Mexican Cartels – Weekend Rundown

It was a typical weekend in Mexico (“6 strangled, 1 decapitated in Mexican resort city of Cancun”.)

Flipping through the channels last night, “Bred Meltzer’s Decoded” had an episode on the history of the various mafias in the world. When it came to the Mexican Cartels, the Scully/Mulder pair sat slack-jawed in disbelief as a lady familiar with the intricacies of the Cartels began explaining how the Cartels’ power and sophistication are really unparalleled, especially when compared to the Italian and Russian mafias at the height of their powers, and how the Cartels’ operations are rapidly expanding onto U.S. soil. (“Americans are becoming victims of sophisticated kidnapped rings that never get reported to the FBI?!”)

Meanwhile, the AP pulls its head out of the sand momentarily:

Mexican drug cartels — the same groups credited with taking tens of thousands of innocent lives through brutal murders during the last few years — have infiltrated the United States.

In an exposé published by The Associated Press this week, reporter Michael Tarm cites an extensive review of federal court cases, government drug-enforcement data and interviews with top law enforcement officials to back up the claim that violent drug lords from south of the border have established bases within the US that are now working as remote hubs for international narcotics rings.

These groups, writes Tarm, once rarely journeyed out of Mexico or, if that, far beyond the nation’s border with the US. In recent years, however, Mexican cartels like the infamous Zetas have extended their reach into the US by literally deploying entire units to oversee domestic operations.

It isn’t amateur drug mules or wannabe gangsters that are being sent abroad either. The AP says some of the most trusted agents aligned with Mexican drug militias now operate out of the US “to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.”

Should the expansion continue at its current rate, US authorities warn that it could eventually become harder if not impossible to extradite the cartels to outside of the US. Soon, says Tarm, drug smugglers may expand into other ventures, like prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and even money laundering.

“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” Jack Riley of the US Drug Enforcement Administration explains to the AP.

Southern California, Texas and Arizona aren’t the new homes of these groups, either. Nine non-border states across the US now have a documented Mexican cartel presence, with the AP claiming that these collectives have expanded as far north as Pennsylvania, roughly 1,500 miles away.

Amidst our ‘national gun debate’, is anyone connecting the dots regarding the surge in violence in Chicago? Nope.

In Chicago, Illinois, the cartels have even become the new kings. In the Windy City, the Chicago Crime Commission now considers Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, as Public Enemy No. 1 — the same title once bestowed on gangster kingpin Al Capone. Unlike his prohibition era counterpart, though, Guzman has never once set foot in the eastern Illinois town.

“People think, ‘The border’s 1,700 miles away. This isn’t our problem.’ Well, it is. These days, we operate as if Chicago is on the border,” Riley tells the AP.

I’m sure a “pathway to citizenship” for many of the currently illegal cartel network members throughout the U.S. will curb things.

But if geographical boundaries no longer apply in terms of the growing drug trade, will the same trends found in Mexico make their way up north too? The Houston Chronicle reported over the weekend that 3,000 drug-cartel murders have been carried during just the first 100 days since the country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office in December. And since 2006, the death toll is thought to exceed 70,000 — or nearly 20 times more than NATO combat deaths in Afghanistan, adds the paper…

But given the documented expansion of the drug gangs into locales like Chicago — where crime states have skyrocketed in recent months — the surge in cartel presence in the US is likely already being accompanied by a wave of violence as well. The Texas Department of Public Safety cites 22 killings and five kidnappings in Texas due to cartel activity from 2010 through mid- 2011, but as gangs penetrate further into the mainland, those numbers are expected to only grow.

Meanwhile, as the extended media has its head in the sand, the Zetas – amidst their takeover of the drug trade in various U.S. cities, had a slight slip-up in Austin, TX, resulting in a money laundering prosecution:

The case — which has implicated nearly 20 people and goes to trial Monday in an Austin federal court — is one of the largest money laundering investigations ever to be prosecuted in Central Texas and could provide a window into the inner workings of a dark and deadly business. But authorities say it also is only one example of a new norm.

An American-Statesman analysis of more than 200 federal cases filed in Austin over the past decade has found that Mexican drug cartels have expanded into some of the most complex organized crime operations in the area and across the state, dipping deep into enterprises such as forced prostitution, weapons and the sale of larger quantities of harder drugs, such as methamphetamine and heroin. With violence and political upheaval in Mexico, authorities say, they are increasingly turning to legitimate U.S. businesses as places to invest and conceal those illegal earnings.

Given enough time, however, such slip-ups should subside, as the Cartels will have sufficient police, judicial, and other government officials here in the U.S. in their pocket…. Just like in Mexico!

Of the Cartels’ presence in Austin:

Authorities now know of at least six cartels, including the Zetas, operating in Austin, up from four identified in 2011. They also know the area has long served as one of the traffickers’ prime “transfer zones,” sitting on a cluster of major arteries and corridors, including Interstate 35, which stretches from Laredo to Minnesota.

While in Mexico the [Zetas] has gained notoriety for beheadings and dismemberment, bitter brutality it uses symbolically and with impunity, court records show that in Texas and the United States it has followed different rules of engagement, seeping in quietly, often by extorting undocumented immigrants, converting rural areas into distribution zones and using advanced accounting practices in businesses it runs as far north as the Dallas area and beyond.

At least two major rings with ties to the Zetas, one involving firearms and another involving violent human smuggling, have been broken up in Central Texas, while federal agents in San Antonio have accused the group of peddling political influence in Mexico. Investigations there were opened in recent years into its alleged dealings within the real estate industry and have even embroiled a Texas State University professor and Tomás Yarrington Ruvalcaba, the former mayor of the Mexican border city of Matamoros and ex-governor of Tamaulipas.

What do you think the odds are that the Texas State University professor is of Mexican descent?

But it’s racist and un-American to assume that, here in the U.S., ethnocentrism among people of La Raza (The Race) might trump an increasingly-confused (and thereby meaningless) American identity.

The first commenter on this news story has it right:

This is washed intelligence given for public consumption.I shudder to think what the full scope of power and influence the Zetas really have.

Si! Se puede!

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