Ever since the Zetas were ousted by the Gulf Cartel, the cartel wars in Mexico have been on the rise.
We don’t hear as much about it as we did a decade ago, but that’s not because things have quieted down. Rather, it’s because it has become dangerous for reporters to say anything about what’s going on. The violence is still there and if anything, it’s increasing.
I’ve been on the border for the last 20 years, so I’ve gotten to hear what’s happening first-hand. While I have yet to be caught in a firefight between the bad guys and the forces of law and order, I’ve heard the shots going off. I try to avoid being in Mexico at night, as that’s when most of the fighting happens.
Violence is nothing new to the drug industry, and for that matter, there was plenty of violence during the Prohibition, our country’s failed attempt to outlaw the use of alcoholic beverages. But the level of violence that we’re seeing today is unlike anything seen before, with more than 19,000 people murdered in the first half of 2019 alone. At this rate, the murder rate in Mexico will surpass that of 2018, which was the bloodiest year on record, with 33,341 homicides.
But there’s a distinct difference between the violence we’re seeing in Mexico today and that which we’ve seen in the past. Not only are the drug lords and their minions becoming more violent, but they are directly challenging the Mexican government over the right to control their country.
While the cartels have been known to back political candidates in the past, that has been so that they could have a tame politician in power, who would not take direct action against them. But that’s a risky business for the politicians in question, as they need the support of the people to have enough votes to get into power in the first place and one of the biggest concerns of the people is protection from the cartels.
You know, we talk about how politicians are bought by big donors here in the US and in other countries, but that is nothing compared to being bought by the drug lords. No major American corporation or public workers union is going to kill a politician that doesn’t do what they want it to. But the drug cartels don’t have any compulsion against killing, often offering police and politicians the option of “plata or plomo” (“silver or lead,” meaning accept our buying you off or we’ll kill you and your family).
Standing up to the cartels is a dangerous game, not only in Mexico, but anywhere they are operating. Colombia has had serious issues with their own drug lords and cartels. Using the same tactics to either buy soldiers, police, politicians and judges, or if they couldn’t, killing them outrights.
Yet there are other dangers that Mexican politicians face. President Trump was able to put considerable pressure on Mexico earlier this year over Mexico supporting mass illegal migration to the United States. The threat of severe tariffs would have hurt the Mexican economy, something they couldn’t afford. So now, in response to that pressure, the Mexican Army is deployed on both the northern and southern borders, catching illegal migrants.
You don’t hear about this, because the mainstream media doesn’t want to admit that Trump does anything successful; but the fact is that the number of illegal immigrants being caught on the border is down, because overall border crossings are down. This is due to Mexico catching them before they reach our border.
But Mexico can’t stop them all, just like they can’t seem to get control over the violence of their cartels. Mexican police are much more heavily armed than American ones and the Army is patrolling regularly, but the cartels hire people to keep track of the police and military operations, so that they can avoid being caught.
For a young Mexican guy just starting out, getting $1,000 a month and a free truck is a much better deal than going to work in a factory for less than one-fourth that and no truck. With the money the cartels have at their disposal, paying a couple hundred watchers like that is just a minor business expense.
With hundreds of watchers reporting on the location of police and military convoys, it’s easy for the cartels to avoid them. Then, when they choose to not avoid the police or military, you can be sure that the forces of evil are better armed and better equipped than the forces of good. They somehow manage to buy hand grenades on the black market for less than $10, or to put that another way, less than 1/5 of what they cost the US Army.
I recently saw a picture of a group of cartel gunmen, decked out in full tactical gear, complete with fully-automatic rifles, sidearms, and ballistic armor. About the only thing I didn’t see in the picture was night vision gear.
It Has Gone to a Whole New Level
Even with all the violence we’ve seen in the past, it’s just gone to a whole new level. In 2018 El Chapo Guzmán was extradited to the United States to be incarcerated in the ADX Florence maximum security penitentiary. In 2019, he was sentenced by a US court to life in prison.
Senator Ted Cruz has introduced legislation to use El Chapo’s fortune of over $14 billion to finance the border wall on the southern border. While that may never happen, it seems like poetic justice to me. Of course, that means our government has to get their hands on that money.
With Guzmán out of the picture, his son took over the Sinola Cartel, one of the most powerful, which El Chapo had been running. That apparently was working out okay for the cartel until Mexican law enforcement officers finally caught up with him, arresting Ovidio Guzmán and putting him in prison in the city of Culiacán to await trial.
That’s when things went crazy for Mexican authorities. Dozens of masked members of the cartel attacked the city, hunting down police, military personnel and their families, killing them off as they demanded that their leader be set free. The cartel gunmen were using heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, fully-automatic rifles and sniper rifles in the attacks, which temporarily turned the city into a war zone.
The end result of that was that the Mexican government released Guzmán, in an effort to put an end to the violence. So the cartels won this round, getting what they wanted and forcing the duly constituted government to back off.
This success, on the part of the cartel, is going to bring with it a heavy price. They have learned that they can get the government to back off, just by causing enough violence and killing enough people. I think it’s safe to say that they will double down on that strategy, the next time that Mexican law enforcement captures anyone of value to the cartels. A precedent has been set and it’s not a good one.
This is the sign of a failed government. When government cannot control the lawless elements within their own society, the people lose confidence in them. From what I have gathered, speaking to people I know in Mexico, the government has lost just about all the confidence of the people. Yet there is nothing the people can do, as they can’t legally own firearms.
They Can’t Protect Themselves
The Mexican Constitution is very similar to our own. But it doesn’t have a Bill of Rights and especially doesn’t have our Second Amendment. However, this is not to say that they can’t own firearms. Article 10 of their Constitution does allow Mexican people to own firearms, even though the laws regarding firearm ownership are highly restrictive.
It is extremely difficult for the average citizen to buy firearms and ammunition in Mexico, even if they can afford them. Laws regulate which types and calibers of firearms may be owned by citizens, reserving many calibers of firearms for military use only. Even to buy those which are permitted, one must first apply for a gun specific permit, a process which takes months. Then and only then, can you go to the one gun store in the country and take possession of the firearm that you are licensed to have.
With that being the case, the average citizen doesn’t stand a chance of protecting themselves from armed cartel gunmen. A machete isn’t much of a match against a pistol, let alone against a fully-automatic military rifle.
Sadly, this has caused the Mexican people to develop a fatalistic attitude in regard to the action of the cartels and other criminals. Friends of mine in Mexico and who are first-generation Mexican immigrants have basically stated that if someone breaks into your home, offer them a cup of coffee. When I said that I would meet those criminals with a gun muzzle in their face, they acted like I was from another world. That idea was too far beyond their imagination for them to know how to react to it.
But We Can Protect Ourselves
I can’t see any way that the violence in Mexico is going to lessen in coming years. But there is hope for those of us living here in the USA. That is, the violence hasn’t spilled over to our side of the border. That may not seem like much, but there is good reason for it.
In Texas, the state that shares the longest border with Mexico, one in 37 adults is licensed to carry concealed. That gives Texas the second highest rate in the nation, with only Florida beating them out. But here’s the important part, you can be sure that the Mexican cartels know that. They know what a disaster it would be to attack an armed society, just like Admiral Yamamoto of Japan did World War II. He is quoted as saying, “To invade the United States would prove most difficult because behind every blade of grass is an American with a rifle.”
There were many people living on the Texas/Mexican border who were concerned about cartel violence boiling across the border. But it has not. That is attributed to the high rate of gun ownership in Texas. The cartels know that it would be suicidal to try doing the things in Texas, that they are doing in Mexico.
Even the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department credits those who carry concealed with the low rate of cartel crime and terrorism in the area. It is common understanding amongst their officers that no law enforcement officer along the border will have to draw a gun, if there is ever a terrorist incident in the area; the concealed carry community will take care of the problem. I got that straight from the horse’s mouth.
So, when people say “I don’t understand why anyone needs an AR-15,” you have an answer. It is those AR-15s, in the hands of American patriots, which are keeping the same sort of things from happening within our borders, as are happening just south of us.
Quite literally, those who live on the border, keeping their guns and their Bibles, are fulfilling the opening phrase of the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” Those gun owners are that militia and they are doing what it takes to maintain a free state, just by their existence and their willingness to protect our country. The cartels know it and they avoid crossing the river. Or at least when they do, they’re on their best behavior.
If you’re going to live on that border, I suggest you do so armed. When I was there, we believed that the house across the street was a drug transshipment point. I could never prove it, but there was plenty of suspicious activity pointing that way. So I was part of that militia, ready to protect our home and our land. I never had to do it, but I was ready.
Should things keep going as they are in Mexico, I fear that the militia may become busy. Mexican drug cartels have already shot across the border, shooting into a park that was a mere four miles from my home. How much longer is it going to be before we are forced to repel them at the border?