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Drugs, Terrorism and Illegal Immigration

We live in a dangerous world in which the past is now blending with the present, and possibly influencing the future. The past is the pervasive problem of the importation of illegal narcotics into this country, much of it flowing across the U.S.-Mexican border. The present is the attention paid to the problem of illegal immigration and the connection between illegal immigration and terrorism. The future may well find us with a federal immigration policy that allows illegal aliens to work here a “guests.”

As expressed in Michael Cutler’s post on the Counterterrorism Blog from January 3rd, the question is whether our government will ever be able to see the linkage between the worlds of illegal narcotics, illegal immigration and the expansion terrorism. Frankly, that linkage has been apparent for more than a decade.

In Links Between Terrorism, Drug Trade, and Illegal Immigration Can't Be Ignored and referring to another article in the Daily Bulletin, Mr. Cutler writes:

“…our nation's failure to secure its borders and create an immigration system that possesses true integrity imperils nothing less than the security of our nation and the survival of our citizens… "The bureaucrats don't understand what a dangerous game they are playing with American lives if they don't do something to fix the situation at the border." “Evidence of 'special-interest aliens' using the Mexican border to gain entry to the United States has been kept secret from the American public, according to federal law enforcement agents, terrorism experts and critics of U.S. foreign policy with Mexico... According to DEA intelligence reports, the link between terrorism and narcotics has been well known since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

In another quote from the Daily Bulletin article Links between illegal immigration, terrorism, drug trade worry U.S officials: "Those interviewed by the Daily Bulletin say agencies including the FBI and CIA are not using information from Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration agents to make connections between the drug trade, illegal immigration and terrorist organizations."

Also, a few weeks ago, there was a lot of publicity about the ICE raids of the Swift Meat Packing Plants and the link between illegal immigration and identity theft. These issues are “joined at the hip.” The linkage of illegal immigration with identity theft seemingly hit the national consciousness a couple of weeks ago when there were raids on six meat-packing plants. In that situation, it was found that many of the illegal workers held forged or counterfeit identity papers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with search warrants entered plants owned by Swift & Co., of Greeley, Colo., charging that "large numbers" of workers illegally assumed the identities of U.S. citizens or legal residents by using their Social Security numbers to get work, ICE officials said.

The Swift Meat Packing plant raids are not the first time illegal immigrants have been found with forged identity documents. This has been going on for over a decade, as written in the Washington Post article that also referenced a 1998 raids in Nebraska in which the government found that “nearly 20 percent of workers had invalid documents. The vast majority disappeared before questioning.”

So, which came first? The drug smugglers, the illegal aliens or the terrorists? It is hard to say when it comes to aliens and drug smugglers. But the connection between drug smuggling and terrorism is not new either. To an extent, none of this is a surprise. Having had the opportunity to attend and present at a number of Office of National Drug Control Policy symposia and listening carefully to presentations by various Defense Department or U.S. Customs officials, it was clear even in the mid-1990’s that there was a direct connection between the two “counters.”

In May 2002, I was interviewed for an article in the MIT Technology Review discussing the cross over between counter-drug and counter-terrorism technologies in which I asked the question, "Isn't there a fairly strong feeling that narcotics in this country is a terrorist activity?"

Not too surprisingly that position was contradicted by Brian Houghton, director of research for the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, who said, “Yes and no, says Houghton, who cautions against drawing too many parallels, or assuming that knowledge in one area bequeaths expertise in the other. "There are similarities, but [drug trafficking and terrorism] are two different things," he says. "Where they start to go apart is that drugs are such an epidemic. If all drug dealers and cartels were terrorist organizations we'd be in big trouble."

Well, we are in big trouble as Houghton commented. In the passage of just four years since the interview with the Technology Review, we have seen the linkage between illegal immigration and the drug cartels on Mexico. We have also witnessed the numerous flare-ups in violence along the United States border with Mexico, especially in places like Nuevo Laredo, where drug lords or their gangs kidnap Americans and murder law enforcement agents. We have seen the linkage of illegal immigration with illegal or forged identity papers. In addition, we see and read about the growing number of non-Mexican immigrants, many of who overstay their Visas and get lost in the blended society of the United States.

Much like Miguel Alfonso Salinas who was first thought to be a Mexican migrant but who turned out to be Ayman Sulmane Kamal, a Muslim born in Egypt - a country designated as "special-interest" by the United States for sponsoring terrorism – it would be unrealistic to think that others are not also here under false pretenses. Whether you call it “guest worker” or “amnesty” the result of such policies is the widening of our open borders. We are already at risk. Why the federal government would countenance an idea that would increase that risk is simply incredulous.



Some of the best material is on Senator Mc Cauls website:
"A line in the Sand"


Yes, A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the U.S. Border is full of great material. I believe however, that it is Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul's website. Until this week, he was Majority Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Investigations.

The porosity of our border is indeed a terribly serious problem.

Illegal 'aliens' coming across the border is bad enough by itself, but an even bigger problem is the smuggling of materials.

Huge profits are possible to anyone willing to risk smuggling because the illegality of drugs has created an out-of-control black market, which in turn has paid for an array of infrastructure to smuggle people and material into the country. This includes tunnels, aircraft, submarines ... you name it!

This same infrastructure could be used to smuggle anything in addition to drugs, from terrorists to bioweapons to even radiologic devices.

There doesn't appear to be any easy fix. One thing that could be legistlated to help would be to eliminate the incentive to smuggle drugs.

Lots of people like to ignore this, but making currently illegal drugs legally regulated in the United States would undercut a huge chunk of the profit (incentive) for the smugglers.

This would decrease the number of holes in the border ... and most likely make it harder for our enemies to set off a dirty bomb in one of our cities.


The question of legalizing currently illegal narcotics to stem the flow across the border is a lengthy and complicated subject that I don't think I will address here in this post. However, that debate has been around a long time. Legalizing narcotics has so many negative implications. Perhaps I'll cover this subject separately.

We must stop squandering resources fighting the so-called war on drugs, and we should instead concentrate all our efforts on decoupling terror from the drug trade and illegal immigration.

It seems like the unchecked profit from the war on drugs for border smugglers is perhaps bringing the dirty bomb closer to our homeland ... check this out:

"Terrorists teaming with drug cartels"

"Islamic extremists embedded in the United States — posing as Hispanic nationals — are partnering with violent Mexican drug gangs to finance terror networks in the Middle East, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration report."