Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Corpus Christi Caller-Times


Mexico has taken enormous losses in its battle against the drug
mafias, not only in dead law enforcement officers, but in corrupted
ones, too. Last week, officials in the top levels of the Mexican
government  were rounded up, accused of being in the pay of the drug
lords. It was another depressing sign of the depth to which the
cartels have infiltrated Mexico's highest circles.

The roundup of suspect officials comes just as the United States
begins to funnel the first of $400 million in high-tech equipment,
helicopters, communication gear and technology to help Mexican 
President Felipe Calderon in his administration's  battle with the
drug gangs. It's a tough enemy Calderon is up against. The gangs are
well armed; they have rocket-propelled grenades, mines, assault
rifles, and  heavy machine guns. This is armament worthy of an enemy 
army, which is what the drug organizations represent. Those criminal
organizations are now being recognized as a national security threat
not only to Mexico but also to the United States.

The U.S. Joint Forces Command in a recent report linked Mexico with
Pakistan as potentially failing states. The report said the continued
assault on the Mexican government raises the possibility -- though
admittedly the potential is remote -- that the United States might 
have a failed state on its southern border. This is an alarming
prospect for border states such as Texas.

In his pre-inaugural meeting with Calderon, President  Barack Obama
pledged that the United States would strengthen its cooperation with
Mexico. Such pronouncements are traditional for U.S. presidents 
meeting with their Mexican counterparts. And it would be expected
that any attention that Obama might want to focus on Mexico would be
distracted by the effort to revive the American economy. But this is
a pledge that Obama must honor as best as can be done because 
Mexico's situation seems to be worsening rather than improving.

Calderon is on the right track in confronting the drug gangs, though
even he probably didn't anticipate the enormity of the problem, or
the level of violence that would ensue. Previous governments had
simply chosen to look the other way, in effect making the decision to
live and let live when it came to the growing drug cartels.

The deception was that Mexico was peaceful, but democratic
governments are on the losing end when criminality is allowed such a
free hand. Some in Mexico are holding Calderon, rather than the
criminals, responsible for the violence that claimed some 6,000 
lives last year. Many of those who died -- some of them were
gruesomely beheaded -- were criminals, but many were also police,
federal agents and local officials.

The latest roundup is apparently the result of American intelligence
efforts in infiltrating one of the two major cartels, the Sinaloa
group. One of the biggest catches actually happened late last year
when Noe Ramirez, the country's drug czar, was arrested for being on
the take to the tune of $450,000 a month. He is the second person to
hold the post to be arrested  for corruption. The latest group of
high-ranking  officials are also accused of being on the take from 
the Sinaloa group, which apparently is more inclined to  use money
rather than outright intimidation to get the ear of officials.

American officials say they still are confident of the ability of the
Mexican government to use the American aid package, though every
roundup of corrupt officials raises more questions. But because the
United States market is the chief reason why Mexico has such major 
drug organizations and because the flow of illegal guns south makes
those drug gangs so well armed, the United States is not an idle
bystander in this war.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin