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Threat of Mexican drug lords is real
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We hear much news about the overwhelming presence and influence the drug cartels have in Mexico. There have been some 23,000 cartel-related murders in Mexico since 2006, and despite a huge effort by the Mexican government to halt the terror, the problem continues, seemingly unabated. The Mexican government has deployed tens of thousands of military personnel in an effort to stop the scourge, but the kidnappings, slayings, beheadings, acts of torture, blackmail and the bribery of law enforcement and politicians continues seemingly unabated. It does seem that Mexico has something much less than a good bet on winning the battle against the cartels.

Many people have no idea that these cartels are expanding their operations and presence into the United States. The threat is real. Cartels have physically established themselves in this country and their activities and influence are creeping into many aspects of societal life here. Make no mistake; they are alive and well-established in California.

Consider that the drug cartels have enough money and resources to keep the Mexican government from knocking them out (so far). These same resources and money are also being used to keep the cartel's businesses operational and expanding here in this state and elsewhere in the United States. They have the money to bribe politicians and acquire sophisticated weapons in abundance. Moreover, they have a seemingly unlimited resource of criminal recruits hungry for money and status, and they have a "scorched earth" mentality which is totally absent of the morals or respect for human life by which most of us abide. They will kill anyone, adults, children, authorities, members of the clergy and each other.

Just last week, an Arizona sheriff declared that the cartels now control large areas of that state. They are outgunned, outmanned and have no immediate solution to the problem. There are forests and other rural areas in California where drug producers have taken over areas complete with armed guards. The potential for increased violence aside, drug cartel money can (and probably has already) bribed law enforcement officers and politicians. Not only is the prospect of bribery a problem, an even bigger concern is the potential for blackmailing key enforcement personnel by threatening their families with harm if they do not "look the other way" as the cartel thugs commit their crimes.

It may seem all too unreal to speak of these cartel-related threats, because for most of us, it is merely a far-away problem that cannot possibly take root at home. This is a dangerous assumption, because the problem is already here, spreading like a slow-growing cancer. Our society tends to exist with an unrealistic sense of security and being immune from the problems of countries less fortunate than ours. It will take an act like having multiple people killed in one event, or a police station or courthouse being shot-up before we start treating this problem like the real threat that it is.

The cartels have proven their vicious and violent nature. Our nation's borders mean nothing to them, so they are not going to stay "at home." And the threat of having civilian law enforcement "investigating" them and making street-level arrests of their ground "troops" is also of no consequence to them. The people living in the United States need to understand the nature and scope of the threat posed by the cartels. We need to review our drug policies (to potentially reduce the profit element), and at the same time, be prepared to treat cartel violence as acts of terror against this nation. Our civilian criminal justice system operates at a snail's pace and is not especially well-suited to deal with the cartel crime wave threat. Unlike average criminals, the cartels attack the entire system, including the government itself. I fear that we will formulate policies and policing methods on a reactive basis, and will therefore be dealing with a huge problem that has already established itself here rather than having prevented it in the first place. Such is the way, I fear, of nations that have had it too good for too long.