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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anarchy South of the Border

“To be called a sovereign nation, a nation has to be able to control its own borders. It is controlling your own destiny in a way, and we don't control our own borders.” — Tom Tancredo

December 17, 2010 AP News Reported that 141 inmates escaped from a Mexican prison; “Nearly 150 inmates escaped Friday from a state prison in the northern Mexico border city of Nuevo Laredo, and authorities said the breakout was probably helped by prison employees.”

“The public safety department of Tamaulipas state, where the prison is located near the border with Laredo, Texas, said 141 inmates got out through a service entrance used by vehicles, "presumably with the assistance of the prison staff."

“The department said the prison's director could not be located, adding that he and other officials were under investigation.”

“Eighty-three of the prisoners were being held for trial or had been convicted of crimes like theft, assault and other state offenses, while 58 were being held on federal charges, which include weapons possession and drug trafficking.”

“Tamaulipas has been plagued by a steady wave of violence tied to turf battles between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs, but it was unclear whether members of those groups were among the escaped inmates.”

“States like Tamaulipas have said in the past they are not prepared to handle highly dangerous federal prisoners, and again on Friday the state urged the federal government to take charge of such inmates.”

"The state does not have the capacity to prevent them escaping," the department said in a statement. The federal Interior Department blamed the breakout on local authorities, saying they did not properly guard the facility.”

"The absence of effective methods of guarding and control by local authorities is deplorable, and it has caused frequent escapes from prisons that put the public at risk," the department said in a statement. It called on state authorities to clean up their prison and judicial systems by increased screening and vetting of corrections officers. In past cases, prison guards — often underpaid or under threat from gangs — have been implicated in prison escapes.”

On November 30, 2010 the woman leading the police department in the northern Mexican town of Meoqui was slain while driving to work, the Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office said Monday.

Hermila Garcia was named last month as chief of the 90-strong police force in Meoqui, located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Chihuahua City, the state capital.

Garcia was found fatally shot in her car at a spot near her home about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the town center, the AG's office said.

Authorities suspect the police chief, whose prior experience included working as an investigator for the federal AG's office, was murdered by gunmen working for drug traffickers or other organized crime elements.

Chihuahua, which borders Texas, has three other female police chiefs, including 20-year-old criminology student Marisol Valles, recently appointed the top law enforcement officer in Praxedis G. Guerrero.

Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico's murder capital, with more than 2,700 homicides so far this year and roughly 8,000 slain since the beginning of 2008.

The carnage is blamed on a bitter turf battle between rival drug cartels, itself part of a wider conflict involving the gangs and the Mexican security forces that has claimed nearly 30,000 lives nationwide over the past four years. Chihuahua has accounted for around a third of all the drug war fatalities.

Hermila Garcia Quinones, 38, was sworn in on Oct. 9 as chief of the 90-person police force. Despite the growing drug-related violence in the region, "La Jefa," as Garcia Quinones was known, refused to have bodyguards or carry a weapon. The National Geographic Channel highlighted this brave woman in an October episode of its Border Wars series.

"If you don't owe anything, you don't fear anything," she was fond of saying when asked why she didn't have security. She was killed Nov. 29, another death in what has become a bloodbath in Mexico tied to drug traffickers, whose wares supply users in the U.S.

"This is an area where Los Zetas operate in. Los Zetas are the meanest, most sadistic, most psychotic criminal organization in Mexico," said George W. Grayson, a crime expert and professor at William and Mary College. "I don't know that they did it. But they don't have any regard for gender, age, profession. They enjoy killing. They have raised the bar of brutality."

Meoqui, which borders Texas, was not always a dangerous region. But in recent months it has started to see some of the drug-related violence which has claimed almost 30,000 lives in Mexico since 2006. In the last year, there have been 40 drug-related deaths in the town. When men refused to take the police chief position in Meoqui, Garcia Quinones stepped forward.

But Garcia Quinones was not the only woman who has stepped up to the plate in Mexico. Marisol Valles Garcia, called "the bravest woman in Mexico," was sworn in last month as the head of a new program of crime prevention in a farming town located in one of the bloodiest regions in Mexico. Since her predecessor's head was left outside the police station over a year ago, no one wanted to fill the vacancy. Valles Garcia, a 20-year-old criminology student and mother of one, took the position.

Felipe Calderón assumed the office of Mexico’s president and supreme commander of the military on December 1, 2006. Calderón, a member of the National Action Party (PAN) has done three things since his ascendancy to the presidency; He addressed a joint session of the United States Congress where he blasted our immigration policies; he addressed the 16th Congress on Climate Change (COP-16) in Cancún; and he has allowed his nation to drift into anarchy.

He has lost control of his military and federal police. Many in the federal police force are members of the drug cartels, especially Los Zetas the largest and most brutal of the cartels. This drug cartel was founded by a small group of Mexican Army Special Forces deserters and now includes corrupt former federal, state, and local police officers, as well as ex-Kaibiles (Special Forces) from Guatemala.

These drug cartels exceed the brutality and open arrogance of Colombia’s Medellín and Cali Cartels. The Medellín Cartel was headed by Pablo Escobar who was killed by Colombian Special Forces in a shoot out on 1993. The Cali Cartel was founded by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, as well as associate José Santacruz Londoño. The Rodríguez brothers were extradited in 2006 to the United States and pleaded guilty in Miami, Florida to charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. Upon their confession they agreed to forfeit $2.1 billion in assets. Santacruz Londoño was killed on March 5, 1996 by Colombian police while “attempting to flee custody.”

These Colombian cartels were powerful and brutal. They openly assassinated judges, prosecutors, police officials and journalists. They planted car bombs in commercial and residential areas of major cities. It finally took a cooperative effort by the Colombian military, Los Pepes, CIA and our Delta Force to bring hem down.

Los Zetas and the other Mexican drug cartels practice even greater violence. They not only do what the Colombian cartels did, but the have added kidnapping and human trafficking to their list of crimes. Their favorite manner of killing is to behead their victims and then deliver the head to family members of government offices. The traffic in human smuggling across the U.S. border and demand thousands of dollars from their victims. If they do not pay the “fee” they will be hunted down and kidnapped or killed. When kidnapped, the victims’ families will be expected to pay the ransom or they will be killed.

These cartels are feed by our insatiable appetite for narcotics — cocaine and marijuana. The drug users in the United States are in many ways responsible for those 30,000 deaths.

Some people claim that if we legalized these narcotics the cartels would go out of business. That’s just crazy. Legalization would only increase the demand and the cartels would get stronger.

Today Mexico is in a state of anarchy. It is a society where their lawlessness is coming over our border. Phoenix is the kidnap capital of the United States. There are large areas of Arizona that are closed to the public due to the danger of being killed or kidnapped by cartel members. Soon the violence of the cartels will reach our northern cities, if it already hasn’t. We can stop the influx of drugs and violence by sealing the border, but we can’t eliminate the cartels — that’s up to the Mexicans. Perhaps when the death toll reaches 100,000 and more police chiefs are killed the Mexicans will demand forceful action from their corrupt government. They can always call on our Delta Forces to assist them as we did in Columbia. This is not a matter of criminal justice, it’s a war — a war every bit as vital to our national security as the war we are waging in Afghanistan.

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