Category: Related News

Building the Trump wall

(THE COURIER) — The 2006 Secure Fence Act prompted the U.S. to build barriers along a 653-mile stretch of border dividing California and Arizona with Mexico to deter immigrants and drug smugglers.

Much of the fence is a slatted-metal barrier, 18 to 30 feet high. But because of budget concerns, it also consists of vehicles barriers and single-layer pedestrian fencing, not double-layer fencing cited in the law.

Drug smugglers responded by building 148 tunnels — including some multimillion-dollar lighted and well-ventilated “supertunnels” — under the border.

The Los Angeles Times reports U.S. and Mexican authorities systematically closed tunnels, only to have smugglers re-open them.

[READ MORE]

Mexican nationals returning home and staying there ahead of Trump

(BREITBART) — MATAMOROS, Tamaulipas — Fearing stiffer immigration enforcement in the coming months, approximately half of the Mexican nationals who had traveled through this city on their way to their hometowns claim they will not be returning to the United States, city officials said.

In recent weeks, the Matamoros city government has been preparing logistical and security measures to accommodate not only the returning travelers, but also for a possible increase in deportations, said Matamoros Mayor Jesus “Chuchin” De La Garza.

According to De La Garza, at least 50 percent of the Paisanos who have crossed through the three international bridges in Matamoros have reported to authorities that they will not be returning to the U.S. and plan on seeking jobs in Mexico.

Known in Mexico as Paisanos, every year, groups of legal and illegal immigrants travel through this and other border cities during the holidays on their way to their hometowns. The name Paisano comes from a government program aimed at easing the customs and tax process that the Mexicans face when they travel home. In years past, customs officers, local police and other officials were known for demanding bribes and extorting the travelers.

In preparation for the expected increase in the number of returning locals and deportees, De La Garza has been meeting with Mexico’s Regional Security Team and U.S. law enforcement.

[READ MORE]

Can Donald Trump really build a border wall to Mexico?

(THE DAILY DOT) — By Kristen Hubby —

President-elect Donald Trump has a big league agenda for his first 100 days in office, including one of his most concrete—and controversial—plans: to build a wall between the U.S.–Mexico border with full reimbursement from Mexico.

The construction of a wall was one of his earliest promises to the American people. At Trump rallies, supporters chanted “build the wall, build the wall,” as Trump backed his proposal with a promise. When announcing his run for president, Trump assured his supporters that he will “build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better” than him. He added that he will “build them very inexpensively.”

Of course, campaign trails are for boasting, and the promise of the wall may be too bold given the challenges Trump will face—including those from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

After his presidential win, Trump still stands firmly with his decision to build the wall. Below is the outline for Trump’s plans for immigration from his first 100 days outline, which includes the construction of Trump’s wall:

End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

With few details on how this agenda will actually be accomplished, the assumption that Trump will actually be able to keep his promise to build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico border remains debatable. Here’s what you need to know.

[READ MORE]

The mysterious recurring case of Mexico’s disappearing governors

(BLOOMBERG) — The hunt for Mexico’s Javier Duarte, the former governor of Veracruz state who went underground last month after being accused of looting billions in taxpayer money, is getting close to the end, according to federal Attorney General Raul Cervantes.

He disappeared about a month ago and is now, or was recently, in Puebla state, Veracruz’s governor-elect, Miguel Angel Yunes says. For a time, Duarte was said to be hiding out on a ranch in the southern state of Chiapas. How’d he get away? He took flight, literally, in a state-owned helicopter. He got to the heliport in the trunk of a car, according to one report.

However, it’s been a couple weeks since Cervantes said that, and in the meantime the government has had to appeal for the public’s help by posting a reward. On Sunday, the government seized bank accounts, businesses and properties belonging to the fugitive, the kind of concerted effort that hasn’t been a hallmark of justice when it comes to governors of Mexican states.

Because before Duarte there was Eugenio Hernandez, and Tomas Yarrington, and Jorge Torres Lopez, and Mario Villanueva, and, until last week, Guillermo Padres. (There are still others.) All governors at one time, all who took it on the run, trailing corruption charges like clanging cans that fell on deaf ears.

Crooked governors have evaded the law for decades in Mexico, either through agreements struck with presidential administrations or an inability of law enforcement to seize them or their assets, says Mike Vigil, the former head of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Duarte, 43, fled just as investigators said they were closing in on him, leading to howls of criticism for allowing him to slip away under their noses.
Corrupt and Contented

“Many governors in Mexico are corrupt,” said Vigil, whose territory included Mexico until his retirement in 2004 and who wrote the book “Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel.” “It’s rare that we can get to these governors because many times they’re protected” by the administration in power. Marko Cortes, lower-house leader of the opposition National Action Party, or PAN, concurred, saying Duarte’s escape “appears as if it was something agreed upon.”

[READ MORE]

Mexico’s cartels are much more dangerous to Americans than ISIS

(THE DAILY BEAST) — Mexico is a place of many rumors and much chisme, or gossip. One of the most frightening rumors you hear these days—especially given the tragic, ISIS-inspired shooting in Orlando—is that members of the so-called Islamic State have infiltrated the cartels, seeking to recruit hardened sicarios, hit men, to their cause.

ISIS’s nefarious motive, naturally, would be to use the cartels’ drug shipping networks and smuggling tunnels to ferret terrorists, or even weapons of mass destruction, across the U.S. border.

Fortunately such tales remains nothing but chisme—and not very plausible rumor mongering at that.

Although some far-right media outlets in the U.S. have presented the unholy alliance of jihadist warrior and Aztec assassin as likely, if not inevitable, so far there’s absolutely no evidence behind such claims.

(Full disclosure: I spent eight months out of the last year reporting up close with both law enforcement and the cartels in Mexico and, after much searching for just such a headline-grabbing, cartel-ISIS link, was unable to find so much as a prayer rug. Or anybody who knew what a prayer rug was.)

In fact, the two groups actually seem more like natural enemies.

Although the much-published story about Chapo Guzmán threatening to launch open war on ISIS turned out to be false, there’s a reason the meme seemed so believable when it broke.

That’s because it’s hard to imagine a wealth-loving, famously decadent crime lord like Guzmán—or any of his fellows—getting along with their dour, tee-totaling, thobe-wearing counterparts. The Mexican press have also had great fun at ISIS’s expense, wittily skewering the unlikely Islamic invasion.

[READ MORE]

The Mexican cartels are making ‘mucho dinero’

(AMERICAN THINKER) — By Silvio Canto, Jr.

We learned that the drug that killed Prince is a favorite of Mexican cartels. I don’t mean that they consume it or pass it on to their families. They like it because we consume it, as we read in the New York Times:

The drug that killed Prince has become a favorite of Mexican cartels because it is extremely potent, popular in the United States — and immensely profitable, American officials say.

Law enforcement and border authorities in the United States warn that Mexican cartels are using their own labs to produce the drug, fentanyl, as well as receiving shipments from China. Then the cartels distribute the substance through their vast smuggling networks to meet rising American demand for opiates and pharmaceuticals.

“It is really the next migration of the cartels in terms of making profit,” said Jack Riley, acting deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “This goes to the heart of the marketing genius of the cartels. They saw this coming.”

Marketing genius? These cartels know supply and demand better than we do.

What can we do?

The wall is a start because it would close the easy routes into Arizona. It would force the cartels to send their shipments by air or into Texas by the Gulf of Mexico. It would increase the risk for the cartels.

[READ MORE]

Queen of Cartels: most famous female leader of Mexico’s underworld speaks out

(UK GUARDIAN) — Inside the front door of Sandra Ávila Beltrán’s home is an altar and lit candles that form a crowded shrine to her first husband (riddled by gunfire), her second husband (stabbed through the heart) and her brother (tortured to death). All were murdered during Mexico’s ongoing cocaine wars.

Ávila is the stuff legends are made of – one of the few women with access to the highest levels of cartel life. She has lived, worked and loved inside the upper echelons of the Mexican drug world since the late 1970s. At the height of her career, she showed a propensity to carry suitcases with millions of dollars in crisp $100 bills.

Her status led her to become known as “The Queen of the Pacific”, in honor of her alleged prowess organizing a fleet of tuna boats laden with 10 tons of cocaine each as they navigated north from Mexico’s Pacific coast towards the world’s number one cocaine market: the United States.
Californian, businesswoman, ‘narco junior’: El Chapo’s American daughter

Ávila has spent the last seven years in prison for money laundering, including two years in solitary confinement. Now free, she gave an exclusive interview, her first in nearly a decade, from her home near Guadalajara, in which she lashed out at Mexican politicians’ corruption, mocked the futility of drug prohibition and celebrated the escape of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Her three-decade rise to power has provided her with a front-row view of private jets, clandestine plastic surgery operations to disguise identity, murderous shootouts at VIP parties and one non-stop constant: massive bribes to Mexican public officials. “The most I ever heard about was a $100m [bribe] to a Mexican president,” Ávila said. “A million dollars is nothing. I have seen one [politician] look into the bag to see if it was there. He knew everything.”

[READ MORE]

The new marijuana debate is national

(THE MEXICO LEDGER) — By Rick Holmes

The marijuana legalization question on the ballots in about a dozen states this fall may be a simple yes or no proposition. But today’s conversation about marijuana is more complicated than you’d think, especially compared to the mostly one-sided debates of the war-on-drugs era.

The campaigns in Massachusetts are already heating up. The proponents, a local affiliate of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, have been at it for a year, collecting signatures and building a base of support. The opposition opened its campaign this month, with Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh taking the lead and a new group, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, is backing them up.

The themes of the opposition are familiar: Pot is bad — more potent and dangerous than the stuff you smoked back in college — and especially bad for kids. The initiative is funded by bad, for-profit corporations that, like tobacco companies, will profit by getting kids hooked. Marijuana leads to harder drugs, especially heroin.

But the context is different today. The debate is no longer between marijuana and no marijuana; all agree marijuana is here to stay. The question is whether it will continue to be distributed through the black market or through a legal, taxed and regulated industry.

This is Reefer Madness revised. No longer are the opponents pretending that one puff of marijuana will turn an adult into a monster. Now it’s all about the children, and the old argument that marijuana is bad for kids is stronger than ever. Research confirms that marijuana use, especially heavy use, has lasting effects on adolescent brain development.

But there are lots of things that are bad for children but just fine for adults. Should they all be illegal? More to the point, is a black market better at protecting children than licensed and regulated retailers?

“Our opponents seem to prefer that criminals control the marijuana market and sell untested, unlabeled products to people of any age,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the proponents.

Opponents like Baker and state Sen. Jason Lewis, the Senate’s point person on marijuana issues, point to Colorado as an example of the dangers of legalization, but Colorado isn’t exactly cooperating. A poll last fall found 53 percent of residents say legal weed has been good for the state, with 39 percent saying it has been bad.

[READ MORE]

U.N. to consider significant reforms to international drug policy

(LOS ANGELES TIMES) — At what is being billed as the most significant high-level gathering on global drug policy in two decades, the stage will be set for world leaders to discuss what would have once been unthinkable — reversing course in the war on drugs.

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which begins Tuesday in New York, will bring together government, human rights and health leaders to discuss whether the hard-line tactics of combating drug trafficking and money laundering have failed.

It will also provide a forum for reformists and government leaders who are pushing for turning the current drug policy on its head by halting drug-related incarcerations, treating drug abuse as a health issue rather than a crime and even legalizing drugs.

“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights,” reads a statement to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that was signed last week by more than 1,000 world leaders, activists and celebrities. The letter urges a complete rethinking of the conventional war on drugs.

As the summit opened Tuesday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime announced new international recommendations, including the decriminalization of marijuana, universal access to controlled medicines, criminal justice system reforms including elimination of mandatory minimum jail sentences and abolition of the death penalty and acknowledging marijuana’s medical use.

“The science increasingly supports decriminalization and harm reduction over proscriptive, fear-based approaches,” UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s time to reverse the cycles of violence that occur wherever ‘drug wars’ are undertaken, and to abandon policies that exacerbate suffering.”

[READ MORE]

Why the military will never beat Mexico’s cartels

(THE DAILY BEAST) — “Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war,” wrote Norman Mailer in Armies of the Night. That phrase, applied to Vietnam almost 50 years ago, has come back into my head any number of times during the eight months of the last year I’ve spent covering the Mexican drug war.

For most of that time I’ve been on the front lines of the conflict—often in and around the sun-scorched and cartel-dominated valley called Tierra Caliente—where the daily suspension of one’s reasoning faculties can be a useful coping mechanism.

Even so, at times I’ve found it very hard to support the Mexican government’s increasingly surreal approach to drug war tactics and strategy.

For example, on a recent trip to the village of Dos Aguas, high in the Sierra Madre mountains of Michoacán state, I was told by locals that there were no police or military forces present in the vicinity at all. Not even a sheriff. The town had formerly been protected by a group of vigilantes known as autodefensas, but the state government ordered the group to disband last February under penalty of arrest.

Now that the vigilantes are gone, Dos Aguas is run by a chieftain from the Knights Templar cartel, who calls himself “El Tena.” He travels the mountains in a caravan of more than a dozen trucks, led by a pick-up with a .50 caliber machine gun mounted in the bed. El Tena goes where he likes and does what he pleases—including running meth labs and illegal logging operations in the sierra.

[READ MORE]