Despite tough rhetoric from national and Texas leaders, the vast majority of the U.S.-Mexico border remains unsecured. Areas with frighteningly insufficient security are of particular concern in the state of Texas, largely due to differences in the nature between the transnational criminal organizations that control Mexico immediately south of Texas and the organizations that control the border in New Mexico, Arizona, and California. To be specific, foreign terrorists would likely enter the U.S. through Texas because the behavior of the transnational criminal groups we more commonly call the Gulf cartel and the Zetas cartel routinely indicate that they are more interested in short-term gains and profit-making than long-term profit sustainability, unlike the various other transnational criminal groups that align themselves under the banner of the Sinaloa Federation. A willingness to accept a large sum of money from a terrorist or group, regardless of the fact that it would lead to a temporary shutdown of the U.S.-Mexico border in the area where the illegal crossing occurred, would be necessary on the part of a specific cartel in order for them to allow such a crossing — and crossings rarely occur unless a cartel allows it.
Understanding the differences between cartels
The Gulf cartel generally controls the Texas border from the Gulf of Mexico to somewhere around the city of Zapata, Texas — roughly the entire Rio Grande Valley Sector. The Zetas control from that point through the Laredo Sector. They are also known to operate well into the El Paso Sector, stopping their activities somewhere prior to the Mexican border city of Juarez, immediately south of El Paso, Texas. This region begins the influence of the Carrillo Fuentes cartel, more commonly referred to as the Juarez cartel. This cartel is aligned with the Beltran-Leyva cartel. Though the Beltran-Leyva shares familial relationships with groups in the Sinaloa Federation, they are currently aligned with the Zetas. The Zetas are in a calm conflict with the overall Gulf cartel, yet they have alliances and working relationships with some groups within the Gulf cartel.
While the various criminal organizations identifying as the Sinaloa Federation have retained older, more experienced and mature leadership, the Gulf cartel and the Zetas cartel have had their leadership decimated by assassinations and arrests. This has resulted in a younger breed of leaders engaged in nearly incessant infighting. These younger leaders, unlike their counterparts in the more professional Sinaloa Federation, are less concerned with long-term profits. They want money today, as evidenced by the recent unaccompanied minor crisis. In this matter, the Gulf cartel and the Zetas cartel chose the short-term profits from smuggling throngs of Central Americans into the U.S., even though this would inevitably result in increased attention to the border they control and increased an law enforcement presence. They chose today’s money over their long-term ability to continue making narco-profits. So short-sighted were groups within the Gulf cartel that they have resorted to common crimes to meet payroll after their human smuggling resulted in a decreased ability to get their narcotics loads into Texas.
Why the differences matter in regards to the threat of terrorists crossing our border
This is significant in relation to international terrorism, including the group known as ISIS. While the Sinaloa Federation has not exhibited that they would accept a large profit for today while damaging their future profits, the Gulf cartel and the Zetas cartel have done so. An individual terrorist or a small group of terrorists providing a large sum of money for help entering the U.S. would not be appealing to the Sinaloa Federation, the group who controls the U.S.-Mexico border from west of the El Paso, Texas area all the way to the Mexican city of Tijuana. They do not accept money and large profits for today if they know their ability to continue making long-term profits will be damaged. Thus, ISIS or other terrorists would likely be forced to work through the open Texas border between the Gulf of Mexico to somewhere before El Paso, Texas. The most promising area for them would be the Laredo Sector. A Laredo crossing provides a large city close to the border that isn’t considered to be in the border region: San Antonio, Texas. Crossing in the Rio Grande Valley Sector still leaves a gauntlet of federal and state agencies to get past before Houston or San Antonio. A Laredo crossing leaves less space to travel before making a large city outside of the border region and Texas leaders have not overwhelmed the area with State Troopers, as they have in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
How ISIS would get into Texas
Breitbart Texas visited all five of the border sectors in Texas multiple times and investigated each region by interviewing federal agents from various agencies, local law enforcement, and others in the communities. We have taken short videos in the areas that local law enforcement officers and agents felt were the most vulnerable and unsecured. It is important to note that the transnational criminal organizations in Mexico and their smugglers already know and exploit these vulnerabilities; Breitbart Texas exposing them to the public does not in any manner help those groups. In fact, the average Texan and other U.S. citizens are the only ones who do not know of these vulnerabilities. The videos are presented from West to East and not in the order of the area’s likelihood of being used as a crossing point for ISIS. As the videos reveal, the Texas border is still wide-open. This fact, coupled with the short-sighted and desperate money-making attempts of two cartels controlling a large portion of the Texas border with Mexico, should be kept in mind while watching the following videos.
El Paso Sector
The following two videos were taken near Fort Hancock, Texas. This is in the El Paso Sector. The Zetas and the Sinaloa cartels are both known to control parts of the region immediately southwest of the Texas border in Mexico here. Though a crossing in the Laredo Sector is more likely, this region still exhibits a potential for crossings where one or two individuals and a guide would easily access Interstate 10. For the right sum of money, a smuggling network would cross a group of illegal aliens as a diversion, and then the smaller group with the priority customer would cross shortly after. The limited law enforcement assigned to the area would handle the larger group and have no ability to also process the smaller group.
Big Bend Sector
The following video was taken near Presidio, Texas in the Big Bend Sector. This would be the least likely point in the above mentioned stretch of border that a terrorist group would choose for a crossing. The area is clearly open for such a crossing, but there exists a large distance between this area and a large city where an individual or small group could blend in. This section would be much like the Rio Grande Valley Sector in that too many potential encounters with law enforcement exist in between the border and a likely terrorist target.
Del Rio Sector
The below video was taken near Quemado, Texas and Normandy, Texas. This is the Del Rio Sector. A federal agent who spoke with Breitbart Texas on the condition of anonymity said, “We have one Border Patrol agent in this area. A lone agent must somehow patrol a 12-mile stretch of border with trees, brush, and homes. The area is wide-open.”
The area between Eagle Pass, Texas and Laredo, Texas is an area of extreme concern to local federal agents. A rough road, often requiring a four-wheel drive vehicle, extends over 80 miles between the two cities. The two sectors meet in this area. Part of this area is in the Del Rio Sector and part is in the Laredo Sector.
Border Patrol agents from both the Del Rio and the Laredo sectors told Breitbart Texas that they simply do not have the resources to secure the area. They said that their resources are stretched so thin that only large groups are followed and tracked. The agents see “sign,” footprints or other indications that an illegal crossing has occurred, an unless the sign indicates a large group, the agents often do not have the ability to track and apprehend the smugglers or illegal aliens. This area is another region where an ISIS member or small group could pay a substantial sum to Zetas smugglers to secretly enter the U.S. without ever being known to authorities. The Zetas cartel would send one smuggler with a large group of illegal aliens in one direction, and then another smuggler with one or two ISIS members in another direction. The Border Patrol would pursue the larger group and be forced to ignore the two sets of footprints created by the ISIS group. It is important to note that the State of Texas has done little to increase State Trooper or National Guard presence in this area. That state effort largely focused on the Rio Grande Valley Sector and is only now beginning to be seen in the southeastern side of the Laredo Sector.
When Breitbart Texas drove the road between Eagle Pass and Laredo, we witnessed one Border Patrol observation stand and encountered only one Border Patrol agent in the entire 80-mile stretch, confirming what federal agents previously claimed about the insufficient security in the region.
The following videos were all taken within the Laredo Sector on the Texas border with Mexico. Some of them were taken recently, and several were taken last year. Breitbart Texas has confirmed that the same circumstances currently exist in the areas as they did when the videos were initially taken.
The below photo is that of a house in Mexico directly across from an area in Laredo known as the “Gravel Pit.” The area is between Mexico and a rough Northwest Laredo neighborhood known for gang activity and narcotics smuggling. The house in the photo is believed to be used as a look out house for people scouting for the Zetas cartel.
The following video was taken immediately across the river border from the house shown above.
Moving southeast in Laredo, Texas, the next area is across the city and on the other side of the international bridges from the Gravel Pit. Breitbart Texas has reported previously on a system of drainage tunnels that extend from deep inside Laredo to the Rio Grande which serves as the border between Mexico and Texas. These tunnels are used as an underground highway for illegal immigration and for Zetas narcotics smugglers.
The following videos show the area and explain the issues. The first video is recent.
The following two videos were previously released on Breitbart Texas and they further illuminate the issues surrounding the drainage tunnels. It is interesting to note that the below videos were published seven months ago and the above video is recent. Nothing has been done in the area even though authorities were made aware of the problem long ago.
Immediately after this area is the rest of the green space and then Fisherman’s Landing. This area sees high traffic and sits between Mexico’s Los Zetas-controlled Nuevo Laredo and Laredo’s Azteca neighborhood. The following video is the area between the tunnels and Fisherman’s Landing.
The following video is Fisherman’s Landing.
One of the islands in the Rio Grande seen in the above video is discussed in the video below. Border Patrol agents call this area “No Name Island.”
The next two videos show an area in the Laredo Sector known as One River Place. The region is near Laredo, Texas. The videos were created in July, 2014, on the night that reporter Jorge Ramos visited the sector. At that time, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) assigned a large number of agents to the area where they knew Ramos intended to visit. This created a Potemkin Village scenario with our federal government leading Americans to believe the Laredo Sector was more secure than it was in reality. The overwhelming show of agents was not present prior to the reporter’s visit and CBP pulled the agents off immediately after the visit. Breitbart Texas has visited One River Place in the past 30 days and confirmed the area is still just as wide-open as it was at the time these videos were taken.
As the above videos make clear, the Texas border is still wide-open, despite the assurances of President Barack Obama, other national leaders in both the Republican and Democratic Parties, and despite the tough rhetoric on border security spoken by Texas leaders. Border security vulnerabilities like the ones shown exist all across the U.S.-Mexico border, but the particular characteristics of two of the cartels controlling most of the Texas border create a more likely scenario for where ISIS would cross, if indeed they choose to enter the U.S. in such a manner.
Though 2014 saw a greater likelihood of an unknown ISIS member or supporter simply flying into the U.S. with a visa or entering Canada and then crossing the porous U.S.-Canadian border, international efforts to identify ISIS members and supporters may have made an anonymous U.S.-Mexico border crossing more appealing and possibly necessary.