The Australian –
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THE US Defence Department has estimated Mexico’s two most deadly drug cartels have a combined strength of more than 100,000 foot soldiers, an army that rivals Mexico’s armed forces and threatens to turn the country into a narco-state.
“It’s moving to crisis proportions,” a senior Defence official told The Washington Times. The official said the cartels’ “foot soldiers” were on a par with Mexico’s army of about 130,000.
The disclosure underlined the size of the challenge Mexico and the US faced as they struggled to contain what was increasingly looking like a civil war along theUS-Mexico border, the newspaper report said.
In the past year, about 7000 people have died — more than 1000 in January alone. The conflict has become increasingly brutal, with victims beheaded and bodies dissolved in vats of acid.
The paper noted that the death toll in Mexico in the first months of this year dwarfed that in Afghanistan, where about 200 fatalities, including 29 US troops, were reported in the first two months of 2009.
About 400 people, including 31 US military personnel, died in Iraq during the same period.
[There have been more fatalities in Mexico’s drug war during the last year than American fatalities in the 6 yr long Iraq War]
The Mexican Government yesterday poured 700 extra federal police into Ciudad Juarez, a city bordering Texas where local police have been overwhelmed by drug violence. The police joined 3200 federal troops, who arrived in the city over the weekend.
The biggest and most violent combatants in the Mexican drug wars are the Sinaloa cartel and its main rival, “Los Zetas” or the Gulf Cartel, whose territory runs along the Texas borderlands.
The Washington Times report said the two cartels appeared to be negotiating a truce or merger to defeat rivals and better withstand government pressure.
US officials told the paper the consequences of such a pact would be grave.
“I think if they merge or decide to co-operate in a greater way, Mexico could potentially have a national security crisis,” the US Defence Department official said. He said the two had amassed so many people and weapons that Mexican President Felipe Calderon was “fighting for his life” and “for the life of Mexico right now”.
Mexico was behind only Pakistan and Iran as a top US national security concern, ranking above Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defence official said.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden, who left the agency in January, put Mexico second to Iran as a top national security threat to the US.
His successor, Leon Panetta, said at his first news conference that the agency was “paying … a lot of attention to” Mexico.
The deployment to the border town of Ciudad Juarez has tripled the number of troops and federal police officers operating there as part of Mr Calderon’s offensive against drug traffickers.
The city is without a police chief. Roberto Orduna Cruz quit last week after several officers were slain and someone posted threats saying more would be killed unless he stepped down.
He is expected to be replaced by a figure from the military.
The move would represent a continuation of Mr Calderon’s strategy of relying on the army and federal police to counter drug-trafficking gangs in the country’s main smuggling corridors. He had deployed about 45,000 soldiers and 5000 police officers across the nation as part of the crackdown, launched two years ago.
Ciudad Juarez, which had about 1600 killings last year, has been on edge over the police chief’s resignation and threats that appeared against the mayor.
The boost in police numbers in Ciudad Juarez came as more than 800 federal and local police were assigned yesterday to improve security in and around Mexico City’s international airport after a series of armed robberies against travellers who exchanged money there.
Mexico City attorney-general Miguel Mancera said 460 additional city police officers had been assigned to patrol the areas surrounding the airport.
Federal police commissioner Rodrigo Esparza Federal said police had added 350 new agents to the airport since December.
Also yesterday, in the western state of Michoacan, attackers threw grenades at a city police chief’s house and a police station in the city of Uruapan, injuring four officers.
Uruapan is one of many cities struggling with increasing drug violence. There were two other grenade attacks against police stations there in February.
Mexican drug cartels are believed to operate in 230 US cities, according to a recent Justice Department report. http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=freep&sParam=34464178.story
MS-13 gang growing extremely dangerous, FBI says
“Our worst suspicions about MS-13 have been confirmed” by the Houston shooting and other recent gang-related incidents, Clifford says.
From low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles, MS-13 has spread throughout the USA, largely following the migration patterns of immigrants from El Salvador and other Central American nations. With a membership that the FBI estimates could be as high as 10,000, MS-13 is most active in Los Angeles, the Mid-Atlantic, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Clifford says the group also has formed commerce routes across the nation for drug-trafficking operations.
Raids of suspected MS-13 safe houses in Central America, Mexico and the USA by federal and international law enforcement officials resulted in more than 600 arrests and the discovery of gang “constitutions,” the FBI said.
Contact Washington and demands that ICE enforcement resume: http://www.usa.gov/Contact.shtml
Report: MS-13 gang hired to murder Border Patrol –
Mexican alien smugglers plan to pay violent gang members and smuggle them into the United States to murder Border Patrol agents, according to a confidential Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the Daily Bulletin. The Officer Safety Alert, dated Dec. 21, warns agents that the smugglers intend to bring members of the international Mara Salvatrucha street gang also known as MS-13 into the country for the deadly mission.“Unidentified Mexican alien smugglers are angry about the increased security along the U.S./Mexico border and have agreed that the best way to deal with U.S. Border Patrol agents is to hire a group of contract killers,” the alert states.