Pubdate: Sun, 13 Apr 200
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 San Antonio Express-News


An insidious practice by the drug cartels reinforces the notion that
cooperation between the United States  and Mexico will be the most
effective deterrent against  criminal activities.

With the Mexican government deploying federal troops to Ciudad
Juarez, the drug lords have started to recruit  unlikely accomplices:
Unsuspecting young people, hired  through want ads in Mexican
newspapers, to act as  messengers.

The "messengers" are, in reality, drug smugglers, the Mexican
Consulate recently told the El Paso Times.

The ads are worded vaguely to avoid suspicion, and the young people,
able to cross the border freely because  they have the proper papers,
"earn" $400 for each trip.

Customs officials uncovered the ruse when relatives of a driver
showed inspection officials one of the ads,  Socorro Cordova, a
spokeswoman for the Mexican  Consulate, told the newspaper recently.

That incident led inspectors to halt a young woman who had been paid
$400 to drive a vehicle with a trailer  through El Paso.

The woman, who worked for a junkyard company in Juarez,  was asked to
transport material to El Paso twice a  week, her mother told the newspaper.

"Officers came out of everywhere, and they let the other cars pass,"
the mother of the young woman, who  asked to remain anonymous, told
the newspaper. "This is  what they are doing. They are tricking kids."

The incident, which shows the depths to which the cartels will
plunge, also demonstrates the need for  cooperation between the law
enforcement agencies of  both nations.

A border fence alone will not deter the cartels, since the use of
unsuspecting youth is intended to circumvent such barriers.

The U.S. government must assist Mexico on the front end, in Mexico
itself, providing technology, expertise and investigative manpower.

If the U.S. does not help fight the cartels on their home turf, they
will end up having to battle them in border towns like El Paso and
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin