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I’ve been covering the the ATF’s Fast and Furious scandal for almost a year. During that time, I’ve followed the guns and peered into the nightmare world of Mexican drug cartels. More specifically, the horrific violence inflicted on tens of thousands of Mexicans at the point of a gun. I’ve watched cartel carnage spread from isolated communities and drug routes to the entire country. Remember Fun in Acapulco? “This city of dazzling hotels and sunlit beaches rose to fame as a playground of Hollywood stars,” Reuters recalls. “Today, Acapulco has now earned a very different reputation-for gangland decapitations, kidnappings and extortion . . .

As Mexico’s drug war grinds on, killings in Acapulco have almost tripled this year to nearly 900, making the Pacific resort one of the most violent cities in the world and the second-deadliest in the country. The endless reports of slayings have kept the drug chaos on the front page even as killing slows in some parts of Mexico, where in 2010 the war claimed a record 15,273 lives.

So horrifying was the death toll that the government, which declared 2011 to be Mexico’s “year of tourism,” has simply stopped publishing a count.

The main reason Mexico’s descent into a narco-terrorist controlled country doesn’t get much play north of the border: it’s not happening north of the border.

Oh sure there’s some “spillover violence.” And yes, a Mexican “rip crew” shot and killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (using ATF-enabled firearms no less). But we’re not seeing made-in-America images of the kind of mind blowing violence that typifies Mexican cartel activity in their home territory.

Supposedly, the cartel leaders and their murderous minions know better than that. They know that if they hang a few decapitated corpses from an American highway overpass like the one above, Uncle Sam will end its blind eye policy towards cartel activities and come down on them like a ton of bricks.

I’m not so sure.

A cartel is not a disciplined organization; it’s a loose confederation of  bad guys. A cartel boss can’t issue an edict against inter-American violence and expect his U.S.-based “affiliates” to keep their goat horns and chainsaws in check. A nothing-to-lose illegal immigrant connected to one of the cartels might just import his tactics stateside. Hey, it worked in Mexico . . .

As Mexico has shown us, it’s easy enough to become inured to violence, no matter how extreme. The first example causes shock and outrage. The second, not so much. At first, people figure it’s contained to the criminal community so . . . nothing to do with me, mate. And then it kinda spreads.

Police get bought or shot. Same for judges. Society gradually sinks into a cesspit of criminality. Violence strikes everywhere. By the forty-thousandth murder, it’s just another day, another federal prosecutor gunned down. Another police chief assassinated. Another 11 men dumped by a reservoir. Another dead  blogger with a warning note pinned to his lifeless, headless corpse.

Think it can’t happen here? It IS here.

Federal agents say Dallas is a hub for the Mexican drug cartels.
“We’ve listened, through wire taps, and we know the organizations’ commanding control cell are talking to commanding control cells in Mexico – directly to the trafficking cartel heads,” says Drug Enforcement Agency Agent James Capra.

Capra says the Gulf Cartel, La Familia, and the Sinaloa Cartel all have a presence in Dallas.

“They have familial roots here. Some of them grew up here, have families here, have established networks here,” he says.

History is also our guide; the wave of cocaine killings and corruption that plagued Miami in the 80s was a horrific harbinger of what unchecked Mexican cartels can do to dozens of American cities.

Another sign: this image snapped by our Managing Editor in St. Louis. Check out the car tat on the blinged-out Tahoe. It says “SINALOA.” That would be the home of America’s favorite Mexican drug cartel, the homies who bought firearms under the loving protection of the ATF.

As Drew points out below, in border states, it’s SOP to put a sticker on your car indicating your point of ethnic origin. To assume that a pimped-out SUV was purchased with the fruits of criminal activity in conjunction with a Mexican drug cartel would be the worst type of stereotyping.

And yet I take this image as a sign that America is now home to millions of undocumented economic refugees (at best) who hail from the heart of narco-terrorist territory. Our government’s lack of resolve when it comes to protecting our borders, its reprehensible dealings with drug cartels, is about to bite us in the ass. You have been warned.

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  1. Eh, I’m not sure the sticker is gang related. Here in SoCal it’s super common to see “state of origin” stickers on folks cars. I see them all the time and it’s just as likely to be Vera Cruz or Puebla or Oaxaca as Sinola.

  2. “I’ve been covering the the ATF’s Fast and Furious scandal for over a year. ”

    Vanderboegh broke the story 12/28/10. Clarify please.

      • You’re absolutely correct. Covering and breaking a story aren’t the same thing. However, in this instance, one cannot have covered a story for over a year when a year has yet to transpire since the story first broke. Is that clear?

        • Not to be pedantic, but TTAG was covering the Fast and Furious story before Agent Terry was shot. Just not as such. If you recall, [a part of] the ATF was taking the owner of Badger Guns to court for straw purchasing. He revealed that he’d been put up to the task by the ATF. And before that, we were covering the disarmament of the Mexican people, and the history of ATF interdiction of weapons headed for civilian use (a story that STILL doesn’t get ANY play).

          • Again, fair enough and point taken. There’s been a lot of water under the bridges of Operation Gunrunner, F&F, Red’s Trading Post, Badger, David Olofson and countless others that anyone, even with the very best memory, can scarcely keep track of. I know that I sure can’t keep track of it all, nor do I have the scholarly discipline, patience or desire. I ran out of RAM a long time ago.

  3. Same here in New Mexico with the stickers. But your overall point is spot on. Controlling the border would be a good start, but Mexico needs a miracle. And so may the US in the very near future. Probably the last thing we need, though, is our executive branch sending guns to one side so they can blame American gun owners.

    “Your casa is on fire, amigo. Here’s a bucket of kerosene.”

    “Bad ol’ Second Amendment.”

  4. A cartel boss can’t issue and edict against inter-America violence and expect his U.S.-based “affiliates” to keep their goat horns and chainsaws in check.

    Was a case recently where a couple of tourist (out of Colorado?) were jet-ski-ing in Lake Amistad. Husband was shot and killed by drug gangs, wife was shot at. There was some subsequent activity (cops shot while investigating, etc.) but in the end the head honcho had the killers (his own men) executed and dumped the bodies. I’m guessing as a peace offering to the American side?

  5. Pretty sure that picture was taken in Missouri. Only because I see that highland sign every couple of days when I’m driving down highway 64 and I’ve never been to Milwaukee.

    • 94 just outside of downtown Milwaukee. The old Pabst brewery is just to the east, Marquette University is to south and west, and the original site of Harley-Davidson is 30 blocks due west. I lived 7 years just blocks from this picture’s location.

      • I agree with Gossven, that picture was taken in St. Louis. The Highland Ave in Milwaukee, just east of Marquette University, is a different type of overpass. Check it out on Google Map street view.

        You can’t see the St. Louis overpass in street view, the overpass is too new and Google hasn’t updated the view yet. However, the picture shows the exit 33A, which is Big Bend Blvd, just a couple hundred feet past the Highland overpass.

        With all that said…fantastic. Great to know that the Sinaloa are rolling through my city.

  6. F&F has made it too darn dangerous for a feller and his buddies to visit Papagayo’s in Nuevo Laredo for a few beers and some stimulating conversation.

    Damn you, Holder.

  7. I have mentioned this very subject to some Febbies and I got the impression that they see it too but they weren’t allowed to say.

  8. Thank goodness the car didnt have anything written in russian on it then it would be a prophecy of ww3! Oh wait no its just a bumber sticker. Sorry I,usually love your stuff but this just screams paranoia, in a bad way.

    • In the Philly suburbs, police and DEA broke up a multi-million dollar coke ring run by Mexican organized crime. It was in an apartment building about a mile from the King of Prussia mall. I don’t buy into most of the self-defense hyperbole, but this trend has me worried.

  9. Some people on this forum were upset with the OWS movement and wanted to buy a gun out of fear. The Mexican Drug Cartels and their spin offs I fear much more than just about any criminal force as of now. What I also really fear is that the Feds will gut our rights on all fronts in the name of a crusade against the Mexican Cartels as the Mexican Government did. Fast and Furious is a good example.

  10. Robert, I applaud your coverage of the growing atrocity the ATF initiated through Fast and Furious and it’s associated operations. The ENTIRE story needs to be told since the media is only feeding us bits and bobs as Holder’s balls dangle ever so closely to the bandsaw.

    The vinyl on the back of that SUV is very common across the Southwest and Mountain West. It stands as an abrupt reminder of what’s going on, but it’s really no different than people putting “Montana” or “Vermont” on the back window or, more commonly in America, one’s alma mater.

    Regarding the organization and reach of the cartels, don’t be fooled. These are multi-billion dollar enterprises battling for the control (insofar as they want to control) an entire nation and America is the major source of their income. As soon as we really slam that door shut (insofar as we’re capable), expect more of the bloodshed over there to run across our border – and on direct order.

  11. The other day, I was watching “Cell Block 6”, the show about women in Cincinnati, Ohio’s jail. This young black woman was telling about why she was in prison, and she said that she was arrested because she was working with a mexican drug cartel. Ohio is 1,500+ miles from the border, yet there are American citizens that are tied up in their dealings. This in itself is telling of the failure that is America’s border system and war on drugs. we aren’t safe from narco-terrorism in our own cities, and it’s sad.

    One of the many reasons why I feel like carrying is not an act of paranoia, but an act of justified personal protection in an America where the system is failing to protect its citizens.

    • I would agree that the American system does not protect its citizens. Our government will not police the border or weed out illegal immigrants who are criminals. This is to court the Mexican-American vote of course. I could really fly into a tirade about this subject.
      To put things into perspective, I wonder how WWI and WWII would have turned out if the German-American and Italian-American community would have put Germany and Italy first.
      The last census had Germans as the largest ethnic group in the USA. The Italians are a huge chunk as well.

  12. Things may not get bad here. There are cultural factors at play. There’s little crime spillover from Ciudad Juarz to El Paso, where there’s a large working class immigrant population. The following Reason piece from ’09 is interesting:

    I suspect crime may be worse in Northeastern or left coast cities where illegals are attracted to the high welfare benefits.

  13. I have a space needle sticker on my car and a green silouhete of washington state with the state seal in it. Even when I was in North Carolina or on one of my other adventures through out this great country.

    This does not mean that I love starbucks (They make crap coffee and charge too much for it), that I’m a hippie (Far from it) or a liberal or any of the other stereotypes about the Pacific Northwest.

    Its human nature to take pride in where you’re from, and its downright prejudiced to automatically assume something about some one just because they take enough pride in where they live to put a sticker about it on their vehicle.

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