The U.S. is sending new CIA operatives and retired military personnel to Mexico as part of a push to expand it’s role in fighting the country’s powerful drug trafficking organizations, according to a New York Times report published today.
For the first time, small groups of operatives and civilian military employees have been deployed to a Mexican military base to work alongside Mexican security officials, collecting intel and planning operations in the war against the cartels. The Times reports that the U.S. is also considering embedding private security contractors into a special Mexican counternarcotics unit.
The new operations have been devised to get around Mexican laws prohibiting foreign security forces from working inside the country and to prevent corrupt security agencies from getting their hands on advanced American military technology, officials told The Times.
The Obama administration compares it’s efforts to help Mexico to U.S drug war initiatives in Colombia. But security analysts say the challenges are more akin to Afghanistan, where corruption and violence have similarly degraded democratic institutions and the criminal justice system. Incidentally, the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico was pulled from an assignment in Kabul.
The escalated U.S. operations in Mexico comes on the heels of a new national security strategy to fight transnational organized crime, released last month, which authorized new sanctions against Mexico’s growing criminal networks, including the brutal Los Zetas cartel.
In a report to Congress last week, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw wrote that the cartels have militarized their tactics, and now “”incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.”
The letter, obtained by the El Paso Times, states that Texas federal investigation found that 300 Somali immigrants were smuggled into Texas and California through Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico between 2006 and 2008. A smuggler who took the Somalis told U.S. authorities he also moved seven Muslim extremists across the southwest border.
– Article Originally from The Business Insider.