Don't travel there, don't visit.
Going to Mexico puts your life at risk.
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The US Government isn't doing much, imagine 3,000 kidnappings a year.
Mexico's tourism industry generates almost $1 Billion USD a month.
A good boycott would hurt them and force the Mexican Government
to respond to the problem.
Kidnapping for ransom is an established criminal activity in Mexico. Most incidents go unreported to police. Unofficial estimates of kidnapping levels vary wildly, from 600 to
3,000 per year countrywide. In most cases, the ransom is paid and victim set free. The usual victim practice is not to notify police authorities, as the popular belief is that the police may be involved in the crime or certainly are unable to resolve the situation.
Express kidnappings are a common type of abduction and are based on the 24-hour withdrawal limit placed on ATM cards industry-wide. The victim is generally held for 24 to 48 hours and is forced to withdraw funds from a series of ATMs.
The overall crime and safety situation in Mexico varies widely depending upon location. The State Department's Critical Crime Threat Level for Mexico City
, however, continues to be well-deserved. Armed robberies, taxicab express kidnappings, car thefts, carjackings, credit card fraud, and various forms of kidnapping continue. The latest statistics from government sources indicate that crime rates in most major categories in Mexico City have leveled off over the past two years. Still, in the categories of murder, rape and robbery, Mexico's Federal District posts 3 to 4 times the incidence of these crimes than major U.S. cities. There is no evidence to indicate that criminals are specifically targeting U.S. citizens. Criminals select victims based on an appearance of vulnerability, prosperity or inattentiveness. Within the embassy community, Mexican employees fall victim to crime far more frequently than do their American employee colleagues, a fact attributable to the differing demographics between upscale expatriate neighborhoods and the rest of the city in general. Ostentatious displays of wealth are magnets for thieves in Mexico City. The wearing of expensive jewelry, watches, and displays of large amounts of cash can draw unwanted attention. Jewelry and expensive watches can be sold easily. Stolen cell phones in Mexico can be resold easily as well. While Mexico City employs strict gun-control laws, thieves and robbers do not comply and are usually armed with knives or handguns.
Police ResponsePolice corruption and police involvement in criminal activity occur in Mexico. Consequently, citizens are often indifferent to police authority. The general perception is that the majority of crime victims do not report crimes against them due to fear of reprisals by the police, the belief that police are corrupt, or the feeling that nothing would come from such reports. Mexico City police are sometimes considered to be underpaid, poorly trained and corrupt. Mexican police enjoy limited respect from the general population. Reporting crime is an archaic, exhausting process in Mexico, and is perceived to be a waste of time except for the most serious of crimes or when a police report is required for insurance purposes.
Kidnappings, crime, and violence at the border have gotten the attention of US law enforcement, intelligence organizations, and some news media. Kidnapping is becoming a Mexican industry, and is expanding to American victims and into US territory. Incidences of gunfire, including pitched battles, at the border are increasing rapidly, including incursions across to the US side. Mexico is the second deadliest nation for journalists, behind Iraq, and several American journalists have been targeted. Tourists to Mexico are urged to be watchful, and tourism to Mexico is down 50%. Most of the problems are related to powerful drug cartels based in Mexico, which have worldwide affiliations with other crime and terrorist organizations, including street and prison gangs within the US.
The Mexican drug cartels are thought to have recently resolved power struggles between them, and essentially conglomerated under unified leadership. An effort to use American-trained commandos backfired when the commandos "defected" to the cartels, thus they have access to advanced training in a number of military arts. The Mexican Army is seriously compromised, as is much of their police.
Since the drug cartels have access to the rich American drug market and the border, and various Islamist terrorists have access to areas producing drugs, the relationship between them is natural.The presence of al Qaeda operatives within the cartel is strongly indicated.The cartels do business with criminal organizations in South America and around the globe, including FARC. The wealth of the cartels allows them to purchase advanced weaponry illegally, and law enforcement in US border states is presently outgunned. They have infiltrated and corrupted the Mexican government to the point of having relative immunity.
The cartels are also developing alliances with both street and prison gangs in the US, their clients and distributors. Gangland hits have been carried out well into the central US. They are pursuing a program of taking political control of cities and small towns in the US, using the same methods that worked for them in Mexico. It is to be assumed that their program of bribery and infiltration proceeds within US organizations pertinent to their criminal or political activities, as it does in Mexico.
Probably it will be more difficult to find leads about this problem than Islamic terrorism. Because of how the jihadis must recruit, starting points to investigate are easily found. The Mexican cartels are vertically organized, as opposed to cellular, and while it is very likely they use computers, it is less likely that operational information and communication is on the web. What is on the web is likely to be encrypted or in code, since they need not influence a large audience to recruit and get support.
It must be assumed that corruption exists on the US side as well as the Mexican side, and thus information we might not question in the context of investigating jihadis could need closer examination in this context.
Our goals must be limited to be effective. Large issues of culture, governance, morality and politics are outside our scope. We can interface with others, i.e. law enforcement or government on the one hand with sensitive information, and possibly on the other hand with credible political action groups, bloggers and news media with less sensitive information. It would be wise to develop a broader base of knowledge before releasing information which could alert the subjects that their data was compromised. It doesn't appear that we know much about them.
Taking down 'bosses' has the advantage of possibly initiating wars of succession, but it would be vital that we not lose information sources in the process, until we know more avenues to that information. I think we would need to have a pretty clear idea of chains of command, and who the potential heirs apparent are, before trying to lop off heads.
Partly because of the real threat to journalists writing on this, few Americans are aware of how ominous this situation really is. Feeding blogs with non-sensitive information about it could simultaneously increase awareness and reduce danger to journalists, plus have some political potential. Allowing these problems a continued low profile won't improve them. Journalists who are knowledgeable could be valuable allies. It would be worth carefully contacting a few to inquire.
In a couple hours of searching, I found no real leads, where I would have found several jihadi supporters. The news articles and videos did not offer much real intelligence. So the first objective would be to develop leads, and relationships with those who already have them.We could contact people who may already have good leads, such as Richard Valdemar, previously with the LA County Sheriff; Ricardo Ravelo, a Mexican journalist; and others who have specialized in this field.
A potential direction is investigating pharmaceutical trading, particularly ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, manufactured legally in India, but sold to the cartels for making meth.
We could try Spanish language music boards or blogs, since music extolling narco-crime has become popular, and Spanish language sites about immigration organizations such as La Raza. There are also some sites for rehabilitating gang members that would be potential sources of information for our purposes, since gang ex-members participate. I think it more likely to find useful information working inward from prison gangs, street gangs, and other potential affiliates than working top-down from the names of cartel 'bosses'. Information about these peripheral groups is more easily available, and security may be weaker.
Although there is some overlap between our Islamist inquiries and the Mexican problems, in many ways they are very different. The cultures and languages differ, but probably most importantly the motivations are almost opposite, although both groups seek wealth. The Mexican gangs need no religious justification, and their recruitment incentive is wealth, power, and 'rep', which is why they don't need videos on YouTube.
Thus a specialized team could be more effective than general team members who are mostly focused on Islamic terror. Mexican crime is a direct and growing threat, and likely to snowball, and so is worth dedicating a team to the effort.
At least it is more likely that we will have Spanish-speaking team members than Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu linguists. If we are fortunate enough to have members who are fluent in Spanish, they could be part of a team specializing in this area. We would need training in some cultural concepts, such as Latino name conventions, which are difficult for most Americans to follow, and make tracking individuals more difficult.
Those of us not fluent in Spanish could support by working leads and identifying sites where a Spanish-speaker could concentrate and accomplish more - no translation is the equivalent of understanding the vernacular. We could learn more about gangs and organized crime and how to follow money. Perhaps another team member could interface with vetted information inputs and outputs.
If we were to find sites containing valuable information pertinent to the Mexican criminal organizations, it would probably be more valuable to stay covert than to hack them significantly or take them down.
Finally, since we don't know enough to establish informed goals, we must frequently reassess where we stand and where we are going, brainstorm potential information sources, and think creatively about new or existing opportunities. Regular online team meetings would probably help motivate and inform.
SOURCES: (partial list)
desertsnow Company C analysist.
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Fly on the wall
Mar 14 2008, 1:45 AM EDT
You know some where in the world heavily armed guys with turbans are meeting with Mexican from the Drug cartels also heavily armed also. I wonder what Arabic with a Mexican accent would sound like, or, Spanish with an Arabic accent.
With the Terrorist / Mexican drug link it makes for a very unusual Border Paradigm in America.
But the Intel that paradigm generates in and of its self, we are keeping classified.
Alex Horan, who directs the FBI's violent-crime squad in San Diego.
"It's not a pleasant experience. Victims have reported beatings, torture and there have been rapes. . . . Handcuffs and hoods over the head are common," he said.
He described the kidnapping groups as sophisticated operations similar to terrorist cells, each with a boss and clear divisions of labor. Usually, one group is involved in scouting, another carries out the kidnapping, a third holds the victim and a fourth handles the ransom.
“They know who they're going after. I think they have a list,” Horan said. “These are kidnapping cells. . . . That's what they do. They do kidnappings all year long.”
While the FBI wouldn't say what the ransom demands are, or how often they're paid, agents said money is driving the increase.
“This is not about terrorizing people or retaliating. This is about making money, and obviously this is good business for them,” Horan said.
While driving in Mexico, this person is pulled over by as many as 10 people posing as police.
They're carrying weapons, wearing vests and using police jargon. Within a minute or two, someone is shoving a hood over the victim's head and dragging him into a vehicle. His car is left on the side of the road.
"We've had victims held for days to months," Horan said.
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