DEA: Mexican Cartels Penetrate U.S!

DEA: Mexican Cartels Penetrate U.S!
Posted by FoM on February 25, 1999 at 08:44:06 PT

WASHINGTON -- Top leaders of Mexico's most powerful and perhaps most violent drug trafficking organization appear to be immune to any law enforcement effort, a senior U.S. counternarcotics official says. 
That assessment was made Wednesday in a report by Drug Enforcement administrator Thomas Constantine to a Senate panel that monitors narcotics trafficking. Constantine cited a number of perceived shortcomings in Mexico's law enforcement efforts despite an expected endorsement of Mexico's performance on Friday by President Clinton. Each year, drug transit and drug source countries are evaluated by the State Department. Most are ``certified'' as fully cooperative with U.S. counternarcotics efforts while the rest are decertified and some are subject to economic sanctions. Clinton has said Mexico ``should not be penalized.'' During his testimony, Constantine sidestepped a question from Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., as to whether he believes Mexico should be certified. But, he said, there has been a dramatic increase over the past five years in the penetration of the United States by Mexican drug cartels. He also said the corruption in Mexican civilian law enforcement has no parallel with anything he has seen in 39 years of police work. Randy Beers, the State Department's top counternarcotics official, said Mexico deserves credit for a ``serious effort'' to deal with drug traffickers, saying it has conducted an ``unprecedented antidrug campaign that, to my knowledge, has never been duplicated'' elsewhere. He added that, proportionally, Mexico earmarks a higher percentage of its national budget to counterdrug efforts than does the United States. He also noted that Mexico plans to spend more than $400 million over the next three years to combat narcotraffcking through high technology. In his written report to the panel, Constantine said the Arellano-Felix organization has a cocaine and marijuana distribution network that has expanded to U.S. cities in the Midwest and East Coast in recent years. ``In spite of existing U.S. warrants, government of Mexico indictments and actionable investigative leads provided to Mexico by U.S. law enforcement, limited enforcement action has taken place within the last year.'' He said there has been a consistent lack of success in obtaining evidence, locating those indicted and arresting any major figures. ``The few arrests that have been made to date have not included the leaders and command structure of the Arellano-Felix Organization syndicate,'' Constantine said. ``The truly significant principals have not been arrested, and appear to be immune to any law enforcement efforts.'' Constantine also alleged that corruption has impeded efforts to break up the Caro-Quinero organization, also alleged to be involved in drug smuggling. He said the head of the organization, Miguel Angel Caro Quintero, was able to use ``a combination of threats and bribes'' to have charges against him dismissed by a federal judge in Sonora. ``U.S. officials have corroborated the fact that Miguel Caro-Quintero collaborates with some Mexican law enforcement officials as evidenced by photographs which have shown him meeting with police officials at his residence,'' Constantine said.
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