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 Mexican drug cartels 'hide in plain sight' in U.S.

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March Mellow

Join date : 2009-04-26
Posts : 209
Location : Char-Meck

PostSubject: Mexican drug cartels 'hide in plain sight' in U.S.   Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:16 pm

ATLANTA | Angel Haro-Perez certainly didn't look like a drug lord.

Police and federal agents arrested him in December 2007 in a rented house in a lower-middle-class neighborhood about a half-hour's drive from downtown Atlanta. The raised ranch is tucked off the interstate, where billboards advertise $69.99 motel rooms and secondary highways are dotted with strip malls and commercial shipping centers.

Inside, agents found air mattresses on the floor, a few changes of clothes, a laptop computer.

And $750,000 in cash stuffed in closets.

"You'd see this guy on a street corner and you'd say, 'He could barely rub two nickels together,'" said Rodney Benson, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Atlanta Field Division, "never mind he's here directly taking orders from representatives in Mexico."

Authorities say Mr. Haro-Perez was the Atlanta head of the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking organizations, in charge of distributing drugs, collecting proceeds and keeping the books for the entire operation.

Mr. Haro-Perez's lawyer, Thomas Wooldridge, says his client is an American citizen who has no connection to Mexican drug cartels and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He faces life in prison and is scheduled for trial later this month.

Invisible drug dealers

Authorities say Mr. Haro-Perez is typical of cartel members and associates working in the U.S.: They keep a low profile, avoid violence and work quietly to traffic tons of drugs — cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine — into the U.S. while smuggling billions of dollars back across the border. And they do it while remaining virtually invisible to the community and general public.

While brutal violence among drug-trafficking groups in Mexico, especially along the U.S. border, has drawn unprecedented attention from politicians, the media and the American public, among U.S. law enforcement officials, the cartels are old news. They've been seeping into American cities for more than a decade; a 2008 report noted the presence of distribution networks linked to them in 203 cities throughout the U.S.

In that time, the metropolitan Atlanta region has emerged as one of the nation's richest drug-distribution hubs, which authorities say supplies most of the eastern U.S. In 2008, DEA agents in the Atlanta region led the U.S. with $70 million in drug-related seizures.

A perfectly placed hub

The Atlanta region has always been perfect for the shipping industry. On a map, the city appears to have spokes with highways jutting out in all directions.

Drug traffickers have taken advantage of this.

"This is a place where I'd expect a business model like UPS to start up," said Jack Kilorin, head of Atlanta's federal High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which analyzes drug intelligence and helps coordinate law enforcement response. The cartels "have exploited a highway and communications and transportation hub. They're thugs, but they are not entirely stupid."


• Mexican cartels fill voids in drug trade

Trucks leaving the region can reach more than 80 percent of the U.S. population within two days, according to the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce.

"There's all kinds of warehouses," the DEA's Mr. Benson said. "So there's all kinds of ability to rent a warehouse one day and use it for three or four months and switch over and the ease of coming off a truck stop and parking with a load of cocaine concealed in, say, a load of produce."

The drugs and, later, money — sometimes as much as $10 million in heat-sealed, tamper-proof containers — frequently are packaged on trucks shipping all manner of legitimate goods. Sometimes the drivers are in on it, authorities say; sometimes not.

This is a very long story. For the rest of it go to the link below:
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March Mellow

Join date : 2009-04-26
Posts : 209
Location : Char-Meck

PostSubject: Re: Mexican drug cartels 'hide in plain sight' in U.S.   Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:20 pm


By Michael Cutler
June 8, 2009

The news report that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Washington Times "Mexican drug cartels 'hide in plain sight' in U.S." should be of great concern to all Americans, including our nation's "leaders."

This news report about the drug crisis confronting our nation makes it clear that this is not a border crisis but a crisis for our entire nation.

Although I was an INS officer for 30 years, I devoted roughly one half of my career or about 15 years, working in conjunction with the FBI, DEA, ATF and other law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level and even in conjunction with law enforcement agencies of foreign governments to identify, investigate and then dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

In the late 1980's when I was assigned to the DEA's Unified Intelligence Division in New York, I conducted an analysis of arrest reports and found that in New York City, some 60% of the individuals arrested by the DEA and the DEA Task Force for drug trafficking and related crimes were identified as being "foreign born," while nationally, the statistic ran to about 30% of all defendants arrested by the DEA.

It was clear that the drug traffickers were embedding themselves in communities in which the general population looked much the same as the traffickers looked because they moved into neighborhoods in which a significant segment of the population came from the same countries that they did.

This was done, I believe, for 3 reasons. First of all, they wanted to live in a community in which they would be comfortable. They wanted to have the same sort of food, music and other cultural resources that they were accustomed to. They also wanted to find women that they could relate to.

Additionally, by moving in to such neighborhoods, it was far easier for them to blend in and "hide in plain sight."

Finally, by living in a neighborhood in which most of the residents came from the same country that they did, they could intimidate people who might become suspicious of their activities. They could threaten to not only harm the person who might discover what they were up to but they could also threaten that person's family members in his (her) home country.

I have often noted that it has been said that an effective spy is someone who would not attract the attention of the waiter or waitress at the proverbial "greasy spoon diner." The same could be said of a terrorist or a drug dealer.

In the 1980's drug traffickers often drove "tricked-out" cars that may have appeared to be befitting a pimp. This called attention to them and they found that those customized cars attracted the attention of law enforcement. They learned the need to operate in a stealthy fashion. The news report I have attached below delves into this issue.

It also delves into the use of long haul trucks that can, as the article noted, can reach 80% of the American population in 48 hours or less.

Yet, as I noted a few days ago in a commentary about the Mexican truckers, the administration is apparently intent on opening up our nation's roads to Mexican trucks, while members of the administration are quick to blame the drug addiction of the American citizens, on the huge sums of cash flowing into the bank accounts of the violent Mexican drug cartels!

The absolute last thing that our country should be doing, if we are really serious about this situation, is to open our highways to 18 wheel trucks from Mexico to facilitate their movement throughout our country!

I have witnessed the murder of a number of my colleagues in the law enforcement community who were conducting narcotics investigations. They paid the "ultimate price" for attempting to protect our nation and our citizens from the scourge of narcotics. Yet the politicians are seemingly doing everything in their power to make the "War on Drugs" as ineffectual as they possibly can.

According to the news report, some 38 billion dollars is accumulated each year by the Mexican Drug cartels. Most of that money flows from our country directly into their bank accounts. Than money buys weapons, cars, trucks, boats, airplanes and sophisticated electronic equipment to thwart law enforcement. That money also pays bribes in Mexico and, as we have seen, in the United States.

The 38 billion dollars is money that is lost to our nation's economy and buys death and violence on both sides of the Mexican border.

The 38 billion dollars buys the destruction of the lives of those who become "hooked" on the drugs and wreaks havoc on the lives of the addicts' families.

But here is what is not being done:

Our borders are still far from secure. Illegal aliens easily enter our country and easily purchase stolen identities- a tactic that not only works for illegal aliens who mow lawns and wash dishes at restaurants, but is a tactic that international criminals and drug traffickers depend on in order to embed themselves in communities across our nation. This is also, as noted by the 9/11 Commission, used with great effectiveness by terrorists and those who support terrorism in our country.

Illegal aliens and the criminals who hid among them know that in this game of hide and seek, they can expect to win because our government refuses to hire an adequate number of special agents for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). As an INS agent who was assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for ten years, I bore witness on a day to day basis of just how much the enforcement of the immigration laws could help to dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

Here are 7 important reasons why our government must hire many more special agents for ICE and incorporate an adequate number of those ICE special agents in the investigations of international criminal and terrorist organizations if those investigations are to be successful:

Access to immigration files to provide investigative leads when a criminal alien is being sought as a fugitive or suspect of a crime.

Access to immigration file can also provide vital information to a judge when a criminal alien is arrested and the judge is attempting to set bail. The immigration file can provide evidence of risk of flight based on numerous identities, occasions when the defendant jumped bail in an immigration matter and failed to appear for a hearing. The file can also provide evidence of prior deportations. This could help to prevent those tragedies in which a criminal is arrested and then released on bail, only to commit another heinous crime.

If a plea bargain is being arranged, local and state prosecutors should work in close cooperation with federal immigration counsels to make certain that in the process of working out a plea-bargain arrangement that they don't inadvertently eliminate a conviction that have would rendered the alien deportable.

Working cooperatively with ICE, it would be far easier to cultivate informants. Informants are often essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of criminals and criminal organizations as well as terrorists and their associates. The immigration laws provide a huge “carrot and stick” to this end.

There are a number of laws that can be used to hammer criminal aliens under the federal code. For example, the penalty for an illegal alien in possession of a firearm carries a 5 year penalty. There are other such laws in the federal code that deal with the possession and use of false identity documents and for the crime of reentry after deportation. A criminal alien who is deported from the United States and then unlawfully reenters the United States is facing a maximum of 20 years in jail. Without the federal government being made aware of these violations of law, none of these penalties come into play.

When an alien is convicted of a crime, when state and local law enforcement authorities work in close coordination with federal immigration authorities, a detainer can be lodged to make certain that upon release from jail when his (her) sentence is completed, the criminal alien will be deported from the United States.

There are instances when it is advantageous to the investigation to arrest a key individual(s) without alerting other members of the criminal or terrorist organization he is part of, that they are being investigated as an organization. In such instances, it is often easy to find a violation of the immigration laws to enable those individuals to be arrested for administrative or criminal violations of the immigration law, thus not alerting their cohorts to the larger, on-going investigation.

Ignoring the effective enforcement of the immigration laws, especially when dealing with international criminal or terrorist organizations is tantamount to bringing a knife to a gun fight!

The article noted that in some cases, the truck driver did not even know that he was hauling a load of narcotics in the trailer he was pulling across our nation.

Can you imagine if or, God forbid, when, Al Qaeda or some other terrorist organization gets its hands on a weapon of mass destruction and, working in conjunction with drug smugglers, secrets that WMD in the trailer of an 18 wheeler headed to a major U.S. city with the intention, perhaps, of detonating it by remote control? (Possibly with the hapless driver having no idea that he is about to be vaporized!)

Our nation's leaders cannot have it both ways. They cannot engage in the empty rhetoric when they know that we have learned the truth.

Short of enlisting in the armed services, the best form of patriotism is to become as educated as possible about the issues and then make certain that those who purport to "represent" us are made to understand that we know what is going on. Peaceful dissent is a American as apple pie and a hell of lot more satisfying!

We must demand that our elected representatives truly represent us and our families. We must demand that they live up to their oaths of office. This is the work all Americans must do!

Clearly the only solution is to take on the cartels and win! There is no such thing as "second place" in the war on drugs or terror!

This means that a coordinated strategy that couples effective strategies on our nation's borders must be augmented by the effective enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States, something I refer to as COMPILE (Comprehensive Immigration Law Enforcement.)

Any strategy that ignores the vital interior enforcement mission is doomed to fail!

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!

The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.

I implore you to get involved!

Michael W. Cutler graduated from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1971 with a B.A. in Communications Arts and Sciences. Mr. Cutler began working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in October 1971 when he entered on duty as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In August 1975 he became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) for the INS at NYC.

He rotated through virtually every squad in the Investigations Branch. From 1988 until 1991 he was assigned as the INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York. In 1991 he was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and was assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which required that he work with members of other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Customs and local and state police as well as law enforcement organizations of other countries including Israel, Canada, Great Britain and Japan, to conduct investigations of aliens involved in major drug trafficking organizations. He retired from the INS in February 2002, after a career that spanned some 30 years.

Finally, Michael Cutler has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Lou Dobbs, Fox News, MSNBC and many other television and radio news-oriented programs to discuss the enforcement of immigration laws.

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