There is a plethora of advice for Mexico's President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who faces a monumental task of healing the Mexican homeland. Part of this advice should be to distinguish between fact and fiction, and focus on synthesized logic.
The international narcotics empire has been the largest growth industry in the world. Although frequently disturbed by internal hierarchal struggles, due in large part to drug enforcement interdiction, intense drug demand continues to grease the wheels for rapid supply, while the ranks are modified with new leadership to continue the enthusiastic delivery of the mind altering substances.
Mexican "drug cartels" have essentially morphed into transnational criminal organizations. There are no borders anymore as it applies to their movement and operational acts. They are in at least 230 major US cities, and they have assimilated with the U.S. prison gang populations -- and they have been doing so for years. They are saturating the northern cone of Central America, and their presence is indicated as far south as Argentina.
Hence, the so-called war on drugs is now primarily a war against violent organized crime. Beyond drug trafficking and sales, continuing and new lucrative crimes of kidnapping and extortion for ransom, robbery, murder for hire, human and sex trafficking, oil thefts, and related violent crimes are not only successful but on the rise as well.
The previous popular "narcotraffickers" moniker still resonates with the mystique of unimaginable wealth and devastating power, which are under the control of many of the most dangerous and vicious criminals in the world. Unfathomable gallons of blood euphemistically lace the drug routes and taint the contraband supply to provide a hedonistic perceived rite of passage.
President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto must clearly understand the history of decades of drug trafficking from South America into and across Mexico. This through examples like the highly violent and visible eruption in August 2005 in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico,that demonstrated a whole new modus operandi of military-like power and control against Mexican authorities.
Mexico and U.S. knee-jerk reactions stated that this was all a dispute over drug turf among local narcotics traffickers. Soon, however, those traffickers began to directly ambush Mexican military convoys and police head-on; murder journalists; and terrorize Mexican communities, torturing and beheading people. Even the U.S. Consulate offices in Nuevo Laredo had to be shut down for a while due to the violence.
Police chiefs and other local officials began to be murdered with impunity. Over 40 police chiefs were eventually murdered, with hundreds threatened and some run out of towns. Even the U.S. Border Patrol reported being shot at and stalked by paramilitary-style narcotraffickers in their Tucson Sector, near Nogales, Arizona, on the border with Sonora. The reports revealed the highly militarized and sophisticated nature of the narco's cover and concealment methods, and "spotting" of Border Patrol agents. There had also been bounties put out on the lives of Border Patrol Agents and police.
Over a year later, in December 2006, Mexico's new President Felipe Calderon recognized the substance of the intensity of what had been occurring on Mexican soil, and he began to comprehend this new enemy that was killing with impunity and looking to overtake Mexican government authority. The rule of law had become non-existent, and lawlessness was the norm. Calderon recognized that his policing infrastructure was essentially useless against the superior training and weapons of this enemy, and he had no alternative but to use his military.
President-elect Peña Nieto must not lose the continuity of President Calderon's wisdom, gained through violent atrocities and body count by an enemy that even Calderon lamented as seeking to control Mexico.
So, how will the new president protect the fluid nature of each of Mexico's borders?
The revolving door to the northern cone region of Central America must be a top priority of his government. We have already seen and experienced what the fluid nature of the U.S. southern border has meant to U.S. law enforcement, and the government's continuing vacillation as to how to plug or not plug a leaking porous border.
It is true that legitimate nations must be prepared to combat these enemies of the state within their own borders, but one cannot ignore the power and resiliency of these organized transnational criminals who operate with near impunity in and around the Mexican homeland.
And Peña Nieto must not allow his new administration to take a passive role, in exchange for simply concentrating on local crimes.
The future calls out for a truly united and effective global assault on organized criminals who are challenging the stability of nations. Groups that have effectively challenged Mexico, and to a lesser extent the U.S., and for the most part emerged unscathed. Immobilizing these insurgents must be a top priority of all governments in this hemisphere.
**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 http://www.cjiausa.org/.