For all the demands from talking heads that the US deploy military personnel to police tribal disputes along the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Syria, the real border crisis facing the US is happening in our own backyard.
Fact is, the situation in Mexico poses a far greater threat to American security. Our Southern neighbor is rapidly becoming a narco-state run by cartel drug lords.
On Monday, nine Americans — including six children — were ambushed and murdered in the Mexican border state of Sonora. Mexican news reports said the attack had all the hallmarks of an organized crime attack.
Last month, a cartel paramilitary force faced down Mexico’s own army following the arrest of Ovidio Guzman, a son of “El Chapo,” the notorious Sinaloa cartel kingpin who was convicted in US federal court and sentenced to life in prison last February.
Minutes after Guzman was captured, the Sinaloa cartel declared war and demanded his release. Less than four hours after the arrest, government forces surrendered. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador nonetheless declared afterward that his administration was “doing really well with our strategy” to counter cartel influence.
The violence throughout Mexico makes Chicago look like Stepford in comparison. Since 2007, nearly 275,000 people have been murdered. In 2018 alone, that number exceeded 33,000. Assassinations of government officials hit a record high, according to Justice in Mexico, which tracks violence there. Journalists who report unfavorably on cartel activities are regularly targeted for death.
None of this happens in a vacuum, which is why the failure of the Mexican government to deal with narco-violence, and the international drug trade that fuels it, threatens our own national security.
American deaths from overdoses on synthetic opioids like Fentanyl have skyrocketed over the last decade. Although the initial injection of Fentanyl into the US bloodstream came from China (via the US postal system), officials now say the majority of lab-created opioids smuggled into America come through Mexico.
The result has been an overdose epidemic that has destroyed lives, upended small communities and left countless individuals hopelessly addicted to a drug 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
In short, the collapse of Mexico doesn’t just endanger its own people. It also threatens the sovereignty and security of the US, as the violence, addiction and economic woes caused by the cartels refuse to remain within the borders of Latin America.
Beefed up barriers along the US-Mexico border are indisputably necessary — a nation that won’t defend its own borders will eventually cease to be a nation — but walls by themselves aren’t enough.
Mexican officials must finally face down the druglords and eliminate their ability to operate with impunity. The military and police have to enforce zero-tolerance policies on corruption. In the US, prosecutors and regulators need to crack down on the financial institutions getting rich by laundering billions in drug money for cartel kingpins.
And our elected officials in Congress must get serious about securing our border to stop both drug- and human-trafficking.
John Daniel Davidson, a border expert, recently wrote in The Federalist that Mexico is “now on a trajectory to become a vast gangland governed more by warlordism than the state.”
“The last time this happened was a century ago, during the decade-long Mexican revolution, which eventually triggered the invasion and occupation of northern Mexico in 1916 by the US Army,” he noted. “Before it was over, US forces attacked and occupied Nogales, Sonora, in 1918, and Ciudad Juarez in 1919.”
While a modern invasion by US forces may not be imminent, it’s not unthinkable. Following the brutal murder of the nine Americans in Sonora, President Trump tweeted that America stood ready to help the Mexican government eradicate the cartel threat.
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” Trump wrote.
But it will take more than tweets to address the lawlessness that has not just plagued Mexico, but has directly fueled the illegal immigration, gang violence and drug problems now facing America.
Our elected leaders should spend more time and energy dealing with the dire security threats on the US-Mexico border and less time looking for new nations to invade or regimes to overthrow in the Middle East.
Sean Davis is the co-founder of The Federalist. Twitter: @SeanMDav.