Cartel Violence Coming to Seattle Area?

In February, 2008, the Dallas Morning News reported that CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico and Nuevo Laredo were competing for the tiltle of bloodiest border city.

In the first two months of 2008, Juárez had 72 murders – most of them tied to the drug cartels. They are the result of a bloody fight for control of drug distribution routes to U.S. cities, including several cities in the State of Washington.

On June 6, 2009, a shoot-out that erupted in Acapulco left 18 dead. According to the LA Times, a war occurred when army officials received an anonymous tip and arriving troops came under fire at a house in the western section of Acapulco:

“The army said 16 gunmen and two soldiers died during the gunfight. Some news media reports said the gunmen belonged to the Beltran Leyva drug-trafficking gang, based in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, but they could not be immediately confirmed.

Soldiers later recovered 49 rifles and handguns, 13 grenades and two grenade launchers, the army said. The cache held more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition.”

Every authority on the subject has been predicting that such violence is about to cross the border into the U.S. About the time that Mexican officials discovered eight bodies buried at a Juárez warehouse, an El Paso Times/News Channel 9 poll showed that 64 percent of El Paso residents feared that Juárez violence would spill into the U.S. The two cities, just across the Rio Grande from each other, have close cultural ties.

In Nuevo Laredo, the cartels have killed at least one journalist, a city council member and a police chief on the job just seven hours before he was gunned down. Additionally, the cartels had created a list of police officers marked for death. Many of the LEOs on the list have already been killed along with scores of other officers that were not on the list.

According to the Dallas Morning News articles, the Nuevo Laredo news media “self-censor” much of the news they report about the cartels because of fear that more journalists will be assassinated. “We’re reporting maybe 15 percent of what’s happening in our city,” said Alfredo Quijano, editor of the newspaper, whose building has received bomb threats. The fact that reporters in Mexico only reporting body counts and refuse to investigate official corruption that enables the cartels raises the issue of whether U.S. news media are also intimidated.

“We’re seeing the importation of Nuevo Laredo-style violence being unleashed to take control of this important gateway,” said a senior U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The … magnitude, the brutality, the type of violence, this is what we now call Nuevo Laredo-style. It’s a proven strategy aimed at intimidating the public, law enforcement, the media.”

If Laredo style intimidation is coming to King County, our American gun culture may be the best barrier to prevent the epidemic of murder, kidnapping and robbery that all the authorities have predicted will surge across the border. According to a recent CNN story, “the cartel’s tentacles and those of its chief rival, the Gulf cartel, already reach across the border and into metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; St. Louis, Missouri; and Charlotte, North Carolina.”

In March, 2009, thirty-two-year-old Alfonso Ibanez-Martinez, a Mexican national operating near Tacoma, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute heroin. The Seattle DEA says Ibanez-Martinez has ties to the drug community in Michoacan, Mexico. Other major cartels like the Sinoloa and Tijuana also funnel drugs up I-5 into Seattle — a major distribution point before they head east to states like Wisconsin, Tennessee and North Carolina, according to King5.com.

CNN cited DEA Agent Joseph Arabit’s March, 2009 testimony before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. “No other country in the world has a greater impact on the drug situation in the United States than Mexico does,” said Arabit, who heads the DEA’s office in this year’s border hot spot, El Paso, Texas. CNN’s map pinpointing drug traffic by cartel indicates that all the major Mexican cartels operate in and around Seattle and King County, including Renton, Federal Way & Bellevue. See where Mexican cartels are in the U.S.

The Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center reported in December, 2008 that Mexican drug traffickers can be found in more than 230 U.S. cities.

Once again, drug war casualties are mounting on the Mexican side at a record pace in 2009 — more than 1,000 during the first three months of the year, Arabit said. See who the key players are » Since the same cartels are competing for turf in the Seattle area, violence seems inevitable.

Law enforcement officials and analysts told CNN that “it is only a matter of time before innocent people on the U.S. side get caught in the cartel crossfire.”

Although the cartels previously tried to avoid direct confrontation with U.S. law enforcement, Sinaloa cartel leader Guzman’s instructed his soldiers to shoot-to-kill- U.S. law enforcement officials included according to Los Angeles Times sources and intelligence memos.

Additionally, Stratfor, a Texas-based security consulting firm that helped to research Guzman and researches security risks, has been warning that the recent trend of cartel related kidnappings in Phoenix and Tucson will soon spread out to other localities within the U.S. and that the kidnapping business will not just continue targeting cartel members and their families.

Some neighborhoods in Phoenix have now become warehouses where the cartels hold illegal immigrants for ransom money. The economics of the “global market place” militate in favor of increased diversification The cartels have already begun to recognize the prospect of increasing revenue by kidnapping Americans.

Highways move the drugs. Nuevo Laredo is close to the Interstate 35 corridor, and Juarez has easy access to I-10, a major east-west interstate. I-25 runs north to Denver, Colorado. Tijuana is also conveniently near I-10 and I-5, which heads north all the way to the Canadian border via Seattle and Tacoma.

The violence involves beheadings, gun battles like the recent firefight in Acapulco. Mass graves and arms caches have been discovered and police and public officials have been gunned down in broad daylight. Recruitment banners in the streets display the open contempt that enforcers have for the authorities.

“From what we’ve seen, the Zetas have taken over the Gulf cartel,” analyst Stewart said. “In violent times, soldiers tend to rise to the top.” These soldiers are incredibly well-armed, police learned after a November raid that resulted in the arrest of top Zeta lieutenant Jaime “Hummer” Gonzalez Duran.

It was the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history — 540 rifles, including AK-47s; 287 grenades; two rocket launchers; and 500,000 rounds of ammunition.

Many of the Zetas are former Federales that walked away from their units taking their weapons with them. Even small towns are being taken over by groups like MS-13, an international network that uses the machete in order to increase brand recognition for the violent force which is the gang’s stock in trade.

There have also been reports that gangs have smuggled Middle Eastern terrorists across the border and that the cartels are menacing U.S. law enforcement at the border.

If the reports are true that the cartels and gangs like MS-13 are about to expand their operations into kidnapping for ransom and other activities, the U.S. population should be prepared.

But there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties; it tells the state to let people alone; it does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order.

Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir.1982)

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