Sometimes, sophisticated moneylaundering schemes, such as tradebased deals, are used; but large parts of the proceeds are smuggled as bulk cash hidden in secret compartments and among goods in the cars and trains daily crossing the border south to Mexico. Some 70 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico between 20 originated in the United States. And of course it is the. Demand for drugs that fuels Mexican drug smuggling in the first place. Take, for example, the current heroin epidemic in the United States. It originated in the overprescription of medical opiates to treat pain. The subsequent efforts to reduce the overprescription of painkillers led those Americans who became restaurant dependent on them to resort to illegal heroin.
But it was tough going for her and her staff to make the case. As juan had explained to me, a member who refused to do the bidding of resume the gangs could be killed for his failure to cooperate. And America does nothing to stop the weapons coming here! Valeria exclaimed to me. Weapons seized from alleged drug traffickers in Mexico city. While President Trump accuses Mexico of exporting violent crime and drugs to the United States, many mexican officials as well as people like valeria, who are on the ground in the fight against the drug wars, complain of a tide of violence and corruption that. Some 70 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico between 20 originated in the United States. Although amounting to over 73,000 guns, these seizures still likely represented only a fraction of the weapons smuggled from the United States. Moreover, billions of dollars per year are made in the illegal retail drug market in the United States and smuggled back to mexico, where the cartels depend on this money for their basic operations.
Walking around the contested colonías at the time was like touring a cemetery: Residents would point out places where people were killed the day before, three days before, five weeks ago. Juan, a skinny 19yearold whom I met there that year, told me that he was trying to get out of a local gang (the name of which he wouldnt reveal). He had started working for the gang as a halcone (a lookout) when he was 15, he said. But now as the drug war raged in the city and the local gangs were pulled into the infighting between the big cartels, his friends in the gang were being asked to do much more than he wanted to do—to kill. Without any training, they were given assault weapons. Having no shooting skills, they just sprayed bullets in the vicinity of their assigned targets, hoping that at least some of the people they killed would be the ones they were supposed to kill, because if they didnt succeed, they themselves might be murdered. I met juan through Valeria, whose ngo was trying to help gang members like juan get on the straight and narrow.
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We search cars and cars, snarl up the zen traffic for hours on, and find nothing. Customs and Border Protection officer patrols some of the 24 lanes of traffic entering the. From Mexico at San Ysidro. Beyond the sinaloa cartel, 44 other significant criminal groups operate today in Mexico. The infighting within and among them has made mexico one of the worlds most essay violent countries. In 2016 alone this violence claimed between 21,000 and 23,000 lives.
Between 20, a staggering 177,000 people were murdered in Mexico, a number that could actually be much higher, as many bodies are buried in mass graves that are hidden and never found. Those mexican border cities that are principal entry points of drugs into the Unites States have been particularly badly affected by the violence. Take ciudad juárez, for example. Directly across the border from peaceful El Paso. Ciudad juárez was likely the worlds most violent city when I was there in 2011 and it epitomizes what can happen during these drug wars. In 2011 the sinaloa cartel was battling the local juárez cartel, trying to take over the citys smuggling routes to the United States, and causing a veritable bloodbath.
But even if the land border were to become much more secure, that would only intensify the trend toward smuggling goods as well as people via boats that sail far to the north, where they land on the california coast. 224, the number of tunnels unearthed at the xico border, 19902016. Another thing to consider is that a barrier in the form of a wall is increasingly irrelevant to the drug trade as it is now practiced because most of the drugs smuggled into the. From Mexico no longer arrive on the backs of those who cross illegally. Instead, according to the. Drug Enforcement Administration, most of the smuggled marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines comes through the 52 legal ports of entry on the border.
These ports have to process literally millions of people, cars, trucks, and trains every week. Traffickers hide their illicit cargo in secret, stateofthe art compartments designed for cars, or under legal goods in trailer trucks. And they have learned many techniques for fooling the border patrol. Mike, a grizzled. Border official whom i interviewed in El Paso in 2013, shrugged: The narcos sometimes tip us off, letting us find a car full of drugs while they send six other cars elsewhere. Such writeoffs are part of their business expense. Other times the tipoffs are false.
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Why the wall wouldnt stop smuggling, why the dhs believes that a 30foot tall wall cannot be scaled and a tunnel cannot be built deeper than six feet below ground is not clear. Drug smugglers have been using tunnels to get drugs into the United States ever since mexicos most famous drug trafficker, joaquín El Chapo guzmán of the sinaloa cartel, pioneered the method in 1989. And the sophistication of these tunnels has only grown over time. In April 2016,. Law enforcement officials discovered beauty a drug tunnel that ran more than half a mile from Tijuana to san diego and was equipped with ventilation vents, rails, and electricity. It is the longest such tunnel to be found so far, but one of 13 of great length and technological expertise discovered since 2006. Altogether, between 19, 224 tunnels have been unearthed at the xico border. Other smuggling methods increasingly include the use of drones and catapults as well as joint drainage systems between border towns that have wide tunnels or tubes through which people can crawl and drugs can be pulled.
Otherwise, youre stuck here farming or logging and starving. Construction cost estimates* *The above figures show the upper estimate when a range fundamental was suggested. Costs do not include annual maintenance. Any attempt to seize the remittances from such families would be devastating. Fluctuating between 20 billion and 25 billion annually during the past decade, remittances from the United States have amounted to about 3 percent of Mexicos gdp, representing the thirdlargest source of foreign revenue after oil and tourism. The remittances enable human and economic development throughout the country, and this in turn reduces the incentives for further migration to the United States—precisely what Trump is aiming to do. A tunnel between Tijuana and a warehouse in California featured an elevator.
ago, she said. The remittances he sent allowed Rosas grandchildren to get medical treatment at the nearest clinic, some thirty miles away. Like rosa, many people in the village had male relatives working illegally in the United States in order to help their families make ends meet. Sierra de Atoyac may be paradise for a birdwatcher (which i am but guerrero is one of Mexicos poorest, most neglected, and crime and violenceridden states. Here you have few chances, rosa explained. If youre smart, like my son, you make it across the border to the. If youre not so smart, you join the narcos. If youre stupid, but lucky, you join the municipal police.
Mountainous terrain along the. S.-Mexico border is an obstacle to william building a wall. Depicted here: a stretch of border about 100 miles east of San Diego. The Trump administration cannot simply seize remittances to mexico to pay for the wall; doing so may increase flows of undocumented workers to the United States. Remittances provide many mexicans with amenities they could never afford otherwise. But for Mexicans living in poverty—some.2 percent in 2015 according to the mexican social research agency coneval—the remittances are a veritable lifeline which can represent as much as 80 percent of their income. These families count on that money for the basics of life—food, clothing, health care, and education for their children. The remittances enable human and economic development throughout the country, and this in turn reduces the incentives for further migration to the United States — precisely what Trump is aiming to do.
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What the wall dream s price tag would be, the wall comes with many costs, some obvious though hard to estimate, some unforeseen. The most obvious is the large financial outlay required to build it, in whatever form it eventually takes. Although during the election campaign candidate Trump claimed that the wall would cost only 12 billion, a department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal report in February put the cost.6 billion, but that may be a major underestimate. The estimates vary so widely because of the lack of clarity about what the wall will actually consist of beyond the first meager Homeland Security specifications that it be either a solid concrete wall or a seethrough structure, physically imposing in height, ideally 30 feet. But that description doesnt begin to cover questions about the details of its physical structure. Then there are the legal fees required to seize land on which to build the wall. The Trump administration can use eminent domain to acquire the land but will still have to negotiate compensation and often face lawsuits. More than 90 such lawsuits in southern Texas alone are still open from the 2008 effort to build a fence there.