Drug Cartels Invade U.S.

The drug cartels’ ravaging of Mexico doesn’t get much coverage in the American media, suggesting Mexicans, though close by, don’t count so much. More surprising is the neglect of cartel activity right here in the U.S. That has now been remedied by one newspaper, the Louisville Courier Journal, which has provided an extensive, painstakingly researched account of this invasion of poison and brutality from south of the border.

In the continuing fight among cartels for access to U.S. riches, CJNG is emerging as top dog. The Courier-Journal reports that in the last five years, it has been overwhelming towns and cities with massive amounts of drugs, eagerly consumed by the nation’s abundance of addicts. CJNG”s network, zealously organized and guarded, extends from the suburbs of Seattle to small farming towns in Iowa and Nebraska to the mountains of Virginia to the beaches of Mississippi and South Carolina. The newspaper is especially concerned with its home state of Kentucky.

It notes that well liked Ciro Macias Martinez led a double life. By day he groomed prized thoroughbreds at historic Calumet farm in Lexington, Ky. By night he directed the flow of $30 million in heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and fentanyl from Mexico to Kentucky before he was finally caught in 2018. In the three years he operated drug overdoses killed more people in Kentucky than bullets and car crashes combined.

Yet CJNG promptly replaced Macias. A favorite hiding place for drugs is a secret compartment in a car’s armrest that is tricky to open: turn on the heater, close the air vents, pull up the seat. The masters of this ingenuity live well in the U.S., often in luxury, posing as well-mannered businessmen not easily distinguishable from their neighbors. Occasionally, the mask comes off. An irate boss shopped for a hit man on Facebook to take out a rival.

Given the money at their disposal, they have no trouble recruiting help, particularly among immigrants. A waitress in Lexington, Ky., who needed cash for dental assistant courses, started making bank deposits for CJNG and also got her sister involved. They are now in prison for money laundering. Those who resist the cartels are threatened with violence or death as are their families in Mexico. U.S. authorities get little help from Mexico, which is basically in the hands of the cartels. CJNG has members at local, state and federal levels of government. A troubled official shares information with the U.S. but not with his own people. He told the Courier-Journal: “If you provide information to the Mexican government, it’s probably the last thing you would say.”

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