Reports From The War Front

War Plane

An important thing is that at least 90% of these arms are imported from the US, prompting the Mexican government to ask that the US clamp down on these illegal arms shipments.

The Zetas also are actively and openly recruiting and training new members for their force in training camps. They are hanging up recruiting posters in northern México. In addition, the Zetas and other paramilitary outfits are also operating now in some areas in the US. They are offering “a good salary, food, care for your family, etc”. And even after raising the Mexican army salaries this year, the Zetas make more money than the Mexican army does. And far more than the local and state police forces.

They are recruiting boys 15 to 18 years old along with ex-federal, state and local police officials. You fire a corrupt police official today and he ends up working for the other side tomorrow.

You might ask where the funds for such an operation are coming from. Note that the profits from the US drug business are now running over 18 billion USD per year. Not the net, but just the profits.

Recently, the Mexican government has made public the deaths from the war that confirms the estimates by the press are, if anything, low. As of 16 May, this year’s toll is 1,245, which is running at a higher rate than ever. More than 4,500 in the past eighteen months.

A new trend is emerging now with some northern towns experiencing the Zetas riding into town and simply telling the police to leave . . .  or else.  Something like a super “High Noon” episode. The police disappear into the woodwork and the Mexican army takes over later. And this is in towns up to 20,000 population. In one city of 350,000, a newly installed police chief was assassinated after only serving 6 hours in his new job.

Mexican scholar Raul Benitez states, “the Zetas clearly [have] become the most serious threat to the nation’s security.”

So to the US I ask if you like how the funds from your drug consumption are being spent? And also remember that these forces are beginning to operate in the US now. Or don’t you care?

Mexicans keep asking me why the US can’t exercise more control on their drug problem, the problem that is affecting México? Where this is heading is another “Columbia” drug war that took 10 years to even start bringing under control. An effort that the US is helping Columbia to the tune of 4 billion USD per year.

As far as México’s pleas to cut down the illegal arms shipments to México, we suspect that this runs into 2nd amendment issues that hamper control of this market.

In light of this is the probable success of the “Mérida Initiative” that President Bush has put before the US congress. And as the congress diddles in an election year, many predict that nothing will happen until after the November elections. Even considering that the amount for this initiative is far less that the US is still spending to help Columbia. México is not asking for cash, just technology, equipment and training to help fight what is a US funded war.
And yes, the US ambassador to México has issued a continuation of the travel warning to northern México.
Richard N. Baldwin T., a ( contributing columnist, lives in Tlalnepantla, Edo de México. E-mail at: [email protected]