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Column 091205 Brewer

Monday, September 12, 2005

Drug gangs must be targeted in the fight against

By Jerry Brewer

Recent efforts by international law enforcement
authorities against violent gangs in Latin America and
the U.S. are to be saluted. These and similar initiatives
are the ingredients for world cooperation, teamwork,
and a proactive solution to interdicting violence that
continues to terrify nations and cities worldwide.

Illegal drugs are the primary product and mission for
gangs, followed closely by the intimidation of those
they seek to control. Their actual power, making it easy
to intimidate and coerce others, is through a willingness
to commit violent acts and to kill.

All this as the drug war drives up violence and
corruption to epidemic proportions, and continues to
place frail democracies at risk.

In early September five countries, the U.S., Guatemala,
El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico, arrested 660 gang
members, including MS and Mara 18 lawbreakers,
according to El Salvador’s national police. This joint
operation and strategy consisted of 6,400 police,
federal agents and other officials, who made arrests on
charges that among others included homicide, drug
trafficking, weapons violations, and robbery, all part of
the modus operandi of the gangs and their contribution
to our civilized world.
The exchange of information and intelligence between
these countries was an effective tool in coordinating,
identifying, and capturing these criminals. Yet the key
question in all of this is who got away? I refer to the
kingpins, principal organizers, and those at the highest
levels in far too many countries who facilitate this
global mayhem.

Few cartel associates are ever arrested, although
routinely targeted. The cartel soldiers do the
groundwork and drive the trucks with concealed drugs.
Soldiers continue to plow forward with their product in
tow while cartel bosses get wealthier. If product is lost,
the accused party must come up with the money or
face certain execution. Most of these soldiers and
peasants end up in jail with severe sentences.

The U.S. drug czar stated recently that Mexicans have
taken over and are running the organized crime, and
“getting the bulk of the money.” Mexican Attorney
General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca acknowledged that
corruption by drug traffickers has increasingly infiltrated
Mexico’s top federal investigative agency. Corruption
and penetration by these drug-trafficking groups into
the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) must be
stopped immediately, using every resource available to
weed out those involved and incarcerate them with
lengthy prison sentences.

Cabeza de Vaca says he needs more personnel to fight
federal crimes. He states that he only has 2,000 agents
operating in the field, out of 7,000 employees. A
quality control focus should immediately be placed on
what those 2,000 agents actually do in the field, along
with relocating many of the remaining 5,000 to
operational priorities.

It is time to stop the “can’t do” attitude at every level.
The recent raids and arrests made it clear, that when
the five countries teamed together and focused on
intelligence-driven investigations targeting criminal
organizations there were results.

The U.S. recently showed its readiness to sustain a
major battle with these insurgents, when the U.S.
Treasury (Office of Foreign Asset Control) identified and
took action against 30 companies and individuals
associated with two drug-trafficking organizations. At a
state level, Texas recently allocated US$5 million to
improve law enforcement communications to border

Recent words of Mexican President Vicente Fox were
music to the ears of those desperate to take action on
these issues. Fox challenged the drug barons by
stating, “We are going to win this battle. We’ll see who
is tougher, we’ll see who is more stubborn.” As well,
the president’s proposed spending plan for next year
calls for a 20 percent increase in federal funding to fight
organized crime.

It is reported that 90 percent of the cocaine sold in the
U.S. last year came through Mexico, and Mexico is
number two for heroin bound for the U.S. Plus Mexican
criminal organizations now control drug sales in 13 U.S.
metropolitan areas that are known to be primary
distribution centers.

The Mexican cartels are not untouchable. Yes the
Mexican cartels — that commonly work through small
well-organized groups or cells — are sophisticated,
skilled with weapons and attack strategies, and possess
efficient planning capabilities, just like terrorists. Yet
many of the biggest terrorists of the world have been
captured or killed.

Likewise, Mexican drug lords and their henchmen must
be targeted immediately with every resource available
from nations that are serious about protecting their
homelands. Once genuinely strategic and proactive
targets are placed on their backs, and a well-
orchestrated force is marshaled, they can be
Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice
International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm
headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, is also a columnist
with He can be reached via e-mail at