Examiner Editorial: Mexico needs US help to destroy drug cartels 

A recent USA Today headline reporting that “drug cartels threaten Mexican stability” should have said “drug cartels threaten Mexican and U.S. stability.”

But it’s not just the marked increase in violent crimes — including grisly murders, kidnappings and heightened gang warfare — that threatens our security. Besides peddling their drugs, the cartels are happy to help international terrorists smuggle weapons, money and suicide bombers into this country.

“The danger here is clear and present,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, said during a hearing on the issue last year.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former federal prosecutor and Arizona governor, told Lieberman’s panel that “the cartels have fingertips that reach throughout the United States.” The growing boldness of the cartels is one of the main reasons murders and kidnappings have been steadily increasing in places like Phoenix, one of 230 U.S. cities infiltrated by drug gangs.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has been criticized in recent years by some in the U.S. for not battling the cartels sufficiently, but more recently he has gone on the offensive and is beginning to show some concrete results.

There have been thousands of new arrests and a marked increase in targeted offensive operations against cartel strongholds by the country’s federal army, especially in border areas shared with the U.S.

One of the biggest obstacles facing Calderon, however, is the widespread attitude here that the war against the cartels is hopeless thanks to official corruption. That attitude ignores what has been happening in recent months in Mexico, where legions of police officers and soldiers have been killed and wounded in clashes with cartels.

As Alberto Diaz-Cayeros told CBS News recently, “We know that by now hundreds of policemen are dying in this war against drugs and they are sacrificing their lives, so it must be that a lot of policemen are not corrupt.”

Diaz-Cayeros is the director of UC San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.

One thing the U.S. should do immediately to help Calderon is stop allowing the cartels easy access to sanctuaries and smuggling routes in the Sonoran Desert areas of Arizona and California. There, the cartels run free due to bureaucratic infighting between the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and the Interior.

As The Examiner’s Barbara Hollingsworth recently exclusively reported, for example, U.S. Border Patrol agents are denied access to Sonoran wilderness areas by Bureau of Land Management officials preoccupied by environmental worries like the impact on Sonoran Pronghorn sheep.

If Calderon can get his priorities straight, why can’t U.S. bureaucrats?

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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