Violence in Mexico: The U.S. Military Has Warned That Criminal Gangs and Drug Cartels Could Bring about the "Rapid and Sudden Collapse" of the Mexican Government, with Effects Spilling over into the United States

By Newman, Alex | The New American, March 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

Violence in Mexico: The U.S. Military Has Warned That Criminal Gangs and Drug Cartels Could Bring about the "Rapid and Sudden Collapse" of the Mexican Government, with Effects Spilling over into the United States


Newman, Alex, The New American


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A report released in January by the U.S. Joint Forces Command is warning of the potential for "rapid and sudden collapse" of the Mexican government. The "Joint Operating Environment 2008" document also lists Pakistan as one of two large and important states that "bear consideration," explaining that these would be "worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world." In addition to the report, countless government officials both in the United States and Mexico have offered similar analyses.

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels," the Joint Operating Environment report explains. "How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state." The U.S. Justice Department pointed to Mexican gangs as the "biggest organized crime threat to the United States."

"On the Edge of the Abyss"

Many prominent officials have commented on the situation. Michael Hayden, the retired head of the Central Intelligence Agency, told reporters that it could rank alongside Iran in terms of the problems to be dealt with by new President Barack Obama, possibly even worse than Iraq. Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has warned that the increasing violence south of the border threatens Mexico's "very democracy." Former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey also warned that "Mexico is on the edge of the abyss--it could become a narco-state in the coming decade." He added that "Mexican law enforcement and soldiers face heavily armed drug gangs with high-powered military automatic weapons" and that the United States should do more to help the beleaguered government. In the opinion of the retired U.S. Army general, the government "is not confronting dangerous criminality--it is fighting for its survival against narco-terrorism" and could lose control of vast areas close to the U.S. border. He added that a failure by Mexico to curb violence "could result in a surge of millions of refugees" across the U.S. border. Though detention facilities built by Halliburton subsidiary KBR under the Bush administration were reportedly created to prepare for such a massive wave, dealing with the refugees would present huge problems. And it isn't necessarily a far-out possibility either. Even Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said that Mexico is experiencing a "gradual and growing disintegration of public and governmental institutions."

The wave of violence and mayhem is tied closely to the ruthless drug gangs' power and their vast profits. An extensive analysis of the problem was released by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2007. Noting that Mexico was believed to be the worst country in terms of kidnapping in Latin America, the report tied the violence and crime to the drug-trafficking industry. Largely responsible for the nation's precarious state today, these gangs are growing continually stronger. The DEA intelligence report on drug cartels in Mexico also noted many cross-border kidnapping incidents where the drug cartels came in to Texas and then took their victims back across the border. After pointing out that it sometimes happens in plain sight, the presentation continued: "Victims are beaten, shoved in a vehicle, and taken across the US-Mexico border."

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One important problem highlighted in the report was the high levels of corruption within the government and law enforcement, claiming that many former and current law enforcement officers work as a team with the gangs to help with "extractions, assassinations and assaults." Military deserters are also frequently among the ranks of the drug traffickers. One of the many cases highlighted as proof of the widespread corruption was a roundup of 10 officers from the Ensenada Municipal Police who were caught serving as "enforcers" for the notorious Arellano Felix Organization, a violent and high-profile cartel. …

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Violence in Mexico: The U.S. Military Has Warned That Criminal Gangs and Drug Cartels Could Bring about the "Rapid and Sudden Collapse" of the Mexican Government, with Effects Spilling over into the United States
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