Two weeks have passed since the scandalous escape of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán from a maximum-security prison, and speculation is running rampant. There are still no solid clues as to where the kingpin may be holed up. In the meantime, fingers are being pointed across our southwest border and serious questions are being raised about Mexico’s ability to control its drug war at any level.
There aren’t many smiles to go with a Coke in state of Guerrero, Mexico, these days. FEMSA, the largest franchise Coca-Cola bottling company the world, shut down its distribution centers in Iguala—site of the kidnapping and likely massacre of 43 students nine months ago—and Arcelia while maintaining facilities in other parts of the state.
The plants growing along an increasing number of Mexican hillsides reflect trends in illegal drug use here in the United States. While marijuana fields easily outnumbered poppy plantations in prime Mexican growing regions, both government and international-agency statistics show those numbers have reversed as Mexican-origin heroin use in the US has exploded.
“No More Weapons!” is the emphatic message posted on this controversial Ciudad Juárez sign intended for travelers entering the city from El Paso. The 26×70-foot billboard has lettering made with seized weapons that were brought into Mexico illegally from the US. However, reportedly as a symbol of good faith toward the United States, crews this week started dismantling the sign.
With the signing of House Bill 11 on June 9 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a new intelligence center will be established in Hidalgo County, designed to target border crime more effectively. However, details are unclear regarding how this center’s mission will differ significantly from the multiple fusion and joint intelligence centers located across the state, calling into question whether the $2.1 million start-up cost is justified.
As more money continues to flow into the pockets of Mexican drug cartels, traffickers need to maintain a solid network of places—often along the southwest border—where they can launder drug money. However, in an attempt to stymie these efforts, several major US banks have been closing numerous branches in the region and shutting down hundreds of customer accounts.
In an act that shocked the residents of a city who thought they had seen it all, five adolescents in the border city of Ciudad Juárez – a stone’s throw from El Paso, TX – between the ages of 11 and 15 are being investigated for stoning, stabbing, and burying a six year-old boy on May 16.
On May 13, dozens of members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the U.S. side of the Santa Fe Street border bridge in El Paso, Texas were handing out pamphlets to people they refer to as “international commuters” from Mexico, listing their rights under American law.
On May 18, Administration officials announced President Obama will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments. His across-the-board peace-making slash isn’t taking account of the cartel war faced by local police departments on the southwest border every day.
Today started out like any other Saturday morning, which for me involves checking emails and Facebook. Shortly after starting to scroll through my feed, I saw my friend had shared a heartbreaking story: the strange sentencing dilemma of a heroin dealer who was complicit in the death of her son’s namesake—a teenage boy in upper middle class Middle America.
In a span of just two days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have discovered two drug tunnels—one complete and the other in progress—spanning the California-Mexico border.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on April 21 they were targeting 700 businesses in the Miami, FL area for “enhanced scrutiny” in order to detect activity by Latin American criminal organizations related to trade-based money laundering.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates spotty radio coverage and inadequate training are challenging the agency’s ability to secure the southwest border and negatively affect agent safety. Aside from a firearm, a handheld radio is a Border Patrol agent’s best friend. Often finding themselves in remote areas of the border with untold armed drug and human smugglers nearby, agents need to be able to communicate with each other quickly and clearly.
A routine traffic stop in Pinal County (Arizona) led Sheriff’s deputies into a high-speed chase with a human smuggler who had previously been deported 20 times. The pursuit lasted for thirty miles and ended when the smuggler crashed his vehicle in a Phoenix area retirement community.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the US State Department, had launched a program that would allow Central American minors (CAMs). The program is formerly referred to as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) to reach the US safely
There are few things that are more American than raising cattle in the great State of Texas. Every year, thousands of cattle raisers from the state and the southwestern US gather for the annual Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) convention. I had the privilege presenting during their general session on border security issues, in addition to speaking to several of the ranchers and ranch owners about their border concerns.
Despite the arrests of multiple top leaders in Mexico’s Zetas cartel, the organization continues to be active across northeastern Mexico and in several areas within the state of Texas. While the Border Patrol often intercepts Zetas associates attempting to smuggle drugs across the border, many smugglers evade capture and move into the realm of Texas state and local law enforcement, posing a very real threat to these officers.
Most drug war observers know that drug-related violence—especially in industrial and metropolitan areas like Ciudad Juárez—has a negative impact on the local community. But the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) has recently published a report detailing the various short- and long-term effects of this violence on Mexican businesses, and how this has had some effect on Texas border communities.
The inability of US law enforcement agents to carry their duty weapons while in Mexico has been a controversy between the two nations for decades, especially as drug-related violence has escalated in various parts of the country.
In one of the most turbulent areas affected by Mexico’s drug war, more violence is expected after two rival militia leaders were exonerated by a judge for acting in self-defense.
The March 10 ruling resulted in the release from prison of Hipólito Mora, founder of one of the first so-called autodefensa groups in the town of La Ruana, Michoacan, along with 26 of his men, according to a Vice News report. Luis Antonio “El Americano” Torres, leader of the rival Buenavista group, was expected to be released very soon.
A recent report by in the Dallas Morning News suggests that the historically strong ties between the State of Texas and Mexico may be under a considerable amount of strain. Despite the region’s powerhouse cross-border economy, recent decisions regarding illegal immigration and border security have left Mexico feeling rebuffed.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is installing seven towers equipped with sophisticated cameras in southern Arizona as part of its Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) program. These towers are going up in Santa Cruz County, specifically near the cities of
Calling them the “most significant drug dealers” he’d dealt with in two decades on the bench, U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced twins Pedro and Margarito Flores to 14 years each in prison for smuggling at least 71 tons of cocaine and heroin and nearly $2 billion in cash from 2005 to 2008 for Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. The Flores brothers served as the control point for the drug trafficking organization in the Windy City for years, and would have received life sentence had they not agreed to fully cooperate with U.S. authorities to bring down major players in the cartel.
Mexican drug cartels may be raking in billions of dollars in profits every year, but new figures from both the United States and Mexican sources indicate marijuana from south of the border may be accounting for a much smaller share than before. Some drug war observers believe that legalization measures in certain U.S. states are causing not only a decline in marijuana smuggling, but a decline in Mexico’s homicide rate as well.
Sandra Ávila Beltrán, also known as the “Queen of the Pacific” for her alleged cocaine smuggling and money laundering activities, was released from a Mexican prison after winning her appeal. Most people picture the highest level leaders in a drug