Here's an excerpt from Alicia Caldwell's Associated Press article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
"Federal, state and local authorities conducted a massive sweep Thursday in the United States and Latin America of suspected Mexican drug cartel members in the United States in a widespread domestic response to the killing of a U.S. agent in Mexico last week. Carl Pike, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's special operations division, said the sweep is a direct reaction to the shooting death of Customs and Immigration Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico last week... Pike said the roundup, which began Wednesday and was expected to continue into Friday, is targeting suspected criminals with ties to any Mexican drug cartel to try to disrupt drug trafficking operations in the United States... By Thursday morning, thousands of law enforcement officers in areas including Atlanta, St. Louis, Denver, Detroit, San Antonio, San Diego, Chicago, Newark and Miami had seized more than $4.5 million in cash and nearly 20 guns, arrested more than 100 people and confiscated about 23 pounds of methamphetamine, 107 kilograms of cocaine, 5 pounds of heroin and 300 pounds of marijuana at several hundred locations... Pike said that while the sweeps are a direct response to Zapata's killing, the majority of suspects were already targets of other investigations." Link to Full Article
Analysis: I don't want to take anything away from the hard work all these DEA and ICE agents put into this sweep, especially knowing it was something personal for many of them. But I can't help to say...that's it??? Just 20 guns and less than 500 pounds of drugs that came from a raid by thousands of law enforcement officers? Even the cash, which sounds like a lot, is pennies when you look at the grand scheme of how much money Mexican DTOs are raking in from US drug sales. And the 100 people they arrested? They were already targets of other investigations, so it wasn't that hard to put a list together of people to go after. They were likely very low-level people within the DTO - if they were even a member at all, and not a gang member subcontracted out for drug distribution. That means those 100 people will be replaced in a heartbeat.
Pike said, "We are basically going out to disrupt narcotics distribution here in the United States no matter what cartel their allegiance is to." If he thinks this roundup is going to cause any noticeable disruption in narcotics distribution in the US, he's sadly mistaken. He also said, "If we don't push back, some other 18-year-old cartel member is going to think, 'They didn't do anything, so all U.S. citizens are fair game.'" Of course, the US government and law enforcement agencies had to do something. But the question is, are these kinds of raids actually accomplishing anything substantial, or are they window dressing intended to placate the American people and the Mexican government?
Let's not forget that a similar nationwide raid was conducted in October 2009 against La Familia Michoacana. Over 3,000 US law enforcement agents participated in raids across the country, and they arrested over 300 people associated with LFM. However, it had little effect on LFM as an organization, and drug trafficking in those cities were only mildly disrupted, if at all. Only after Mexican authorities took out LFM's leader a few months ago did the DTO start to show any cracks.
Another question to ask is, why did the DEA and ICE wait to put these simultaneous raids together until an ICE agent was shot and killed in Mexico? I saw the word "respond" and "response" several times in that article. Why are we being reactive and not more proactive? And how does this necessarily avenge Zapata's death? You're taking a few dozen low-level players off the street and a little bit of dope and cash. Maybe some of them work for Los Zetas, but it's probably a mix of DTO allegiances. This raid will not, in any way, serve justice to Zapata's killer or Los Zetas as an organization. Instead of making a big show and going after the minnows, we need a larger and more comprehensive joint strategy for going after the big fish.