Sunday, October 16, 2011

This One Before, Part 3

In Part 1 we began to examine an incident in which US government agents were ambushed in Mexico, and reviewed how most of the weapons the Mexican drug cartels use are in fact military-grade weapons that cannot have come from gunshops and gunshows on the US side of the border. In Part 2 we considered the attack more in-depth, and saw how it must have been a deliberate attack targeting US agents, and how those agents were likely sold out by US authorities.

In a related series, we saw in Take A Long Holiday, Part 1 how the Palestinian Authority's key leaders have been involved in trafficking heroin for decades, and we saw some of the impact this has on Palestinians in the West Bank. In Take A Long Holiday, Part 2, we considered the movement of drugs through western Africa, looking at cocaine moving from Latin America to Europe, and connections from Islamic terrorist groups leading the other way through Latin America, all the way to the US border.

There have been a great many very predictable developments since then. In fact, I have not blogged about this because it is playing out pretty much the way I had anticipated. I do feel, though, that it is time for an update.

We now consider in its entirety an article entitled Mexico unlikely base for terrorism, from October 14, 2011:

MEXICO CITY –The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States has cast Mexico into the news as a potential staging area for a terrorist operation.

But experts say the likelihood of such a plot going undetected in Mexico by U.S. authorities is low and that Mexico's drug cartels would be unlikely to become involved in such a plot.

U.S. officials alleged Tuesday that an Iranian-American and a member of Iran's Quds Force sought to enlist a Mexican drug cartel in a plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir in Washington, perhaps by bombing a restaurant he was known to frequent.

One of the men, Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen holding Iranian and U.S. passports, was said to have met in the Mexican border city of Reynosa with a Drug Enforcement Administration informant who he thought was a member of a violent drug cartel.

The barrage of 251,287 unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks released more than a month ago suggest that American diplomats maintain a steady focus on Iran's activities in Latin America. In Mexico, that meant keeping an eye on a mosque in Torreon, watching the impact of Iran's "dynamic" new ambassador, gauging public attitudes toward Iran and coaching agents at Mexico's National Security and Investigation Center – CISEN in its Spanish initials – the domestic intelligence agency.

Strategic Forecasting Inc., an Austin, Texas, global intelligence firm commonly called Stratfor, on Wednesday described as unlikely any use of Mexico as a staging ground for a terrorist attack emanating from the Middle East.

It noted that while the U.S.-Mexico border is porous and prone to security breaches, the U.S. government has "extremely active intelligence capabilities" embedded in Mexico. It added that Mexico is generally hostile to enemies of the United States, not wanting to risk possible intervention by U.S. forces should its territory be used in any attack.

The cartels have pragmatic interests in maintaining their core business of narcotics smuggling without greater interference, it added.

"Any plan to use Mexican drug cartels to carry out attacks against the U.S. would threaten the very existence of the cartel," a Stratfor analysis said.

"Mexican drug cartels are already facing challenges – struggling with one another and with the Mexican government for control over transportation routes that will allow them to transit cocaine from South America to the U.S. Any foray into international terrorism would be bad for business," Stratfor said.

So, the experts feel that Mexican drug cartels are not getting in bed with terrorists from the Middle East and Southwest Asia - at least not to the point of being willing to commit terrorist attacks on their behalf.

Of course, this opens up a whole line of questions regarding what could result in the Persian Gulf based on the allegations of this plot, and that, in turn, opens the door to speculation about who might be telling how much of the truth and who might benefit from the lies. But, this series does not deal with the Persian Gulf.

Then there is the question about illegal activities in the Western Hemisphere: drug trafficking, trafficking of weapons and other contraband, bribery and corruption... all these things go hand-in-hand. And, terrorism is financed through these activities. Terrorist organizations are big into trafficking drugs to fund their activities - so much so that they often lose sight of their political agenda, and focus on their profit motive - and into trafficking arms, which they use for terrorist attacks and for security for their other illegal activities.

It is increasingly difficult to separate terrorism from other illegal activities.

For an overview of what is publicly known about the "Fast and Furious" scandal, we consider excerpts from NRA's LaPierre: 'Fast and Furious' Was Plot Against Second Amendment, dated October 14, 2011:

The government-sanctioned gunrunning operation Fast and Furious was a plot to undermine Second Amendment rights in the United States, National Rifle Association officerWayne LaPierre charged on Friday in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.

"It's the only thing that makes any sense," LaPierre said. "Over a period of two or three years they were running thousands and thousands of guns to the most evil people on earth. At the same time they were yelling '90 per cent... of the guns the Mexican drug cartels are using come from the United States.'

That was a phony figure from the very start. Even the Wikileaks cables from our own State Department prove they are coming from Central America, they are not coming from the U.S. Every police officer will tell you that they're coming from Russia, they're coming from China, most of them are coming from Central America and a lot of them are coming from defections from the Mexican Army," said LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president and CEO.

But LaPierre said that President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were determined to make it appear that most weapons used by the Mexicans came from north of the border, "so they could stick more gun legislation on honest American gun owners of the United States."

LaPierre insisted that the whole Fast and Furious scandal, in which he said "thousands and thousands" of weapons were allowed to cross into Mexico, would never have come to light at all if it hadn't been for the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona in December.

"We wouldn't know about this at all if [Terry] had not been killed and some of the good, honest, decent federal agents down the line had enough of the stench coming out of Washington and started to use the Whistleblower Act to go public and call the Justice Department out on this whole rotten, stinking scheme.

"Otherwise thousands of guns would still be going over the border into the Mexican drug cartels and the president and the attorney general and the secretary of state would all be running around going '90 percent of the guns come from America' in an attempt to seek political advantage and in an attempt to enact more gun control laws on honest American citizens and use this whole issue politically against the Second Amendment of the United States."

LaPierre summarizes the scandal nicely:

"Look at what has happened," he said. "We had our Department of Justice under the Obama administration running thousands and thousands of guns over the border and watching them go directly into the hands of some of the most evil people on earth, the Mexican drug cartels.

"At the same time they were letting the reputation of good, honest, decent Americans, law-abiding American gun dealers, be ruined.

"They ordered these sales to be made, they even overrode the InstaCheck system and ordered the dealers to make the sales. Then, when it all starts coming out, there's a massive cover-up."!

LaPierre compares the activities of the Obama Administration with those of a Latin American dictatorship, then offers an excellent assessment:

"What has happened in Fast and Furious is the equivalent of our Justice Department becoming willing co-conspirators with the Mexican drug cartels in their crimes."

Our Justice Department has become willing co-conspirators with the Mexican drug cartels.

Keep that in mind.

The claim that 90% of the arms used in the drugs wars come from the US has documentation that seems to support the claim, until one parses the supporting passages.

For example, in an excerpt from FIREARMS TRAFFICKING: U.S. Efforts to Combat Arms Trafficking to Mexico Face Planning and Coordination Challenges, dated June, 2009, pages 14-16 (pgs 19-21 of 83 in the pdf):

According to U.S. and Mexican government and law enforcement officials and data from ATF on firearms seized in Mexico and traced from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2008, a large portion of the firearms fueling the Mexican drug trade originated in the United States, including a growing number of increasingly lethal weapons. As is inherently the case with various types of illegal trafficking, such as drug trafficking, the extent of firearms trafficking to Mexico is unknown;10 however, according to ATF, a large number of guns are seized from criminals by the military and law enforcement in Mexico, and information on many of these guns is submitted to ATF for the purposes of tracing their origins and uncovering how the guns arrived in Mexico.11 ATF maintains data on the firearms that are seized in Mexico and submitted for a trace, and, from these firearms trace requests, ATF officials told us, they are often able to detect suspicious patterns and trends that can help identify and disrupt arms trafficking networks on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Using ATF's eTrace data, which currently serves as the best data we found available for analyzing the source and nature of firearms trafficked and seized in Mexico, we determined over 20,000, or 87 percent, of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2008 originated in the United States. Figure 3 shows the percentages of firearms seized in Mexico and traced from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2008 that originated in the United States. Over 90 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico and traced over the last 3 years have come from the United States.

Around 68 percent of these firearms were manufactured in the United States, while around 19 percent were manufactured in third countries and imported into the United States before being trafficked into Mexico. ATF could not determine whether the remaining 13 percent foreign sourced arms had been trafficked into Mexico through the United States, due to incomplete information.

While the eTrace data only represents data from gun trace requests submitted from seizures in Mexico and not all the guns seized, it is currently the only systematic data available, and the conclusions from its use that the majority of firearms seized and traced originated in the United States were consistent with conclusions reached by U.S. and Mexican government and law enforcement officials involved personally in combating arms trafficking to Mexico. In 2008, of the almost 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General’s office said were seized, only around 7,200, or approximately a quarter, were submitted to ATF for tracing.

The report goes on to explain difficulties in how the system operates, and how those difficulties prevent a greater number of weapons from being traced. Furthermore, the report then indicates that experience of law enforcement personnel on both sides of the border supports this conclusion that 90% of the firearms come from the US.

However, look at what the report actually says. For 2008, 30,000 firearms were seized. Only 7,200 were submitted for tracing. Only 90% of those - about 6,480 firearms - were traced back to the US. That leaves over 23,000 firearms - 78% of the total seized - unaccounted-for regarding origins, and it means only a little over 20% of the firearms are actually traced back to the US.

Footnote 10 from the above passage is educational:

10While there is no data on the total number of firearms trafficked to Mexico, the Government of Mexico maintains data on the number of firearms seized in Mexico. Information, such as serial numbers, on many of these seized firearms is submitted to ATF's National Tracing Center for tracing. ATF's National Tracing Center attempts to trace the firearms using the information submitted. Between fiscal years 2004-2008, around 52 percent of trace requests from Mexico that were submitted to ATF's National Tracing Center identified the first retail dealer. Furthermore, according to ATF, the identification of the country of manufacturing origin of a firearm does not depend on identifying the first retail dealer but rather on the initial description of the firearm.

Again, there are no statistics on the total number of weapons trafficked to Mexico. There are only statistics from the US side of the border regarding what has been submitted to US authorities for tracing, and in this case, the number that came up was 52% of the trace requests identified a retailer, presumably in the US.

Let's go with the higher 90% figure, which is really 90% of 24% - because only 24% of the weapons seized in Mexico are submitted to US authorities for tracing.

That still leaves over three-quarters of the weapons seized in Mexico coming from somewhere else.

In other words, the Obama Administration is misleading everyone.

The political reason is obvious. As LaPierre points out (and as we knew), the political agenda is to generate propaganda that can be used to destroy our right to keep and bear arms. And, when all the dust settles, this is what the Obamanistas will plead guilty to.

But what is really going on?

LaPierre mentions - as have I, previously - that the cartels are mainly getting their weapons from Russia, China, and Central America, in addition to through defections from the Mexican Army.

Of course, this trend was noticed years ago. We consider an excerpt from Globalization and Transnational Organized Crime: The Russian Mafia in Latin America and the Caribbean by Bruce Michael Bagley, dated November 15, 2002, pages 9-10:

The third prong of the Russian mafia's strategy of expansion abroad over the 1990s focused on penetration of the Western Hemisphere, initially the United States and Canada. By the mid-1990s, frustrated by the disappointing results of their Asian strategy, Russian organized crime groups became increasingly interested in and focused on new opportunities for criminal activity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Specifically, they realized that the region offered open markets for Russian and Soviet bloc arms in exchange for drugs to be smuggled back to Europe and Russia and easy access to global financial networks for money laundering purposes. Moreover, the region's relatively weak states and deeply imbedded "culture of corruption" provided a familiar environment reminiscent of the one in post-Soviet Russia in which Russian criminal organizations had originally arisen and flourished. In effect, the Russian mafia adapted the previous Soviet-era tactics of forging ties in the Americas via attractive offers of cheap weapons and "technical assistance." This time around, however, the technical assistance proffered was in the realm of money laundering rather than in the use of sophisticated Soviet weaponry.

These arms-trafficking ties go back for years.

Military-grade weapons move one way, drugs move back the other way.

As I have stated, criminals get firearms the way they get drugs - illegally. If a plane, boat or truck goes one way carrying drugs, why can't it go back the other way carrying firearms. This is what they would have us believe regarding the US - drugs come north, weapons move south.

But, the drug trade is not confined to the US/Mexican border.

As I have repeatedly pointed out - and as anyone should know - the drug trade is global. Particularly, I have repeatedly pointed out how cocaine moves from Latin America through Africa to Europe, and how heroin moves from South Asia through the Balkans to Europe, and now through Africa to Europe and the Americas. Military-grade weapons move through Africa, too; Islamic terrorist organizations use them for jihad in Africa and against Israel, but some of the weapons make it to the Americas where they equip drug cartels.

So, why don't we hear about all this - the drugs moving through Africa, the ties that Islamic terrorists have with Latin America, the weapons-trafficking to Mexico of Russian and Chinese arms...? Sure, when it was politically convenient, we hear about an alleged Iranian plot, though there are questions that are raised regarding that, which are outside the scope of this series. But, Hezbollah - an Iranian proxy - has been active in Latin America for many years. Why don't we hear about that?

It is a question of money.

"What has happened in Fast and Furious is the equivalent of our Justice Department becoming willing co-conspirators with the Mexican drug cartels in their crimes."

From US Prosecutors Confirm Classified Information Colors Zambada Niebla's Case, dated October 4, 2011:

Prosecutors in the Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla case on Monday, Oct. 3, filed a motion in federal court in Chicago rebutting the accused Mexican narco-trafficker's argument that he has been denied access to critical evidence in preparing his defense due to a tardy call by the prosecution for national-security procedures to be invoked in his case.

In their pleadings, prosecutors again affirm the government's position that there was no immunity deal offered to the accused narco-trafficker or to the leadership of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization.

The pleadings filed by the prosecution do not address directly why the government is seeking to invoke national-security procedures for Zambada Niebla's case.

However, the government's motion does confirm that "classified materials" related to the case do exist, but also insists those classified materials do not support Zambada Niebla's immunity claims.

To date, no U.S. media outlet, other than Narco News, has reported on the US government's effort to invoke national security in the Zambada Niebla case.

Monday's filing by prosecutors confirms that Zambada Niebla's case does raise national security issues that require, according to those prosecutors, that special procedures be established by the court — under a 30-year-old law known as the Classified Information Procedures Act — to assure that classified materials do not become public during the court proceedings.

Zambada Niebla, son of one of the leaders of the Sinaloa "Cartel," arguably the most powerful international narco-trafficking organization on the planet, argues in his criminal case that he and the other leadership of Mexico's Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization, were, in effect, working for the U.S. government for years by providing US agents with intelligence about rival drug organizations.

The Sinaloa Cartel is in bed with the US government.

From Court Pleadings Point to CIA Role in Alleged "Cartel" Immunity Deal, September 11, 2011:

The fingerprints of the CIA have surfaced in a controversial federal criminal case pending in Chicago against Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, an alleged kingpin in the Sinaloa "drug cartel."

US government prosecutors filed pleadings in the case late last week seeking to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), a measure designed to assure national security information does not surface in public court proceedings.


"That is a very reasonable conclusion [that the CIA is likely involved in this case in some way]," says a former federal agent familiar with national security procedures. "Seeking CIPA protection, yup, there is hot stuff to hide."

Does this look like something we have seen before?

From Cracking the Case: An Interview With Sibel Edmonds by Scott Horton, August 22, 2005:

SH: Okay, and you mention when you talk about criminal activity, drug-running, money-laundering, weapons-smuggling...

SE: And these activities overlap. It's not like okay, you have certain criminal entities that are involved in nuclear black market, and then you have certain entities bringing narcotics from the East. You have the same players when you look into these activities at high-levels you come across the same players, they are the same people.

SH: Well, when we're talking about those kind of levels of liquid cash money we probably also have to include major banks too, right?

SE: Financial institutions, yes.

And, from 'The Stakes Are Too High for Us to Stop Fighting Now' An interview with FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds by Christopher Deliso August 15, 2005:

SE: The fact that there are no investigations -- I will give you an analogy, okay? Say if we decided to have a "war on drugs," but said in the beginning, "right, we're only going to go after the young black guys on the street level." Hey, we already have tens of thousands of them in our jails anyway, why not a few more? But we decided never to go after the middle levels, let alone the top levels...

It's like this with the so-called war on terror. We go for the Attas and Hamdis -- but never touch the guys on the top.

CD: You think they [the government] know who they are, the top guys, and where?

SE: Oh yeah, they know.

CD: So why don't they get them?

SE: It's like I told you before -- this would upset "certain foreign relations." But it would also expose certain of our elected officials, who have significant connections with high-level drugs- and weapons-smuggling -- and thus with the criminal underground, even with the terrorists themselves.

The analogy with the "war on drugs" is right on the money, because it is really the same war these days.

Here is what is going on: the drug cartels are paying off the Obama Administration at the highest levels. The Obamanistas are assisting one cartel in eliminating its rivals. The Sinaloa Cartel passes intelligence to the US on the other cartels; US and Mexican authorities eliminate these rivals. Agencies get drug busts, and politicians get paid to steer government operations against some cartels and away from another. And, the Obamanistas help arm one cartel in its fight against the others, in addition to taking direct action against the other cartels. In return, the Obamanistas get an opportunity to disarm the American people, and this becomes the cover story if they get caught.

I wonder... how much foreign drug-trafficking money is being laundered to the Democrats to accomplish this? And, I wonder how many Republicans are involved? Maybe there are no Republicans involved in this scandal, and that is why it is not being hushed up... unlike the Sibel Edmonds case, which involved corruption on both sides of the aisle, and was effectively silenced under Bush-43, despite Democrats who promised to follow up on it.

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