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Column 120610 Brewer Monday, December 6, 2010 Should Mexico's War vs. Drug Traffickers be Questioned? By Jerry Brewer Why is Mexico’s response to the potentially worse scourge in its history still being debated as to success and skepticism? Mexican President Felipe Calderon is consistently challenged in both schools of thought since his taking office in 2006, and dedicating the fight for the rule of law a cornerstone of his administration. It is true that over 30,000 people have been killed in Mexico over these issues; drug trafficking participants, as well as innocent citizens, police, military, and other governing officials. Even U.S. citizens have not been immune to this killing machine, with the superior military-style armaments and incredible wealth needed to sustain an extended fight that confronts a government. In a way, Mexico’s nationally elected leader has become the scapegoat of many that have run the intellectual and doubletalk gamut of second guessing — first his voracity then his tenacity, and now his rationality. Must we also question Calderon’s success in reducing U.S. drug demand? Obviously, he has no help there and has in fact pointed this out throughout his tenure in office. The U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy states that people in the U.S. spend approximately “US$65 billion a year to buy illegal drugs.” Too, it reports that “drug-related damages amount to an estimated US$110 billion a year, and approximately 52,000 deaths a year are drug-related” in this country. Calderon was savvy and proactive enough to realize that his policing structures in place, prior to and at the start of his term in office, were not adequate, capable, or inherently professionally qualified to encounter and engage such a monumental paramilitary style of onslaught against officials, citizens, and the Mexican nation. He turned to his military for the firepower and “war-like” conditions. In comparison, in the U.S., with more capable and skilled law enforcement structures and institutions, what would this nation’s leader do if a regional area of a principal U.S. city was

engulfed in combat with drug traffickers laying siege with grenades, anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and automatic weapons? Would the National Guard be an option at an absolute minimum? Let us not forget that as far back as August 2005, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico experienced that firepower as well as the murder of police, police leaders, and local government officials. Was it not incredibly obvious to the U.S., as well as Mexico, that this was a real threat to both sides of the border? The local U.S. consulate even had to close for a few days! During the period of 2005 to this very day, both the U.S. and Mexican governments have continued to politically secondguess what is fact from fiction, and played “name the problem” that has been graphically witnessed by countless victims. Is it narcoterrorism or not narcoterrorism? Is it an insurgency or not; is it transnational organized crime; is Mexico a potentially failed state; or is it just simply about the drug trade and supply and demand? In truth, it is simply about the slaughter of people and an enemy’s defiance of the rule of law. A chess game that must stop. It appears that Calderon has personally set aside the issue of political costs of decisions made on Mexico’s homeland security. Calderon has asked for U.S. help and received it, this evidenced in the takedown of many of those in the principal organized crime hierarchies in Mexico. Yet this is not about the quantity or seizure of drugs in which success is measured. The demand will easily outlast the supply. And transnational criminals will always chase the massive profits in U.S. contraband demand — whatever is in demand. The viable issues of concern regarding a sustained military effort in Mexico are weaknesses of the military in critical criminal justice procedures, from criminal law, evidence recognition/collection, investigation for prosecution purposes and related matters, to secure convictions — all of which are fundamentally law enforcement responsibilities. The palpable results of combined military and police efforts in Mexico, with U.S. assistance, have created setbacks to the traffickers. This is evidenced clearly in some redirecting of drug routes through the Caribbean and South America to Europe. Too, other organized crime activities such as extortion, kidnapping for ransom, murder for hire, and human trafficking are on the increase. So, once cohesive cartel power structures have finally proven to be penetrable. Yet how will success be truly measured to satisfy critics and those that second guess actual interdiction

efforts? The reduction of the loss of life would be a great start. However this will not happen in Mexico without further U.S. assistance, due to readiness issues of Mexican law enforcement to supplant the immediate need for military-style defense of the homeland. —————————— Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org TWITTER: cjiausa.

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