It is a politically incorrect thing to say but I'm going to say it anyway. Mexico is our enemy.
Drug desperadoes are, in effect, running that country now and have rendered the Mexican government nearly impotent. It's gotten so bad, for example, that the Mayor of Juarez has fled his country in fear, along with his entire family. They've moved to America! Just how Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz plans to govern from El Paso, Texas is not known. His safety now rests squarely on the shoulders of the El Paso Police Department.
What a metaphor for our problem with Mexico!
A quick history: In 2000, when President Vicente Fox took office he promptly arrested and jailed the leaders of Mexico's drug cartels. Biting off the head of the snake didn't work as planned. The gangs have been fighting each other for territory ever since.
In 2006, when Felipe Calderon became Mexico's President he tried to regain control. But Calderon's soldiers and police have been overwhelmed. There have been an astounding number of mob murders, kidnappings-for-ransom and assassinations of government officials ever since. More than 5,700 people lost their lives to Mexico's drug violence last year. Some were Americans simply visiting the country.
Now, Mexico's massive crime wave is spilling across our border in tsunami-like fashion, flooding our country with ruthless criminals who aren't just illegally entering the U.S., they are, literally, like crime-on-the-hoof, crossing our border in the most brazen fashion and committing bloody criminal acts.
Mexico's problem has become our problem in a big way. A recent report from the U.S. Joint Forces Command lumps Mexico and Pakistan together as being at risk of "rapid and sudden collapse." The retiring CIA chief, Michael Hayden, says Mexico could rank right next to Iran and Iraq as the biggest challenge for President Obama. Our Justice Department says Mexican gangs are "the biggest organized crime threat to the United States."
Hello? Is anyone in Washington listening? Is anyone coming up with a workable, consolidated plan to counter this threat and keep us safe? I suggest one great place to start is trying to curb U.S. gun dealers from selling arms to Mexican cartel assassins. Mexican authorities say the bulk of the weapons they've seized came from America.
During a recent trip to California a law enforcement officer I know warned me about going anywhere near the border area. "Whatever you do -- do not go to San Diego," he told me. "It isn't safe."
Phoenix, Arizona has now been declared the "Kidnap Capitol" of America. More kidnappings-for-ransom and bloody home invasions happen there than any other U.S. city. Almost every case is connected to Mexican drug smuggling. University students in Arizona are being warned not to take Spring Break across the border.
In New Mexico, drugs from the cartel stream in to major cities like Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Farmington severely straining police departments already struggling with budget cuts.
In Nevada last year, 6 year old Cole Puffinburger was kidnapped by Mexican gang members. They really wanted little Cole's grandfather who had apparently run away with millions of their drug dollars. The boy was ultimately found unharmed but the brazen gunmen got away. The episode sent a shock wave through Vegas, some 400 miles inland from the U.S/Mexican border.
In Laredo, Texas, several Americans who crossed the border into Nuevo Laredo to shop or dine have never returned. They simply disappeared into the drug fueled vortex of crime that's sucking the life out of so many innocent people.
And in Florida, a recent quadruple murder trial was held in the brutal killings of an entire family. Prosecutors say the parents owed $187,000 to a Mexican drug cartel. The Mexican assassins who came for them apparently considered their 3 and 4 year old boys as mere collateral damage.
The wicked facts speak for themselves. Crime is the major export our neighbor to the south sends us -- every day -- whether we like it or not. And as Mexico continues to be hit by the worldwide economic crisis, as their supply of fresh, sweet crude oil continues to be depleted and thus the outside money they get for it, the situation will only get worse.
When does America do something concrete about this?
We've debated immigration policy, borderline fences and beefed up border patrols. We've discussed de-criminalizing drugs to deprive the gangs their profit and we have poured millions of drug fighting dollars into Mexico. Still the violence comes. And we let it.
In December America gave Mexico $197 million to help fight the drug cartels. In January we gave them $99 million more with a promise to keep up the payments. This is not the "change" we were promised. This is just more business as usual.
Our country is under attack by another country. If there was ever a time to call out the National Guard and have them stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the U.S./Mexican border until the threat is lessened it is now.
And, if you're planning a vacation -- I'd stay out of Mexico.