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Cartels' Overwhelming Force, Intimidating Implications

Let us put all of Presidente Calderon's denials aside while recognizing that the U.S. Department of Defense now believes that the drug cartels have fielded more than 100,000 foot soldiers. This revelation comes as the brutality of the cartels, both against each other and against the Mexican military and law enforcement, ramps up to unsightly and unseemly proportions. I was recently sent a video tape from a law enfrocement source that showed a dozen decapitated corpses that were discovered in an unnamed Mexican border town (I have no links and doubt that I would post it even if I could).

Somehow, I have been writing about this emerging problem now for nearly 4 years, and have been aware of the reality of narco-terrorism to our south since the mid-1990's. I have been paying attention. The question is who else has been watching this situation, and why is it suddenly on the radar screen.

It is essential to remember that almost 6,000 people were killed in the Cartel Wars last year, and the death toll this year has now exceeded 1000. Most troubling is that the more violent of the inter-cartel battles are happening between the Sinoloa and Gulf cartels (Los Zetas are somewhat aligned with the Gulf cartel). There are now two other potential developments. The first was mentioned in an earlier post; that Los Zetas, rogues from the Mexican special forces from the beginning might break from the Gulf Cartel and run their own business. Whether or not that happens. this new article from the Washington Times suggests that there may be a truce in the making between the Sinoloa and Gulf factions. So, take heed:

"Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades," the advisory said.

Independent analysts warn that narco-terrorists have infiltrated the Mexican government, creating a shadow regime that further complicates efforts to contain and destroy the cartels.

"My greatest fear is that the tentacles of the shadow government grow stronger, that the cartels have penetrated the government and that they will be able to act with impunity and that this ever stronger shadow government will effectively evolve into a narco-state," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington.

Someone I know pointed to last week's arrest of 755 Sinaloa cartel associates as a significant event. While this might be true, the bleeding-over of the violence and narco-related crime to the United States is astonishing. But now, because drug cartel related kidnappings are turning Phoenix Arizona into a kidnap capital, people are starting to pay attention to it. And it not just Phoenix!

Phoenix is the second worst place for kidnapping on earth, after Mexico City; 359 people were kidnapped there last year, all of them with links to trafficking. But it's getting worse all over. In New Mexico last week, police unearthed a mass grave of 13 bodies, reminiscent of 1990 Medellin. Other cartel-linked crime has been carried out in San Antonio, Anchorage, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Diego and Tucson, with huge rings operating.

Yet, there continue to be contradictions in policy. With new Secretary of Homeland Security stating that she won't militarize the border in response to Texas Governor Perry's request for federal reinforcements on the border, there is a veritable run on arms and ammunition in South Texas expecting that the first battles of the border war will be fought somewhere north of Laredo, or east of El Paso.

Denial at this point is fruitless. This situation has to be taken seriously, And yes, I know that my position is that a number of elements, not just the out of control drug cartel violence, are feeding the concern that Mexico is devolving to a failed state. The cross-border violence, however, is staring us in the face.

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