caption: Will the U.S. jump the Border Wall to intervene in the drug cartel war?
U.S. officials are considering heightened intervention in Mexico if the drug cartel violence continues, according to recent reports. An enhanced U.S. role in battling Mexican drug cartels could include joint operations with Mexican forces. Involvement of U.S. contractors, military and intelligence personnel are further options, according to a Dallas Morning News report last week that cited anonymous sources.
Juarez, Mexico's 2008 violent death toll--counting assassinations, murders, and beheadings--shot past 1600. This was the tip of the violent crime iceberg in a city additionally wracked by extortion, kidnapping and corruption. The violence continues unabated in 2009. The number of homicides in the Juarez area in January surpassed the number logged at the same time last year, an indicator that the drug cartel war is spiraling downward.
An insertion of U.S. personnel on Mexican soil would mark a major reversal to Mexico's historical aversion to U.S. interference. However, the challenge of shoring up Mexican stability, particularly along the border, could overwhelm historical reservations. Friday's El Paso Times cites some precedent for U.S. involvement. For decades U.S. agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI have operated offices in major Mexican cities and shared intelligence with Mexican authorities. In addition, Mexico has cooperated in the extradition of drug traffickers to the U.S. recently.
A recent report on worldwide security threats issued by the U.S. Joint Forces Command designated Mexico as at risk for "a rapid and sudden collapse" due to the impact of drug cartel violence. The ramifications to the United States of a failed state in North America heighten the likelihood that U.S. intervention is indeed under consideration.
U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told the press this week that the situation was "very serious and very critical" and discouraged public speculation about potential U.S.-Mexican cooperation to stem cartel violence and restore stability. Reyes, however, announced that he helped arrange for a U.S. State Department official who was "pre-eminently qualified to share insights about what is really going on in Mexico, and between the governments of Mexico and the United States" to speak tomorrow in El Paso.
cross-posted on The Peace Tree. This story needs wider coverage than it is receiving in the mainstream media.