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July 19, 2011

Grab Their Belts to Fight Them

The book, by CTA fellow, Warren Wilkins, is available wherever books are sold - including Amazon.

Let us know what you think of it.


June 2, 2011

"The Gauntlet"

UPDATE: SUSPECT APPREHENDED (6/5/11) WITH NO APPARENT CARTEL INVOLVEMENT. Motive TBD.

On Saturday morning, May 28, Bexar County Sheriff Sergeant Kenneth Vann was ambushed at a local intersection in San Antonio responding to a (disturbance) call in the area. From the outset, the very telling part was what wasn't being written. But the words "multi-agency task force" was a signal (including FBI and US Marshals).

Over the past many months there have been debates and politically correct banter regarding whether the drug violence was crossing the border, and even whether Mexico was or was not a failed or failing state. Well, to most people familiar with things, there never was much question, even though public discussions were pretty hushed.

So the big question is why on May 25th, was a Lieutenant in the Bexar County Sheriff's narcotics office interviewed on the late local news and quoted as saying that she was "expecting drug violence anytime." Was a public statement like that needed (was it necessary to "throw down the gauntlet")?

The first reports identified the suspect vehicle as a small white car. But later, authorities changed that initial report to looking for a Ford F-150. Perhaps coincidentally, south of town there have been a number of modified pick-up trucks found abandoned that were connected to the cartels (modified with compartments either ripped out or created to allow secreting contraband).

With the "multi-agency" task force investigating the murder/assassination, an answer is certain to come. While other motives such as a random act of violence, a gang initiation killing or some personal vendetta against Sgt. Vann have been raised as alternates and need to remain on the table, was his killing sort of a "warning" that "yes, drug violence could happen anytime."

At this point, it should be left to law enforcement to investigate the crime, and for others to postulate about what happened. But I have been writing about the narco-terrorism south of the border for more than 6 years and probably longer. The long hot South Texas summer still lies ahead.

The reward has risen to $127,000. Sgt. Vann's funeral will be on Friday, June 3rd.

May 9, 2011

Arms Race - South of the Border

It has long been argued that the violence in and from Mexico was being fed by the illegal smuggling of semi-automatic and automatic weapons from the United States purchased at gun shows and gun shops (most from Texas).

90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the United States.

-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.

-- CBS newsman Bob Schieffer referred to it while interviewing President Obama.

-- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: "It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors ... come from the United States."

-- William Hoover, assistant director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified in the House of Representatives that "there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States."

In various publications, pictures of semi and fully automatic weapons have been displayed.

Throughout the months since Calderón mounted his effort to combat the drug cartels, one theme has been repeated. That theme? American guns and ammunition were being smuggled to Mexico from the border states and fueling the violence.

Time and again, it is repeated that American weapons and drug use are the cause the violence in Mexico. However, as with many statistics, the statement that 90% of the guns in Mexico originated in the U.S. is faulty. In fact, according to a clarification published by Fox News, only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S. The key distinction is that serial numbers show that only 17% of the weapons can be traced to the United States.

The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.

What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S."

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

The problem with this argument has been periodic publication of pictures displaying some of the weapons taken in various raids. Knowledgeable observers commented then and now that many of the weapons such as M26A2 fragmentation grenades, M16, U.S. military-issued ammunition -- are not even sold in gun shows or gun shops. So from whence have they been purchased?

Now according to a U.S. Department of State document, in 2009, the United States sold the Mexican government $177 million worth of arms, of which $20 million was used for semi- and fully automatic weapons.

After looking at a warehouse full of high-powered weapons, allegedly stolen by a corrupt Mexican federal police officer, the informant said it was obvious to him that such weapons did not come from the "mom and pop" gun stores identified by the administration.

Aside from the fact that corruption in the Mexican police and military is no secret, additionally, and not surprisingly, it is also reported that "rogue elements" of the Guatemalan military have been selling military grade weapons to the cartels.

So, perhaps it is time for the Mexican government to look to itself to figure out how automatic weapons are finding their way to the cartels. And at the same time, while there is no question that some weapons are being purchased at gun shows and in gun shops in the U.S., the Administration should more closely examine its own sales of weapons to the Mexican government before pointing fingers at Texas gun shops.

May 2, 2011

Usama bin Laden Killed by U.S. in Pakistan

Just over four months short of ten years after the unjustifiable attacks on the United States, we have justifiably killed Usama bin Laden in a likely JSOC operation near Abbottabad, Pakistan. Its too early to say exactly how, or by whom, this mission was accomplished. What can and should be said is 'Thank you' to all involved in making it happen.

This long and difficult war is not won. It is, however, being won.

So far:

Osama bin Laden Killed: 'Justice Is Done,' President Says

Osama bin Laden, the face of terror, killed in Pakistan

Obama: Al-Qaida head bin Laden dead

Senior ISI official confirms bin Laden killed

Osama Bin Laden Body Headed for Burial at Sea, Officials Say

Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan

April 11, 2011

Ceasefire In Gaza? Hamas, Israel Lull as Halt Considered

A Hamas terrorist launched an anti-tank missile into an Israeli school bus. Israel launched its armor, air and infantry power into the Gaza Strip. That was Thursday. And that's how these things typically begin. Brutal business as usual.

But a couple of things have transpired since Thursday that are certainly not business as usual, and how much each has to do with the news of a considered ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas terrorists is a curious bit of conjecture.

First, on Sunday morning, Hamas' deputy foreign minister, Ghazi Hamad, appeared on Israeli state-run radio and Israel deployed its two existing "Iron Dome" defense systems ahead of schedule based on necessity. More densely populated Ashkelon and Beersheba, both near Gaza and within Hamas' range, were designated for Iron Dome defense. And Israel says the systems have intercepted at least 8 rockets bound for the Iron Dome-protected cities. Smaller towns and unpopulated areas remain unprotected. The Reuters report said that 120 rockets had been launched by Hamas total since Thursday, with the vast majority intended for closer, smaller Israeli towns than the two defended by the Iron Domes.

Anyone who claims to know definitively how much the Iron Dome defenses or the Hamas appeal in Hebrew impact the apparent suing for peace is kidding themselves. But because it can't be quantified does not mean it has no impact.

Personally, I'd suggest the Hamas deputy foreign minister appearing on Israeli radio speaking Hebrew in suing for a ceasefire has profound psychological significance for Hamas and Gaza Palestinians and less for Israelis. And I'd also suggest the Iron Dome rocket defenses have profound psychological significance for Israelis - all Israelis, not just those in Ashkelon or Beersheba - and less for Hamas, considering there are currently only two of them.

But either way and to whatever degree, both of these occurrences are most certainly new to this generations-old conflict.

April 10, 2011

Breaking: Qaddafi "Road Map to Peace" In Libya?

News breaks that Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi has "accepted a road map to peace," according to Sky News of Great Britain. South African president Jacob Zuma reportedly emerged from meetings with Qaddafi with some manner of agreement.

The African leaders arrived in Tripoli earlier today as part of a delegation seeking to negotiate a truce in the Libyan conflict.

The roadmap calls for an end to hostilities, "diligent conveying of humanitarian aid" and "dialogue between the Libyan parties", the leaders said in a statement.

Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who is in Tripoli reporting under the restrictions of the Libyan authorities, said it could be the crucial first step towards peace.

It could be that "crucial first step towards peace" - and it could also be little to nothing. It all depends what one presumes to be the definition of 'peace.' Too many may likely read into this report a form of capitulation on the part of Qaddafi.

It is highly unlikely at this stage - a relative position of strength for Qaddafi - that a "road map to peace" has any road leading Qaddafi out of Tripoli.

Don't just take my word for it. Listen to the British Defence Secrectary, Liam Fox. "The truth is that the Gaddafi regime is quite well dug in," he said.

Why would Qaddafi, who still has the ability to slug it out with the 'rebels' indefinitely, suddenly capitulate? "Peace" and surrender, you see, are two entirely different things no matter how peace is defined. For Qaddafi, at this point, it's quite plausible that "peace" means something along the lines of "how about you boys quit blowing up my gear?"

Matt Lauer and a few CNN hosts may get excited about such a report, perhaps desiring to read more into it than is there, as the Obama administration requires a settled end to this for a face-saving exit. But you should be more cautious.

February 13, 2011

When It Crosses Over...

Despite declarations that Anwar al-Awlaki poses the greatest threat to U.S. security, once again, looking closer to home is in order. That is not to diminish the serious threat posed by al Qaeda, or the seriousness of the enflamed region in North Africa.

But when you have Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu predicting outright armed battles between his people and cartel gunmen, it is time to listen.

A gunbattle is all but certain, Babeu told The Arizona Republic, because his deputies and members of a regional SWAT team are now routinely working to stop smugglers from pushing cargo through Pinal. "We have had enough," Babeu said. "That's why we're going into these areas and sending a very clear message to the cartels: We see you and we're not going to let you through."

Our border with Mexico remains insecure. Frankly, I am tired of writing about this problem. It hasn't gotten any better since 2006 when I started writing here, and it isn't going away. Two years ago, ThreatsWatch posted America's Unacknowledged War

So the question again must be asked, what will it take? How many Americans need to die because of the cartels (on our side of the border)?

This raises another question that flared last week. Why would an American citizen knowingly cross to the Mexican side of the border? I heard an interview with the wife of the jet skier who was shot and killed on Falcon Lake last year. I am very sorry for her loss. I truly am. But in the interview it became clear that they crossed to the Mexican side of the border because they wanted to see a church. The same goes for the used truck buyers and everyone else. I am sorry for pain, suffering and loss of life. Why expose yourself to clear risk?

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