Escalating Mexico Drug War - Stratfor

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by ke4sky, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. ke4sky

    ke4sky ke4sky

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    By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart (c) 2009 Stratfor

    Feb. 17, a major firefight occurred just across the border from the United States in Reynosa, when Mexican authorities attempted to apprehend several armed men seen riding in a vehicle. The men fled to a nearby residence and engaged the pursuing police with gunfire, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). After the incident, in which five cartel gunmen were killed and several gunmen, cops, soldiers and civilians were wounded, aut horities recovered a 60 mm mortar, five RPG rounds and two fragmentation grenades.

    There are actually three concurrent wars being waged in Mexico involving the Mexican drug cartels. The first is the battle being waged among the various Mexican drug cartels seeking control over lucrative smuggling corridors, called plazas. One such battleground is Ciudad Juarez, which provides access to the Interstate 10, Interstate 20 and Interstate 25 corridors inside the United States. The second battle is being fought between the various cartels and the Mexican government forces who are seeking to interrupt smuggling operations, curb violence and bring the cartel members to justice.

    The third war being waged in Mexico, does not get the same degree of international media attention generated by the running gun battles and grenade and RPG attacks. It is the war being waged on the Mexican population by criminals who may or may not be involved with the cartels. Unlike the other battles, where cartel members or government forces are the primary targets and civilians are only killed as collateral damage, on this battlefront, civilians are squarely in the crosshairs.

    The Criminal Front
    There are many different shapes and sizes of criminal gangs in Mexico. While many of them are in some way related to the drug cartels, others have various types of connections to law enforcement — indeed, some criminal groups are composed of active and retired cops. Criminal gangs target civilians in a number of ways, including, robbery, burglary, carjacking, extortion, fraud and counterfeiting. But of all the crimes committed by these gangs, perhaps the one that creates the most widespread psychological and emotional damage is kidnapping, which also is one of the most underreported crimes. Despite lack of hard data, there is little doubt — based even on the low end of estimates; that Mexico is the kidnapping capital of the world.

    At one end of the spectrum are the high-end kidnapping gangs that abduct high-net-worth individuals and demand ransoms in the millions of dollars. At the other end of the spectrum are gangs that roam the streets and randomly kidnap targets of opportunity. These gangs are generally less professional than the high-end gangs and often will hold a victim for only a short time. In many instances, these groups hold the victim just long enough to use the victim’s ATM card to drain his or her checking account, or to receive a small ransom of perhaps several hundred or a few thousand dollars from the family.

    In recent years, the sheer magnitude of the threat in Mexico and the fear it generates has led to a crime called virtual kidnapping. In a virtual kidnapping, the victim is not really kidnapped. Instead, the criminals seek to convince a target’s family that a kidnapping has occurred, and then use threats and psychological pressure to force the family to pay a quick ransom. Of course, cartel gunmen do not kidnap only their rivals or cops. As the cartel wars have heated up, and as drug revenues have dropped due to interference from rival cartels or the government, many cartels have resorted to kidnapping for ransom to supplement their cash flow. Perhaps the most widely known group that is engaging in this is the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO), also known as the Tijuana Cartel. The AFO has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, its smuggling operations dramatically impacted by the efforts of the U.S. and Mexican governments, as well as by attacks from other cartels and from an internal power struggle. Because of a steep decrease in smuggling revenues, the group has turned to kidnapping and extortion in order to raise the funds necessary to keep itself alive and to return to prominence as a smuggl ing organization.

    In the Line of Fire
    There is very little chance the Mexican government will be able to establish integrity in its law enforcement agencies, or bring law and order to large portions of the country, any time soon. Official corruption and ineptitude are endemic in Mexico, which means that Mexican citizens and visiting foreigners will have to face the threat of kidnapping for the foreseeable future. We believe that for civilians and visiting foreigners, the threat of kidnapping exceeds the threat of being hit by a stray bullet from a cartel firefight. Indeed, things are deteriorating so badly that even professional kidnapping negotiators, once seen as the key to a guaranteed payout, are now being kidnapped themselves. In an even more incredible twist of irony, anti-kidnapping authorities are being abducted and executed.

    This environment — and the concerns it has sparked — has provided huge financial opportunities for the private security industry in Mexico. Armored car sales have gone through the roof, as have the number of uniformed guards and executive protection personnel. In fact, the demand for personnel is so acute that security companies are scrambling to find candidates. Such a scramble presents a host of obvious problems, ranging from lack of qualifications to insufficient vetting. In addition to old-fashioned security services, new security-technology companies are also cashing in on the environment of fear, but even high-tech tracking devices can have significant drawbacks and shortcomings.

    For many people, armored cars and armed bodyguards can provide a false sense of security, and technology can become a deadly crutch that promotes complacency and actually increases vulnerability. Physical security measures are not enough. The presence of armed bodyguards — or armed guards combined with armored vehicles — does not provide absolute security. This is especially true in Mexico, where large teams of gunmen regularly conduct crimes using military ordnance. Frankly, there are very few executive protection details in the world that have the training and armament to withstand an assault by dozens of attackers armed with assault rifles and RPGs. Private security guards are frequently overwhelmed by Mexican crimi nals and either killed or forced to flee for their own safety. As we noted in May 2008 after the assassination of Edgar Millan Gomez, acting head of the Mexican Federal Police and the highest-ranking federal cop in Mexico, physical security measures must be supplemented by situational awareness, countersurveillance and protective intelligence.

    Criminals look for and exploit vulnerabilities. Their chances for success increase greatly if they are allowed to conduct surveillance at will and are given the opportunity to thoroughly assess the protective security program. We have seen several cases in Mexico in which the criminals even chose to attack despite security measures. In such cases, criminals attack with adequate resources to overcome existing security. For example, if there are protective agents, the attackers will plan to neutralize them first. If there is an armored vehicle, they will find ways to defeat the armor or grab the target when he or she is outside the vehicle. Because of this, criminals must not be allowed to conduct surveillance at will.

    Like many crimes, kidnapping is a process. There are certain steps that must be taken to conduct a kidnapping and certain times during the process when those executing it are vulnerable to detection. While these steps may be condensed and accomplished quite quickly in an ad hoc express kidnapping, they are nonetheless followed. In fact, because of the particular steps involved in conducting a kidnapping, the process is not unlike that followed to execute a terrorist attack. The common steps are target selection, planning, deployment, attack, escape and exploitation.

    Like the perpetrators of a terrorist attack, those conducting a kidnapping are most vulnerable to detection when they are conducting surveillance — before they are ready to deploy and conduct their attack. As we’ve noted several times in past analyses, one of the secrets of countersurveillance is that most criminals are not very good at conducting surveillance. The primary reason they succeed is that no one is looking for them.

    Of course, kidnappers are also very obvious once they launch their attack, pull their weapons and perhaps even begin to shoot. By this time, however, it might very well be too late to escape their attack. They will have selected their attack site and employed the forces they believe they need to complete the operation. While the kidnappers could botch their operation and the target could escape unscathed, it is simply not practical to pin one’s hopes on that possibility. It is clearly better to spot the kidnappers early and avoid their trap before it is sprung and the guns come out.

    We have seen many instances of people in Mexico with armed security being kidnapped, and we believe we will likely see more cases of this in the coming months. This trend is due not only to the presence of highly armed and aggressive criminals and the low quality of some security personnel, but also to people placing their trust solely in reactive physical security. Ignoring the very real value of critical, proactive measures such as situational awareness, countersurveillance and protective intelligence can be a fatal mistake.

    This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to Stratfor - Geopolitical intelligence, economic, political, and military strategic forecasting | Stratfor
     
  2. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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  3. ke4sky

    ke4sky ke4sky

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    Perhaps it should, but not as many will read it there. This is an ongoing situation of several years, but now it is simply too dangerous for American tourists to travel to Mexico. The word needs to get out, because the US State department isn't doing it.
     
  4. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    True... and this isn't just about American tourists either... Tourists from all countries should be concerned about this. I know lots of Canadians who have gone to Mexico on vacation... I'm definitely not headed there anytime soon.
     
  5. RWB214

    RWB214 Member

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    I was just in Puerto Vallarta last summer! Glad I made it back now. We stayed in the resort most of the time but a few times we took taxis into the city and all I saw was a big army truck with a dozen soldiers in the back riding through town. In fact my father accidently left his laptop in the taxi taking us to the airport to come home, and he called the hotel, which radioed the taxi, and the driver brought it back to us with a smile. I have a feeling the authorities down there keep tight control on the peace in that small region for all the tourism revenue. We even took a bus tour that took us to an old village, a tequilla factory, all over the place for a day and we didn't see anything really scary. As for the interior of the country, I'd advise most people to stay away for now, but guard our border! All we need is an armed sniper every mile!
     
  6. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I have heard these kinds of stories ...

    There was a Calgarian who was down in Mexico who "suicided" according to Mexican Authorities. You can read the story yourself:

    CANOE -- CNEWS: - Cdn's death in Mexico a mystery

     
  7. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    I work with a lot of doctors and it's amazing how many people fall off of things while intoxicated. There are plenty of people on permanent disability because they got drunk and fell off a patio.

    They drank for two days solid and one of them passed out for 17 straight hours? I think it's reasonable to assume he fell. If it was a robbery wouldn't his stuff be gone? Head trauma isn't suspicious if you've fallen 10 floors onto the pavement.

    Seems like a simple case of darwin at work. They could have drunk themselves into a coma at home. Why do it in Mexico? If he was an important person it might seem suspicious. Otherwise there's not motive at all. Why would anyone kill this ordinary drunk guy? Unless he was being rude to a bunch of Mexican gang members. In that case he should know better.
     
  8. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    This part seems a little fishy to me. A guy in a "drunken stupor" runs out of an elevator and proceeds to "suicide" off the 10th story??? I don't know about you - but - when I become blotto I have a hard enough time just walkin'.

    The brother being "intoxicated" and "passed out" for 17 hours? That makes me think that there was something a little more potent than just tequila going into him.. The worst I have ever been after poundin' an entire bottle of tequila was being asleep for 4 hours after tossin' my lunch.
     
  9. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

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    Not the most "politically correct" name, but here is something that should be of great interest for you to pass around. I didn't know of this until it was pointed out to me. Back during The Great Depression President Herbert Hoover ordered the deportation of ALL illegal aliens in order to make jobs available to American citizens that desperately needed work. Harry Truman deported over two million Illegal's after WWII to create jobs for returning veterans. And then again in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower deported 13 million Mexican nationals! The program was called 'Operation *******' so that American WWII and Korean veterans had a better chance at jobs. It took 2 Years, but they deported them. Now, if they could deport the illegal's back then, they can sure do it today!! lf you have doubts about the veracity of this information, enter Operation ******* into your favorite search engine and confirm it for yourself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  10. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    Then Americans will have to clean their own toilets and raise their own children.
     
  11. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    That might be a good thing ... re-teach the young-ones how to take care of themselves and their elders...
     
  12. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    I read about the kidnappings in Arizona. Can't believe how many there were in 2008. Mexico is on the brink of Civil War.
     
  13. Fn/Form

    Fn/Form Function over Form

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    And it's only getting worse, given the auto industry's slow down and the huge amount of Mexican labor that goes into it. Everything from car parts to semi trucks.
     
  14. PaulBk

    PaulBk Guest

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    Actually, State is kinda, sorta 'alerting' US tourists. This came out on 2/20/2009.

    MIG: Mexico Travel Alert

    While it doesn't raise to 'warning' status, it is a good first start, especially considering how much the Mexican economy depends on US tourist dollars.

    -Paul (Who has relatives in Mexico he won't visit anymore)
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  15. ke4sky

    ke4sky ke4sky

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    Most do anyway. It doesn't take a village.
     
  16. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

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    One of the families I take care of has a 'special needs' member & when they went to Cancun there were armed guards around the entire resort-complex & everybody was STRONGLY URGED to not leave the premises.
     
  17. TimB

    TimB Member

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    Excellent idea, but I wouldn't hold my breath, not with our current "administration" in office. :rolleyes:

    Tim
     
  18. ke4sky

    ke4sky ke4sky

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    In the meantime the war goes on

    BBC NEWS | Americas | Q&A: Mexico's drug-fuelled violence
    What is the scale of the violence?

    If the violence is judged by the number of homicides linked to organised crime, the situation appears extremely serious. There were approximately 6,000 such murders in Mexico in 2008. That figure is similar to the number of US soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq in the same year. The rate appears to be increasing in 2009, with Mexican media reporting that by mid-February, there had been 1,000 killings. Government officials say that the statistics need to be seen in context, and suggest that nine out of 10 of all the deaths involve people connected with the drug trade, or law enforcement officials.

    Where are the worst-hit areas? Is it spreading across Mexico?

    Mexico's northern border towns are experiencing the worst of the violence, with Ciudad Juarez (just across the frontier from El Paso in Texas) standing out as the country's most violent city. The recent murder of a general in Cancun, violence in Monterrey, and arrests in Mexico City have been cited as evidence that the problem is spreading, but it is probably too early to judge. Mexico is a large country, and there are still many areas where the serious crime rate is unexceptional.

    Why is the violence seemingly increasing?

    There are two main points of view on this. The Mexican government's position is that the violence, however regrettable, can be seen as a reflection of the success of its policy of taking a hard line against drug running. It suggests that the "monster" has been wounded, and what we are witnessing is a brutal fight between leaderless cartels for fewer spoils. But others argue that the cartels have become so powerful that they effectively control some parts of the country, and the violence, which is getting worse, is evidence of their gang law.

    President Felipe Calderon has deployed troops. Is this strategy working or is it backfiring?

    Around 40,000 troops are actively involved in Mexico's war on drugs. The Mexican government says that the strategy is working. It is true that record amounts of drugs have been seized, and senior cartel leaders have been imprisoned or killed. But another consequence has been an explosion of violence, as the drug cartels fight both the army, and each other.

    Why are we seeing protests against the deployment of troops?

    Polls suggest that most Mexicans support the deployment of troops. The government says that the recent anti-army protests are entirely staged by the cartels. Journalists and observers in northern Mexico say there is evidence that some demonstrators were paid to attend. That in itself could be seen as more proof of the growing power of the cartels, if they are adding street protests to their arsenal of weapons against the government.

    What concerns have been raised about the use of troops?

    Human rights groups in Mexico caution against using the military to enforce law and order. Their main concern is a lack of accountability: if a member of the public has a complaint against the army, it is tried by a military court with military judges. Public access to such tribunals appears limited. Others say that President Calderon's extensive deployment of the army leaves him with few options in the future. They argue that if the army loses the battle, or gets so close to the drug cartels that it is itself corrupted, then there is nothing left between the cartels, and the government.
     
  19. Magus

    Magus Scavenger deluxe

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    If Mexico goes into civil war,we're screwed!