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Drug Cartels Training Just Across the Border

Long before the attacks of September 11th, many people recognized the terrorist aspects of the illegal narcotics activities just south of the border. To some, the parallels were obvious, yet to others, 2001 was too early to see the dilemma faced by the United States. Yes, it is argued by some people that were it not for the demand for illegal narcotics in the U.S., the drug trade would not be as "vibrant" as it is in Mexico. Perhaps this is debateable. What is not debateable, however, is that the proximity of the drug cartels to U.S. soil and the violence wrought by the internal wars being fought for territorial superiority, creates a threat to U.S. security. That threat now clearly goes beyond the proliferation of illegal narcotics on our streets. Today, the parallels between terorrism and illegal narcotics are no less obvious to me than they were in 2002 when I was interviewed by the MIT Technology Review.

Such similarities have not gone unnoticed by high-tech firms. Tracer and SAIC were two of thousands that responded to the Pentagon's call last October for new technologies to combat terrorism. "Isn't there a fairly strong feeling that narcotics in this country is a terrorist activity?" asks Fraser. 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."

I dare say that the cross over between the drug cartels and terrorist organizations has already occurred. Further, the adoption of jihadist tactics by the narco-terrorists is more torubling today that it was nearly six years ago. Today's Dallas Morning News brings as much justification as is needed for stronger border security and control.

The ranch near this border community is isolated, desolate and laced by arroyos – an ideal place, experts say, for training drug cartel assassins.

Mexican drug cartels have conducted military-style training camps in at least six such locations in northern Tamaulipas and Nuevo León states, some within a few miles of the Texas border, according to U.S. and Mexican authorities and the printed testimony of five protected witnesses who were trained in the camps.

The camps near the Texas border and at other locations in Mexico are used to train cartel recruits – ranging from Mexican army deserters to American teenagers – who then carry out killings and other cartel assignments on both sides of the border, authorities say.

The Mexican Army deserters referred to are known more often as Los Zetas. Trained by our own special operations, the Zetas have been known to cross our border and even attack our Border Patrol units. One of my associates, a former Army special ops MSgt. was brought in about two years ago to help re-train the border patrol agents in special ops tactics so they might be better able to combat these incursions. Despite the fact that a spokeman for the Mexican attorney general's office tried to minimize these training camps as places where the recruits use the camps for "target practice," their proximity to the U.S. cannot be ignored.

According to the printed testimony, the training has taken place at locations southwest of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville; near the town of Abasolo, between Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria; just north of the Nuevo Laredo airport; and at a place called "Rancho Las Amarillas" near a rural community, China, that is close to the Nuevo León-Tamaulipas border. Two other ranches used as training camps, both east of Matamoros, have clandestine landing strips for cocaine shipments originating in Colombia and destined for the United States via Texas, according to the officials and testimony.

Over a period of about two years, nearly 5000 people have been killed in these narco-wars. Unfortunately, as politicized as the issue of border security has become, and as much attention has been placed on fighting the terrorists "over there" instead of on our soil, the situation on the nearly 2000 mile border with Mexico is often overlooked.

"I know we're fighting terrorism throughout the world ... but here along the border the narco-terrorists operate on both sides of the border, and so far it's gone largely unnoticed by Washington," said Webb County Assistant District Attorney Jesús Guillén.

A recent Mexican intelligence report numbered the hardcore members of Los Zetas at over 300. Frankly, its probably alot more than that. Yes, admittedly, there is no proof of Middle Eastern terrorists using the training camps. Recent reports of three Afghanis attempting to cross the border with altered, but genuine, Mexican passports, is probably just the beginnning. We need to pay attention to what is happening just across the border.

2 Comments

I believe most people are aware that drug smuggling and arms smuggling have been proven over time to very often coexist within the same framework. The reasons are fairly obvious (illegal profits, secured channels, non-sympathy towards the host country).The dangers of unwanted terrorist activity through these channels obviously exists also. This will depend on sympathy and money. Any serious event traceable to the use of drug/arms trafficking infrastrecture will lead to a heavy response, the traffickers are well aware of this, and may be unwilling to see their business interupted by helping such an occurence. That does not rule out that someone will be willing to pay for that eventuality to become irrelevant. That does not rule out that certain sympathies may be strong enough to overule any inhibition. South of the border is very porous. South of the border exist various anti-American entities, indeed just about all have some presence there of one kind or another, from private and secured Iranian bases to active reconaissance units, of whichever entity you should care to choose. This is no great secret. The question might be, whether to work 'with' certain groups by not forcing them to restructure and move completely undergound or outside of known territory, so loosing surveillance ability. Maybe a heavy response should take place in advance, in which case it would have to be enduring.

I believe that most people are not aware of the connections between drug smuggling and the trade of illegal arms or human smuggling. However, you may be right that it will take a "smoking gun" (both literally and figuratively) for the U.S. to crack down on illegal border crossings. As for your assertion of private and secured Iranian bases and active reconnaissance units, are you speaking of Mexico? I don't think so, but your comment isn't clear on this point.