During the recent three amigo’s meeting held in Mexico between the three heads of state a secret plan was hatched. The Journal has learned from a high ranking Mexican military officer who says he must remain anonymous reports that Mexican President Calderon asked President Obama for armed drones to track down and kill the MDC’s leadership and to help in surveillance of norco-traffing and have scensors on board that will be able to track targets as small as a human carrying a weapon.
The Mexican president indicated it should be part of a new effort to a lot more money and resources for Mexico. The Merida Initiative, a three-year, $1.4 billion assistance program passed by Congress to help Mexico fight drug trafficking.
The Merida Initiative is expected to be increased to help Mexico to fight the out of control civil war which is responsible for so many deaths. Since January 2007, a staggering eleven thousand people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico. That’s more than double the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Savage gunfights among heavily-armed drug cartels have spiraled out of control and has spill across the border into the U.S.
Nearly all the world’s cocaine originates with coca plants grown in South America — and ninety percent of the “coke” that ends up on our streets travels to the U.S. through Mexico.
Eighty percent of the methamphetamine consumed by Americans is produced there. Our southern neighbor is also the main foreign supplier of marijuana. According to Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora, “at least $10 billion in bulk cash” related to drug trafficking “crosses the U.S.-Mexican border each year” — meaning that narco-dollars are nearly on par with tourism which produces about $13 billion annually for Mexico.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, narco-terrorists connected to Mexican drug cartels have already infiltrated 230 American cities.
The Journal has also learned that Canada had already asked for unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAV’s or drones and at that same meeting details of that purchase was discussed. What many people don’t know is that the Canadian military already operates the Sperwer UAV’s in Afghanistan and so far has spent around $250 million on that system. It also operates smaller drones for use with army units, similar to the types that Mexico wants.
On the first of April, in a tribal area of Pakistan not far from the Afghan border, a small missile screamed through the sky and exploded into a house where a band of suspected Taliban militants were camped. The assumed culprit: a Predator drone aircraft controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency.
To fight its wars this decade, the U.S. has increasingly relied on unmanned aerial vehicles, for tracking and hunting down insurgents, drones have become an invaluable asset for the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ICE now operates UAV’s along the U.S. Mexican border.
While the military uses UAVs from a variety of contractors the current king of the armed drone makers is a private San Diego firm, General Atomics. Its subsidiary, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, makes the Predator and Reaper drones that comprise the U.S. Air Force’s entire armed UAV fleet, according to an Air Force official.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the cartels “are lucrative, they are violent, and they are operated with stunning planning and precision.”
DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart said the Sinaloa cartel has become one of the largest organized crime operations in the world.
The same military officer said that Mexico is currently in talks with contractors one of which he believes is Blackwater, now formally known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, New York Times reported Friday that the company that used to be known as Blackwater has taken over from the Central Intelligence Agency the job of arming the agency’s Predator drones that patrol over Afghanistan.
It stands to reason if Blackwater, now formally assemble and load Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs onto the pilotless aircraft in secret bases in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan forn the U.S. Government than it stands to reason that Mexico would want the same services. Although CIA employees fire the drones’ weaponry from the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., the Times reports thi s development reflects how much the agency “now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments.”
Current and former CIA employees told the Times that Blackwater’s assignment of assembling bombs for the drones led to disputes between the company and the spy agency. If a Predator missed a target, CIA employees would sometimes blame Blackwater employees for the mistake, the Times reported.
“In one instance last year recounted by the employees, a 500-pound bomb dropped off a Predator before it hit the target, leading to a frantic search for the unexploded bomb in the remote Afghan-Pakistani border region,” the Times reported. “It was eventually found about 100 yards from the original target.”
This article builds on the Times stories in Thursday’s editions that the CIA hired Blackwater for a secret program to find and kill high-value targets in al Qaeda. The program did not lead to the deaths of any Qaeda operatives and CIA Director Leon Panetta ended it shortly after learning about its existence.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, immediately south of neighboring El Paso, Texas, is arguably the most dangerous municipality in the Americas. The mayor, JosÃ© Reyes Ferriz, told me that in the last twelve months more than 1,600 of his citizens have been murdered as his city became the epicenter of a vicious “turf war” among rival drug cartels vying for a larger slice of the lucrative “drug delivery business.” When he called for help, President Calderon sent in the only force he could trust: the Mexican Army. Retired military officers now run the city police force and joint military/police units patrol the streets. Even this hasn’t stopped the bloodbath. Last month more than 240 people perished in this murderous metropolis. The Mayor says something drastic needs to be done and he supports segments of the proposed UAV’s program.
The Ottawa Citizen September
New York Times
Ciudad Juarez Mayor, JosÃ© Reyes Ferriz
Open source Mexican newspapers