Border Crisis 1

Texas Governor Greg Abbott calls the town of Roma the “hottest spot” on the border. With reason. The increasingly aggressive drug cartels are now shooting across the river in the direction of the Border Patrol who are not allowed to fire back. So far no one has been hit, but if he is?

The cartels who basically control the Mexican side of the border like to taunt the Border Patrol and see how far they can go. We’re told they harbor political ambitions beyond drug profits. Time to avenge the Mexican War of the 1840’s when half of their country was lost to the U.S.?  The cartels are sufficiently ruthless, organized and wealthy beyond dreams of avarice to act on their ambition.

Photo by www.latimes.com

Their presence is felt in Roma and across the Rio Grande – the border – in the Mexican town Miguel Aleman. Having paid $10 thousand or more to the cartels or forced to carry their drugs to reach Roma, desperate migrants can be spotted daily. The river is shallow and easily crossed, and there are not enough border guards to be constantly on the watch.

“They come night and day,” says an employee at Jack in Box close to the river. Nothing special, she says. It’s just routine. “It’s easy to hide here,” says a saleswoman at the Dollar Store nearby. Migrants will duck behind the many tables of merchandise. The Border Patrol comes searching for them in a continual game of hide and seek

Some of the newcomers don’t even have to wade into the water. They try to cross the bridge from Aleman. They can be very inventive, says a U.S Customs agent on the bridge. “We get everything.”

The governor has sent the National Guard to the border, but they are unarmed and cannot detain the immigrants. They can only call the Border Patrol who may arrive too late to make an arrest. To keep bad news away, Border Patrol agents are told not to talk to outsiders like reporters. Please go to my superior, one will say, and the superior says the same all the way up to where? The White House? Out on the road, maybe a very dusty road, the BP tends to open up. They have a job to do and are doing it as best they can.

Miguel Aleman is a brisk sunny walk across the bridge from Roma. It’s quite similar to other Mexican border towns – colorful facades of shops that line the streets, lively people at work and play, and an abiding sense of poverty with the continuing background hum of drug cartel control. The town has been the center of a violent dispute between the Zetas and Gulf cartels with dead bodies appearing from time to time.

 A group of undocumented immigrants wade across the Rio Grande at the U.S.-Mexico border in Roma, Texas. (credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

But Americans still arrive for good dentistry at a third of the cost back home. All kinds of other goods, respectable or not, are on sale at bargain prices. Is it safe to come and buy? Yes, provided you stick to your purchases and don’t go out of your way to antagonize anyone, especially a cartel member

A resident says that these days you don’t have to worry just about the cartels but also their imitators. Cartel violence is contagious and others have picked up the habit without the cartels’ more astute strategy. The cartels don’t like this, but they have only themselves to blame.

There are a few rather dowdy hotels in town which fill up with illegals on their way across the river. I’m told the cartels have also removed the town planting along the Rio in order to make a speedy getaway for migrants headed for Roma.

As Roma goes, it seems, so goes the border

A Drug Cartel Bonanza

Apparently, the Mexican drug cartels, masters of the border, were taken unawares by the Haitian surge to the U.S. But have no fear. The cartels quickly adjusted, and it looked as if they had planned the whole event themselves.The congestion of some 15 thousand Haitians at the border town of Del Rio drew under manned U.S. Border Patrol from other ports of entry that were then open to an invasion of cartel drugs – a clear bonanza. They could only agree with American progressives: the more immigration the better.

Soldiers unload bundles of seized marijuana before incinerating the drugs at a military base in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo by wired.com

How other Americans may react to the increased fentanyl coming across the border is another matter. A record 92,183 Americans died from an overdose of drugs in 2020, largely attributable to fentanyl, deadly even in tiny bits which make them easier to smuggle. They are insidious. NBC News reports a young woman at Arizona State University who swallowed an oxycodone pill for pain that turned out to be laced with a lethal amount of fentanyl.

The Border Patrol cannot cope because there are not enough of them. Some 600 agents were moved from Laredo, Texas, upriver to Del Rio. Abandoning Laredo, the largest point of entry to Mexico, meant loss of control of the border. The cartels caught on and began furnishing buses to bring still more migrants to Del Rio.

There are long stretches of the 2000 mile border which are unprotected. One can spend a good part of the day going back and forth between the two countries without being detected. Clear sailing for the cartels who operate mainly at night. Even the projected wall, if completed, would be only a partial deterrence. There would still be significant gaps to be exploited by the cartels. 

The solution is more manpower, e.g., U.S. troops protecting this country along with all its patrons abroad. They need to have the power to enforce the law, and if cartels make trouble on the U.S. side of the border, they should be able to pursue them if necessary into Mexico.

The U.S. media is understandably sympathetic to the plight of migrants but tends to overlook a main reason for their flight – the violence around them, mostly due to the cartels. Despite the inroads made by billionaire George Soros in financing prosecutors who don’t prosecute, the U.S. remains much safer than nations to the south. The best way to make life better for their people and to stop their coming to in great waves to the U.S. is to curb the power of the cartels. Fewer drugs means less violence. This entails greater care for the addicted here whose depression is not helped by media hysteria over one thing or another. A suitable calm is prescribed which is better for everyone.

The Deity of the Drug Cartels

Everybody has its own religious taste, but by any standards this is an unusual one. Many adherents of the Mexican drug cartels pay homage to Santa Muerte – Saint Death – a skeleton goddess dressed as a bride adorned with hundreds of pieces of glittering gold jewelry served up by her devoted followers. Hardly the comfortable image of a Christian saint, but suitable enough for those habituated to the violence that has consumed Mexico. Saint Death is a symbol for everyday life, which is death for so many Mexicans. Those causing it can take comfort in a saint that seems to absolve them of their crimes. She is one of them quite large.

The Holy Death by Dori Hartley

Like so much of cartel life, Saint Death is crossing the U.S. border. She is popular in prisons, and her figure stands in many front yards. Decals of her are seen on cars and pick-up trucks. Some proudly display their Saint Death tattoos. The American media have even caught up with her The Watters World on Fox tv described her rise with appropriate and repulsive video. A good start, but there could be a misleading implication. If only the cartels had a decent religion, they could change their ways.

This overlooks the fact that they do have a religion well beyond Saint Death: the worship of money. This is a bountiful deity indeed that supplies its worshippers with something close to one hundred billion dollars a year in drug sales to Americans. Who then is the true god of this religion? Unwitting Americans whose drug habit makes the cartels possible? For some reason the media avoid making this obvious connection. Saint Death is an easier target than the powerful American interests supporting an indefensible status quo.

Restricting drug demand is an uphill battle. No doubt more could be done, but a growing number of Americans will have their drugs come what may. Supply is another matter. That can be sharply curtailed by sealing the U.S.-Mexican border where most of the drugs arrive. Given the weakness of current border control, an estimated thirty thousand U.S. troops could make the difference along with another ten thousand to uproot the cartel marijuana farms in the California desert and keep others from starting with their attendant activities. That would be just a fraction of the U.S army of 480,000, and troops might prefer defending their homeland rather than remote places and questionable enemies a long distance away.

Use of the military on domestic soil is a challenge to custom and not lightly undertaken. But the cartels can be considered an enemy power – they basically run Mexico – and a clear present threat to the U.S., including increasing conflict with the Border Patrol on our side of the border. Less provocation than this has led to military action elsewhere in the world. It’s time to confront the gods of greed and violence here at home.

Time To Defend the U.S.

The retreat from Afghanistan is a significant U.S. loss, but the Taliban never threatened the homeland itself. Similarly, a variety of other U.S. wars – Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia – have not endangered the U.S. But one country continues to press, indeed invade the U.S. without let-up – neighboring Mexico, or rather the drug cartels that control it. The exceptional country, as we’re sometimes called, has been exceptionally forbearing.

Photo by www.vox.com Megan Jelinger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

This geopolitical anomaly has been the stuff of satire. Take the Babylon Bee whose fake headline reads: “President Trump is under heavy criticism for announcing the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexican border with critics slamming him for using the military for the bizarre purpose of defending the country.” No one is sure where Trump got this strange idea. A soldier complains: “I signed up to occupy Afghanistan, not defend the country. When I said I’d defend American freedoms, I meant I’d defend them abroad, not defend them at home.”

The comic approaches reality when U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin assures Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the U.S. will help defend Saudi Arabia’s borders with Yemen, a smaller neighbor it has pummeled mercilessly in a six-year war. Some borders are more deserving than others.

The problem is the U.S border has never been more vulnerable. The highly organized, unrelenting drug cartels are pushing more hard and dangerous drugs than ever into the U.S. along with migrants who are forced to pay $12,000 for the trip or more if they’re from outside Mexico and Central America. It has been a cartel bonanza. And now the cartels are making a home in the U.S. interior – more than a thousand illegal marijuana farms in the California desert and counting. Not to mention all the distribution networks throughout the country, leading to the retail gangs that battle one another over drug deals in the inner cities.

Photo by military.com (U.S. Army/Army Spc. Ethan Valetski)

It’s clearly a national problem that needs a national solution. And that would mean engaging the U.S. military to make up for the outmanned and underfunded local law enforcement. Starting with the British soldiers quartered in colonists’ homes before the Revolution, Americans have always been wary of military involvement in domestic troubles. So, it has been used sparingly over the years, occasionally to break up riot-prone strikes or to enforce desegregation against resisting mobs in the south. There was of course the massive deployment of troops in the tumultuous Civil War.

But these were all fellow Americans. The cartel invasion is foreign for which there  are Constitutional provisions to react. This is where lessons learned from recent dubious wars can apply. While they were not won, U.S. troops were highly successful in punitive raids, in and out fast with maximum damage and minimal casualties. Writes U.S. Marine veteran Gil Barn dollar in The Wall Street Journal: “Thanks to strategic mobility, expeditionary logistics and high levels of readiness, the U.S. military is peerless when it comes to projecting combat power.”

That would readily apply to any action against the cartels. The idea is not to try to conquer Mexico and take the half that remains after the U.S. conquest of the 1840s. It’s to repel the cartels from the border and from the interior. Some thirty thousand troops could seal the border. Another ten thousand could flush out the cartel marijuana farms in California which alarm and intimidate inhabitants and keep new ones from starting.

Since the cartels have become very adventurous in crossing the border, the U.S. could pursue them if necessary, into Mexico. It’s their land, and they have forfeited it. There may be no final victory. We’re used to that. But in stalling and weakening the cartels, we can come to the rescue of both the U.S. and Mexico whose people have suffered indescribable brutality at the hands of the cartels.

The Drug Cartels Are Here (Part Two)

The U.S. border town Douglas, Arizona, has set an example of how to deal with a Mexican drug cartel. Seizing an opportunity, a cartel sent over a flamboyant youngster to run for mayor of Douglas. He won the election and promptly started to turn Douglas into a replica of a Mexican cartel town. That was too much for the citizenry who rebelled and ran an opposition candidate in the next election – a Mormon with ten children. He won, the cartel favorite scampered away, and Douglas, with some adjustments, was able to return to normal.

Photo by wikipedia.org Creator: Chairiot – Ralph Megna 

The circumstances of Landers (pop: almost 3000) in the southern California desert are different, but the spirit could be the same. At the small post office, which comprises the center of the town, I met two elderly residents who described their plight. They are surrounded by cartel marijuana farms. They stink,” says one, meaning in a number of ways. They produce trash whch they don’t bother to clean up. They steal water needed in great volume for the marijuana plants. Their pesticides destroy wildlife, even two bears, not to mention the slow moving tortoise always threatened with extinction.

Patricia Domay, who lives in Landers, complained to a local newspaper that the name should be changed to  “Potlandia.” My postoffice companion doesn’t want her name mentioned because of the possible danger. In Mexico anyone making this kind of trouble for a cartel would be promptly killed. She says townspeople are understandably intimidated by the spreading maijuana farms. “They are nervous, frustrated and some are scared as they have every right to be.” But a recent community meeting of some 200 people considered ways to combat the ominous newcomers, including, to be sure, harsher laws against them.

The cartels would like us to leave so they can take over, says this impassioned Landers resident. No way. Let them leave. 

For better or worse in this democracy of ours, Landers can’t expect much help from U.S. higher-ups. Complacent dreamers in Washington might even consider the cartel intrusion as a kind of prank. Look at what those silly Mexicans are up to now. Besides, the people of Landers are not our kind of people. Our kind are now bringing “peace and democracy” to various parts of the world.

No dreamers, the cartels are aware of this attitude in Washington. They looked no doubt with astonishment on the tolerance of the recent burning and looting of major American cities. We don’t do this kind of thing, they would say. Surely, the indulgent U.S won’t interfere with our harmless marijuana farms.

In fact, they are much involved. While their farms are quite distant from one another in the desert, they are hardly alone. Free from border restrictions, they sell  directly to the U.S, which requires all kinds of intermediaries to make the deliveries and the sales. They tie into the inner city gangs which profit mightily from their participation and mimicking Mexico, fight among themselves for control of the traffic. How much of this is responsible for the destruction in the cities? No one bothers to look. 
Let small town America – a Douglas, a Landers – show the way out.

The Drug Cartels Are Here (Part One)

Traveling through the vast, timeless California desert, you see little sign of life. But wait! What’s that white speck in the distance? And yet another. And one more. As you get closer, you realize these are the white canopied covers of marijuana farms run by the Mexican drug cartels, who not content with pushing more drugs and migrants than ever across the porous border, have set up shop in the U.S. interior. It’s a first and by any definition an invasion, and they plan to stay. Better get used to it.

Photo by losangeles.cbslocal.com

The grim gray midsummer desert demeanor wouldn’t see to offer an attractive change of life, but people are coming, some fed up with Los Angeles to the south. Home prices are rivaling Florida’s, though there’s no sparkling water or beach. For the cartels it’s a perfect setting – hot, dry and spacious. No nosy neighbors, who like the police, tend to keep their distance. Don’t make any unnecessary contact, the locals are warned. Farm occupants are not to be seen during the day, but lights burn all night with their activity. Normally very aggressive at home, they are more cautious here. Business comes first. Violence can wait.

Frank Luchino, city manager of Twentynine Palms, a town with many cartel neighbors, says every level of government and law enforcement is doing its best to remove them. But there’s a big bump in the road. When an illegal farm is discovered, it’s only a misdemeanor with a $500 fine, not even chump change for cartels whose product, including marijuana, earns close to one hundred billion dollars a year from American consumers. A more severe penalty is needed but is slow in coming.

Too slow for the citizens of the region. “It’s outrageous that this is going on and nothing is done about it,” says Liz Shickter, a manager at the historic 29Palms Inn who lives a few miles outside the town center. There are periodic raids that destroy some farms, but they are quickly replaced by others in all the available land. “I smell it,” she says of the ever-present marijuana. She notes how a complex of farms has been provocatively located in view of a U.S. Marine base – a brazen gesture since the US. military, unlike the Mexican, doesn’t belong to the cartels. Still, the U.S military is not allowed to confront the cartels. They are more or less safe.

This doesn’t account for Marine retirees and others in the area who carry guns and are good shots. In Mexico, which has very strict gun laws, the cartels don’t have to worry about the resistance of an armed citizenry, and they of course have plenty of guns with which they have given Mexico one of the world’s highest homicide rates. In the California desert, they would have to take pause. No use losing a shootout. Supreme strategists, they will figure.

Deporting a Journalist to His Death

Since more journalists are murdered in Mexico than anywhere else on eartth – 125 in the last ten years – it seemed reasonable for newsman Emilio Gutierrez-Soto to seek asylum in the U.S when his life had been threatened. He had committed the offense of writing about corrupt police practices in a small town in northern Mexico. For that he was warned he was about to die.

Photo by NPR

But when he reached the New Mexico border with his son Oscar in 2008, he found U.S. officials unimpressed. What was he so excited about? he was asked. The pair were placed in detention – a kind of prison while their request was leisurely considered. Eventually, a U.S. immigration judge turned them down, saying they had nothing to fear back in Mexico. They had even been promised bodyguards.

The ignorance displayed is breathtaking. It’s as if the judge, while next door to Mexico, had no idea of what was going on there. Perhaps he gets all his news from the mainstream media which mostly ignores the  murdered journalists and treats neighboring Mexico as just another normal state instead of the criminal enterprise it actually is. The judge may be a casualty of the media.

The bodyguards he recommended are under drug cartel control and would make quick work of the offending journalist unless torture were also involved. Gutierrez-Soto remarked: “I’d like to see the judge spend a weekend in Ciudad Juarez (a border town once known as the murder capital of the world) without protection.” Apparently, the judge has not taken him up on that, though it must be said that Americans who visit the border towns briefly and carefully are spared the kind of violence inflicted on Mexicans. That would be bad for business.

Released from detention after six months, Gutierrez-Soto worked on a food truck while awaiting the decision on asylum. Various groups came to his defense as the years went by, and in 2017 the National Press Club gave him an award. That seemed to speed things up but in the wrong direction. Father and son were ordered deported and in handcuffs they approached the border when an emergency injunction kept them in the U.S. and back in detention.

Thanks to pressure from the National Press Club and others, they are now living freely in Ann Harbor, Michigan, where Gutierrez received a fellowship from the University of Michigan. His treatment as an endangered journalist seeking help in the U.S. is truly extraordinary. It’s as if the U.S. sides with the drug cartels in wanting him to go back home to face “justice” in Mexico, e.g., certain death.

The case is indicative of a strange permissiveness toward the criminal rulers. They continue to pour their lethal drugs into the U.S. through a porous border that enrich Americans along with Mexicans. U.S. Immigration continues to withhold documents in this case, suggesting there’s something to hide. What could it be?