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Tag: cartels

Weekend Series on Crime: Mexican Cartels in the U.S

A Mexican Militia, Battling Michoacan Drug Cartel, Has American Roots

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer

LA ESTACION, Mexico — Jorge Rios, 11 rifle rounds and a silver cross decorating his black flak jacket, lost his job as a dishwasher in Tucson for driving without a license. Santos Ramos Vargas, at 43 the oldest of this gang, got deported from Menlo Park, Calif., when he was caught carrying a pistol.

Adolfo Silva Ramos might be with his 2-year-old daughter in Orange County rather than wearing a camouflage cap and combat boots if he hadn’t been busted selling marijuana and crystal meth while in high school there. The two dozen men standing guard on a rutted road that cuts through these lime groves and cornfields are just one small part of a citizen militia movement spreading over the lowlands of western Mexico. But as they told their stories, common threads emerged: Los Angeles gang members. Deported Texas construction workers. Dismissed Washington state apple pickers.

Many were U.S. immigrants who came back, some voluntarily but most often not, to the desiccated job market in the state of Michoacan and found life under the Knights Templar drug cartel that controls the area almost unlivable. They took up arms because they were financially abused by the extortion rackets run by the Templars. Because they had family killed or wounded by their enemies. Because carrying a silver-plated handgun and collecting defeated narcos’ designer cellphones as war booty is more invigorating than packing cucumbers. Because they get to feel, for once, the sensation of being in charge.

To read the full story click here.

Weekend Series on Crime: The Kidnapping Tactics of the Mexican Cartel

Mexican Drug Cartel Activity in U.S. Said to be Exaggerated in Widely Cited Federal Report

By Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich

WASHINGTON -- When Sen. John McCain spoke during an Armed Services Committee hearing last year on security issues in the Western Hemisphere, he relayed a stark warning about the spread of Mexican drug cartels in the United States.

“The cartels,” the Arizona Republican said, “now maintain a presence in over 1,000 cities.”

McCain based his remarks on a report by a now-defunct division of the Justice Department, the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), which had concluded in 2011 that Mexican criminal organizations, including seven major drug cartels, were operating in more than 1,000 U.S. cities.

But the number, widely reported by news organizations across the country, is misleading at best, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and drug policy analysts interviewed by The Washington Post. They said the number is inflated because it relied heavily on self-reporting by law enforcement agencies, not on documented criminal cases involving Mexican drug-trafficking organizations and cartels.

To read more click here.

America’s Drug Appetite Helps Make Honduras One of the Most Dangerous Places on the Globe

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras —  I spent last week in Honduras with a couple dozen friends under the watchful and protective eye of a Honduran woman who has dedicated her life’s work to bettering the lives of the indigenous peasants of her country.

Despite State Department warnings we felt safe and welcome in the rural villages. The villagers were shyly courteous and grateful for any help to improve their living conditions. Their children were curious, achingly beautiful, and always up for any kind of fun activity which overcame the language barrier. They delighted in regularly beating me in lively rock-scissors-paper contests.

As in so many parts of the world today, individual Americans are well regarded here. The American government not so much. Many American NGOs, like Heifer, International and the Presbyterian Church, to name a couple, have made a real contribution in providing permanent housing, sustainable agriculture, education, and health care to the rural Mayans, whose lives have changed remarkably little in centuries.

On the flip side, Americans have played an important part in making Honduras one of the most dangerous places on the globe. It has the highest murder rate in the world. The city we flew into and out of, San Pedro Sula, is considered to be the most violent city in the world. Urban gang violence, overflowing prisons, robbery and kidnaping—all are endemic in this small country. Add to this the ancillary ills to which drug crime contributes—corruption, unstable governments, inadequate health care, and a weakened economy unable to cope with natural disasters like floods and earthquakes.

How is this, in part, the responsibility of Americans? Our insatiable cocaine habit has for decades produced the market demand fueling the multi-billion dollar export business from Colombia and Peru. With the success of U.S. law enforcement in maritime interdictions, the transit route has increasingly come through Central America to Mexico and then across our southern border. Transportation by the cartels now runs right through this relatively defenseless little country. The weak governments and overwhelmed law enforcement system are no match for the resources of the ruthless drug syndicates.

Honduras, which stretches from the Caribbean to the Pacific, is a battleground between the South American and Mexican drug cartels who violently confront each other in this neutral midpoint over territorial control and market share. Honduran bystanders become victims. All of this to get to the lucrative business of the American consumers.

We unintentionally contribute to the violence in Honduras in two other ways beyond our drug habit. Our relatively lax gun control laws make it easy for cartels to obtain in the United States assault rifles, ammunition, and other weapons to be used as deadly tools of the trade in Latin America. Not all firearms of course since civil wars have produced many left over weapons.

But enough to contribute substantially to the 40,000 Mexicans killed in the last six years. Also, our porous borders have permitted more than a million Hondurans to enter the United States. Substantial numbers have committed crimes, received a criminal education in American prisons, and then were deported back to their native country. They become drug organization recruits as well as violent criminals of opportunity.

In an era of budget tightening American politicians seem to be incrementally reducing support for international law enforcement, indeed for law enforcement in general. Statisticians point out that cocaine use is down and that drug sources have increasingly become domestic, such as meth manufacture, marijuana, and pharmaceutical drug diversion. Anyway, cocaine consumption is said to be relatively benign, victimless, a matter for education and regulation, not police and federal agents. Americans are said to have these Latin American drugs under control.

But ask Hondurans and Mexicans whether the American drug habit is benign for them. Or is it a voracious, self-obsessed monster into whose maw countless and random Latin American lives are sucked in and chewed up?

Perhaps the effect of cocaine consumption is just one symptom of the fact that few Americans give a damn about Central America. When told we were going to Honduras, most of my friends hardly knew where it was or anything about the country. But Hondurans are a proud and courageous people who deserve a safe and satisfying life as much as any American.

Through an interpreter I asked a young Honduran farmer what his hopes were for his daughter. “I dream that she will be able to get an education and live a happy, peaceful life in our village,” he replied.

I could not have stated more eloquently my dreams for my own daughter.

 

 

America’s Drug Appetite Helps Make Honduras One of the Most Dangerous Places on the Globe

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras –  I spent last week in Honduras with a couple dozen friends under the watchful and protective eye of a Honduran woman who has dedicated her life’s work to bettering the lives of the indigenous peasants of her country.

Despite State Department warnings we felt safe and welcome in the rural villages. The villagers were shyly courteous and grateful for any help to improve their living conditions. Their children were curious, achingly beautiful, and always up for any kind of fun activity which overcame the language barrier. They delighted in regularly beating me in lively rock-scissors-paper contests.

As in so many parts of the world today, individual Americans are well regarded here. The American government not so much. Many American NGOs, like Heifer, International and the Presbyterian Church, to name a couple, have made a real contribution in providing permanent housing, sustainable agriculture, education, and health care to the rural Mayans, whose lives have changed remarkably little in centuries.

On the flip side, Americans have played an important part in making Honduras one of the most dangerous places on the globe. It has the highest murder rate in the world. The city we flew into and out of, San Pedro Sula, is considered to be the most violent city in the world. Urban gang violence, overflowing prisons, robbery and kidnaping—all are endemic in this small country. Add to this the ancillary ills to which drug crime contributes—corruption, unstable governments, inadequate health care, and a weakened economy unable to cope with natural disasters like floods and earthquakes.

How is this, in part, the responsibility of Americans? Our insatiable cocaine habit has for decades produced the market demand fueling the multi-billion dollar export business from Colombia and Peru. With the success of U.S. law enforcement in maritime interdictions, the transit route has increasingly come through Central America to Mexico and then across our southern border. Transportation by the cartels now runs right through this relatively defenseless little country. The weak governments and overwhelmed law enforcement system are no match for the resources of the ruthless drug syndicates.

Honduras, which stretches from the Caribbean to the Pacific, is a battleground between the South American and Mexican drug cartels who violently confront each other in this neutral midpoint over territorial control and market share. Honduran bystanders become victims. All of this to get to the lucrative business of the American consumers.

We unintentionally contribute to the violence in Honduras in two other ways beyond our drug habit. Our relatively lax gun control laws make it easy for cartels to obtain in the United States assault rifles, ammunition, and other weapons to be used as deadly tools of the trade in Latin America. Not all firearms of course since civil wars have produced many left over weapons.

But enough to contribute substantially to the 40,000 Mexicans killed in the last six years. Also, our porous borders have permitted more than a million Hondurans to enter the United States. Substantial numbers have committed crimes, received a criminal education in American prisons, and then were deported back to their native country. They become drug organization recruits as well as violent criminals of opportunity.

In an era of budget tightening American politicians seem to be incrementally reducing support for international law enforcement, indeed for law enforcement in general. Statisticians point out that cocaine use is down and that drug sources have increasingly become domestic, such as meth manufacture, marijuana, and pharmaceutical drug diversion. Anyway, cocaine consumption is said to be relatively benign, victimless, a matter for education and regulation, not police and federal agents. Americans are said to have these Latin American drugs under control.

But ask Hondurans and Mexicans whether the American drug habit is benign for them. Or is it a voracious, self-obsessed monster into whose maw countless and random Latin American lives are sucked in and chewed up?

Perhaps the effect of cocaine consumption is just one symptom of the fact that few Americans give a damn about Central America. When told we were going to Honduras, most of my friends hardly knew where it was or anything about the country. But Hondurans are a proud and courageous people who deserve a safe and satisfying life as much as any American.

Through an interpreter I asked a young Honduran farmer what his hopes were for his daughter. “I dream that she will be able to get an education and live a happy, peaceful life in our village,” he replied.

I could not have stated more eloquently my dreams for my own daughter.

 

 

Feds: Cartels Relying on Children to Smuggle Drugs

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are alarmed at what appears to be an increase in cartels recruiting children and teenagers to smuggle drugs over the U.S. border, NBC 7 in San Diego reports.

Federal agents said children as young as 12 are being used as drug mules.

“It shocks me and saddens me that kids are getting involved. It doesn’t shock me that cartels will use whatever method they need,” Jose Garcia, a deputy special agent for ICE Homeland Security Investigations, told NBC 7.

Cartels are recruiting children outside schools and malls and by using social media, agents told NBC 7.

Making matters worse, the children appear to be moving more meth across the border.

DEA Leads Biggest Meth Bust in New York History

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 New York has had its share of big drug busts.

But when it comes to methamphetamine, the state has never seen a bigger one than the 50 pounds seized from a boardinghouse in Westchester County, CBS New York reports.

The DEA called it the biggest meth bust in New York State history.

About $1 million worth of the dangerous drug was discovered as Mexican cartels try to carve a larger market for meth, CBS New York reports.

The bust netted two arrests, while agents search for the chemist.

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