Charges of spying usually attract media attention. Even though it goes on all the time, media treat the charge that a nation spied on an ally as sensational news. But what about accusing an American state government spying on a foreign ally? Here’s the story as it currently stands. A security contracting firm (which at one time worked for the state of Texas) has claimed that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) Texas state security agencies used to monitor activity along the Mexico-Texas border also spied on sites in northern Mexico. The allegation, which dates from 2010, specifically mentioned reconnaissance of a site that may have been a Los Zetas cartel facility in northern Mexico. Collecting intelligence inside a foreign country is a U.S. federal government activity and requires federal executive authorization. Hence the argument that the intelligence gathered by the Texas state-run operation constituted illegal spying. However, Texas and federal security officials contend the aerial reconnaissance program was definitely part of a combined U.S. federal and state operation. The Zetas were the primary target, that claim is accurate. However, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received the intelligence gleaned from the recon drone flights. After the story broke, law enforcement sources added that ICE was coordinating its activities with Mexican Army and Navy forces operating in northern Mexico. That implies the intelligence was available to Mexican security forces. Mexican and American officials acknowledge that U.S. agencies often provide intelligence to Mexican Navy Marines operating in northern Mexico. The intelligence trade-off is a two-way street. “Remember the Predator” isn’t as stirring a phrase as “Remember the Alamo,” but accusing Texas of spying on Mexico is indeed a red hot headline. (Austin Bay)
U.S. law enforcement officials estimate that human trafficking operations earned the Gulf cartel around $40 million in 2014. A recent security study by Texas law enforcement officials concluded that seven different Mexican cartels have operations in Texas and they cooperate with U.S. -based gangs in drug smuggling and human trafficking operations. The cartels have become more involved in human trafficking. The official term for human trafficking by cartels and other criminal gangs is an “Alien Smuggling Organization”.
In the northeast (in Reynosa a city in Tamaulipas state on the U.S. border) has endured 24 hours of rioting and gang violence in response to the arrest, yesterday, of a Gulf Cartel leader who has long operated in the city. Three people died and many more were injured, including two police. Federal police and marines made the arrest and quickly moved the gang leader to Mexico City for interrogation. For the last year there has been a lot of gang violence in Reynosa, largely because of turf battles between two cartels. The new violence led the city government to warn the public to avoid the neighborhoods were most of the shooting and property damage was taking place.
April 16, 2015: The U.S. government has warned its citizens to exercise caution if they travel to the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. All four states are on the American border and the scene of growing drug gang fueled violence.
April 15, 2015: In the United States (San Diego) two members of the California National Guard were arrested and charged with trying to sell weapons and military equipment to Mexican drug cartels. The United States is encountering more spillover from drug gang violence that has been so common in northern Mexico. Mexican gangsters operating in the United States is the most visible example but the gangs are increasingly successful in corruption American political and security officials. There is a huge demand for illegal weapons in Mexico because of the gang violence and the U.S. is the nearest source. But gun runners from around the world now come to Mexico to make deals. Thus foreign weapons from Europe, the Middle East and China are also showing up in Mexico. These are often cheaper that American weapons, even though transportation costs are much higher.
April 14, 2015: A Mexico City court ordered a broadcast television company to negotiate a reinstatement agreement with a journalist the network fired after she reported on a corruption scandal implicating members of president Pena’s family. In 2014 the journalist uncovered evidence that a large construction company that received very lucrative state contracts had given Pena’s wife a sweetheart deal on a luxury home. The accusations added fuel to public disgust with corrupt politicians.
April 9, 2015: The Foreign Ministry responded to a recent North Korean accusation that Mexican security forces were illegally holding a North Korean ship. The Foreign Ministry said that security forces and the government are complying with United Nations sanctions regarding North Korea. The ship is owned by an internationally sanctioned (blacklisted) North Korean shipping company. In the recent past ships owned by the company were discovered carrying sanctioned goods. Sanctioned goods include a range of weapons, luxury goods and technology related to missile and nuclear weapons development programs. In July 2014 the North Korean vessel ran aground on a reef in the Gulf of Mexico east of the port of Tuxpan (Veracruz state). It was going North Korea after visiting Cuba. The ship remains in Tuxpan. On April 8 North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador accused Mexico of illegally holding the ship. The ambassador implicitly threatened Mexico if it failed to release the vessel. When North Korea issues a threat, everyone thinks of either terror attack or military action. It is conceivable that North Korea could conspire with a cartel.
April 8, 2015: Security forces in Baja California state found an unfinished tunnel not far from a major city of Tijuana border crossing. A wardrobe in a building hid the tunnel on the Mexico side. The tunnel had ventilation system and electricity. Part of it had concrete walls.
North Korea accused Mexico of illegally detaining the 6,700 ton freighter Mu Du Bong. In July 2014 the North Korean ship ran aground on a reef in the Gulf of Mexico. At the time Mexican authorities said the ship had caused environmental damage. The North Korean diplomat said that his government had paid Mexico for the environmental damage.
April 7, 2015: A Canadian mining company reported that thieves have stolen 900 kilograms of gold concentrate from the refinery at the company’s El Gallo 1 mine (Sinaloa state). The concentrate contains about 7,000 ounces of gold, worth around $8.5 million. Mexican police are investigating the robbery.
Cartel gunmen killed 15 state police officers in an ambush in Jalisco state. Five other policemen were wounded in the attack. Security officials described the ambush as very professional and “military like.” The gunmen set up a roadblock on a rural highway. When the police convoy stopped at the roadblock, the gunmen fired on the police from multiple directions. State authorities said they believe the gunmen belong to the Jalisco New Generation cartel. The Jalisco New Generation began as a splinter group of the Sinaloa cartel (Sinaloa Federation) and Sinaloa’s Jalisco branch, the Milenio cartel. New Generation has been particularly aggressive in dealing with the security forces, which is putting pressure on the government (from the public and army and police commanders) to hit New Generation hard.
April 4, 2015: Mexican media now estimate that 100,000 people have been killed in the Cartel War since it began in December 2006. The figure is hotly disputed by the government. In February a Mexican non-governmental organization estimated that since 2011, 281,418 people have been internally displaced in the country due to violence or the threat of violence. That struck many observers as high but the NGO included data on 141 mass displacements from towns, villages and city neighborhoods.
April 3, 2015: Federal police arrested the senior commander of a southern Mexican gang that authorities believe has kidnapped well over 100 people. The gang leader was arrested in the town of Atotonilco el Grande (Hidalgo state). The gang operates in the Tierra Caliente region.
April 1, 2015: Reported crimes against Central American migrants moving through Mexico and heading for the U.S. have risen steeply since 2013. The government reported 682 migrant kidnappings in 2014. The breakdown was: 365 were Hondurans, 200 Salvadorans, 100 Guatemalans and 17 Nicaraguans. Now remember, this is an official statistic from the INM (National Institute of Migration). Human rights organizations dispute it and say it is very low. However, there were only 72 official reported crimes against Central Americans in 2012 and 68 in 2013.
March 30, 2015: The deputy commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) has told the U.S. Congress that evidence exists that the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah is working with Mexican cartels. Hezbollah exploits Lebanese communities in Central and South America. Criminals in these communities are already involved in drug smuggling operations and money laundering. U.S. investigators believe that Lebanese Hezbollah takes a percentage of the illegal income.