Pubdate: Mon, 12 Dec 2016
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: A3


CBSA guards have good reason to fear wave of incoming cartels, he

Canada's border guardians have reason to fear an influx of drug cartel
operatives following the elimination of visa requirements for Mexico,
says a former DEA agent.

But while the Liberal government action on visas will ease the way for
drug traffickers, Mike Vigil said Canada is already ripe for the
ruthless cartels.

"It will definitely be a factor but not the only factor," said Vigil,
who battled Mexican drug cartels in the Latin American country for 13
years, four of them along the border with the U.S.

Compared to that border, the one shared by Canada and the U.S. is
porous and easy to exploit by drug cartels that are relentless in
their quest for new markets, he said.

"The Mexican cartels are very similar to a state army that probes for
weaknesses and then exploits them," he said.

"They'll easily be able to spread their chemicals into Canada - you
have a large border that's easily penetrated."

In a document obtained by Postmedia, officials with the Canada Border
Services Agency say lifting the visa requirement will enable the
traffickers to "establish or strengthen existing cartel smuggling chains."

It says they expect those criminal gangs to recruit airport and marine
port workers to help with smuggling and distributing drugs.

Elements of two of the organizations - the Sinaloan and Jalisco
cartels - are present in Canada now, focused mainly on distributing
more profitable drugs such as crystal meth, heroin and cocaine, said

And he said the CBSA's concern about the cartels' intention to woo
locals to their cause is well-founded.

"Particularly the Sinaloa Cartel are very good at recruiting, like
ISIS," said Vigil, who's authored two books based on his experiences,
including Metal Coffins.

"They use images of posing with lions, cheetahs, Lamborghinis, gold,
beautiful women to entice," said Vigil.

Postmedia has already reported the fact criminal gangs have been
operating at the Port of Vancouver.

Those Mexican-based drug gangs already operate in 600 U.S. cities and
40 countries, with Canada's multicultural makeup an advantage in
recruiting, camouflaging and operating, he said.

"Not only do they export drugs, they export violence," he

Vigil said he's experienced that violence intimately, surviving
several shootouts with cartel members, including one in the 1980s in
which he narrowly cheated death while a policeman next to him was killed.

"The trafficker fired two shots that missed me and I killed him," he

Last year, Hector Armondo Chavez, a man linked by U.S. federal
officials to Mexican drug cartels, was extradited from Alberta to
Colorado, ending a five-year, cross-border tug of war.

At that time, another Mexican national and drug smuggling suspect
residing in Lethbridge, Javier Batista Cervantes, was fighting

Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin said organized crime groups will
come to a place where they believe there are opportunities for them.

"We watch and we track and we pay attention to how these things
migrate up to the U.S. up here," Chaffin said in an interview.

"We've not been subjected to it before very much, but that doesn't
mean it won't show up. And if they do, we'll be on top of it."

Chaffin said factors including the upcoming change in federal
legislation regulating marijuana, drugs such as opioids and
methamphetamine, and down trends in the economy tend to attract
various organized crime groups.

- - With files from Yolande Cole
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