Mexican criminal insurgent may spread to US

Washington Times:

Add another pressing challenge to President-elect Barack Obama's growing to-do list - tamping down a dramatic rise in violence and corruption that has overwhelmed the U.S.-Mexico border and spread an escalating turf fight between warring drug cartels into the United States.

Near-daily shootouts and ambushes along the southwestern border pose a serious threat, according to separate government reports, which predict a rise in "deadly force" against law enforcement officers, first responders and U.S. border residents.

Even President Bush, during a Dec. 21 interview with The Washington Times, warned that Mr. Obama faced a looming war with drug cartels where "the front line of the fight will be Mexico." He said the new president will need to deal "with these drug cartels in our own neighborhoods."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the agency has begun to make progress against "the criminals and thugs" operating along the U.S.-Mexico border, but "we are beginning to see more violence in some border communities and against our Border Patrol agents as these traffickers ... seek to protect their turf."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of Homeland Security, said in a recent report that border gangs were becoming increasingly ruthless, targeting rivals, along with federal, state and local police. ICE said border violence has risen dramatically over the past three years as part of "an unprecedented surge."

The Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center and the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Investigative Support Center also predicted further spillage of drug-gang violence deep into the United States.

The organizations, which gather intelligence and coordinate counternarcotics efforts among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, also said the cartels are expected to hire members of deadly street gangs in the U.S. to carry out further acts of violence, and that many cartel members and corrupt police officials in Mexico - overwhelmed by violence in many border towns - have begun relocating their relatives in the United States.

In April, the Justice Department reported that Mexican drug cartels represent the "largest threat to both citizens and law enforcement agencies in this country and now have gang members in nearly 200 U.S. cities." The 200 cities include Washington; Baltimore, Frederick and Greenbelt in Maryland; and Arlington and Galax in Virginia.

Mr. Obama has said his administration will target transnational gangs, violence, drugs and organized crime and step up U.S. security efforts to stem the flow of gang-related crime and narcotrafficking, as well as formulate regional strategic cooperation on personal security issues.

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If Obama is to be effective in fighting the Mexican criminal insurgency he is going to have to overcome many in his own party who have tried to impose punitive measures on Mexico because they did not like the way the war was being fought.

The most urgent need is for training in counterinsurgency warfare and a strategy that protects the people from the narco terrorist. Much of the current efforts have been a form of whack a mole chasing the bad guys rather than making them come to you.

You make them come to you by having a sufficient force to space ration that permits you to protect the citizens who can give you intelligence on their operations.

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