Watching the Presidential candidates perform their stump speeches, you would have no idea that America's worst security threat is not halfway round the world but right next door.
Day by day, the bodies pile higher in Mexico as Presidente Felipe Calderon's military crackdown on drug cartels shows no sign of working. A mid-October tally of Mexico's drug-related deaths this year put the number at around 3,500, compared with 2673 in all of 2007 and 1410 in 2006.
Worse, America's thin strands of border barbed wire have not kept Mexico's spiraling violence from encroaching on our soil, as more evidence appears that Mexican crime is here in a big way. And powerful drug cartels have assembled just the cross-border smuggling infrastructure that other enemies could easily use.
How much has Mexican anarchy worsened?
When the State Department warned Americans in 2005 not to visit south of the border, Mexican officials reacted with howls of indignation. But when Foggy Bottom voiced similar caution in an Oct. 14 Travel Alert, Mexico City kept its designated squawkers quiet. Why call more attention to a smoldering train wreck? Even Mexican bureaucrats can occasionally recognize times when silence is the better part of diplomacy.
Another negative milestone: the decision of south Texas sheriffs to return fire across the Rio Grande because of escalating criminal aggression. In Hidalgo County, a smuggler rammed a deputy's vehicle October 13 to make his getaway. But that incident was a mere burp compared with the 2006 attack where 300 shots were fired from Mexico at Hidalgo deputies and Border Patrol officers.
There was no fire returned then. But recently Sheriff Lupe Trevino declared: "If fired upon we will respond in kind" [South Texas deputies authorized to fire into Mexico, Associated Press, October 17, 2008].
When the history of failed states is written twenty years from now, Mexico will be a major chapter. The period through which we are living will be understood as the tipping point where the government lost its effort to maintain general order and control over its territory.
Mexico has been in the midst of an internal military campaign to root out organized crime since Calderon initiated the crackdown in December 2006, soon after his inauguration. But violence is worsening in many ways.
Mexicans' fear of crime is a top political issue. They are unconvinced that their government can solve the growing anarchy. In late August, Mexicans rallied in every state to protest crime, including 150,000 in Mexico City's main plaza. Their anger is compounded by the knowledge of corruption at every level that makes crime fighting even more difficult.
It's hard to keep the multiple murders straight because there are so many of them:
The good news is that El Paso across the Rio Grande is still relatively low in homicides (only 17 in 2007 in a city of 600,000). The bad news is that the El Paso's Thomason Hospital has been dinged for $1 million in medical and security costs for victims of Mexico's drug violence.
Even so, some in Juarez hope to lure back the fearful American tourist by a billboard campaign characterizing the city as the "Land of Encounters". How curiously descriptive.
What does this crime signify? Much of Mexican violence is intramurals among drug gangs. But is this an era of newly politicized cartel members? Or merely some unhappy fellows miffed at America's cruel immigration policy, who procured a grenade in the local mercado?
This was particularly shocking—pure terrorism against the general population instead of the usual gang warfare. Targeting civilians on the national holiday was apparently another bloody escalation designed by the crime syndicates to weaken public resolve. As the Austin Statesman's
"This is a new stage with attacks on the civilian population," said Jorge Chabat, a security expert in Mexico City. "It's a very disturbing change." Before the Morelia attack, Mexican authorities had scoffed at attempts to compare Mexico to Colombia. Though Mexican cartels largely have directed their violence at each other or at suspected dirty cops, Colombian cartels, led by the now-deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar, embarked on a campaign of terror aimed at destabilizing the Colombian government. [A history of violence, By Jeremy Schwartz, Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 28, 2008]
Is a full-scale Colombia-style wave of terror the next step for the Mexican crime syndicates? Let's hope not—quite enough Mexicans are already "moving" to the United States to escape the carnage of home.
One old adage is that when America catches a cold, Mexico catches pneumonia. But when Mexico gets blood poisoning, the United States becomes infected by thousands of single cuts.
The Bush Administration's refusal to shut down the southwestern welcome mat has led to increasing danger to Americans, as the Mexican way of crime oozes inexorably north.
The American drug czar John Walters agrees:
"Some of these groups not only engage in crime and violence not only in Mexico and along the border, but they come across and kidnap, murder and carry out assassinations. These groups do not respect the border." [US official: Mexican cartels murder, kidnap in US, Associated Press, Oct 17, 2008]
Unfortunately, Walters' solution is to expedite the initial $400 million increment of the Merida Initiative, a dubious scheme that funnels $1.4 billion of American taxpayer money to a country recognized round the world for its corruption at all levels of society.
A documentary filmmaker who investigated border drug smuggling recently confirmed the increasing seriousness of crime (October 20 on CNN):
RUSTY FLEMING, PRODUCER, "DRUG WARS": "Previously it was a sense of these cartels are never going to act out within our borders the way they do in Mexico. But they're starting to do that now and I think we should take that threat very seriously."
The recent kidnapping of 6-year-old Cole Puffinburger from his Las Vegas home by Mexican gangsters over drug money was a chilling reminder of how the most dangerous foreign criminals can now act at will in this country. The boy's grandfather reportedly stole millions of dollars from Mexican drug dealers who wanted to "send a message" about the debt. Fortunately the kidnappers released Cole safely in Las Vegas in a few days—and after the grandfather had been arrested by the police.
"Moreover, crimes committed by drug gangs that have become common in Mexico are now crossing the border, police officials say. Phoenix Police Cmdr. Joe Klima notes that 350 kidnappings were recorded in the city last year, a crime he describes as previously nonexistent.
"Another cartel novelty is the numbers of 'drop houses'—homes on the U.S. side where illegal immigrants take refuge after crossing the border. Last year, Phoenix authorities discovered a record amount—163 such sites—according to Alonzo Peña, special agent-in-charge of the Phoenix Office of Investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement." [Mexican drug cartels move into human smuggling, By David Francis, San Francisco Chronicle, March 31, 2008]
In order to combat this crime menace, the city's police department has organized a special team of ten detectives to prevent kidnapping.
"[Lt. Laurie] Burgett said kidnappers are turning quite savage.
" 'We've had teenagers who were sexually abused. We've had toes broken with bricks, so they're smashing their toes ... Murders, sexual abuse. We have had some of the males, actually adults, being sodomized. Torture—they're electrocuting them; they're hanging them on the walls; they're not feeding them.'" [New Phoenix Police Team Targets Kidnapping, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, Sept. 8, 2008]
An AP report [Mexican marijuana cartels sully US forests, parks, October 11, 2008] called those areas "some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides."
Anti-marijuana raids on public lands have become predictable news every fall, along with other harvest items like the wine grape harvest in Napa County and largest pumpkin contests. Here's a 2003 article in Los Angeles Times, Park's Pot Problem Explodes , and a 2002 report in the New York Times, Marijuana Found Thriving in Forests.
Agents in camo sweep in on military helicopters, chase off the Mexicans and rip up the plants. Drug Czar John Walters appeared in a Mexican marijuana garden located deep in Sequoia National Park in August. The 10,000 plants would have had an estimated street value of $40 million.
The clean-up of the toxics is left to small groups like the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew. Among the better known environmental organizations, "the Sierra Club acknowledges other priorities than drug bandits" according to an August 9, 2005 story in the LA Times [War of the weed]. So some of the most magnificent trees on earth have almost no protection from the Mexican purveyors of poison.
Washington leaders have no interest in public safety when compared with the perceived political advantages of increasing diversity—the path to the Permanent Democratic Majority. The globalists are more concerned with ideology than with mundane concerns like stopping foreign crime at the border.
Only a grassroots surge of patriotic outrage can prevent America turning into a nationwide Mexifornia.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She thinks that if infrastructure is to be built as part of yet another economic stimulus, an enlarged border fence more like the Great Wall of China would be a fine project.