Tagged: United States

U.S., Mexico join forces on new front in drug war

(TEXARKANA GAZETTE) — The U.S. and Mexican governments are sparring over immigration and trade, but the two countries are joining forces on the high seas like never before to go after drug smugglers.

The United States, Mexico and Colombia will target drug smugglers off South America’s Pacific coast in an operation that is scheduled to begin Sunday and last for the foreseeable future, Coast Guard officials told The Associated Press.

U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Paul F. Zukunft teased the idea during a recent defense conference in San Diego, saying the United States “can’t do it alone.”

“It’s no secret we are besieged with the flow of drugs from Latin America to the United States,” he said.

U.S. and Mexican forces have routinely worked together at sea, but the latest effort “marks a significant step in terms of information sharing, collaboration and cooperation between the United States, Mexico and other partner nations,” according to the Coast Guard.

The Americans and Mexicans will exchange intelligence more freely than in the past, which could mean sharing information on well-traveled routes for drug smugglers or preferred paths for specific smuggling organizations, Coast Guard spokeswoman Alana Miller said.

They will also board the other country’s vessels to view operations and gain expertise, Miller said. In 2015, three members of the Mexican navy boarded a Coast Guard vessel during a port call in Huatulco, Mexico, but this operation calls for more frequent exchanges, and they will be at sea.

The operation will last “for the foreseeable future as long as it’s working for everyone,” Miller said. “It’s sort of open-ended.”

Traffickers over the years have increasingly turned to the sea to move their illegal goods, traversing an area off South America that is so big, the continental United States could be dropped inside. Smugglers routinely move cocaine out of countries like Colombia to Central America and Mexico via fishing boats, skiffs, commercial cargo ships—even homemade submarines.

The operation comes after five years of record seizures by the Coast Guard. But U.S. officials say because of limited resources, the U.S. military’s smallest service still catches only about 25 percent of illegal shipments in the Pacific.

Even so, the Coast Guard annually seizes three times the amount of cocaine confiscated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet ocean smuggling has not grabbed lawmakers’ attention like the flow of drugs across the nearly 2,000-mile-long land border, where the Trump administration wants to spend billions to build a continuous wall.

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About Drug Lord, the Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin

Donald Trump wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, and he vowed to do so if he became president of the United States. The wall, he argued, will stop the flow of drugs into the country as well as impede the illegal entry of people across the border. Whether Trump is right or wrong about the need for a wall is a matter of fierce debate that will only grow in intensity now that he is president.

What cannot be disputed, however, is that there is a huge amount of drugs coming across the border, no different than in the past. There is also a greater influx of people coming now from all parts of the world than ever before. Who are these people? What is their motive for entering the United States?

Another matter than is beyond dispute is that smuggling activities related to drugs and people are controlled by organized crime groups, and to some extent organized crime is controlled by agencies of the government of Mexico. Read more »

Preface by Chuck Bowden

This book could function as an owner’s manual for the Mexican drug cartels. Here we find the first good description of the plaza — that arrangement where the Mexican government seeks a partner to supervise all criminal activity in a city. And how to maintain discipline by killing everyone connected to a lost load lest a traitor survive. And also the history of the shift of power from Colombia to Mexico, when American efforts hampered the pathways in Florida and made Mexico the trampoline for cocaine shipments into the U.S. markets.

I remember in the mid-nineties paying fifty dollars for a copy of Drug Lord in a used bookstore in El Paso and being damned happy to get my hands on it.

Terrence Poppa was a reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post. In the eighties, he captured the rise and fall of Pablo Acosta in Ojinaga, the border town across from Presidio, Texas. By that act, he wrote the history of the key moment when flights of cocaine from Columbia entered the Mexican economy. He interviewed the players, got down their life histories and made the indelible point that the people written off by their own country as ill-educated bumkins were creative and were turning power on its head in the nation. Acosta’s slaughter by Mexican comandante Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni, with the help of the FBI, ended this kind of access. Since then, becoming famous and talking to the press — which Acosta did — has been seen as a fatal decision. And since then, the Mexican drug industry has become a source of thirty to fifty billion dollars of foreign currency a year for the Mexican economy — second only to oil, and now the oil fields of Mexico are collapsing. Read more »