Foreign Affairs

Mexican Drug Cartels Test Obama

In George W. Bush’s second term, Democrat opponents made much of what they called the “distraction” of the Iraq War which, they claimed, prevented Bush from addressing pressing domestic problems. Remember the “worst economy since the Great Depression”?

Today, Obama is 100% distracted by “health insurance ‘reform’”–to the detriment of addressing an economy with problems that dwarf those of the Bush years. The “distraction” has also made a shambles of the Obama foreign policy.

Everywhere traditional American allies are ignored and/or insulted.  America’s enemies are emboldened.

Now, with the assassination of American consular staff in Mexico last weekend, even the Mexican drug cartels have directly challenged the President of the United States.

The assassination story is gruesome and its message unmistakable,

It was a weekend of the “new normal” in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. According to one press report, there were 19 murders; according to another, 31. Whatever the number, the death toll from inter-gang rivalry and clashes between the gangs and Mexican troops is past 5000 over the last two years. Until now, the violence had been Mexican on Mexican. 

The big news last weekend in Juarez was that two of those murdered were U.S. citizens, residents of El Paso, Texas, and employees of the U.S. State Department stationed in the Consular office in Juarez. A third man killed was the Mexican husband of another U.S. citizen Consulate staffer.

Mexican police reports describe a child’s birthday party in Juarez attended by about 100 people, including U.S. citizens Lesley Enriquez, 34, four months pregnant, who worked at the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, and her husband Arthur Redelfs, 30, a detention officer for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and their infant daughter.

Leaving the party in the early afternoon, the couple died in a hail of automatic weapon fire from a Ford Explorer that pulled up beside their car on the main street of Juarez. Their baby in the car seat was found crying but unharmed.

Another attendee at the birthday party, a Mexican citizen, Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, whose American wife also worked for the U.S. Consul in Juarez, was assassinated in a separate car in a similar fashion, and their two young children in his car were injured.

The assassinations were immediately pinned on Los Aztecas, the enforcement arm of the Carillo Fuentes drug cartel.  Los Aztecas originated in U.S. prisons and operates on both sides of the Border. In Juarez, members of Los Aztecas proudly wear their jaguar tattoos, bird feathers, and other Aztec regalia.  They control the city.

The Los Angeles Times described the attack as “unusual” in a transparent attempt to minimize the importance of the cartel’s challenge. The attack, in fact, was unprecedented.  Not since Pancho Villa’s invasion of Columbus, New Mexico nearly a hundred years ago had Mexicans so openly challenged the U.S. Government.

A closer look at the Border reveals many other parts of this challenge.  The ‘spillover” of drug cartel violence into the U.S. is getting harder to ignore.

In 2009, the DOJ National Drug Intelligence Center identified 200 American cities with known Mexican drug cartel operations. The report documents methamphetamine and marijuana production by the Mexican cartels inside the U.S.

Mexican cartel thugs have made Phoenix the kidnapping capital of the U.S.–only surpassed in the western hemisphere by Mexico City.  Last week, two men were abducted at gun point and shot by cartel enforcers in McAllen, Texas.

The 200 mile stretch from Brownsville to Laredo on the U.S. side and from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side of the Border is ablaze with violence as the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas fight over lucrative drug smuggling routes.

Los Zetas is a drug cartel made up of former special forces soldiers of the Mexican Army, equipped these days with stolen military weapons originally supplied by the U.S. taxpayer to the Mexican Government to fight the drug cartels!

Last week, a Mexican military helicopter flew over and then hovered over a residential are outside Brownsville, Texas.  The Obama administration played down the incident while admitting this was no “training flight” nor was there any U.S. permission for the flight over the U.S. by the Mexican military or whoever was piloting the chopper.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has pleaded with the Obama administration to provide drones and high tech equipment to fight the cartel incursions into Texas.  This week, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano turned down his request.

Napolitano then cancelled the construction of the rest of the Border fence authorized by Congress. Obama’s proposed 2011 federal budget eliminates money for any further border fence construction.

Governor Perry should declare a state of emergency and call out the Texas National Guard.

Progressives in the media blame all this border violence on drug use in the U.S. and the ready availability of guns here that find their way into Mexico.  Both charges are false.

Just as a thirst for bootleg whiskey was not the cause of Al Capone murdering dozens of rivals in Prohibition Chicago, drug smuggling has become violent as rival cartels greedily eye each others’ territories. 

And the “river of iron” from the U.S. supposedly supplying arms through civilian gun shows to the cartels is a fiction.  In 2007-2008, Mexican authorities recovered over 29,000 weapons from crime scenes. 11,000 of those were submitted to the U.S. government to be traced.  Only 5114 were traced to U.S. sources–the other 24,000 came from or through Venezuela, Cuba, and Central American nations. Of the 5114, many were military issue originally shipped by the U.S. government to the Mexican Army.

The Ayatollah’s thugs took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and kidnapped U.S. diplomatic personnel in a challenge that Jimmy Carter failed.

By contrast, when drug thugs tortured and killed DEA Agent “Kiki” Camarena in 1985  President Reagan briefly closed the Border to squeeze the Mexican Government. When this didn’t produce the killers, Reagan sent DEA agents into Mexico to kidnap and bring back to the U.S. for trial some of the killers and the Doctor who prolonged Camarena’s life to prolong the torture.

No amount of leftist propaganda or “blaming America first” news stories can cover up the direct challenge to Obama that the assassinations of State Department personnel in Juarez represent. 

It’s time for action. Is Obama so distracted by health insurance “reform” that he can’t or won’t respond beyond a “strongly worded” protest?  If so, cartel violence at and across the Border will claim many more innocent victims in both countries.

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