Tuesday, January 18, 2011

National Guardsmen Caught in Drug Smuggling Bust

So they say the border isn't safe and that's why we need the national guard there, but then when national guardsmen are involved in a huge drug-smuggling ring, the former AZ attorney general says, "The involvement of uniformed military personnel and children show the extent to which the cartels will go to pursue their illegal schemes."  It doesn't show the extent that national guard statesmen can go because they're not looked at with suspicion?

The involvement in the drug trade by military, police, border patrol, prison guards, not to mention the CIA and such, has been extensive.  It is ridiculous that migrants are the ones stereotyped as drug smugglers (yes there are drug smugglers from south of the border just like there are white drug dealers in middle class neighborhoods) and when people with some sort of authority get involved in the drug trade it supposedly speaks more to "the extent to which cartels will go".  Similarly, I point out in Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling, there is much more sympathy towards officials than towards Mexicans.  As though Mexicans are naturally corrupt, while officers get corrupted by the former.

No it couldn't be American demand, plus greed, poverty, capitalism, and the fact that drug smuggling (and human smuggling) is illegal that causes people to get involved in the trade.  And it wouldn't be the impunity, authority, and trust afforded officials that allows them to participate in the drug trade more effectively because of their position that causes them to be involved.  One wonders what the drug trade would look like if nobody tied to the government ever participated in it.

It's especially unfortunate that the drug trade negatively affects the Tohono O'odham and then on top of that, they have people who are "protecting the border" also negatively affecting the community, in addition to some involvement in the drug trade.  People transverse the entry port in the Tohono O'odham Nation and surrounding areas because of tightened border controls in other more urban regions.  It will be interesting whether this will be an excuse to tighten border security on T.O... just before the Unity Run too...

Anyway, here's the article: Authorities bust major marijuana smuggling ring. 
And Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling is worth reading too, in my opinion, even though it's a little old.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Private Paramilitary-Style Training Camp Approved for Border

A company called Wind Zero got approval to build a huge private complex for paramilitary-style training, similar to the camp proposed by Blackwater (now Xe).

According to Narco News' $100 Million Drug-War Garrison Approved for U.S.-Mexican Border, the company's founder, former Navy SEAL sniper, U.S. intelligence agency operative and author Brandon Webb said in a YouTube video: 
Mexico is very close to civil war right now; it doesn’t take much to buy off somebody and next thing you know, the president is assassinated and then what? A civil war breaks out, and we have a million Mexican citizens crossing the border into the U.S., and it’s the same situation that you have in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You have all these refugees coming across and Pakistan’s like, “What do we do with this?”

It’s not outlandish for that scenario to happen. So how do you prepare for that? You got to train these guys, and that’s law enforcement and the military.
The article notes that there are likely to be plans to operate drones, aka unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) out of this facility.
Currently, under the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency, about a half a dozen Predator B (Reaper) drones are now operating along the southern U.S. border and coastal regions of the U.S., from Florida through Eastern California.
And it seems the Mexican government itself is operating UAVs, or drones, over the U.S.-Mexican border. A recent news story revealed that a Mexican drone dropped out of the sky earlier this month and crashed onto an El Paso, Texas, street...
The U.S. and Mexican governments are already operating joint military missions targeting so-called “kingpin” narco-traffickers. As evidence of that reality, the Washington Post recently reported on a State Department cable made public through WikiLeaks that supports facts reported by Narco News in June 2010...

Would it be any surprise if the U.S. and Mexican governments, via private contractors and/or government operations, also are coordinating drone missions along the border?
(It's worth noting as well that Miami Police have recently purchased a drone for the use of keeping tabs on the residents as well.)

About the training "camp" Narco News continues: 

Beyond its usefulness as a drone operations and training center, the planned Wind zero camp also will offer plenty of other features necessary for training special operations soldiers and/or paramilitary forces.
The camp, which would be developed in three phases at a cost of up to $100 million (some $15 million for Phase 1), also will include numerous shooting ranges allowing for some 57,000 rounds of ammunition to be fired off daily; a mock-up of an urban neighborhood for practices assaults; a 6-mile dual-use race track for teaching defensive and offensive driving (and for private-pay recreational use); and enough housing and RV camper space (along with a 100-room hotel) to accommodate a small battalion of warriors.
The article states that residents of the town, in addition to the Sierra Club have opposed this project, but, "Wind Zero marshaled the support of numerous law enforcement agencies in the region that would be able to make use of the facility for training purposes."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucson Shooting Overshadows Border Shooting

Before Congresswoman Gifford and others were shot in Tuscon, Arizona , 17 year old Ramses Barron Torres was shot and killed by a bullet originating in Nogales, Arizona. There have been no national moments of silence for the apparently unarmed teenager. No memes speculating on the sanity of the shooter(s) or if violent rhetoric played a role. That’s probably because Ramses Barron Torres is Mexican and was shot by U.S. Border Patrol.
These points, made by Maegan La Mala on VivirLatino recently are ones that didn't really occur to me, even though I try to be aware of these sorts inconsistencies on the part of the media as well as the left.  The article explores some of the stories around the circumstances surrounding Torres' death.  But even if Torres had been throwing rocks, even if he had been on the US side of the border, the shooting was still unjustified.  Certainly violent rhetoric played a role in this shooting, as it did in the shooting in Arivaca a year and a half ago.

Border patrol agents, like cops, get away with shootings and other violence on a regular basis.  Even Ramos and Compean who were sentenced to prison for shooting at a man on the border (he didn't die), got their sentence commuted by Bush.  It will be interesting to see what comes of this shooting.  Either way, though, the outcry (as it is reported by the media as well as how it is coming across on the part of activists) is not nearly what it is in response to this shooting in Tucson.  Yes, it is different that it was so out of the ordinary and that it was several people who were shot at once, but just because immigrants already live in a state of fear for their lives does not mean it's any less painful or traumatic.