Here is an excerpt from Mary Lou Pickel's article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"A recent increase in drug-related kidnappings in Gwinnett County has put a spotlight on drug violence in Georgia, federal agents say. About nine drug-related kidnappings have occurred in Gwinnett this year. The latest involved a man bound and chained in a basement in Lilburn whom federal agents rescued earlier this month. Mexican drug cartels are moving large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the country for distribution up the East Coast, said Rodney Benson, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Atlanta. Drug-related kidnappings have increased in the past 90 days, he said. David Nahmias, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said Gwinnett is a center of Mexican drug cartel activity in the area because of easy transportation on I-85 and a large Hispanic population where traffickers can try to blend in... Representatives of Mexican drug cartels in Atlanta are 'clashing with each other,' the DEA's Benson said. Drug traffickers are also getting younger, Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Keith Miles said... Miles says the up-tick in kidnappings is not a 'blip.' 'It's just a matter of time before innocent people get caught in the crossfire,' he said." Link to Full Article
Analysis: This story shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as Atlanta is a known trafficking hub for Mexican TCOs. What should come as a surprise is that THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN JUY 2008! Yep, this headline and complete story would fit right in with news reports coming out today.
Honestly, I don't have much by way of analysis on this story; it really speaks for itself. I highly recommend following the link to the full article and scrolling down to the bottom so you can read some of the kidnapping cases that occurred in the first half of 2008 in Gwinnett. My point for writing this post is to showcase exactly how little we've progressed in acknowledging that Mexico's drug war is here. This kind of stuff has been happening not just in Georgia, but in Alabama, Baltimore, Denver...you name it. US cities nowhere near the border have been experiencing kidnappings and violent drug-related murders for years, but some in charge are happy to pass those incidents off as "the drug business as usual."
And hey, maybe it is. DHS chooses not to keep track of cartel-on-cartel violence here in the US, which totally misses the point of what border violence spillover really is. The El Paso Sheriff's Office has told me that if they investigate a gang-related murder that is somehow connected to the Mexican drug trade, they don't consider that spillover; just "business as usual." I'm pretty sure that DHS wouldn't classify these Gwinnett kidnappings that way either, which makes me wonder how many TCO-related violent incidents are occurring in the United States where agencies - for purely subjective or political reasons - choose to not advertise the link to Mexico. Then you have other agencies, like the DEA and several south Texas departments, who are happy to let Americans know, "Hey! We've got a problem here!"
I just get so angry when I stumble across old news reports like this that read like today's news. It makes me feel like some people at DHS and in the White House are asleep at the wheel. How is it that no progress has been made in the last four years in our cities where Mexican TCOs are operating? It's all about priorities, and it seems obvious to me that the drug war has been nowhere near the top of the national security priority list since it started in earnest several years ago.