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Column 032006 Brewer

Monday, March 20, 2006

U.S. and Mexico Join Forces in Drug Fight

By Jerry Brewer

In a much needed and celebrated effort, top United
States and Mexican security officials recently signed an
agreement to mutually battle increasingly violent
organized crime elements flourishing in Mexico and
along the U.S. border.

In a ceremony on the banks of the Rio Grande, U.S.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated,
“We have found that when we work together we can
accomplish great things.” He acknowledged the signing
of a memorandum of understanding, described as an
action plan to jointly move forward and battle violence
on both sides of the border.

In an impressive binational show of force, the hour-long
“press event” featured flyovers by Border Patrol
helicopters, federal agents on horseback and riverboats,
and all-terrain vehicles.

What has previously been described as Mexican
official’s “knee jerk” reactions to border and other
interior violence by drug cartels and different organized
smuggling elements has found some success. Mexican
officials have arrested a significant number of major
drug traffickers and seized their proceeds.

On the U.S. side, Chertoff said that 83 criminal
investigators were to be added to the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) division in the Texas border
region. Mexican officials have reciprocated by assigning
hundreds of federal agents and prosecutors to the
border area, and assigned 300 state police officers to
interdict smuggling operations. Moving beyond words
and rhetoric about corruption, Mexican officials have
successfully arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated
leaders of major trafficking organizations.

Much success in these critical interdiction efforts has
been through the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security’s Border Enforcement and Security Task Force
(BEST). These strategic and proactive initiatives have
demonstrated a version of “zero tolerance,” and at the
very least clearly demonstrate the readiness,
willingness, and capabilities of an organized and unified
effort to meet organized criminals head on.

It appears that the battle against the ruthless and
brazen assassins and insurgents of the drug cartels has
been carefully planned with clearly focused goals and
objectives. For this type of confrontation must include
the successful infiltration and dismantling of the
criminal organization’s top leadership and

A living example of this type of strategy is in the
excavating of a tree or plant. By chopping it to pieces,
burning the branches, and burying the ashes the plant
would not grow again. With drug gangs the stems and
branches of their hierarchy could not flourish. Plus this
level of interdiction chokes off the illicit finances that
fuel these criminal operations.

These important tactics in confronting one of the most
serious threats facing the U.S. border today are
designed primarily to destroy the “supply” of drugs.
Yet human smuggling too generates vast revenue for
criminal operators who offer conduits for moving people
across the border who may also have criminal
intentions. Consequently, the next angle of attack
must include those strategies and initiatives that
combat the “demand” for contraband.

Not an easy task when the demand for drugs in the
United States is a US$26 billion plus annual habit.
Furthermore, solidarity in combating supply does not
necessarily mean unity in reducing demand.

The trail of death along the U.S.-Mexico border is a
needless and horrific calamity that should force both
sides to ask if they are part of the problem or part of
the solution? The weak side would say that they are
simply delivering what the other side wants, whereas
that other side would say just legalize it and all of our
problems are over.

However such failings in logic will ultimately result in
misery due to the recipient’s desire for a mind-altering
lifestyle. Perceived revenue from legalizing and taxing
sales would be offset by the incredible addiction rate.
And some other form of contraband would soon replace
drugs with organized criminals voraciously seeking the
U.S. dollar.

The continuing murders of Mexican police officers,
government officials, media representative and others,
along with kidnapping, torture, and vast numbers of
missing people, must reach a level of consciousness
that enough is enough. Human life and dignity must be
respected by the masses.

Too, this is not just a regional situation confined to our
hemisphere. This is a worldwide problem – and a call
for help for humanity that demands attention.

The United States and Mexican governments have
moved beyond finger pointing, having hopefully now
entered an achievement oriented era as they jointly
seek to stop the human slaughter, and confront and
bring to justice those responsible for death, violence,
suffering and intimidation in both nations.

And we must all now ask where we stand as individuals
in this fight?

Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice
International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm
headquartered in Miami, Florida, is also a columnist with He can be reached via e-mail at