Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juaarez

By Howard Campbell | Go to book overview

Intelligence and the Drug War: Commander
of an Antidrug Task Force on the Border

Whereas the Border Patrol does a lot of the dirty frontline work in the drug war, intelligence operatives handle the more cerebral dimensions. Handling the intelligence side of antidrug law enforcement is not as risky as being a Border Patrol agent, nor as glamorous as undercover work, but it is equally important to antidrug policy. Such work, by its very nature, also attracts a different sort or person, often better educated and white collar. Intelligence analysts and directors of task forces must be adept at processing diverse types of “intel” (statistics, reports, informant testimonies, etc.). Task force leaders also must be capable of organizing and managing people within dense thickets of interagency rivalry and conflict. These are some of the key issues that emerge from the account that follows.

Another major point emphasized in this interview is the importance for law enforcement of tracking not just large loads of drugs, but also the huge volume of money generated by the drug trade. This requires skills and tactics that are related but not identical to those involved in antinarcotics operations. Both, however, rely on the expertise of confidential informants and entail hazards for the agent. As noted in his testimony, the commander knew without a doubt that he was confronting the Juárez cartel of Amado Carrillo Fuentes and that this was a dangerous pursuit.

The account is also valuable for the insight it provides into the functioning of stash houses, money-laundering operations at used-car lots, and other tactics and operational strategies of traffickers. Additionally, it sheds light on the different agendas and ways of operating of various U.S. law enforcements agencies, local and federal, concerned with drugs, as well as the functioning of a multiagency task force. The task

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