Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama Inherits Our Muay Loco Mex Drug War

This story tells us the following (registration required)…

…high-powered guns used (in the murder of an elite agent in Mexico’s police force and the attack on a federal police office in which, miraculously, no one was killed) on the evening of Sept. 24 undoubtedly came from the United States, say police here, who estimate that 100 percent of drug-related killings are committed with smuggled U.S. weapons.

The guns pass into Mexico through the "ant trail," the nickname for the steady stream of people who each slip two or three weapons across the border every day. The "ants" -- along with larger smuggling operations -- are feeding a rapidly expanding arms race between Mexican drug cartels.

The U.S. weapons -- as many as 2,000 enter Mexico each day, according to a Mexican government study -- are crucial tools in an astoundingly barbaric war between rival cartels that has cost 4,000 lives in the past 18 months and sent law enforcement agencies in Washington and Mexico City into crisis mode.
So what did we do in response?

These drug traffickers, with their steady supply of U.S. weaponry, are the target of President Bush's proposed $500 million U.S. aid package to help Mexico battle cartels.
(Oops, my bad – this story is from October 2007).

Oh, wait – here’s another one that’s a bit more recent which tells us…

"Drug-trafficking organizations have made life at the border increasingly dangerous," Michael J. Sullivan, acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in El Paso. "And this danger extends across the border and into several parts of Mexico."

In Mexico City, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the goal of what officials are calling Project Gunrunner is to dry up the cartels' arms supply in the U.S. by punishing gun dealers who knowingly sell weapons to "straw" buyers who then resell them illegally.
Oops, my bad again – this story is dated from January 2008 (well, continuing)...

"I certainly foresee a tightening-up of the way gun dealers distribute guns if, in fact, they are selling to straw purchasers," Mr. Mukasey said after meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Eduardo Medina Mora, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

"I see tighter enforcement of regulations requiring that they get proper identification and that they check these people before they sell guns, and inevitably we are going to find people who are not doing what they ought to do, and they will be prosecuted," Mr. Mukasey said in an interview.

The new measures will also give Mexican law enforcement officials greater access to the eTrace computer database in the United States, allowing them to use the serial numbers to trace weapons used in Mexican crimes to U.S. gun dealers.
By the way, who out there besides me can envision a situation where, upon attempting to prosecute the gun manufacturer – and the last I checked, gun manufacturers had immunity from prosecution, as noted here – that entity turns around and blames the gun dealer instead for a role in the crime, and vice versa…also, here is a prior post on this subject with some sensible comments in opposition.

I’m sure you get my point here, which is that, despite expensive initiatives aimed at allegedly trying to stem the flow of guns into Mexico (and elsewhere, for that matter) and efforts at information sharing regarding primarily-U.S.-made weapons used in the commission of horrific acts of violence against law enforcement and others, the problem of gun violence committed by individuals in the employ of Mexican drug cartels has only gotten worse.

So what are we going to do about the crooked border patrol agents who are allowing the guns from this country and the drugs into this country, then? Sorry to impugn the vast majority of border patrol agents who I’m sure do the right thing, but they have to be culprits here to some extent since that border “fence” is working perfectly, I’m sure.

As we ponder that, here is a story to read dated yesterday that tells us of the following steps by the Obama Administration in the latest sorry chapter of this conflict (yet another mess inherited from Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History)…

• Sending about 350 additional personnel from the Homeland Security Department for a host of border-related work, including doubling the border enforcement security teams that combine local, state and federal officers.

• Adding 16 new Drug Enforcement Administration positions in the southwestern region. DEA currently has more than 1,000 agents working in the region.

• Sending 100 more people form the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the border in the next 45 days.

• Boosting the FBI's intelligence and analysis work on Mexican drug cartel crime.

• Increasing the inspection of rail cargo heading from the U.S. into Mexico and putting X-ray units in place to try to detect weapons being smuggled into Mexico.

(Also), the FBI is stepping up its efforts along the Southwest border by creating a Southwest Intelligence Group that will serve as a clearinghouse of all FBI activities involving Mexico, according to Todd Hulsey, spokesman for the FBI in Albuquerque.
Part of the reason why I’m posting about this is to provide some context when the right-wing frothing and general hysteria begins over the thoroughly accurate quote from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here that "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade,” as well as her commendably straightforward analysis that "our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."

She has more guts than most of the men who take up space in our nation’s capital, and this is still more proof (and this tells us of the toll in Mexico).

Also, to get an idea of just how extensive the reach is of the Mexican drug gangs into this country, consider the kidnapping of six-year-old Cole Puffinburger last October from his home in Las Vegas by “three armed men, described as Hispanic” who tied up his mother and left with him, according to this story. Fortunately, as noted here, he was found alive a few days later, and the boy’s grandfather was questioned as a result (he allegedly stole drug money from those who kidnapped the boy – don’t know if charges were ever filed).

Here is my point, though – suppose the gang had kidnapped someone, and something went horribly wrong and that person was killed (maybe they grabbed the wrong person, that person resisted, whatever – and by the way, I don’t mean to condone kidnapping under any circumstance here). In that awful event, would be still hear the hue and cry about protecting that mythical right to own a gun supposedly enshrined by the Second Amendment?

I know the answer, but I’m compelled to ask the question anyway.

With that in mind, I should note that this is one of the few stories I’ve seen that dares to even imply that “reviving the gun control debate” is an aspect of this problem on our border in any way at all. And if you want still more proof of how our politicians have been completely and utterly cowed by the NRA on the issue of gun control, here is a letter that 65 of our Democratic U.S. House representatives sent to Attorney General Eric Holder pleading with him not to touch the gun issue (hat tip to Ben Smith of The Politico for the letter; there are some people who definitely should know better here such as Paul Hodes, Eric Massa and Pete DeFazio, and people for whom this is “par for the course” such as Heath Shuler, Ciro Rodriguez and Tim Holden – my great thanks to Patrick Murphy for not signing onto this).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it as many times as I have to; like it or not, the Democrats are the party of sensible gun control measures in this country. As long as they run away from that, crime will escalate, our prisons will continue filling to capacity, and more people will die.

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