“The operation began after an air force helicopter detected a convoy of vehicles traveling on a road near Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, and followed them to determine their destination,” laht.com reports. “The air force personnel called for army support after gunmen began shooting at the chopper. When the army troops arrived, the assailants fired gunshots at them and fled in different directions from the soldiers’ return fire. After reinforcements arrived, troops blocked off the area and combed several streets in the zone until they located the abandoned vehicles and weapons.” OK, so the Tamaulipas area has been the scene of a turf war, with Los Zetas playing D against other [allegedly] government-backed cartels. So guess how many weapons the Mexican military “stumbled upon” . . .
The Defense Secretariat’s 4th Military Region said in a statement that 83 automatic rifles, 18 handguns, five grenade launchers, a rocket launcher, 11 fragmentation grenades, 28 40 mm grenades, 315 ammunition clips, more than 18,000 rounds of ammunition, 17 vehicles and eight kilos of marijuana were confiscated in Wednesday’s operation.
If we accept this version of events—and I see no reason why we should—we learn two things.
First, again, grenades, rocket launchers and 18k rounds of ammo are not something you pick up from Bob’s Gun Stores just over the border. As the Wall Street Journal correctly surmises in this morning’s paper, small time gun smuggling is . . . small time. As they don’t point out, the cartels are supplied by official military sales that somehow “seep” into their possession.
Second, it highlights the fact that the drug war is a tale of two countries. In one, it’s open warfare; with everything from cartel-run pseudo-military style checkpoints to mass graves to military chopper pilots taking incoming fire. In the other, it’s not-so-open warfare.
But make no mistake, America is paying the price for our porous borders. In yet another scary-ass report on the Mexico- America drug traffic, stratfor.com tells it like it is:
While Mexican officials are frequently forced to choose between “plata o plomo” (Spanish for “silver or lead,” a direct threat of violence meaning “take the bribe or we will kill you”), that type of threat is extremely rare in the United States. It is also very rare to see politicians, police chiefs and judges killed in the United States — a common occurrence in Mexico.
That said, there certainly has been cartel-related violence on the U.S. side of the border with organizations such as Los Zetas conducting assassinations in places like Houston and Dallas. The claim by some U.S. politicians that there is no spillover violence is patently false.
However, the use of violence on the U.S. side has tended to be far more discreet on the part of the cartels (and the U.S. street gangs they are allied with) than in Mexico, where the cartels are frequently quite flagrant.
The cartels kill people in the United States but they tend to avoid the gruesome theatrics associated with many drug-related murders in Mexico, where it has become commonplace to see victims beheaded, dismembered or hung from pedestrian walkways over major thoroughfares.
Bottom line: the number of people shot and killed in the U.S. by narco-terrorists is not as great as it is in Mexico. It’s bad on the U.S. border, and getting worse. But it’s not on the same scale. There is, however, another danger: the political fallout.
As Stratfor points out, it’s far easier for Mexican politicians to blame the U.S. than halt the tsunami of home grown drug thug gun crime, or fix Mexico’s endemic corruption. As we’ve seen, American gun control advocates and their supporters have repeated the imported untruth to their own advantage.
If the ATF’s Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious hadn’t blow up in their collective face, the southern part of the U.S. would already have a federal long gun registry, via executive fiat, justified by Mexican gun crime. Once that scandal simmers down, chances are the Obama administration will make another run at it, citing Mexican gun crime.
Which is why gun rights advocates must remember to focus their attention on the reality of the illegal drug trade with our southern neighbor, and expose the lie that our Mexican border is secure. If we don’t constantly shoot down the idea that U.S. gun dealers are directly responsible for the drug cartels’ arsenal of death and destruction, it will no doubt be used against us.