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Kidnappings And Drug Violence In Mexico

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The United States and Mexican governments have been agitated by the upsurge in drug violence and kidnappings in the Mexican Border.  Tony Garza, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, attest that he could promote or raise a travel alert for the United States citizens traveling in Mexico, specifically in Ciudad Juarez.  Local officials have disseminated several travel advisories with regard to the increase in murders and violence, even robberies and kidnappings at the U.S.-Mexico border.  The crime and violence at the border is alarming and rapidly increasing in spite of the persistent attempts of the Mexican law enforcement to stop it.  Travel alerts are reissued as the increasing insecurity at the border continues.

The upsurge of drug violence and kidnappings at the U.S.-Mexico border involves drug trafficking as well as large-scale kidnappings of foreign visitors in the area.  In the past years, vile murders of women caused ill reputation in Ciudad Juarez.  However, in 2008, the murders are 10 times higher as compared to those recent years.

In October of 2007, Mexican President Felipe Calderon had sent 2,500 extra troops at the border to take control of the increase in murders as well as to crackdown gangs involved in drugs.  This move is in light of the fact that the Mexican border cities are well-liked by American tourists enjoying nightclubs, cheap tequila, and cut-price medicine.  On the other hand, the locals in the border cities assert that the cruel daylight murders are scaring off current and potential visitors.

This year, the death toll in Mexico has reached 4,000 due to drug cartels up in battle with each other for control of transportation routes and drug markets.  This number has tripled the total for 2002 while increasing by 65% for 2007.  Even other types of brutality such as massacres, slaughter of families, and decapitations have been rampant in Mexico.  In some reports, there was slaughtering of entire families and massacres of individuals at a time using hand grenades.  More so, extortion and kidnapping increased the numbers of occurrences making Mexico as the capital of abduction in the Americas.

While Mexicans fear such violence and brutalities, Americans should be on their guard as well.  The growing violence on the Mexican side of the border may result to more kidnapping, murder, and extortion on the United States side.  Drug battles on the U.S.-Mexico border are increasing and feared to go beyond the border into the United States.

  The Mexican drug cartels are now considered as powerful organized crime syndicates that govern the drug trades in all parts of U.S. apart from controlling large parts of the Mexican territory.  Mexican drug cartels are also involved in Mexican electoral politics; thus, the confidence of the public in the ability of the state to provide security for citizens is dwindling.

In recent reports, Mexican drug cartels use high-powered weapons, which include assault weapons and military-grade grenade launchers purchased at gun shows and sporting goods stores in the U.S. side of the border.  Consequently, these weapons are smuggled south of the border.

As mentioned earlier, President Calderon has deployed additional troops as the crime activities of drug cartels increased.  Kidnapping has also become an organized crime activity coupled with drug smuggling.  While the government is pressuring most of these drug cartels, they turn to kidnapping as a substitute for illicit incomes.

Over the years, Mexico has been known as a source of heroin for drug markets in the United States and a major hub of cocaine from South America.  Both Mexico and Border States have been worried that Mexico might be governed by violence and corruption.  Several alarming occurrences of drug violence and kidnappings in a number of cities in Mexico have occurred, specifically along the U.S.-Mexico border in which the government of the United States should give priority in terms of security.  Rival drug cartels are now into brutal turf battles.  In fact, these drug cartels have involved current and former police officers in their dealings and battles especially in the resort city of Cancun.

Reports claim that Mexico’s largest drug kingpins can still run their operations even if they are inside high-security prisons.  This goes to show that drug cartels can generate fear throughout the country and the Border States even while they are inside prison cells.

In some other reports, drug cartels have murdered high-ranking policemen to initiate war for control over the lucrative drug trade in Mexico.  The deaths of these policemen as well as occurrences of kidnappings associated to drug trade have prompted the government of Mexico to create an anti-kidnapping squad.

On the other hand, ruthless drug cartels have killed two senior police officials who were investigating violence among rival drug cartels shortly after the establishment of the anti-kidnapping squad.  One of the senior police officials was killed in front of his 16-year-old son while his car was stopped at the traffic light in the city of Chihuahua.  In the U.S.-Mexico border city of Ciudad Juarez, a police commander investigating 600 drug murders was shot dead while stepping out of his house.

Several other suspects have been charged with drug trafficking and moving money for Mexican drug cartels through Atlanta.  Atlanta has become a significant hub for illegal drug markets in the East.  Although few regions of Mexico have become immune to such transactions, others cannot seem to tolerate such disturbance in their security.

In Tijuana, the most prominent drug cartel is believed to be controlled by the Arellano Felix family.  In San Diego, six men have been accused of having direct connection with a rogue faction of the Arellano Felix drug cartel.  These men were believed to be involved in 20 kidnappings and several murders in a span of 3 years.  In a Las Vegas home, three armed men disguised as police officers tied up a woman and her boyfriend while abducting her 6-year-old boy.  Police authorities claimed that these men were connected to a Mexican drug-smuggling group who were recouping proceeds that were allegedly stolen the grandfather of the 6-year-old boy.  The boy, on the other hand, was found unharmed after three days.

However, his grandfather was charged with racketeering after mailing $60,000 from Mississippi to Nevada.  Police authorities believed that this amount of money were proceeds from drug operations.  Meanwhile, authorities are still pursuing the kidnappers.

In September of this year, Mexican authorities announced that some 175 alleged members of the drug cartels in Mexico had been captured across the country and abroad.  At least 43 of these members have been active in Atlanta.  In the entire 18-month operation, Mexican authorities have arrested a total of 507 people who are members of drug cartels.  More so, authorities have seized 16,000 kilograms of cocaine, 51 pounds of marijuana, 19 pounds of heroine, half a ton of methamphetamine, and more than $60 million in cash from that operation alone.

In another report, federal authorities have announced charges against 41 people believed to be involved in drug trafficking and money laundering for Mexican drug cartels in Atlanta.  A former deputy sheriff from Texas was among those who were charged.  The former sheriff was stopped along a Georgia highway carrying nearly $1 million in cash in his truck.

According to an arm of the Justice Department in the United States, the National Drug Intelligence (NDIC), the trail of Mexican smuggling operations are all over the states except for West Virginia and Vermont.  The Mexican organizations, which were identified as being affiliated with a so-called Federation, mostly operated in 82 cities in the Southwest.

Arizona, Texas, and California are currently facing the murders, kidnappings, and other problems linked with the ongoing drug battles and the war between the government of Mexico and drug traffickers.  Phoenix officials have investigated the deaths of 13 people who were killed the execution-style way as the crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.  The drug cartels have also been hijacking vans, which carried prohibited drugs and illegal workers on the United States highways.  In the Phoenix area, illegal immigrants of more than 100 in numbers were kidnapped and hoarded in houses until the ransom were paid by their families.

Although the post-9/11 law-enforcement buildup along the Mexican border has aided California in containing violence and additional Border Patrol officers are being deployed, United States officials are still tormenting on the experienced and well-armed gunmen traveling north of the U.S.-Mexico border.  In fact, the violence is fueled with drugs as well as illegal immigration.

On the other hand, the U.S. Border Patrol continues to keep its agents in the field instead of taking extra precautions.  The Patrol continuously reminds people to be on the alert as well as be cautious of the violent situation along the border.

Consequently, promoters of peace assert that the U.S. Border Patrol should take more action so that it can fend off the setting up of the considerable presence of organized criminals from Mexico to the United States.

Border security has become a growth industry since the 9/11 tragedy.  A final version of a supplemental signed by the President where an amendment by the House of Representatives on a $81.3 billion emergency supplemental in funding war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been attached, serves several purposes.  First, the supplemental would boost judicial powers for the deportation of political asylum seekers.  Second, it would deny driver’s licenses for immigrants who do not have legal documents.

Finally, the supplemental would give sole authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security in pushing through with the construction of border fences, roads and barriers by renouncing all relevant laws such as environmental protections.  Consequently, this would complete the second phase of a $58 million border fence in the San Diego-Tijuana area between Otay Mesa and the Pacific Ocean.

However, scholars of the US-Mexico border have strongly opposed to the provision of building more fences as it would only lead to bigger violence and border security issues.  It was found that although the existing triple-fencing in San Diego decreased illegal crossings and murders in 2002, Tucson apprehensions increased by 342 percent in the same period.  This only proved that the fence has not stopped violence and illegal crossing or undocumented migration.  In fact, it only shifted violent gangs and illegal crossers to more dangerous and remote lands where many migrants die as they cross the border.

The upsurge in kidnappings and drug violence in Mexico is rooted on turf wars between drug cartels that want to have full control of the illegal flow of drugs in the United States.  Drug cartels want to earn an estimated $14 billion each year.  According to some reports, the United States officials have initiated additional security efforts to be deployed at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Both the law enforcement agencies of U.S. and Mexico established a joint effort known as the Armas Cruzadas or Crossed Arms in order to curtail the smuggling of cross-border weapons.  The Armas Cruzadas incorporates shared databases as well as better monitoring of illegal selling of weapons at gun shows and gun shops.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States claims that it is highly concerned with the scope of violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and the human and drug smuggling that such violence creates.  On the other hand, President Calderon of Mexico claims that two drug cartels are present in his country.  The Mexican government to stop violence and kidnapping is now fighting these two most prominent drug cartels.

More so, President Calderon also noted that the success of the drug violence and kidnappings in Mexico is based on brutal trade cycle.  Thus, the recent investigation conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) showed that guns flow down to Mexico while drugs flow up in the United States.  This is due to the fact that the illegal guns seized in Mexico are from the United States.  An estimate of 90-95% of illegal weapons seized in Mexico were traced as coming from the United States whereas only military personnel and law-enforcement offices can legally purchase or possess guns in Mexico.

Consequently, the United States effort in tracking illegal weapons is only a part of its effort to decrease or stop the drug violence in Mexico.  The United States government has also been concerned with the upsurge in the number of kidnappings particularly in the U.S.-Mexico border.  Based on reports, at least 435 people were kidnapped in 2007.  This has increased by 35% from 2006.  More so, kidnappers murdered 59 abducted people in 2 years since Calderon became president.

The Mexican government has also taken initiatives in anti-kidnapping reforms through citizen involvement.  The Mexican government, having been moved by kidnap-murder of a 14-year-old boy, has established a program of anti-crime reforms.  The program will establish a new police investigative agency in replacement with its corruption-ridden detectives’ troop.

Apart from the overhauled detective troop, the Mexican government aspires to involve as much as 300,000 neighborhood anti-crime volunteers.  An anti-kidnapping hotline will also be set up for those people who would like to provide pertinent information that leads to capturing the kidnappers.  Those who will provide pertinent information will also be rewarded with as much as 500,000 pesos or US$49,400.  The federal government, on the other hand, has established five national anti-kidnapping centers and works toward police forces cleanup.

In light of the kidnappings and drug violence in Mexico, an additional border fence between the United States and Mexico has been proposed.  The government of Mexico as well as scholars and ministers of different Latin American countries have opposed to the plan thinking that the proposed border fence will not be an effective means of eliminating drug violence, kidnappings, as well as undocumented immigration.  The government of Mexico had claimed that the United States had not recognized the significant contribution of Mexican workers to the U.S. economy.  In the changing modern times, a security plan that is extremely dependent on fences is no longer suitable as it would upset bilateral relationships among countries and bring rise to many internal conflicts as what transpired in the erection of the Berlin Wall.

Works Cited:

Ackleson, Jason. Fencing in Failure: Effective Border Control is not achieved by Building More Fences.   Immigration Policy in Focus. 4.2 (2005).

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Beaubien, Jason and Shapiro Ari. “Violence Up as Mexico Battles Drug Cartels.” 10 Nov. 2008. NPR.org. Accessed: 26 November 2008. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96805510

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Homer-Dixon, Thomas. Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. UK: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Roig-Franzia, Manual. From “Mexico, Drug Violence Spills in U.S.” 20 April 2008. WashingtonPost.com Accessed: 26 November 2008. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/19/AR2008041901916.html

Rotella, Sebastian. Twilight on the Line: Underworlds and Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Border. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1998.

Torres, Omar. “Mexico Drug Violence Intensifies.” 02 June 2008. CSMonitor.com Accessed: 26 November 2008. http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0602/p99s01-duts.html

Tulchin, Joseph, Fruhling, H. Hugo, and Golding, Heather. Crime and Violence in Latin America: Citizen Security, Democracy, and the State. N.W.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2003.

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