For many years, since 1995, I have been writing about the threat to U.S. sovereignty and national security from foreign-based criminal gangs, mainly the narcotrafficantes based in Mexico and organized into what are often called “cartels”. For a long time public officials tried to downplay the threat or pretended it was only a foreign problem. Finally, some of them are willing to step forward and openly discuss the problem that has been festering for decades. But they are still avoiding discussion of the corruption of U.S. officials that is attending this invasion.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has created a website, protectyourtexasborder.com/ , that presents a report from retired four-star Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey and retired two-star Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales. It was reported in the Texas Tribune. More recently, Edwin Mora wrote a report, DOJ: ‘Mexican-Based Trafficking Organizations Control Access to the U.S.–Mexico Border’, which discusses a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment.
Some have dismissed the reports on the argument that there is not the high level of overt violence on the U.S. side of the border that we are seeing in Mexico, but there is plenty of creeping violence, especially in our inner cities, to persons and to property, which is what funds the trafficking. However, overt violence is not the main measure of the extent of the invasion. Corruption of public officials is.
The geography of this invasion is the gangs trying to gain control of land along the U.S. side of the border, and through transshipment corridors along major highways and transshipment hubs near major metropolitan areas, or at forks in the corridors leading to more than 1000 cities where they have distribution operations. Sometimes they actually purchase the land, at a low price. Sometimes they just warn the landowners or managers to look aside and not interfere. That movement of contraband is made possible by compromising public officials, either through bribery or intimidation. The old Mexican slogan is plata o plomo, “silver or lead”.
It was discussed in an article in 1999 by lawyer Joseph Delaney:
“… the proportion of judges who are dishonest, who are on the take, who harbor prejudices against parties or counsel, is far greater than the lay public realizes. … Corruption is rampant in courts at every level throughout the country. It is equally rampant among prosecutors and law enforcement people. … The primary corrupting influence is the drug business. … the dope interests own contemporary justice. … There is no greater shock than to find that even with both law and the facts in your favor your constitutional rights are worthless because you can’t get the crooked regime to enforce them.”
Just because U.S. citizens are not yet seeing overt violence on our side of the border to themselves or people they know doesn’t mean the corruption is not becoming entrenched or will not be a problem even for all of us in the future. The cartels are trying to turn the U.S. into Mexico, with its endemic corruption at all levels of society, with the danger that it could collapse into a “failed state” with persistent widespread violence. Already the gangs are displacing the regular institutions of government, engaging in their own “tax” collection and even providing some services to build local public support, especially among the young they are trying to recruit.
Some have suggested this as an argument for decriminalizing narcotics in the U.S., and that needs to be done, but we also need to recognize it is now too late to undo all the damage. Just as the Mafia continued with extortion and other forms of crime even after Prohibition was ended, so this new Mafia would continue after the Prohibition of narcotics might be ended. The cartels already make more money from extortion than from narcotics trafficking. We will be suffering from the effects of the misguided “war on drugs” for generations, perhaps centuries.
The threat to our national security is not just from crime or narcotics. These same gangs that smuggle narcotics and other contraband can also smuggle weapons of mass destruction. We have an unconfirmed report from the interrogation of one of the suspected al Qaeda leaders that at least six or seven “suitcase nukes”, originally from about 40 missing from the inventory of the old Soviet Union, were smuggled into the U.S. and are now in place waiting for the signal to be detonated in some of our major cities. The report is that the smugglers were members of the MS-13 gang, based in El Salvador, who operate across Mexico and into the U.S. If we start losing cities with millions of American lives, we can blame our own corrupt public officials who turn a blind eye to the danger to us all.