Journalists Sylvia Longmire and Chris Blatchford spoke last night at an excellent forum on Mexican drug cartels at The Mob Museum in Las Vegas titled “Border Insecurity: The Mexican Drug Cartels and Their Threat to America.” A few highlights:
Don’t be worried about Islamic terrorists sneaking across the border in Mexico. The last thing the cartels want is terrorist heat and the money terrorists might offer is chump change. A while back, an Iranian offered $1.5 million to someone he thought was in Los Zetas to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US. The supposed hit man was an undercover cop. The important point is $1.5 million is a lost truck for the cartels, a trivial amount of money.
Follow the money. Drug smuggling won’t end until banksters who launder the money, some of whom live in the US, go to prison. 90% of drugs consumed in the US come from Mexican drug cartels. The War on Drugs has been a failure. Countries like Uruguay are legalizing drugs completely, in hopes of stopping narcoviolence.
Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street Gang started in Los Angeles and when leaders were deported, simply spread the gangs to Latin America. In desperately poor parts of Honduras, 8 year old boys sometimes have Mara tattoos on their foreheads. Los Angeles gangs in the 1990’s were the model for much of what we see now.
The Mexican Mafia started as a prison gang in California and now has huge power in many US prisons, as well as outside. They can provide protection for imprisoned cartel members in the US or order them killed.
Narcos are too often heroes to poor youth in Mexico. Selling drugs and being in a cartel becomes their family. The ultraviolence practiced by young cartel members is worrisome even to their gang elders. During Al Capone’s reign, approximately 700 people, all crime members, were killed in Chicago. During the same period of time in Mexico, the number is more like 70,000, many of them people who were simpliy in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A gang member in LA once got beat up because he stored one million in cash so long in an apartment that rats ate it.
Blatchford is most widely known for his work exposing the destruction and sorrow left behind by street gangs, prison gangs, and organized crime. His exposÃ©s on 18th Street, the Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood, Nazi Lowriders, Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs, Russian and Asian organized crime—to mention just a few—are used nationwide as educational and training tools by schools, correctional institutions, law enforcement and community groups.
As an Air Force officer and special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Longmire specialized in counterintelligence, counterespionage and force protection analysis. After being medically retired in 2005, Ms. Longmire worked for four years as a senior intelligence analyst for the California State Terrorism Threat Assessment Center, providing daily situational awareness to senior state government officials on southwest border violence and significant events related to the drug war in Mexico. Her first book, “Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars,” was published in September 2011 and was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her next book, “Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer,” was published in April 2014.