February 13, 2012 in Featured
Jeanette Barraza-Galindo conspicuously left her bags of teddy bears and throw pillows on a bus during an inspection at the Texas-Mexico border — and professed ignorance about the $277,556 officers found hidden inside. The bags were handed to her at a bus station, gifts to be given to a child upon her return to Mexico, she told investigators. The crime she pleaded guilty to — bulk cash smuggling — is increasingly drawing the attention and resources of federal authorities responsible for fighting drug trafficking across the border. Federal immigration authorities say their investigations have yielded more cash seizures and arrests in the past half-dozen years as criminals, sidestepping scrutiny from banks over electronic transfers, resort to using cash to conceal drug trafficking and move money to crime rings in Mexico and elsewhere.
October 31, 2011 in Department of Justice
The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) assesses with high confidence that in 2009, Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) were operating in the United States in at least 1,286 cities spanning all nine Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) regions, based on law enforcement reporting. Moreover, NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTOs in at least 143 of these U.S. cities were linked to a specific Mexican Cartel or DTO based in Mexico—the Sinaloa Cartel (at least 75 cities), the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas (at least 37 cities), the Juárez Cartel (at least 33 cities), the Beltrán-Leyva DTO (at least 30 cities), La Familia Michoacán (at least 27 cities), or the Tijuana Cartel (at least 21 cities). NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTOs will further expand their drug trafficking operations in the United States in the near term, particularly in the New England, New York/New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida/Caribbean Regions. NDIC also believes that Mexican DTOs will maintain the present high level of availability for heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine because the conditions in Mexico and in the United States that enabled and motivated the DTOs to increase production and availability of those drugs have not significantly changed.
October 4, 2011 in Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, White House
Emails and documents related to the ongoing investigation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious”/Project Gun Runner program leaked to CBS. Includes a map of distribution routes for weapons involved in the program leading to locations throughout Mexico.
September 3, 2011 in Texas
Over the last few years, it has become more commonplace to see military-type weaponry such as grenades and assault rifles utilized by Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs). Increasingly, many of the reported hand grenade seizures in United States are illegal, improvised grenades destined for Mexico and the DTOs. These devices have become a weapon of choice for Mexican DTOs because they are cheap, the components are relatively easy to obtain and manufacture, are easily concealable, and can kill or injure large numbers of people indiscriminately. Reports have indicated that grenade attacks originated mostly in southern Mexico around the beginning of President Felipe Calderon’s presidency in 2006, and have steadily spread northward as the conflicts between rival DTO cartels, and Mexican government’s enforcement efforts have intensified in the northern Mexican Border States.
September 2, 2011 in News
A small but growing proxy war is underway in Mexico pitting US-assisted assassin teams composed of elite Mexican special operations soldiers against the leadership of an emerging cadre of independent drug organizations that are far more ruthless than the old-guard Mexican “cartels” that gave birth to them. These Mexican assassin teams now in the field for at least half a year, sources tell Narco News, are supported by a sophisticated US intelligence network composed of CIA and civilian US military operatives as well as covert special-forces soldiers under Pentagon command — which are helping to identify targets for the Mexican hit teams. Evidence of this intelligence support network has surfaced recently even in mainstream media reports, in outlets such as the New York Times and the Mexican publication El Universal — the former reporting that “CIA operatives and American civilian military employees have been posted at a Mexican military base,” and the latter reporting that elite US and Mexican troops engaged in joint training exercises in Colorado earlier this year.
July 13, 2011 in Customs and Border Protection
CBP BorderStat drug seizure information was used to evaluate seizure statistics in relation to the arrest or death of key DTO personnel. The drug seizure data was collected from January 2009 through January 2010. This data was analyzed to determine if the arrest or death of key personnel had a direct impact on the flow of U.S.-bound drugs. This research indicates that there is no perceptible pattern that correlates either a decrease or increase in drug seizures due to the removal of key DTO personnel.
June 25, 2011 in California, Intelligence Fusion Centers
The San Diego Law Enforcement Center (SD-LECC) convened an analytical task force in Spring 2010 to address the question: “What does cross-border kidnapping in San Diego look like?” Intelligence Analysts from Chula Vista Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis analyzed statistical, investigative and open source intelligence from local law enforcement agencies, FBI, DHS, ICE, CBP, DEA and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs to prepare this assessment. There is strong evidence—based on intelligence gathered from traditional and alternative sources, such as banks, hospitals, citizen interviews, wiretaps and private consulting firms—that kidnappings in the San Diego area are widely underreported. Consequently, this assessment offers a strategic baseline only; there is insufficient data to support a definitive study of cross-border kidnapping tactics and techniques. This assessment is intended to support law enforcement executives and practitioners in their efforts to collect additional information and combat this problem.
June 24, 2011 in Department of Homeland Security
The powerful confederation of Mexican DTOs known as the Sinaloa cartel controls the majority of Mexico’s marijuana and methamphetamine production and distribution, as well as cocaine trafficking from South and Central American producers into the United States across the U.S. southwest border. The Sinaloa cartel conducts business with powerful U.S. gangs that largely control local drug distribution. As one of the most powerful cartels operating in Mexico, it has expanded operations throughout western Mexico and attempted to take control of new plazas from weaker organizations.* Arrests of high-level members have not fractured the cartel or caused infighting—as was the case with several of its rivals—likely because of the cartel’s stable revenue sources, decentralized structure, family-based culture, and geographic breadth, which all contribute to its preeminence.
June 24, 2011 in Department of Homeland Security
This Homeland Security Assessment examines threats to U.S. border security emanating from the Mexican state of Sonora, which borders Arizona and a small section of New Mexico. It discusses drug and alien smuggling, border violence, and Mexican federal, state, and local government capabilities to confront organized crime. This is the fifth of six planned assessments on current threats to homeland security arising in Mexican states along the U.S. border. It is intended primarily for working-level analysts and operators engaging in homeland security-related activities and concerned with pertinent developments in Sonora and nearby U.S. territory.
February 4, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
In Mexico, the violence generated by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in recent years has been, according to some, unprecedented. In 2006, Mexico’s newly elected President Felipe Calderón launched an aggressive campaign—an initiative that has defined his administration— against the DTOs that has been met with a violent response from the DTOs. Government enforcement efforts have had successes in removing some of the key leaders in all of the seven major DTOs. However, these efforts have led to violent succession struggles within the DTOs themselves. In July 2010, the Mexican government announced that more than 28,000 people had been killed in drug trafficking-related violence since December 2006, when President Calderón came to office.
December 17, 2010 in News
More than 12,000 people have died this year in Mexico’s drug war, officials said Thursday, making it the deadliest year since President Felipe Calderon launched a government crackdown against traffickers in 2006. The federal attorney general’s office said 12,456 people were killed through Nov. 30. The overall death toll since the launch of the drug war stands at 30,196, according to figures given to reporters during a year-end breakfast session with Atty. Gen. Arturo Chavez Chavez. But that figure appeared to underestimate the toll. Federal officials announced in August that 28,228 had been killed in the war, meaning the death rate would have to have slowed considerably since then. But there has been no sign of easing violence as cartels have remained locked in fierce turf battles that have most contributed to the rising toll.
December 15, 2010 in Mexico, Open Source Center
Postings of popular songs about drug traffickers are the most prevalent cartel-related content found in YouTube, the third most-visited social networking website in Mexico. Direct threats among cartels are less prevalent but hold a significant following, while videos honoring police killed in action register a low viewing record. Some sectors of Mexican society have also turned to the video-sharing site to express their anger at the violence brought by the ongoing drug war.
October 18, 2010 in Mexico, Texas
(U//FOUO) Texas-Mexico Border Security Carnage Update, July 2010.
September 28, 2010 in Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives
Based on the areas in Mexico controlled by the Gulf, Zetas, and Sinaloa cartels; the locations of U.S.-sourced firearm recoveries in Mexico; and the U.S. locations where firearms recovered in Mexico are most often acquired, the Houston and Phoenix Field Divisions will be primarily responsible for investigating trafficking schemes associated with these cartels. However, this strategy is not intended to limit the initiative of any ATF field division and in fact recognizes the increasingly important role played by non-Southwest border field divisions in combating firearms and explosives trafficking to Mexico. As a result, all ATF field divisions are expected to initiate investigations on cartels and/or their surrogates operating in their geographic areas of responsibility; however, investigations pertaining to the Gulf, Zetas, and Sinaloa cartels must be deconflicted and closely coordinated with the Houston and Phoenix Field Divisions.