Sunday, March 6, 2011

This One Before, Part 2

From Sharing Mexico's drug-war burden, March 3, 2011; as you watch this vid, take a good look at the weapons shown towards the end, weapons that are supposedly being bought in gun shops in the US and smuggled across the border - the vid shows submachineguns and heavy-caliber crew-served weapons:

Criminals get firearms and other weapons the same way they get drugs; they get them illegally.

Many of these military-grade weapons are stolen from the Mexican government itself, taken by security personnel who desert to join the higher-paying cartels, taking their weapons with them as they leave government service. Others are trafficked in from around the world.

Yes, some weapons are brought across the border from the US.

When they come up with a statistic of over 90%, saying that this percentage is the percentage of weapons coming across the border from legal gun sales in the US, that statistic is misleading.

Mexican authorities know that bazookas, grenade launchers and heavy machineguns didn't come from a gun shop in the US; they only submit a fraction of the weapons they seize to US authorities for tracing. About half of those submitted can actually be traced. Of those that are successfully traced, the vast majority can be traced to some kind of gun purchase in the US, although often times, the law was broken, perhaps by a purchaser misrepresenting himself when buying the weapon.

Does President Calderón not know this? Or, is this empty posturing, the kind that scores points among a Mexican populace?

From Mexican Government Completes PR Investigation of U.S. Agent's Murder, February 27, 2011:

The arrest of the supposed Zeta thugs by the Mexican Army, announced on Feb. 23, about a week after the assault on the U.S. agents, seems quite convenient, given the extreme media-generated pressure on both the Mexican and U.S. governments to solve the case. The swiftness of the arrests, particularly given the extensive narco-corruption in Mexico (and the fact that the autopsy on the murdered ICE agent was performed in Mexico, reportedly against he wishes of the U.S. government), has led some law enforcement sources who have spoken to Narco News, and to other media, to question whether those arrested are merely media scapegoats.

Skipping down:

And the two ICE agents on the day they were attacked were driving into the belly of that beast, in a U.S. government SUV, with diplomatic plates, and using Nextel wireless phones, according to ICE sources, that at one point during the attack failed to operate properly. Yes, that's right, the latest information coming to Narco News from law enforcement sources is that the ICE agents' phones were "off line" during the initial stages of the attack, and that a call for help did not get out until after the agents had been shot.

Now, the explanation for such a phone failure could be as simple as a dead spot in cell coverage.

Sources familiar with the situation in Mexico contend it is possible, though, that the Zetas, given their corrupt reach, have access to sophisticated communications blocking technology of the sort typically associated with sensitive military operations and may well have used such a device in the attack on the ICE agents.

"Counter RF [radio frequency] containment measures could have been employed," one source explains. "Devices could have been employed that would have prevented the cellular phone communications links in that vehicle from emitting a signal that could be properly received at the intended location."

If that turns out to be true, it would represent even more evidence that the assault was far from a mistake, but rather a high-level, coordinated effort designed specifically to target U.S. government agents.

It sounds like the hitmen had communications-jammers with them, and engaged the jammers during the attack. The jamming ended as the overt hit team withdrew. According to one report:

The attackers suddenly departed, leaving Avila alone in the SUV, bleeding. A short time later, the source contends, a Mexican cop arrived at the scene and knocked on the window of the SUV, but Avila did not trust the situation, and refused to open the door. The Mexican police officer departed, the source claims, and shortly after an ambulance arrived, presumably called by the cop, but again, Avila refused to get out of the SUV.

Finally, after the ambulance had departed (and after what seems to be an inordinately long time since the initial calls for help) the cavalry arrived — a phalanx of Mexican soldiers and law enforcers. According to the source, at that point, Avila opened the door to the SUV. He was subsequently informed, the source claims, that both the Mexican cop and the ambulance that had stopped at the scene previously likely were ruses designed by his attackers to get him to unlock the door to the SUV so they could finish their job.

This was a well-coordinated attack. In addition to the communications jammers, the hit team had back-ups in the form of a guy dressed like a Mexican cop, and another guy disguised as an ambulance driver.

The intent here was serious: they wanted to finish the job.

Back to Mexican Government Completes PR Investigation of U.S. Agent's Murder:

At least one source in the intelligence world suspects the Zetas were after the payload (communications equipment) that was being transported by the ICE agents from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey. However, other sources contend U.S. officials, absent sheer incompetence, would never move truly sensitive cargo through the heart of Zeta territory absent adequate security — which would involve more than two unarmed ICE agents driving in broad daylight in a SUV sporting diplomatic plates.

This was a set-up, coordinated by someone among the higher-ups. The purpose was to kill two US agents. Whether it was intended to kill these two US agents, or just whichever two happened to get picked to move this "sensitive cargo" remains to be seen.

The article Mexican Government Completes PR Investigation of U.S. Agent's Murder then goes on to detail information from Wikileaked cables that shows the extent of corruption in Mexico. Some Mexican officials are probably happy to make some extra money on the side, but many officials do so only reluctantly. The option, made clear by the cartels, is that the official will be murdered (probably brutally), and that the murdered official's replacement might take the hint and accept the money to cooperate with the cartels; if not, the cartels will keep murdering officials until they find a replacement that will work with them.

What I find interesting, though, is the response on this side of the border. Whether Bush-43 or Obama, senior federal officials do not want to do what it takes to secure the border.

Those two agents fell victim not just to corruption among Mexican authorities, but to corruption within their own chain of command. The clear message, repeated through various incidents and repeated by various instructions received from the top, is that our law enforcement and security personnel had better not do too good of a job, or they will be hung out to dry - just like what happens in Mexico, where the authorities are unable to protect their own officials who actually seek to honestly enforce the law and resist organized crime.


As John Conyngham, at the time the Global Director of Investigations (he is now Group Legal Counsel) for the Control Risks Group Limited, explained in 2002 testimony before the Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, of the US House of Representatives:

The discussion today about what has become known as grand corruption and, in particular, the recovery of monies illegally obtained by high ranking government ministers and officials in worldwide jurisdictions through the abuse of public position for private gain. As this Subcommittee is aware, grand corruption typically consists of the payments of large bribes - often in millions of dollars - to secure commercial contracts or other business advantage. In its most extreme form grand corruption can amount to state capture where corrupt interests control the state itself and manipulate the machinery of government to serve their private interests.

Later on, in explaining how an investigation is conducted, Conyngham explains:

A simple underlying presumption is made that those who divert state funds will wish to utilise such funds for their own or their family's benefit. As such, there must be linkage, however camouflaged, between the individual and the asset.

Of course, if you broaden the perspecive on this, you can see misappropriation of funds for the benefit, however camouflaged, of the party that has corrupted the government official; in return, you can see some kind of benefit, however camouflaged, received by the corrupted government official from the party that the official is illicitly working for. And then, later on:

A second presumption will also be made; namely that third parties will be utilised in the concealment process.

The context of the above quotes is one of recovering money stolen by some third-world dictator who has been "president" of his country for the past few decades.

But, do the terms "grand corruption" and "state capture" apply when senior US officials work in the interests of the highest bidder, regardless of whether the business interests of that highest bidder are legal or not?

Criminals are in the highest echelons of the US government. And the clear message to honest law enforcement officers is that they do their job at their own peril.

Does this remind you of an honest cop who did his job at his own peril?

Does this remind you of anyone else who tried to do an honest job, and at every move was placed in check?

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