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Drug cartels: The new predator within
September 21, 2006, Reprinted from Pioneer Press October 22, 2003 by John Martinez, Special Opinion
Welcome to our county's most important social challenge - the super predator,
cartel operations, in Siskiyou County 

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Imagine a voracious, highly refined predator unleashed upon an eco-system with no counterbalance to the predator's influence. The predator soon eats its way to supremacy. Many rural communities are experiencing a similar phenomenon - the introduction of highly refined international criminal organizations.

Cartels are not a collection of street thugs or gangs; rather, they are very sophisticated organizations that, according to a DEA agent, use a host of state-of-the-art tools.  According to national news reports, they increasingly employ covert operations specialists, counter intelligence operatives, paramilitary training experts among other disciplines to grow and secure their international operations. The latest reports coming from Mexico are that they have now purchased the surveillance and counter-intelligence prowess of former KGB operatives to penetrate and corrupt local government functionaries in Mexico, Knight-Ridder reported.

Developing strong control over local governing structures may be a new strategy mirroring a larger political phenomenon south of the border. Since the death of "El Profesor" Hank Gonzales, the Mexican political system has fragmented, as has the cartel structure. The Mexican elite's reduced abilities to provide blanket protection for cartels have caused drug trafficking organizations to forge newer operating paradigms. The new criminal organization is developing control over local government functionaries and law enforcement. Their structures are liquid, fluid and easily morphed thus easily evading traditional "Constitutional" law enforcement.

Compounding the problem of unstable protection in their home country is the tightening of US borders due to increased threats from terrorism.  Producing products closer to their end consumer in the US is a top priority.  Border security threatens the stable flow of product needed to capture new markets while maintaining preexisting ones. Drug production in the US has become an operational priority to ensure the free flow of products to the marketplace.

Cartel operations within the US are well documented and indisputable. Their objective is to control institutions creating safe havens where they can grow and manufacture with little threat of arrest or comprehensive surveillance. Small town America is ripe ground for highly organized cartels. Small town America has few tools to monitor multi-state and multinational operations. The cartels' highly refined techniques to penetrate law enforcement in Mexico may work well in small town rural America which is particularly vulnerable due to poor economic health.

Imagine a team of two to three cartel "operatives" trained by the best to beat the rest who are dropped into a small county to gather information on local officials, cops, and social leaders. Information that may constitute part of an operational plan that will be acted upon to gain control over local institutions. Conspiracy? Think again.  That's how it works.

The game is simple. It's as simple as getting "dirt" for past or current indiscretions on people in positions of influence. Cartel operatives employ unscrupulous tactics such as tapping of phones, incriminating photos from a person's youth, among other types of "dirt" gathering. The goal is to ensure comprehensive surveillance cannot occur against important organizational aspects of regional cartel operations.  Getting a foot hold may be only a matter of getting one cop or investigator hooked.

While rural communities are struggling to meet their budgets, cartels are flush with cash. Local law enforcement struggles to meet the challenge of normal criminal activity on a limited budget and then is asked to cope with international criminal organizations? The influence of smart, dirty money in poor rural communities goes a long way. What chance does a small poor county have in combating the cartels when organized crime has been known to influence entire law enforcement and financial establishments of nation states?

Welcome to our county's most important social challenge - the super predator, morphed cartel operations in Siskiyou County. Is there something more to the recent confiscations with no busts on the Salmon River than meets the eye? Have the morphed cartels consolidated operations within our region with local drug barons? Foreign nationals working hand in hand with US citizens on US soil calls into question our constitutional obligations as citizens and warrants a thorough review of the Posse Comitatus Act.
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