Sunday, July 15, 2012

Political power is ultimate goal of Mexican drug cartels, says U.S. security expert

"All of this transforms the threat of Mexico's drug war from just a political matter to one of U.S. national security"

A security adviser for the Rand Corporation told a Senate panel last week that Mexican drug cartels increasingly are investing in legitimate businesses in this country and abroad, with the ultimate goal of both economic diversification and the acquisition of political power. The latter could portend major problems for the United States, he testified.

Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior Rand executive, appeared last Thursday (July 12) before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Rand is a nonprofit, global policy think tank founded in 1948, originally to advise U.S. military forces. Today it's funded exclusively by the federal government and a private endowment. Rand counsels foreign governments, private foundations, international organizations and business and trade groups on a wide array of issues. But national security and defense related themes remain its primary field of expertise.

Jenkins emphasized that Mexico is not involved in a civil war, as that term is conventionally defined, nor should it be regarded as a "failed state," despite the huge economic and human toll from its 67 month old drug war. But the rising power of the international drug cartels nonetheless pose a considerable threat to the nation, he told senators.

"The drug cartels are interested in making money (from their primary businesses), but they're also investing in legitimate enterprises, and eventually they'll be seeking political power" in Mexico, predicted Jenkins.

Jenkins testimony came just 10 days after Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) recaptured the country's highest office, from which it was ousted in 2000. PRI ran Mexico for 71 years, and its political reign is often associated with alleged involvement with drug dealers and organized crime (Is alleged PRI-narco connection fair game in Mexico's 2012 presidential election?)

The security expert made passing reference to president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto's plan to expand federal police forces, including the creation of a new 40,000 strong national gendarmerie modeled after Colombia's and those in some European countries. "That plan will require significant economic resources, and will take a long time to implement," Jenkins testified.

Jenkins agreed with a report issued last month by another U.S. security consulting firm, Southern Pulse, which projected that Mexican drug cartels will expand their operations on U.S. soil via links with street gangs (June 22 - Mexican drug cartels will likely morph into "super gangs"). "That in turn will cause greater competition between narcotics traffickers, leading to the same type of savagery we've seen in Mexico," Jenkins testified.

He also told senators that "direct confrontations" between the cartels and their local gang agents and police forces in the U.S. was inevitable, whom they will attempt to bribe "with vast sums of money. If that doesn't work, they won't hesitate a moment to use the same violent tactics against police which they've used in Mexico."

Jenkins ended his testimony with a sobering warning for senators. "All of this transforms the threat of Mexico's drug war from just a political matter to one of U.S. national security. A bigger wall along the border is not the full solution," he said.

Jan. 7, 2013 - Peña Nieto: no option but to follow Calderón strategy
July 8 - Mexican voters got suckered on drug war
July 7 - Security consultant elaborates on "new" Mexican drug war strategy
July 8 - Peña Nieto: En la lucha contra narcotráfico no habrá un cambio radical

Saturday, March 10, 2010. The parents of this nine month old girl lay dead in their vehicle, executed in a drug cartel hit just blocks from the international border. Lesley Ann Enriquez Catton, 25, was a U.S. Consulate employee, and her husband Arthur H. Redelfs, 30, was an El Paso County sheriff's deputy. Lesley was four months pregnant. The family had just attended the birthday party of a co-worker. Juárez killer of pregnant U.S. consulate employee gets 10 life terms in El Paso. Cross-border drug gangs are thick in the area.

Mar. 29 - U.S. drug czar tells House that Juárez is still world's most deadly city
Jan. 31 - Juárez police take refuge in fortress hotels
Dec. 8, 2011 - Another day of madness in Juárez

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