Sunday, June 16, 2002
Our friends the Mexicans: The San Diego Union-Tribune has a front page story today on evidence that the Mexican military may be hiring itself out as protection for drug smugglers.
But retired Border Patrol agent Ron Sanders faces no such constraint. The former head of the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, which covers 281 miles of Arizona's 350-mile stretch of the Mexican border, spoke openly of his distrust of the Mexican army.
Before retiring in 1999 he received intelligence reports "on a routine basis" that tied the army to drug trafficking, he said.
"The intelligence reports clearly stated that the military was taking drugs from drug traffickers, destroying only part of it and then reselling it to the cartels in the Douglas and Nogales areas," he said, referring to two Arizona border towns.
"They seemed always to be in the area when the drugs were coming north and they seldom seemed to be keeping drugs out," Sanders said.
This is really no surprise to anyone who lives along the U.S.-Mexico border. Reports of corruption in the Mexican government are a dime a dozen. Mexico-watchers hoped that with the election of President Vicente Fox there would be a crackdown on the decades-old practice of looking the other way. Fox may be trying, but there is little evidence that he's making inroads.
Just a couple of months ago, Mexican federal agents arrested more than 40 Tijuana police -- including the chief. Just a week later, many of them had been released.
Did they get the wrong guys the first time? Or is it indicative of an inability to deal with an entrenched thugocracy?
Whatever it is, Bush needs to talk with his good friend Fox about making sure that Border Patrol agents don't have to worry about Mexican military drug protectors in addition to terrorist infiltrators.