

One of these is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which grew from a small, local criminal group in 2013 to rivaling Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel in terms of resources and territory. “The cartel is pursuing a sustained strategy of hyper-violent criminality, designed to scare local people, deter rivals (including the state) from attempting territorial grabs and maximise the incentives for businesses to pay extortion taxes,” Sampaio noted in an article on IISS’ website.

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Mexican cartel using armored trucks in war at Texas border

(BREITBART) — REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Mexican cartel members are using armored trucks in their ongoing war for control of lucrative drug trafficking and human smuggling routes near the Texas border.

Recently, Tamaulipas State Police officers seized a large truck outfitted with thick armor plating for firefights. The vehicles are commonly called “Mounstros” or monsters.

According to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Tamaulipas government, police officers were patrolling the rural areas near Camargo, Tamaulipas, when they came across an abandoned warehouse. Camargo is immediately south of Rio Grande City, Texas.

When authorities inspected the warehouse they found a truck covered in armor plating as a makeshift combat vehicle. The truck had Texas license plates. It remains unclear if the vehicle was previously stolen.

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Mexico’s brutal drug violence has hit a new level of complexity

(BUSINESS INSIDER) — By Christopher Woody

Public displays of brutality have become common as drug-related violence roiled Mexico over the last decade.

The recent discovery of a man’s body on top of a hospital in northwest Mexico, apparently dropped there from an airplane, takes that brutality to a new level of complexity.

The body reportedly landed on the roof of a hospital in the town of El Dorado, about 38 miles southwest of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state.

Witnesses reported seeing a person thrown out of a plane flying low over a Mexican Institute of Social Security hospital on April 12, a health official told Reuters, saying the incident occurred around 7:30 a.m.

Officials were unable to identify the body, clad in a red shirt, gray socks, and without pants, due to damage from the fall, though Mileno reported that it had signs of torture.

State prosecutors said the body had signs of severe trauma in line with “impact on the hard surface.”

“It is a man, but we don’t know more … The impact of the fall makes it more difficult to be able to identify him or the wounds he suffered,” Antonio Garcia, spokesman for the IMSS, which runs the hospital, told The Washington Post.

“I can’t recall anything like this happening before,” he said.

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Report: Overstays outnumber number of undocumented immigrants

(NEWSMAX) — The number of immigrants with expired temporary visas living in the U.S. have outnumbered undocumented immigrants by half a million since 2007, says a report published in the Journal on Migration and Human Security.

The report, issued by the Center for Immigration Studies, took aim at President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a project it said, “does not reflect the reality of how the large majority of persons now become undocumented.”

The authors, Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, write “two-thirds of those who arrived in 2014 did not illegally cross a border, but were admitted (after screening) on non-immigrant (temporary) visas, and then overstayed their period of admission or otherwise violated the terms of their visas.”

CMS found the following, with information on overstays for 2015 derived by the Department of Homeland Security:

42 percent of the total undocumented population (about 4.5 million U.S. residents) in 2014 were overstays
Overstays have exceeded the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. every year since 2007
600,000 more overstays than undocumented immigrants have arrived in the U.S. since 2007
California has the largest number of overstays with 890,000, followed by New York (520,000) and Texas (475,000)

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Border Patrol union: Trump’s border plan ‘gives us the tools we need’

(BREITBART) — by Ildefonso Ortiz

As President Donald J. Trump prepares to kick off his new border security plan, various news outlets have begun to criticize the effort by focusing on the border wall. However, members from the union representing the men and women from the U.S. Border Patrol stated that the proposal comes from listening to agents instead of politicians.

Various outlets have continued to question the notion of building a border wall and have focused on the perceived challenges of such an enterprise. Other outlets have criticized the effectiveness of the measure claiming that it does not address the current immigration crisis. The various news organizations have failed to mention the complete control that Mexican drug cartels have over human smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and other illicit activities along both sides of the border.

The executive orders that President Trump will be signing provides border security agents with the tools that they have been denied for too long, said Hector Garza, a U.S. Border Patrol agent and the President for the Local 2455 of the National Border Patrol Council. As part of the union’s leadership, Garza is able to speak about issues affecting the men and women that he represents.

Despite the many misconceptions by pundits and individuals who have not been to the border, a wall with the addition of new manpower, surveillance technology and other equipment will be an effective tool in slowing down illegal immigration and drug smuggling, Garza said.

“We know we won’t have a wall along the 2,000 miles of border,” he said. “What we will have is a wall where it is needed. That barrier with proper manpower, resources, technology and other tools will be effective. But most important, for the first time we have a president that wants to secure the border.”

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