Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jul 2011
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2011 Nevada Appeal
Author: Tyrus W. Cobb, Former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.


I've got some bad news for you today, and the situation appears as if it will only get

The cartel wars in Mexico continue unabated, and the violence and the
gangs themselves are increasingly appearing in American cities,
including here in Northern Nevada. The gangs are tied into Mexican
cartel drug operations, and they also smuggle illegal immigrants into
the U.S., ship other contraband and carry cash for

The cartels control large swaths of territory in Mexico and many
municipalities. They are waging violent turf battles over control of
key smuggling corridors, employing hit men and groups of enforcers.
Some of the cartels are using grenade launchers, automatic weapons,
and even armored vehicles against outgunned Mexican law enforcement.
More worrisome, many have mastered the roadside-bomb techniques
employed by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are using these
improvised explosive devices against badly outgunned law enforcement

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that 90 percent of the
cocaine entering the U.S. comes through Mexico, primarily from
Colombia, and heroin is increasingly part of the mix. Mexico is also a
major drug-producing country itself, now the leading supplier of
marijuana and methamphetamine.

In Mexico, the violence is primarily the outgrowth of rival cartels
expanding their areas of domination. Just since 2006, the body count
from cartel-related violence is over 46,000 dead. While most of the
casualties are members of one cartel or the other, more than 1,000
Mexican police, military and political figures have been slaughtered,
as have numerous innocent civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

The cartels have established a presence here as well, and are regarded
as far more sophisticated and dangerous than any other organized
criminal group in the United States. Larry Martines, former director
of homeland security in Nevada and a retired Los Angeles County
Sheriff's Department official who carefully tracks gang and cartel
activities, worries that inter-gang warfare may break out in this
area. Gangs tied into different cartels are working in this region as
paid associates in the smuggling of drugs and people. This involves
mostly Chicano gangs such as the Surenos and the Nortenos, but
Martines has identified members of the Crips and Bloods operating here
as well.

Martines believes that many members of the Nortenos (from Northern
California) and the violent MS-13 gang have established a presence
here. He says that some Surenos (from Southern California) are in
Northern Nevada, as well. All three of these groups are associated
with different Mexican cartels that are at war with each other and may
be competing for control of turf in this region.

Why? The Reno-Sparks area is located on I-80, a major transit route
for drugs and illegal aliens. Establishing control over this route
would represent a major advantage for a cartel or gang, giving it
significant influence over a key cross-country shipping grid.

Martines worries that once one of these gangs establishes control over
part of the community, it would take a long, difficult and expensive
effort to take back our streets.

Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley recognizes the increasing presence of
gangs in this region but believes that the associations they have with
the Mexican cartels are not particularly strong. He characterizes the
relationships more like "mercenaries," with gang members renting their
services out to different cartels at various times. The local gangs,
he says, are "Reno-centric" and will do whatever rewards them the most.

What to do now? Martines advocates stepping up border security and
argues that many of the illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. from
Mexico are also carrying drugs and other contraband. He believes that
the federal government should stop suing states for trying to enforce
measures to halt illegal immigration into the U.S. and instead focus
its efforts on securing the border.

However controversial, he also recommends "profiling" here as part of
an invasive surveillance and harassment program to identify gang
members. That won't be hard to do since the gangs go to great efforts
to openly identify themselves with explicit and easily seen tattoos.

Let's hope that political correctness doesn't stop us from taking the
measures necessary to stop this growing threat before it becomes
permanently emplaced.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.