Mexican cartels are getting stronger as the Biden administration weakens security at the border, according to several current and former law enforcement officials.
Most cartel violence occurs in Mexico as different factions fight for territory along the border into the United States. Smuggling drugs and humans is their primary business, and they control the border.
But the cartels are also embedded inside the United States, and indications point to more violence stateside this year, according to Jaeson Jones, a former captain for the Texas Department of Public Safety, where he ran the border security operations center.
“The game has changed now,” Jones told The Epoch Times on March 3. “They don’t fear us. It’s just not like it used to be. And you can’t blame them. I mean, they have no reason to—we’ve done nothing to contain them. They’re just completely out of control.”
Jones said cartels will “absolutely” cause more violence “everywhere, much deeper” into the United States. He said the problem with cross-border crime and cartel violence is that it’s not identified as such in the FBI’s uniform crime data system.
“So when you hear from a lot of people who say, ‘There’s no proof that cross-border violence is occurring,’ that’s wrong. It is. It’s occurring every single day in many, many ways,” Jones said.
He pointed to an example of a double murder in Alabama in 2018 of a 13-year-old autistic girl, who was beheaded, and her grandmother, who was a drug smuggler with reported ties to the Sinaloa cartel.
In 2019, two Border Patrol agents were fired upon from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande while they were patrolling by boat.
“Agents saw four subjects with automatic weapons who shot over 50 rounds at them. The boat was hit several times but no one on board was injured,” said an Aug. 9, 2019, Customs and Border Protection statement.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Jones said, an alert went out to agents that Cartel de Golfo (CDG) intended to kill agents on a boat the next day.
He said CDG is losing the battle for territory in the small city of Miguel Alemán in Mexico, across the river from Roma, Texas. The cartel wanted to blame the shooting on rivals Cartel Del Noreste (CDN), a faction of the Los Zetas, “to cause the Mexican government to come after CDN,” Jones said. “Think how bold that is.”
He believes President Joe Biden, “whether he wants to or not,” will be forced to take action against the cartels because of the fentanyl issue.
Illicit fentanyl coming across the Mexican border is chiefly responsible for fueling the escalating opioid crisis, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Overdose deaths are at record highs in the United States.
“The overdose deaths are not going to get lower,” Jones said. “They’re going to go through the roof this year because of the migration issue. Because as they [border agents] focus on migration at the border, they’re not focusing on [drug] seizures. So you give up one for the other.”
Often, the cartels will send large groups of migrants to cross the border illegally in one area to tie up Border Patrol resources while they smuggle drugs and other people through another area nearby.
Sheriff A.J. Louderback from Jackson County, Texas, said Border Patrol has been apprehending about 1,000 illegal border-crossers every day for the past three weeks in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, mostly in large groups.
“We essentially have an open border today on the southern border of the United States,” Louderback told The Epoch Times on March 5.
The Cartel de Golfo controls the Mexican border into the Rio Grande Valley area in Texas; anyone who wants to cross illegally has to pay the cartel. The lowest price he’s heard is $250 per person, Louderback said.
“So 1,000 people a day … you’re looking at a quarter million dollars a day, coming in and funding the cartel for its future violence, and future enhancement of all things criminal that go along here in Texas and the United States,” he said. “So fundamentally what we’ve done is promote this.”
Jones said the price for crossing has recently skyrocketed to $2,500 per person, or even higher, depending on their country of origin. Many of those who cross don’t have enough money and are then indentured to the cartel once they’re in the United States.
The Mexican government has also made moves that hamper U.S. law enforcement, particularly the DEA, inside Mexico.
In mid-December 2020, the Mexican government introduced a law that would require “foreign agents” operating in Mexico to share information with the Mexican government. The foreign agents will also no longer have immunity, and Mexican officials will have to get permission before meeting with a foreign agent and to submit a report afterward.
The DEA has offices in Mexico and has had agents operating there for decades. Homeland Security also operates to disrupt drug and human trafficking routes.
Derek Maltz, former head of the DEA’s special operations division, said the new law will “completely expose” law enforcement agents and their operations.
“And so Mexico is taking full advantage of America during all these turbulent times with the transition of presidents, with the COVID, with the weak immigration policies put forth by Joe Biden’s administration,” Maltz told The Epoch Times on Feb. 24.
“They’re setting it up so the only people that win are the corrupt government officials, the Chinese organized crime groups, and the cartels.
“And there’s no doubt in my mind—based on all my experience, and looking at drug enforcement and immigration-related matters—that the cartels are in a much easier place now to position their manpower throughout America, [and] continue to distribute all these poisonous drugs and pick up the mass amounts of proceeds that have been generated from the business.”
As an escalating number of illegal immigrants enter the country, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced an operation to surge Texas law enforcement personnel to the southern border to help combat drug and human smuggling.
“Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans,” Abbott said in a March 6 statement.
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