War on the Southern Border: Cartels, Terrorists are Winning

by MAJ. GEN. PAUL E. VALLELY, US ARMY (RET) August 30, 2010
There was a time a time when the municipality of San Fernando in northeastern Mexico was known for farming, fishing and a quiet way of life. Today, it is associated with death. This week, a young Ecuadorean with bullet holes through his shoulder and cheek told the story of how he and his travelling companions on their way to the US in search of work had been kidnapped in San Fernando by the Zetas, one of Mexico’s drug cartels. Even Monterrey, the country’s industrial center known until recently for its peaceful lifestyle, has been turned upside down with terror. The past few months have seen an increase in so-called “narco-bloqueos” or impromptu roadblocks by drugs gangs to create maximum chaos in the selected cities and thwart any local authority   to keep the peace.
 
 “They pulled us out of the truck violently and demanded money,” The young Ecuadorian told authorities after managing to escape. “They said that they were Zetas and that they would pay us $1,000 every two weeks [if we joined them] but we didn’t accept and they opened fire.” Mexican authorities confirmed the account when they discovered in a remote and semi-derelict grain warehouse 72 bullet-ridden bodies with their hands tied and eyes bandaged. Among them was a woman in the final stages of pregnancy.
 
Revelations of what has now been confirmed as the worst massacre since Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s president, declared war on organized crime almost four years ago have focused international attention on the country’s drug war like never before.  They have underlined the extent to which the cartels have moved into other avenues of crime, such as extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking. And they have left Mexicans with the increasing feeling that the government is losing the war.
 
It used to be possible to pay little heed to Mexico’s drugs cartels, which supply an estimated 80-90 per cent of the cocaine consumed in the US, as well as a substantial chunk of marijuana, methamphetamines and heroin. Today, the violence resulting from bloody inter-cartel battles over local markets and international smuggling routes affects just about everyone.
 
Less than a week ago, police found four decapitated bodies hanging from a bridge in a wealthy area of Cuernavaca, a weekend getaway about an hour from Mexico City prized for its climate of eternal spring. The victims’ genitals had been hacked off and their little fingers removed. Nearby, police found a calling card left by the South Pacific Cartel, a relatively new drugs syndicate.
 
Remember the “plaza”, that sunlit square complete with bubbling fountain in the middle that forms any self-respecting image of a Mexican town? Today, it means a local territory for dealing drugs.

Dar piso - The literal translation of “dar piso” is to “give floor” (to something). Today it means to kill someone or to “take them out”. Narco- Perhaps the most flexible term in the new vocabulary is the prefix “narco”.
 
Try “narcocandidato”, the term for describing a corrupt politician. Or “narcofiesta”, a party of rabble-rousing music, pretty girls and plenty of white cowboy hats held by and for drug traffickers. Then there is the somewhat older term “narcocorrido”, a ballad whose lyrics are specifically about mafia culture.  Things got so bad this week that Coparmex, a national confederation of 36,000 businesses that account for one-third of Mexico’s economic output, demanded that federal, state and municipal governments fulfilled their obligations to protect citizens. Mexico’s security arrangements are a patchwork of institutions – there are more than 1,600 separate police forces dotted around the country – with little or no information-sharing and notoriously vulnerable to bribes and corruption.
 
Aware of their inability to perform even basic tasks of law and order, the center-right Sr Calderón has deployed almost 50,000 army troops to win the nation’s streets back from organized crime.  But Raúl Benitez, a security analyst and expert in military affairs, says that the brute-force approach has fallen far short of what is needed.  “Militarizing cities without proper intelligence and information-gathering is never going to work,” he says. “There is a perception that the government is not controlling the situation.” That perception is increasingly reinforced by the numbers. According to the latest estimates, about 28,000 people have died as a result of drugs-related violence since Sr Calderón declared his war in December 2006. Since January alone, 7,500 people have been murdered, according to Reforma newspaper – 255 of those were decapitated.
 
With no sign of the violence receding, Sr Calderón and his administration have begun to step away from their assertion that the mounting death toll was a sign of the cartels’ weakness and desperation in the face of the state’s crackdown.  Instead, they are trying to rebrand the war on the cartels as a wider struggle for security. They have called on the opposition to help them design the appropriate strategy.
 
At the same time, the government is attempting to broaden its attack on organised crime. This week, it announced additional measures to help clamp down on the cartels’ money-laundering operations, which the administration estimates run into billions of dollars a year. One of them includes a bill to prohibit the purchase of real estate, vehicles and other goods for more than 100,000 pesos ($7,700) in cash.
 
Experts have welcomed the initiatives – although in both cases, they have asked the question: why now and not four years ago?
 
It is now time to enforce the rule-of-law along our southern borders. No more excuses…no more delays…no more politics, no more kowtowing to special interest groups, or claims by open-border believers and LaRaza. The fact is that the Citizens of the USA are in daily danger and are being killed because the border states of Mexico are controlled by thugs and terrorists copying Jihad tactics of mayhem and murder. Once again, the entire area is festooned with upheaval, violence, and lawlessness as it was in 1846. The northern states in Mexico; Baja California Norte,  Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas are under rogue control, and the Mexican Police and Army cannot control them. Therefore, it is in the national interest of the United States to restore order because of this clear and present danger to US Citizens and our economy. ****
 
If our Federal Government will not execute an operational plan to secure our southern borders then the States and the people must do it. However, let me provide an executable plan of operations for the Federal Government to undertake with resolve and commitment to protect and secure the American people.
 
The problems on and across our southern borders of California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas are in the news every day. You would have to live in a perpetual cave not to know the situation. We have a war of gigantic proportions…illegal invasions, treacherous drug cartels, gangs, human trafficking, drugs (is there not a war on drugs???), smuggling, kidnappings, and corruption of officials on both sides of the borders. Now if I were the Commander-in-Chief, I would be on a war-footing and I would have my military commanders planning and executing a strategy that will defeat swiftly and decisively these cancerous enemies and bring the border under control.
 
The plan is basic and advanced unconventional/conventional war planning. This combines the best use of our Forces that will encompass intelligence, targeting, structural organization of our forces to accomplish the mission, base operations, offensive and defensive operations. First, organize three (3) Border Task Force Groups (BTFGs) and position them in three operational bases, one in Texas, one to be in Arizona and one in Southern California. We have existing bases in those states that can be use. There is no requirement to create any new bases. I will not name these existing bases because of operational security but Department of Defense can easily figure this out! The BTFGs will be organized based on joint task forces of Special Ops, Army, Air Force and Navy. Selected units and personal will be relocated and moved to these designated bases. I would also declare with Mexico, a 20 mile “No Go” zone on the Mexican side of the border. Any group or persons occupying this zone engaging in criminal or illegal activities against Mexico or the United States will be engaged and shot on site.
 
There will be approximately 5,000 warriors assigned to each BTFG. The organization will be commanded by a Two Star “Warrior” and each of the three BTFGs will be commanded by a Brigadier General. The mission for the Command will be to target and conduct offensive and defensive operations on the Mexican side of the border.  National Guard, Border Patrol, DEA, and local sheriffs units will conduct border security operations on the United States side of the border. This initiative does not violate any existing Posse Comitatus laws.
 
The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction, with the intention (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) of substantially limiting the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (today the ArmyNavyAir Force, and State National Guard forceswhen such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcementpolice, or peace officer powers that maintain "law and order" on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States. The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act.
 
The National Guard is and will be the asset of the State Governors to be used as required to augment the Active Force BTFGs operations on the US side of the border.
 
Remove Homeland Security Department from this action completely.
 
Maximum use must be made of our Special Operators, Delta Force, Special Forces, Seals, AF Special Ops, Rangers, Marine Recon and Special Ops Air Assets and augmented by Active Force regular Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.
 
 The concerns and anxiety of Americans, particularly in the Border States have grown significantly in the past year. Governor Jan Brewer has had to take extraordinary legislative action to help rectify the situation and we applaud her and others in Arizona for their initiative and courage. Changes in law enforcement operations have forced smugglers of drugs and illegal aliens into ever more isolated areas, increasing the number of deaths and the level of violence to a point where even the most hardened enforcement officials are alarmed.
 
The number of arrests made by Border Patrol agents is one of the few reliable measurements of the rising influx. That number dropped right after 9/11, but it has since been climbing. In fact, the cost of protecting the nation's borders has increased 58 percent since 9/11, but in three of the four years since the attacks, the number of people nabbed by the Border Patrol still increased. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the Border Patrol reported 1.19 million arrests, compared with 932,000 in fiscal year 2003. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has grown from 8.4 million in 2000 to 15 million today.
 
The political ferment over illegals has never been greater. 78 percent of Americans think and know that the government is not doing enough to control our borders; talk shows bristle with demands for action. Additionally, Global jihad and jihadis are a major threat as they eye the southern border as a path of least resistance to strike inside the United States.
 
America…We must act NOW for the welfare and security of our precious nation. Support Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona and the other supportive Governors.
 
***** Report from Adam Thomson in Mexico City August 27, 2010
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Paul E. Vallely, Major General (USA/Ret.) is an author, military strategist and Chairman of Stand Up America and Save Our Democracy Projects. 

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