Thursday, December 06, 2007

I've always been cautious about using the T word. And I'll still refrain from applying it to U.S. based street gangs and their associates in organized criminal enterprises. But what's happening south of the border absolutely qualifies as terrorism.

The difference between us and them isn't subtle. Criminal gangs and organized groups in the U.S. generally speaking are not trying to change institutions like LE agencies, the media and the authorized civilian authorities. There are exceptions like Cudahy that still need to be addressed.

The latest proof of the criminal cartels' intent of literally destroying civilian authority is the machine gunning of Tecate's recently appointed deputy chief of police, Jose Juan Soriano Pereira. He was shot fifty times while asleep in bed next to his wife. This is just one more step in Mexico's suicide spiral into total anarchy. When a dope dealer kills another dealer, it's just business. When they start killing cops, newspaper editors and writers, priests and entire families it's not just business anymore. It's an attempt to destabilize the entire edifice of civil order.

There are parts of Mexico where the local government is the drug cartel and no cop or politician who wants to remain breathing will do anything to stop it. The few that do end up like Soriano.

With our sieve-like border, it's only a matter of time before border towns on the U.S. side fall under the unchecked influence of the cartel terrorists. Twenty years ago, nobody would have imagined that the cartels would have their own highly-trained, well-funded and extremely well-armed military wing. By poking at the problem with a stick for twenty years, we now have the Zetas who are nothing less than the security and assassination arm of the cartels.

While we're sweating the small stuff like whether shooting a smuggler in the ass is out of LE policy, the cartels see it as weakness. They can't believe their good luck that this is what grabs headlines in the U.S. and what politicians spend their days worrying about. Severed heads rolled out onto a crowded dance floor? No outrage here. A Texas TV station ordering its reporters not to do any more stories on the cartels for fear of having their station bombed? No outrage from fellow journalists in less dangerous parts of the country.

When Tijuana Police Chief Alfredo de la Torre Marquez was assassinated in 2000, Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a press release deploring the murder and that "We must bring these criminals to justice." This time around, the latest press release from her office deals with the pressing problem of global warming. We're taking our eye off the ball.

If we keep poking the problem with a stick, twenty years from now, we'll be looking back at 2007 as the time when things weren't so bad and fondly recall the days when all we had to worry about were streets and prison gangs.