Rarely would I credit a troll for inspiring me to put up a post, but I have to do that. In responding on an anonymous troll, I tangentially was led into a subject which most of us living in border states are very much aware of, but which has been little reported in the national media.
The story is about the war underway in Mexico. Until a few years ago, northern Mexico was a relatively quiet area. The biggest concerns to Americans were illegal immigrants coming in from the area, stolen cars going the other way, and drug smuggling. But it was safe enough to go there, and to live near there. Sure, the local officials were corrupt, but as long as you knew the meaning of 'lubre la mano,' you didn't have much to worry about.
That is not the case anymore, however. There is a violent drug war underway, and it is happening not only in Mexico, but in the United States. Many local officials are either part of it, or they have been silenced, as has the press, by gunning down reporters who report on this. Lately the action has been in and around the town of Nuevo Laredo, a border town near Texas where on July 28, small armies of armed men fought a pitched battle with rocket launchers, heavy machine guns and grenades, prompting the United States to close its consulate there for several days. In other words, this is not just a rumble, this is an actual war. And as many as thirty Americans have been killed or kidnapped in both Mexico and the United States.
What is more, it's here, in the form of another bogeyman we created (i.e. Osama and Saddam, couldn't have gotten where they were without the help of the United States.) In this case the bogeyman is not a man, but an organization. The organization is called the Zetas, an elite paramilitary group. The Zetas were trained as commandos by Americans, mostly to interdict drugs in Mexico, but some of them are also known to have been members of 'death squads' in southern Mexico and central America during the 1980's.
But now, they operate with impunity in both the United States and Mexico. A U.S. Justice Department memo says the U.S.-trained units have recently moved operations into Houston, San Antonio and the states of California, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. They have been operating in Dallas for at least two years, according to the feds.
According to law enforcement authorities in both countries, Zetas operate special training camps in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Michoacán, where newly recruited Zetas take intensive six-week training courses in weapons, tactics and intelligence gathering..
How does a young Zeta work his way up the organization? Simple. Go to America and kill a border patrol or police officer. U.S. law enforcement have reported bounties offered by Los Zetas of between $30,000 and $50,000 for the killing of Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officers," the bulletin said. "If a Zeta kills an American law enforcement officer and can successfully make it back to Mexico, his stature within the organization will be increased dramatically.
and then there is this description: The Zetas have also brought their cold-blooded killing tactics to the U.S., say federal law enforcement authorities – murdering rival drug dealers and sometimes innocent bystanders.
In other words, these are bad guys. Real bad guys.
What has President Bush done about it? Ignored it. What about the press? Ignored it too. Maybe because they are afraid of being murdered if they report on it, like the Mexican reporters were?
OK. The problem has been defined. What should we do?
First, we have to increase border security. That is obvious. And not by some kooky citizens militia that creates more problems than they solve, but by paid, professional border agents. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano have already recognized this, and showing some leadership in the absence of any from Washington, have authorized the use of state funds to hire more border patrol agents.
Second, make the Kerry-McCain bill the law of the land. I posted on this on July 12. By giving them an incentive to report themselves and pay a fee, we get a handle on who is already here, and until we get tough and start throwing people who hire illegals in prison, anyone who says, 'don't come here but we have a job waiting for you if you do,' is living a pipe dream. Without prison time for the employers, we will always have a supply of jobs which will draw yet more illegals.
Third, legalize marijuana. I support doing so anyway because I don't think marijuana is so dangerous that it by itself should be illegal, but right now that would be a huge blow up front to this enemy, once people could start growing it legally in America. We could then focus our drug interdiction efforts on more dangerous drugs (like Meth), and focus our anti-marijuana efforts on education (which has already showed its worth by sharply reducing tobacco use among teens). Just tonight, we have breaking news that what may be the largest marijuana bust in US history was made at a farm in the town of Strawberry, Arizona. It is certainly a success, and a blow to these guys, but even law enforcement officials will tell you that for every pound of marijuana that gets stopped, three or four pounds (whether grown in America or smuggled in) get through.
Fourth, we need to do the hard work of bringing our army home from Iraq and going out and hunting these guys, in the country in which they have set up shop-- the United States.
Fifth, we need to use our leverage with Mexico (especially since the Kerry-McCain bill is something they want) to allow them to let U.S. commandos go in jointly with Mexican soldiers to take out these training camps.
Sixth, we need to puncture their power base by working to increase the living standards in Mexico and Central America, thereby denying them the recruits they now thrive on. One sided deals like CAFTA won't do this, since they only allow for the creation of more sweatshops where people work for pennies and a few very rich people get richer. What will work is to sign trade deals in which the countries we sign them with agree to uphold wage, workplace safety and environmental standards commensurate with what we hold our own manufacturers to.
Then we will start getting a handle on this situation.
Like I said in the heading, this story should scare the pants off of you. THIS is what we need action on, not Iraq.
And if the next time you hear the word, 'zetas' it is in connection with some hideous crime in America, then just be sure to remember that George Bush is the guy who turned a blind eye to them, and they are part of his legacy to America.