Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: David Frum


Guess which city leads the world in kidnappings?

No, not Beirut. Not Baghdad. Mexico City.

And guess who comes second? Ready? It's Phoenix, Ariz.: 370 recorded
cases in 2008 alone, and who knows how many unrecorded cases.

When you think Phoenix, you may think of retirees and golf courses.
But here's what the late Paul Harvey used to call "the rest of the
story," courtesy of the Web site

"Late on the night of June 22, [2008] a residence in Phoenix was
approached by a heavily armed tactical team preparing to serve a
warrant. The members of the team were wearing the typical gear for
members of their profession: black boots, black BDU (battle dress
uniform) pants, Kevlar helmets and Phoenix Police Department (PPD)
raid shirts pulled over their body armour. The team members carried
AR-15 rifles equipped with Aimpoint sights to help them during the
low-light operation and, like most cops on a tactical team, in
addition to their long guns, the members of this team carried
secondary weapons --pistols strapped to their thighs.

But the raid took a strange turn when one element of the team began
directing suppressive fire on the residence windows while the second
element entered -- a tactic not normally employed by the PPD. This
breach of departmental protocol did not stem from a mistake on the
part of the team's commander. It occurred because the eight men on the
assault team were not from the PPD at all. These men were not cops
serving a legal search or arrest warrant signed by a judge; they were
cartel hit men serving a death warrant signed by a Mexican drug lord."

Mexico has become one of the most violent places on the planet, as
drug cartels battle each other and police. More than 6,300 people have
died violently since January, 2008, more than 1,000 in just the past
two months.

These killings are not obscure hit-and-runs. As former U. S. drug czar Barry
told National Public Radio last week, "[S]quad-sized units of police
officers and
soldiers [have been] abducted, tortured to death, decapitated." Decapitation
is new to
Mexico: The narcotraffickers seem to have been watching al-Qaeda snuff

Mexico's violence has reached deeper and deeper into the United
States. and Canada. In July, 2008, for example, police raided a house
in an Atlanta exurb and rescued a man who had been blindfolded,
chained to a wall, beaten and left to die of thirst. Apparently he had
owed traffickers $300,000.

In a March 10 interview with the Associated Press, a spokesman for the
Drug Enforcement Agency claimed: "[Y]ou see the escalation in violence
. because U. S. and Mexican law enforcement are winning. You are
going to see the drug traffickers push back because we are breaking
their back. It's reasonable to assume they are going to try to fight
to stay relevant."

On the U. S. side of the border, there are signs of anti-narcotic
success. Border crossing has been tightened -- which is why the worst
of the violence occurs in border cities like Juarez, adjoining El Paso, Tex.

At the end of February, U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced
that a recent crackdown had netted 755 arrests and the seizure of
millions of dollars in cash and drugs, as well as 160 weapons. The
price of cocaine on U. S. streets has risen and purity has
deteriorated, two signs of constrained supply. As supply dwindles,
traffickers as far as Vancouver turn their guns on each other to
increase their share.

Progress on the Mexican side, however, is not so impressive. Of the
755 February arrests, only 20 occurred inside Mexico. Corrupt
officials inside the Mexican attorney general's office have betrayed
police activities. (It's hard to say whether it is good news or bad
news that the Mexicans have arrested their country's former drug czar
for allegedly taking bribes from drug dealers. Better, I suppose, than
not arresting him, but still ...)

The most audacious demonstration of narco-power occurred in February
in Cancun. Drug traffickers kidnapped, tortured and murdered a retired
army general serving as the city's chief anti-drug officer.

Forty-five thousand Mexican troops have been deployed against the
narcotraffickers. But they need help from their North American
neighbours, and not just military aid.

Every time a North American indulges in illegal drug use, that user
subsidizes and incentivizes the gangsters who dump charred,
decapitated bodies in Mexico's cities. It's our buying that creates
the profits for which the gangsters kill. An estimated 2.8% of
American adults and 2.3% of Canadians use cocaine at least once a
year. If they quit, they'd put the gangsters out of business. This is
one war that ordinary individuals have the power to stop. So here's a
challenge next time you meet a campus peace activist. Ask them: What
are you doing to put an end to this murderous trade?
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin