A Cameron County Violence Seminar held Sept 12, 2012 at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium drew about 450 to 500 attendees according to the Valley Morning Star. Interest was certainly keen and attendance was high. A video was shown called Border Protection, then a panel of politicians and law enforcement officials talked to the audience and answered questions.
Some of the highlights: The film says that law enforcement is both outmanned and outgunned. This is true. Wages for cartel members range from $700.00 dollars a month to as low as $40.00 a hit in Juarez by a local teen age gang members, There are over 600 million people in Latin America, and many millions are desperate enough to transport drugs to the United States, no matter the cost, or the risk. And they work cheap.
Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio made it into the video. His department received an almost 600 million dollar bounty for Cameron Counties part in the capture of the Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas. The drug war has two sources of funding on the local level: one is forfeitures and seizures, and the other is grants and federal funding. There are two problems here: One is that the Federal Government is broke, and the other is that seizures should never go to the agency doing the seizure. Paying bounties and commissions to law enforcement for doing their job is a moral hazard. If it is not worth funding by the taxpayers, to me it’s not worth doing. For me the same goes for foreign wars. If the taxpayers won’t pay for it as it is happening, then it is not worth fighting. All seizures, forfeitures and fines should be returned to the taxpayers once a year. We all could use the bail out.
The Border Protection Video can be obtained from the Cameron County Judges Division. It should be up in the near future on You Tube. A well produced film, it covers many issues, but goes over pretty much the same ground as has been gone over before. The one thing I have noticed is that the Cartels are showing less and less respect for American Law Enforcement. Violent actions are still kept comparatively discreet as compared to the brazen in your face murders and firefights with authorities inMexico. But just like inMexico, as the United Statesgrows weaker, so do the cartels grow stronger.
The definition of border spillover violence is up for grabs, The truth of it is, no one has an exact definition of it. The iceberg analogy could very well apply here: For every part of the iceberg that we see above the surface, there is 9 tenths that we don’t see below. The nature of organized crime is such that much of what goes on does not break normally break the surface. They would keep it all hid if they could There are kidnappings that are never reported, beatings, threats and extortions as well. Shootings and actual assassinations are harder to conceal. Also there has been many a person snatched, drugged, and stuffed into a trunk and taken across the border, with no one the wiser. The statistics put it down to “dissapeared.” or “missing,”
Now as far as drug related crime going on in the Rio GrandeValley, that is simply enormous. Many cartel members have homes (or mansions) in the Rio Grande Valley and there is many a deal hatched here, enormous sums of money are laundered and orders and plans are sent to the troops on the ground. Billions of dollars are involved. As far as drug use in the area is concerned, it’s there, but not in the magnitude that it is in so many areas, Beer and marijuana have been traditional along the border for generations. The marijuana does much less damage than does the beer.
Stats worth noting from the seminar: There are over 100,000 gang members inTexas. Many gangs are transnational. Indoor marijuana farming is increasing inTexas. According to other sources, Mexican gang numbers far outstrip 100,000.
Also the State of Texas has a lot of fingers in the drug war pie; many more than I knew or have fingers to count with. There are:
DPS specialized Swat teams, also SRT or Special Response Teams.
Also there is the Tactical Marine Unit
There’ Ranger Recon and of course the Texas State Guard.
Also Operation Drawbridge and Game Cameras set up for two legged human game.
A Justice of the Peace from Brownsville said that she and others were routinely threatened by the Children of The Cartel while she worked at school , and that what was needed was armed security at the schools. Judge Carlos Casco could only offer up the fact that the budget only stretched so far. If I could have given my advice it would be to start packing lady. Your honor needs to get her concealed carry permit. There are just not enough police to go around.
But there’s plenty of money for drones and military helicopters and fancy trucks for School District Police. Many in the DEA make over 6 figures per year, and there is more and more fancy military equipment, armored personnel carriers and tank like vehicles all the time. I almost forgot to mention blimps.Lot’s of dirigibles everywhere.
As always the issue of how to make a real difference in drug use and how effective the enormous cost in lives and treasury that go into fighting said war were completely ignored….But they always are.
Selma Yznaga gave a talk on the children of the drug war and the various traumas and conditions that affect them. It is no secret that in the Rio Grande Valley substantial numbers of Mexican National children attend both public and private schools. They visit a war zone daily if they commute, and if not they have to go home sometime. Selma Yznaga is an associate professor at theUniversity of Texas Brownsvillei n counseling and guidance.
And it is worth mentioning that many border children have close relatives inMexico. Visits of course are way down
All in all a very worthwhile conference on border spillover violence.