Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Excerpt of a Speech by General McCaffrey (Ret.)

Part of a speech by retired General McCaffrey concerning Mexico:
What we are facing now in Mexico is not a “war on drugs.” It goes well beyond that. What’s happening in Mexico is a struggle to establish the rule of law; not just on a police and military level, but also on a cultural level. We are struggling with a contradiction: on the one hand, you are trying to create a society that is internally democratic and self-governing; on the other hand, a significant element of that society has operated with impunity under the law. The short-term problem—chief among the realities they’re facing in Mexico—is that somewhere between $19-$35 billion a year of drug-related commerce is being generated there. The numbers vary depending on your source, but the impact is clear. That amount of money is a blowtorch that melts democratic institutions. It establishes a level of violence…a sophistication of violence…that is perpetuated in and among 120,000 people directly involved with the drug cartels.

Some of them are organized in platoon- and company-sized units—and I use those phrases provocatively to tell you that we are dealing with 50 to 70 people with automatic weapons, RPGs, other military-grade grenades, machine guns, and 50-caliber anti-aircraft guns, who will engage in direct firefights and engagements with Mexican Marines and Soldiers. And they will abduct squad-sized units of the Army and the Federal Police, torture them to death, decapitate them, and leave them as provocative gestures. And they will abduct Mexican general officers and murder them, and leave them with a sign around their necks. They have created an internal atmosphere of intimidation that is so pronounced that, in some ways, it has become impossible for local police (and to some extent state police) to deal with it. It is some kind of threat.

How many people have died at the hands of these elements? Again, the numbers vary with the sources you choose; but one could safely posit 42,000 murders during the current struggle to establish the rule of law.

To reiterate, it’s more than just drugs. It’s also prostitution, abuse of women in the immigrant population, violation of commercial control laws, and potentially (although I don’t think this is a dominant concern) it bears an associated threat with terrorism.

As Frank (Cilluffo) mentioned, we have just been through a Congressional hearing surrounding a report I recently released with (Major General–Retired) Bob Scales. As the hearing progressed the focus shifted to the cartel’s cross-border drug activity. There were a lot of sparks flying, with U.S. Congressmen in denial over this situation; but basically, I think, there is an unwillingness to accept the fact that the problem is not just internal to Mexico.

You have to start with the fact that there are seven major cartels and forty or so subsidiary groups which, combined, represent a peril to the United States. Yes, Stupid, they do. There are 280 some-odd cities in the United States whose dominant organized crime activity is Mexican cartel. They have associates in more than a thousand cities. I just did a seminar for the Portland (Oregon) Police. They are facing a Mexican cartel activity. I participated in the Alameda County “Urban Shield” exercise. They house another Mexican cartel activity. The cartel and their gang foot soldiers are all over the country. They are armed, they are dangerous, and instinctively (because they are a business) they don’t want to confront the FBI.

You and I ought to thank God for the FBI, because the other threat to U.S. democracy associated with the ones we are dealing with here is corruption. You know, when you are talking about the amount of money being offered at this level, it’s not “silver or lead” being thrown up against a U.S. Border Patrol agent—it’s silver. And we’ve had some problems because of it.

Some of our institutions are almost impossible to penetrate: not totally impossible, of course; but when you consider the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Marshall Service, the U.S. Air Force (with regard to radar operators)—it’s pretty hard to penetrate our institutions. That impenetrable nature keeps those institutions from crumbling.

But that cross-border threat from Mexico is real, and—as I said—is using gangs in America as its foot soldiers. There are 30,000 gangs in America, with a million gang members in them. In Texas alone there are 18,000 gang members. And unwittingly, we are contributing to their numbers. The United States has some 2.1 million people in our prisons—nearly the highest incarceration rate on the face of the Earth. Within those prisons we are providing a means for these gangs to socialize, recruit and expand. When the incarcerated leave the prisons (and we turn out a half million every year) many of them are schooled and prepared to enter into the Mexican cartels’ activities. We have found that to be particularly true along the southwest border. And the ranks of the foot soldiers grow, with guns and power distributed from the rural communities of the southwest to the streets of our major metropolitan areas.

And by the way, these are not hierarchical organizations. This is not an ideological struggle. This isn’t a religious struggle. It’s a criminal struggle. And that’s the threat we are facing.
(Footnotes omitted). The whole thing is here. (H/t Instapundit)

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