How To Take On The Deadly Drug Cartels That Run The U.S.-Mexico Border

How To Take On The Deadly Drug Cartels That Run The U.S.-Mexico Border By  for The Federalist

A 13-year-old Oklahoma girl visiting Mexico with her family has been killed in yet another cartel ambush on a long and lonely stretch of highway just south of Falcon Heights, Texas.

After nine U.S. citizens were killed in the Mexican border state of Sonora in November, President Donald Trump threatened to label cartels terrorist organizations. When it came to it, however, he holstered the executive pen and backpedaled out of the saloon at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who desires to embrace the cartels with “abrazos no balazos”—hugs not bullets.

Now comes word that a 13-year-old Oklahoma girl visiting Mexico with her family has been killed in yet another cartel ambush on a long and lonely stretch of highway just south of Falcon Heights, Texas. In the background of these recent tragedies has been the mob to military transformation of the cartels, reflected in their uniforms, tactics, and equipment. Americans might have a hard time telling the difference between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Mexican National Guard.

CJNG, says Uttam Dhillon, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s acting administrator, forms a “present and growing danger,” with at least two dozen cells operating within the United States. A report by the Courier Journal profiles CJNG as a billion-dollar organization with “a large, disciplined army.”

It manages an extensive criminal enterprise, “from the suburbs of Seattle to the beaches of Mississippi and South Carolina, California’s coast, the mountains of Virginia, small farming towns in Iowa and Nebraska, and across Kentucky.” CJNG uses sophisticated money-laundering techniques and has proven itself capable of waging cyberwarfare.

The Rise of the ‘Narco Navy’

So “army” is not an exaggeration, nor have the cartels limited themselves to a ground game. Consider the rise of what analyst Adam Elkus calls the “narco-navy.”

Last summer, the U.S. Coast Guard released footage of a dramatic interdiction, in which an operator leaped onto a moving “narco-sub” hauling 16,000 pounds of cocaine. A similar low-profile vessel (LPV) made it across the Atlantic last November carrying more than $100 million in cocaine to Spain from South America. But that LPV looked like a child’s toy compared to the camouflaged, 74-foot-long, twin-propeller leviathan with a 5-foot conning tower found on a sandy beach in Ecuador.

Taking a combined arms approach to organized crime, they’ve got “narco-tanks,” too.

Fitted out with .50 caliber rifles and machine guns, narcos recently fielded “tanks” and armored personnel carriers in Culiacán against a joint task force of Mexican National Guard and police. They successfully plucked Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, out of the hands of Mexican authorities. Footage from that skirmish revealed an arsenal that would make Wayne LaPierre clutch his pearls.

Cartel gunmen brought to bear M249 Para light machine guns, designed specifically for airborne units, along with the M72 LAW, a portable one-shot 66-mm unguided anti-tank weapon. In 2015, narcos managed to shoot down a military helicopter with a similar portable anti-tank system, killing members of an elite Mexican special forces unit.

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