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I am a consultant and analyst with eight years of military law enforcement experience, six years of analytical experience covering Latin America, and over seven years of analytical experience covering Mexican TCOs and border violence issues. This blog is designed to inform readers about current border violence issues and provide analysis on those issues, as well as detailed focus on specific border topics. By applying my knowledge and experience through this blog, I hope to separate the wheat from the chaff...that is, dispel rumors propagated by sensationalist media reporting, explain in layman's terms what is going on with Mexican TCOs, and most importantly, WHY violence is happening along the US-Mexico border.


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« Julián Zapata Espinosa and five others arrested for ICE agent's murder | Main | "A forceful message to the Mexican Cartels." »

February 24, 2011


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Definitely a sitting-on-hands approach by authorities in the US. As if they wait to make their busts only after some highly publicized event in order to appear as if they are earning their salaries and quell public opinion.

Sylvia, very pleased to find your response to these ‘’raids’’ here this morning! I’m quite certain some federal chair sitters are not going to be as pleased with it as I am, but oh well. Going against the party line seldom gets back pats however,most often anything you might feel back their is their knife, so be prepared.



A couple of quick points about the latest developments in Mexico.

1) News sources are reporting that the suspects who killed agent Zapata and wounded agent Avila have already been taken into custody. This is very good news - of course. But I can't help wondering how it is possible to locate these suspects so quickly? If the Mexican Gov't really can find members of Los Zetas this rapidly ... why don't they make these kinds of arrests on a regular basis?

2) News sources are also quoting the results of initial interrogations as saying that the Zetas who attacked the ICE agents apparently mistook their vehicle for an SUV driveen by a rival cartel. OK - that's a plausible story. But is it the real truth - because it doesn't fit all the facts. Previous news reports said that the vehicle has diplomatic plates. If so, wouldn't the Zetas have noticed that fact? Also, previous news stories said that the ICE agents cracked open a window of their vehicle and identified themselves as Americans - before being shot. In that case, why didn't the Zeta's let them go? Clearly they were not from a rival cartel. It seems like important details do not add up here. The truth is always the first casualty of war.


if investigations or arrests last months then Mexico government isn´t doing anything, if arrests are made in a week then it is an unbelievable for US people, wonder why US always have know who drug dealers in their land are and wait till something like ICE agent killing to do something about guns traffic and arrest some guys, tons of drugs are seized in Mexico every day avoiding them to reach US youth and children while our military and police men are killed among civilians by US sold guns.

Harley, how about you do a little more from your side of the border to keep the guns out of your country? And while you're at it do something more from your side of the border to keep the cash flow out of your country; oh wait that wouldn't help the mexican economy would it? Do you serve? Or just complain?

Harley - you are right that the people of Mexico are paying a very high price because the drug cartels. Yes - many Mexicans have shed their own blood in the struggle against this evil. And I can assure you that we deeply appreciate the actions of every honest law enforcement officer in Mexico who tries to stand up for what is right.

The problem, however, is that things are not making sense now. In my opinion it would be better to give all the honest citizens of Mexico the right to defend themselves - by allowing them to own guns. It is not necessary for Mexico to have gun laws like the USA. Your country could consider the types of gun laws that work in Italy. In that country every citizen can own one handgun, one rifle, and one shotgun. That gives people a chance to defend themselves and their families, but it also limits gun proliferation to some degree.

If Mexico doesn't make some change in its laws - your roads in the northern half of the country will become extremely risky. Few people will drive on them.


I agree with Sylvia's skeptical analysis of the recent U.S. agency actions north of the border: these arrests and seizures come across more like a dog-and-pony show, intended to make people feel like *something* has been done. In reality, little has been accomplished -- at least for the moment. Giving the various agencies the collective benefit of the doubt, perhaps these represent only a first/immediate response, just as Doolittle's Raid in April 1942 was not the full response of the U.S. to the attack on Pearl Harbor. But even in that sense, perhaps it has backfired, sending the opposite message: "You can kill one of ours, and all we can do is apprehend some of your low-level pawns and some pocket change." Not the message the U.S. wants to send, even for the moment. (Using a predator drone to destroy a cartel leader's safe house and anyone in it? Now *that* would be an appropriate message: "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way." )

I empathize with Sylvia's point: why is the U.S. *reacting* to these events, rather than implementing something more pro-active? I would only offer: perhaps something more pro-active is in the works. These things happen mostly behind-the-curtain; usually we only see the parts The Powers That Be want us to see. Much happens that we mere citizens are not privy to. Unfortunately, we are left to read the tea leaves of public events and what facts (or partial facts, or flat-out disinformation) bubbles up into the sphere of the media (larger now, thanks to things like blogs and Twitter and YouTube -- but those tools can also serve as channels of propaganda/disinformation).

Meanwhile, regardless of what has been reported in the press, it's not a foregone conclusion that the attack on the ICE agents was in fact an action of Los Zetas: yes, it's a likely/reasonable assumption, and almost all intelligence sources seem to have settled on that as the truth of what occurred -- but I point out, it's still an assumption. So much of what is happening in the Mexican drug wars is murky, especially when you are talking about the cartels. Their org charts, membership, and allegiances change monthly, if not weekly.

As for the six supposed Zetas who have been apprehended by the Mexican authorities... yeah, maybe they really were responsible for the attack, maybe they weren't. Maybe they really are Zeta operatives, maybe they aren't. Perhaps they are former Zetas, or recent breakaways, or just operatives with questionable loyalties, and the Zetas leadership (or some faction of the Zetas leadership) has made a deal with the Mexican authorities to provide them with these convenient scapegoats to present to their U.S. counterparts and the media. "Everybody's happy."

(Yes, I'm told that I am paranoid and cynical. Sadly, I am right more often than I'd like.)

I agree with P, there's a lot about what has been reported about the ICE attack and the murder of Agent Zapata that doesn't add up. When one is analyzing social realities, it is important to ask, "Cui bono?" ("Who benefits?") If we assume that in fact the ICE agents' armored Chevy suburban had diplomatic plates, even a low-ranking trigger puller could see that, and is probably expected to recognize things like U.S. diplomatic plates, right? But then they go ahead and shoot the agents anyway? They don't check with someone farther up the cartel food chain before shooting a couple of U.S. agents, thereby guaranteeing that a shitstorm is going to fall on someone's head? Sorry, I don't buy it. It's not plausible. If I'm a cartel knucklehead who stupidly picks the wrong black Chevy Suburban to steal, proving I'm functionally a moron, how does one account for the fact that I managed to set up a road block that looked legitimate enough to fool two security-conscious U.S. ICE agents? See what I mean? As P observes, it just doesn't add up.

I don't know if leaving Agent Avila alive was intentional, or a product of the fact that Agent Zapata, as the driver, probably slammed on the accelerator as a defensive (or post-mortem) reaction to the gunfire -- but I do think the attack was intended as a message. As to the nature of that message and to whom it was actually addressed, we can only speculate. There is simply too much about this event that we regular folk do not know...

Contrary to some beliefs, Los Zetas are not a highly disciplined elite military special force. They are criminal thugs, more often than not they are high on cocaine and alcohol and are nothing like the original group that formed them. So it is easy to see why what happened happened. What is even more ludicrous is the contract between MEX and USGOV to keep USGOV agents unarmed while operating on Mexican soil; I mean who is high here?

Re to Bill:
You are so uninformed or dont want to know the real facts Bill, average number of weapons seized by our Army was of almost 200 daily in 2010 only. What it is wrong is that greedy US gun stores sell them to narcs knowing it.
About the money it is the same here or anywhere in the world including your country, money laundry it is so common in US as in Mexico, do you think your economy is free of dirty money?? you are so naive.
Read something else than your lcoal news Bill please.
I am not a whinner, I do my part, I am an honest working person, not an addict or smuggler.

Re to P:
P thanks for your concerns on Mexico people I appreciate it alot.
We do have laws that allow us to own some kind of fire arms at home, that it´s not the problem. We do not need to carry our guns at every moment daily, these killings are among bad guys only, there are some civilians casualties as in any other place shots are fired, but just a few. It is false that "fire at will" is happening. As a result of this called "drug war" some minor criminals are taking advantage of everything they can but there is no need to be armed at all time believe me.
What we need is cartels won´t be supplied with high caliber and more sophisticated weapons that our Armed forces.

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