Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Checkpoints and No-Go Zones

 

Amidst the daily drama of #NeuterTrump collusion with the unconstitutional administrative state and their allies of convenience, the Democrats — and with the latest instance of President Trump actually trying to oppose the Russian regime with which he is willfully falsely accused of colluding — soldiers of the National Guard prepare to respond once again to a threat at our southern border. But what is the nature of that threat? Is it just a group of women and children, even if organized by an open-borders socialist group? Two vignettes may help clarify the real stakes.

A Tale of Three Check Points

A young man at a coffee shop in Arizona recounted his return journey from his latest visit home deep in Sonora, Mexico. As he drove north, he passed through three checkpoints. He remarked on the professional conduct of the personnel at all three stops.

The first checkpoint was operated by the Mexican Federal Police. They looked him over and waved him on, having decided he was not a narco. The third was operated by US Border Patrol a few miles inside the US border. Yes, if you live in a border state, you are subject to stop a certain distance inside the international boundary, a kind of defense in depth of our border. The Border Patrol was courteously professional, determining he was a US citizen and not a drug runner. And then there was the second checkpoint in Mexico.

A small team of men in civilian attire, as well armed as the Federales, ran the checkpoint near a Mexican town, controlling a main route to the US-Mexico border. They were only concerned that the traveler was not up to no good. You see, these professionals were enforcing a local, perhaps regional, law — that of a drug cartel. They enforced a drug lord’s local peace like a feudal lord before strong kings arose to bring the aristocracy to heel.

While calling the drug cartels “thugs” and “gangs” may be rhetorically useful, it should not blind us to the threat. The threat of the cartels is that of a long-term insurgency. While they wax and wane, the demand for drugs has sustained a disruptive and corrosive transnational movement. Transnational criminal organizations were acknowledged as a national security threat by military writers like Ralph Peters as soon as the Cold War ended.

As these organizations developed logistics, financing, and intelligence, they crowded out other criminal ventures. Truly independent smugglers to get you over the border are vanishing. The routes belong to cartels. So, drug and people smuggling are not separate enterprises today. Which brings us to no-go zones.

A Tale of Two No-Go Zones

Swedish and French authorities rejected President Trump’s characterization of certain Muslim dominated neighborhoods in their countries as “no-go zones.” Never mind that law enforcement and emergency crews acknowledge the facts on the ground. The national authorities cannot bring themselves to speak the truth, much less to take the hard actions necessary to reassert national civil authority. And yet, these authorities have not posted this kind of sign on federal public land.

BLM still warns of this threat. “Be aware that the southern part of the monument is a corridor for drug and human smugglers. Be alert for illegal activities and law enforcement operations.” So part of our sovereign territory is officially acknowledged as a corridor, a supply route, for transnational entities that operate as local governments in a country with which we share a long land border.

What other, unacknowledged, zones exist where our sovereignty is contested? Within the past six years, I recall a young Army Reserve officer discharged under other than honorable conditions, following his civilian arrest for some minor part in the drug trade. My counterpart in the area remarked he thought the kid had little choice. It was a small desert town on a major drug distribution route. Nice life, nice family you have there. Sure would be a shame…

That is the real threat, or at least the real transnational threat. This threat does not fit neatly into law enforcement or military boxes. Indeed, it is free to operate and adapt between the lumbering institutions of national governments. Meanwhile, our state and federal governments muddle through (PDF).

There are 14 comments.

  1. WI Con Member

    Well done. I’d like to know more about our Border Control statistics such as: numbers of people & drugs apprehended and how those numbers correlate to areas where there is border wall, vehicular volumes vs. pedestrian, are those “virtual fences & drones” simply recording the action or actually directing used to interdict . I think there are dedicated officers who know exactly how and where reduce and stop the flows and I think there are also people dedicated preventing this from happening who also “work for us”.

    So much of this seems like a bureaucratic ‘game’ – how to look like enforcement is taking place while at the same time ensuring that it doesn’t.

    • #1
    • April 10, 2018, at 4:47 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. JoelB Member

    It looks like engaging the military to patrol our border is a good idea whether or not there is a “caravan” on the way. What good is a national monument that cannot be visited due to criminal activity? And where does all this criminal activity go from here?

    • #2
    • April 10, 2018, at 6:05 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I had no idea, Clifford. This is ugly and frightening information. I hope there are plans to deal actively with this curse of transporting people and drugs. Sometimes it seems like people are dying while our politicians play political games.

    • #3
    • April 10, 2018, at 10:20 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Many of the dead are men and women who paid to be guided through the desert, only to be abandoned for tactical/business reasons by the smugglers. Luis Alberto Urrea wrote a horrifying account centered on the fate of one such group in The Devil’s Highway. One detail: Mexican consulates near the Desert Southwest border developed the technique of soaking sun-scorched corpses’ hands in water to raise the fingerprint ridges for identification.

    And victims go beyond exposure or shooting deaths. I recall a young reserve component military officer discharged under other than honorable conditions, following his civilian arrest for some minor part in the drug trade. My counterpart in the area remarked the kid had little choice. It was a small desert town on a major drug distribution route. Nice life, nice family you have there. Sure would be a shame…

    • #4
    • April 10, 2018, at 12:15 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Stina Inactive

    VDH has a recent column at NR on what it’s like to live next door to a drug cartel.

    It makes you wonder at our passivity.

    • #5
    • April 10, 2018, at 12:37 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  6. Columbo Member

    AltarGirl (View Comment):

    VDH has a recent column at NR on what it’s like to live next door to a drug cartel.

    It makes you wonder at our passivity.

    Remain calm. All is well. There’s no civil war. All …. is ……. Weeeellllllllllllllllll!

    • #6
    • April 10, 2018, at 1:57 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Many of the dead are men and women who paid to be guided through the desert, only to be abandoned for tactical/business reasons by the smugglers. Luis Alberto Urrea wrote a horrifying account centered on the fate of one such group in The Devil’s Highway. One detail: Mexican consulates near the Desert Southwest border developed the technique of soaking sun-scorched corpses’ hands in water to raise the fingerprint ridges for identification.

    And victims go beyond exposure or shooting deaths. I recall a young reserve component military officer discharged under other than honorable conditions, following his civilian arrest for some minor part in the drug trade. My counterpart in the area remarked the kid had little choice. It was a small desert town on a major drug distribution route. Nice life, nice family you have there. Sure would be a shame…

    • #7
    • April 10, 2018, at 2:07 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. RufusRJones Member

    Really, really good. 

    We should have legalized hard drugs 20 years ago. Now the cartel’s power will compound no matter what. Waste and suffering. 

     

    • #8
    • April 10, 2018, at 2:10 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Really, really good.

    We should have legalized hard drugs 20 years ago. Now the cartel’s power will compound no matter what. Waste and suffering.

    I might write another time on possible re-legalization, playing off the British Gin Taxes, back to the end of the 19th Century, as a harm reduction strategy: native/heritage seed marijuana (not hybrid), opium (no other opioid), powder cocaine. All of which must be acknowledged to be harmful, the outlawing of which (necessarily creating a black market) has also been harmful. Acknowledge it all and weigh it up openly.

    • #9
    • April 10, 2018, at 2:35 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. :thinking: no superfluity of n… Member

    The narcos want to be outlaws. They should be treated as such. 

    • #10
    • April 10, 2018, at 5:49 PM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Doug Watt Member

    In Arizona you have ports of entry at the border, and then the secondary checkpoints are about 30 miles inland from the border. The exception is in the Yuma sector where the secondary checkpoint is on the Interstate Hwy that is close to the border. Secondary checkpoints are not just located on the Interstate Highways, they are also located on the backroads, and State Highways. All vehicles must stop, and they are photographed. Border Patrol chase vehicles are also positioned beyond the checkpoints, and sometimes temporary checkpoints are set up on the outskirts of Tucson.

    Deaths due to trying to cross the desert on foot are approximately 120 a year, with a high of 220 in one year. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department had to purchase an industrial sized refrigeration unit to store remains, many of whom will never be identified. These numbers are just the bodies that have been recovered.

    In the summer temps can reach 112, to 115. in the winter the temps can get down into the teens at night. You need about a gallon of water for every hour you are out on a trail in the summer, not to mention that this is not flat country. In the Yuma sector, which is at sea level temps can reach 118+.

    • #11
    • April 10, 2018, at 6:53 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Doug Watt Member

    WI Con (View Comment):

    Well done. I’d like to know more about our Border Control statistics such as: numbers of people & drugs apprehended and how those numbers correlate to areas where there is border wall, vehicular volumes vs. pedestrian, are those “virtual fences & drones” simply recording the action or actually directing used to interdict . I think there are dedicated officers who know exactly how and where reduce and stop the flows and I think there are also people dedicated preventing this from happening who also “work for us”.

    So much of this seems like a bureaucratic ‘game’ – how to look like enforcement is taking place while at the same time ensuring that it doesn’t.

    You can get some stats from the Border Patrol website, it also lists the sectors, for example the Tucson sector covers about 262 miles of the border, and it also extends north of the border as well.

     

    • #12
    • April 10, 2018, at 7:05 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    In Arizona you have ports of entry at the border, and then the secondary checkpoints are about 30 miles inland from the border. The exception is in the Yuma sector where the secondary checkpoint is on the Interstate Hwy that is close to the border. Secondary checkpoints are not just located on the Interstate Highways, they are also located on the backroads, and State Highways. All vehicles must stop, and they are photographed. Border Patrol chase vehicles are also positioned beyond the checkpoints, and sometimes temporary checkpoints are set up on the outskirts of Tucson.

    Deaths due to trying to cross the desert on foot are approximately 120 a year, with a high of 220 in one year. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department had to purchase an industrial sized refrigeration unit to store remains, many of whom will never be identified. These numbers are just the bodies that have been recovered.

    In the summer temps can reach 112, to 115. in the winter the temps can get down into the teens at night. You need about a gallon of water for every hour you are out on a trail in the summer, not to mention that this is not flat country. In the Yuma sector, which is at sea level temps can reach 118+.

    For those starting to think about the logistics, “a pint’s a pound the world around.” That is, one pint of water is one pound. Eight pounds to the gallon. If you consume a gallon in one hour, walking no more than 4 miles per hour if you are very fit and not being blasted by the sun, that is 16 pounds on your back just to stay healthy for no more than 8 miles. But weight requires exertion, so you are deep into trade offs unless you have water positioned along the route. And if you consume more than 2 gallons in a day, you are in danger of shorting out your electro-chemical system, dying of too much water without enough electrolytes.

    All of which goes to one of the human costs written off by the cartels as collateral damage in their operations.

    • #13
    • April 10, 2018, at 10:40 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. I Walton Member

    We have been fighting this war on drugs for over 50 years and it has only gotten worse and will continue to do so. When I made the first estimate of the size of illegal dollar income in Colombia in 1974 or 75 and predicted the collapse of the judicial system and spreading violence and crime, I dared not suggest legalization but I said forget interdiction because it would act as a non tariff barrier and raise profits. I said go after the narcos and kill or jail them, go after the money because that acts like a tax, and go after the chemicals as that raises input costs but most important go after consumers because they drive the business. Of course the budge among drug warriors and support was in supply interdiction. Good lord we can’t even stop illegal immigrants and they are considerably bigger than a lb of cocaine, can’t be shaped as aspirin and sold in aspirin bottles, injected in airplane and car frames, injected in barrels of asphalt, ingested by live and dead returning Americans and tourists, dissolved as starch in suits etc. Do you get the point world? It isn’t possible to stop the supply of these poisons. But if a kid tests positive and had wait for a year of drug free testing to get a drivers license, and have to pay a fine and do community service or chain gang work for a few days, they won’t take it. Some will. There is np stopping some kids from being self destructive nor some slug from exploiting that fact, but it is insane to allow unchecked demand even as we drive profits up to 20000 percent. Once we go after users with light penalties but penalties important to them, the price will fall, profits will shrink, especially if we ease up on interdiction, just using interdiction to capture the mules and follow them back to suppliers, we can reduce the problem, but because it will be so burdensome to the middle class and costly to parens who don’t pay attention to what their kids are ingesting, we will have set the stage for legalization.

     A further note, the legalization we are doing with weed is exactly what we must not, repeat not do. We’re treating it like chewing gum. If eventually legalized we should list toxic substances that must be licensed the promotion of which would be made illegal. No giving it away, pretty packaging, advertising etc. just go to any licensed dealer and get a brown bag of your poison. They will have gotten it from a licensed importer or manufacturer.

     This business is a bigger threat than China. Hamas, Russia and of course the narco states of Venezuela, Cuba, el Salvador and Mexico are all deeply involved . And Im not sure about us, we just take our profits differently. As mission creep, budget, property confiscation, and some pay offs here and there,

    • #14
    • April 11, 2018, at 5:16 AM PST
    • 1 like