Comments Off on The Implications of Mexican Terrorists in Our Backyard

They are no better than the Islamic terrorists!

Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), more commonly known as drug traffickers or cartels, sure know how to act like terrorists. They’re cutting off people’s heads all over Mexico and hanging the decapitated corpses from bridges in plain view. They’re assassinating mayors, and kidnapping state governors who don’t want to play by the TCOs’ rules. They’re conducting massacres of innocent Mexicans riding public buses, then burying them in mass graves across northern Mexico.

Yet, these cruel and psychopathic thugs are considered mere criminals by both the US and Mexican governments.

In March 2011, US Representative Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced legislation that, if passed, would designate six Mexican TCOs as “foreign terrorist organizations.” McCaul said the TCOs are “using similar tactics to gain political and economic influence,” relying on “kidnappings, political assassinations, attacks on civilian and military targets, taking over cities and even putting up checkpoints in order to control territory and institutions.”

On April 7, 2011, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial supporting McCaul’s position.

“When drug cartel thugs order mass kidnappings, explode bombs, murder scores of public officials, behead victims or hang them from overpasses and post signs in border-area cities warning of more violence if they don’t get their way, that’s not mere drug trafficking. That’s terrorism,” the editorial stated.

Making this legal designation would open up new and interesting options for battling the TCOs on both sides of the border. Funding for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working along the southwest border would open up. Programs for going after TCO funding and money laundering operations would increase. Tactics for going head-to-head with TCO members in the streets of Mexico might improve.

However, there are several important issues that would preclude either government from making such a drastic change in policy, and they’re not to be taken lightly.

First is the fact that the TCOs have no overt political, religious or ideological motivation for doing what they do; the violence is driven purely by the pursuit of monetary profit. This requirement is one of the common denominators of the various definitions of terrorism used by the US government.

Of course, an argument can be made that TCOs are killing politicians and coercing others under penalty of death to comply with their wishes, and that this is a form of government/political manipulation. However, this shouldn’t be confused with political ideology, as TCOs seek to manipulate the government only to facilitate their illegal activities, not actually take over the government.

Second, there’s the business of having thousands of Mexican terrorists and their contracted employees – gang members, straw purchasers, etc. – crawling all over Mexico and the United States. This is nothing new; members of Hezbollah have had a considerable presence in the United States for some time. They sell fake purses and fake cigarettes to raise money in order to fund their violent activities in the Middle East.

But Hezbollah in the United States has nowhere near the presence or reach of Mexican TCOs. What would it mean to, all of a sudden, have Mexican terrorists using our expansive highway network to transport drugs? Or renting homes in our middle-class neighborhoods to hold kidnapping-for-ransom victims? Or walking into a US gun shop to buy guns for use in terrorist operations?

Then the US government and law enforcement agencies would have to examine TCO support networks in the United States. Would US-based gang members who sell Mexican-origin drugs be prosecuted for supporting terrorism? What kind of scrutiny would millions of Mexican-Americans living in the United States start to face for their potential connections to these newly-designated terrorists?

The Mexican government hasn’t completely shied away from this concept. In 2010, the Mexican legislature passed a law that allowed for the treatment of TCOs as terrorists under certain circumstances, mostly for the purpose of increasing the duration of prison terms. However, in a justice system where only two percent of criminal cases are ever successfully prosecuted, this legislation has been largely meaningless.

Such a designation by the US government would also foster a whole host of political and diplomatic problems with the Mexican government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was publicly reprimanded for her use of the term “insurgency” when referring to Mexican TCOs and the drug war, largely over fear of how the Mexican government would react to such nomenclature. Mexico is already having a difficult time trying to put on a brave face for the international community, sending the message that President Felipe Calderón is winning the war against these criminals.

How would it appear to the world if Mexico became embroiled in a decidedly losing battle with six different terrorist groups, equated in theory to the likes of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah?

That is yet another issue regarding the legal consideration of TCOs as terrorists. Is it right to equate drug-dealing, kidnapping and extorting thugs to religious zealots who brought down the Twin Towers and have killed tens of thousands across the globe in the name of Allah?

Islamic terrorists commit a whole host of crimes, and many are involved in the drug trade as a way to raise money for their jihad. But putting TCOs and Islamic fundamentalists in the same bucket seems to take something away from the significance of acts like the attack on the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983, or the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996.

Mexican TCOs have definitely moved beyond the label of mere criminals. They exhibit several aspects of terrorist groups, insurgencies throughout history and organized crime groups. A renaming at the federal government level is definitely in order because it could definitely result in more effective strategies and resource allocation to combat them.

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