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Mexican Incursions into the US!

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Via(Michael Yon)

Mexican Government in the Drug Business?

A concerned reader sent me this CNN video link on Youtube.  Please view this very disturbing piece: Mexican Incursions into the US.

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

No Proof Guns are from U.S.!!

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How can Secretary Of State Clinton claim that the U.S. is mostly or even partially to blame for Mexico’s Drug War if there is no proof been presented by Mexico if the first place?  This is just a stunt to try and past legislation that will hurt Gun Rights in the U.S. and will do NOTHING to keep the guns out of the drug cartels.

Where the blame for Mexico’s illegal guns problem really lies

By Jeff Riley

In his article “Mexico’s drug violence is hard on Arizona”, Washington Post columnist George Will is one of the latest columnists to repeat the myth that American gun stores along the border are the main source for Mexico’s drug cartels.

Mr. Will is late to the party and misinformed.

This meme started appearing as far back as the summer of 2008 when the Los Angeles Times started publishing a continuing series of stories titled “Mexico under Siege”.

Time and time again the U.S. is blamed for our “lax” gun laws that supposedly allow guns and money to flow south into Mexico, while drugs and human smugglers flow north into the U.S.

It’s almost like a coordinated effort exists among the Brady Center, anti-gun news agencies, and the Obama administration to drum up negative press consisting of half-truths, distortions, and downright lies.

Some of the wildest accusations are that Arizona gun stores were supplying fully automatic weapons (assault rifles or even machine guns), grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades! All of which is blatantly false and unsubstantiated.

All this came to a head when U.S. Attorney Eric Holder floated the idea that it was time to revive the now-defunct Clinton Gun Ban which expired in 2004. From MSNBC:

The attorney general also suggested that re-instituting a U.S. ban on the sale of assault weapons would help reduce the bloodshed in Mexico, where last year 6,000 people were killed in drug-related violence…U.S. officials have a responsibility to make sure Mexican police “are not fighting substantial numbers of weapons, or fighting against AK-47s or other similar kinds of weapons that have been flowing to Mexico,” Holder said.

Now we see George Will is repeating the meme:

But although almost all the cartels’ weapons come from the United States, the cartels are generating upward of $15 billion annually from drugs, human trafficking and extortion.

Nowhere does Will mention that the Mexican authorities have yet to provide serial numbers or trace data proving that most of these weapons originated from the U.S.

Of the 6,600 gun dealers who operate along the 2000 mile border only one (X-Caliber Guns) is singled out by Will as being suspected of selling firearms to straw purchasers, who then illegally sell or smuggle weapons across the border.

Ironically, the same morning Will’s column appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, The Arizona Republic reported:

State prosecutors suffered a public setback in efforts to combat border violence Wednesday when a judge dismissed high-profile charges against a Phoenix gun dealer accused of arming Mexican cartels.

The case against George Iknadosian, owner of X-Caliber Guns, had been covered on national TV broadcasts and in stories by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

But in mid-trial, all 21 counts were dismissed by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield, who decided he had found a flaw in the government’s case.

Gottsfield dismissed jurors and granted acquittal in response to a so-called Rule 20 motion sought by Baker. Under Arizona law, Rule 20 holds that a case must be thrown out if the state’s evidence is inadequate for conviction.

“There is no proof whatsoever that any prohibited (firearm) possessor ended up with the firearms,” he said.

Now the truth is staring to come out, and it seems that even the L.A. Times is starting to understand where the problem really lies. From “Drug cartels’ new weaponry means war”:

Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals.

Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi auto-matic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The proliferation of heavier armaments points to a menacing new stage in the Mexican government’s 2-year-old war against drug organizations, which are evolving into a more militarized force prepared to take on Mexican army troops, deployed by the thousands, as well as to attack each other.

These groups appear to be taking advantage of a robust global black market and porous borders, especially between Mexico and Guatemala. (emphasis added)

Incredulously some think that restricting the rights of American gun owners due to Mexico’s inability to control its own criminals is a perfectly rational response.

Flush with cash, drug cartels are going to be able to get any kind of weapons they desire and restricting the ownership of legally owned firearms in the U.S. is not going to even slow them down. Consider the fact the Columbian drug runners have been utilizing submarines of their own manufacture to smuggle drugs. Each one of these subs is estimated to cost $1 million to manufacture. How can they afford this? In 2007 when the first sub was captured, it was carrying 5 tons of cocaine worth an estimated $350 million.

While George’s column is not explicitly anti-gun, and is more focused on the violence that illegal drugs is bringing to Arizona’s citizens, he does repeat inaccurate information that unfairly demonizes gun dealers along the border. Fortunately Americans aren’t buying into the lie that we are the source of Mexico’s problems. Last week, 65 Democratic legislators have sent a letter to the Attorney General advising him that they will not support a renewed “Assault Weapons” ban and chastise him for trying to use Mexico’s problems as a pretext for restricting American’s rights.

I would suggest that if the Adminstration is that worried about violence and drugs spilling accross the borders into the U.S. they should do something really constructive……like build a fence along the whole border and hire more Border Patrol agents.

Jeff Riley is a Southwest Ohio volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.

Here is another article that was well written and has some great information, and comments about why we can’t just believe everything we are being fed about the cartels getting the deadly weapons from the U.S.

Mexican Drug Cartels: Where Are They Getting Their Weapons?

By  Timothy V.

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Mexican Cartel Use US Teens as Hit Men!

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Via(National Terror Alert)

Police: U.S. Teens Were Hit Men For Mexican Cartel

cartel_hitmen-us-teens

Prosecutors say they quickly discovered these two teenagers were homegrown assassins, hired to carry out the dirty work of the notorious Gulf Cartel.

“There are sleeper cells in the U.S.,” said Detective Garcia. “They’re here, they’re here in the United States.”

The cases against Cardona and Reta — both are in prison serving long prison sentences for murder — shed new light into the workings of the drug cartels.

Prosecutor and investigators say Reta and Cardona were recruited into a group called “Los Zetas,” a group made up of former members of the Mexican special military forces. They’re considered ruthless in how they carry out attacks. “Los Zetas” liked what they saw in Cardona and Reta.

Both teenagers received six-month military-style training on a Mexican ranch. Investigators say Cardona and Reta were paid $500 a week each as a retainer, to sit and wait for the call to kill. Then they were paid up to $50,000 and 2 kilos of cocaine for carrying out a hit.

The teenagers lived in several safe houses around Laredo and drove around town in a $70,000 Mercedes-Benz.

Source

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

U.S. Citizen Beheaded In Mexico!

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Via(NationalTerrorAlert)

U.S. Citizen Beheaded In Apparent Mexico Drug Hit

A U.S. citizen was one of the three men who were found decapitated this week in Tijuana, Mexican authorities said Friday.

The body of George Harrison, a 38-year-old former Chula Vista resident, had been dismembered and mutilated and was dumped in a vacant lot near Tijuana’s beachside bullring.

Authorities said they suspected that it was an organized crime hit.

Harrison had several drug-related convictions in the United States and was suspected of drug trafficking in Mexico, Baja California Assistant Atty. General Rafael Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said Harrison had been living in the Tijuana area since his release from a U.S. prison six months ago. He owned a pizzeria in Tijuana, from which he was abducted, Gonzalez said.

Authorities who searched Harrison’s business found four weapons, including a .38-caliber handgun.

Alongside the bodies, authorities discovered a taunting narco-message similar to others left at crime scenes in the battles among rival organized crime groups.

Source

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Due to Drug War, Help Needed On U.S. Border!

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Via(Washington Times)

Homeland security: Help needed on U.S. border

The drug war is on.

On the same day that the secretary of homeland security told Congress that drug-related violence along the Mexican border had grown beyond the ability of the department to handle, the DEA announced an operation against a major Mexican drug cartel that netted more than 750 suspects – almost all of them in the U.S.

“I believe this is going to require more than the Department of Homeland Security,” Janet Napolitano said Wednesday during her first Capitol Hill appearance since her confirmation last month as homeland security secretary.

“So we are reaching out to the national security adviser, to the attorney general and others about how we within the United States make sure we are doing all we can in a coordinated way to support the president of Mexico,” said Ms. Napolitano, explaining that containing border-related drug violence will require more than the 22 agencies and 200,000 employees in her department.

TWT RELATED STORY: 755 arrested in drug cartel operation

Border violence, which claimed more than 1,000 lives in January and about 6,000 in 2008, is already on the radar of Pentagon and CIA officials, who have told The Washington Times of their involvement in the current crisis in Mexico and say they are watching developments closely.

U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that the effects of the global economic crisis on Mexico have helped narcotics traffickers recruit more people and corrupt more Mexican officials.

At his first meeting with reporters Wednesday, new CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said that Mexico was a “priority” for the agency.

“Mexico is an area of concern because of the drug wars going on there,” Mr. Panetta said. “The president [of Mexico] has courageously taken on that issue, but nevertheless, it’s an area that we are paying attention to, a lot of attention to.”

Meanwhile Wednesday, Justice Department officials announced the arrest of 755 people associated with Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel as part of a two-year probe dubbed “Operation Xcellerator.” The operation also netted $59 million, 12,000 kilograms of cocaine, 16,000 pounds of marijuana and about 1.3 million Ecstasy pills.

But as a measure of how thoroughly Mexico’s deadly drug gangs have entrenched themselves in the U.S., Justice Department officials said only 20 of the arrests took place in Mexico, with the rest taking place north of the border.

And in a specific example of the spread of Mexican drug-gang violence across the U.S., a confidential Department of Homeland Security advisory said an assassination attempt on a South Carolina deputy sheriff was the work of three illegal immigrants as part of a Mexican-American gang with ties to the drug trade.

Lexington County, S.C., Deputy Sheriff Ted Xanthakis and his K-9, Arcos, both survived the ambush by three men armed with a 12-gauge shotgun during a Feb. 8 incident in West Columbia, S.C.

Two of the men were identified in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report as members of the Surenos gang, or SUR-13, a collection of hundreds of Mexican-American street gangs with origins in the oldest barrios of Southern California and which federal law enforcement agencies accuse of involvement in smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants.

Violence on the Mexican border and its reverberations throughout the U.S. are emerging as one of the gravest and least expected problems confronting the Obama administration, a point that was made by President George W. Bush in a late December interview with The Washington Times.

Mr. Obama will need to deal “with these drug cartels in our own neighborhood,” Mr. Bush said. “And the front line of the fight will be Mexico. The drug lords will continue to search for a soft underbelly. And one of the things that future presidents are going to have to make sure of is that they don’t find a safe haven in parts of Central America.”

In her testimony Wednesday, Ms. Napolitano sounded a similar note, saying: “I’ve actually found the situation in Mexico one of the top priority items on my desk. It was on my desk when I was governor of Arizona, but as the secretary of homeland security, I see it in a much broader way.”

Thousands of Mexican troops have been sent to the border by President Felipe Calderon to patrol drug routes and bust drug runners.

But the drug cartels have retaliated at levels of violence never before seen, and Ms. Napolitano warned that failure could turn Mexico’s border areas into a war zone that the central government cannot effectively control, as happened in Colombia.

“They’ve been targeting in some of those homicides public officials [and] law enforcement officers as a process of intimidation,” Ms. Napolitano said.

The homeland security chief has already met with Mexico’s attorney general and the U.S. ambassador there, and said the U.S. is “working to support President Calderon in his efforts.”

“That is primarily the product of the president of Mexico and his government going after these large drug cartels, so that we never run the risk, never run the risk of Mexico descending into, say, where Colombia was 15 years ago,” Ms. Napolitano said.

The cocaine trade turned Colombia into a battle zone, with the Medellin and Cali cartels able to attack the highest levels of Colombian politics with kidnappings and assassinations.

The U.S. has spent billions of dollars on anti-drug efforts, and teamed up with the Colombian government to knock down cocaine production, but to this day the national government in Bogota does not effectively control large parts of the country, where the drug-linked Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the de facto government.

U.S. officials will focus in particular on the traffic of guns and cash from the U.S. to Mexico to support “these very, very violent cartels,” Ms. Napolitano said.

“I believe our country has a vital relationship with Mexico, and I believe that Mexico right now has issues of violence that are of a different degree and level than we’ve ever seen before,” she said.

“But in my view, from a homeland security standpoint, this is going to be an issue, working with Mexico, that is going to be of real priority interest over these coming months,” Ms. Napolitano said.

The Obama administration says that the drug-gang violence on the U.S. side of the border does not match what is going on in Mexico’s border states, but says there is a contingency plan in place that will not include militarizing the U.S. side of the boundary.

• Sara A. Carter, Ben Conery and Jerry Seper contributed to this report.

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R Bootie

Texas Preparing For Mexican Drug Violence!!

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Via(NationalTerrorAlert)

Mexican Drug Violence Has Crossed U.S. Border, State Officials Say

mexican_police

The violence associated with Mexican drug cartels is now spilling over onto the America side of the border in Arizona and Texas, state officials have admitted.

The New York Times reports that Arizona has seen a dramatic spike in drug-related abductions, home invasions, and even men dressed in SWAT gear wielding military-grade weaponry.

A home invasion here last year was carried out by attackers wielding military-style rifles and dressed in uniforms similar to a Phoenix police tactical unit. The discovery of grenades and other military-style weaponry bound for Mexico is becoming more routine, as is hostage-taking and kidnapping for ransom, law enforcement officials said.

The Phoenix police regularly receive reports involving a border-related kidnapping or hostage-taking in a home.

The Maricopa County attorney’s office said such cases rose to 241 last year from 48 in 2004, though investigators are not sure of the true number because they believe many crimes go unreported.

The violence, said Commander Dan Allen of the State Department of Public Safety, is “reaching into Arizona, and that is what is really alarming local and state law enforcement.”

In Texas, state Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw told the El Paso Times that drug violence has indeed crossed the border.

“Yes, absolutely it has occurred; there’s no question about it,” he said.

The violence has led Governor Rick Perry to request an additional $135 million for border security from the state legislature.

This admission comes after news that Texas activated the lowest stage of its border security plan after protests and violence broke out in Mexican border towns last week and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, told reporters last Thursday that drug-related violence has not crossed the Mexican-American border.

“Right now it has not (crossed the border). But it is a contingency we have in mind because it could,” she said. “We have contingency plans should violence spread into the United States.”

Read Full Article

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Jason R. Bootie

Mexicans Seek Protection in U.S.!

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Via(FoxNews)

Surge in Asylum Seeking Mexicans Taxing Already Overworked Immigration System

Federal immigration officials are reporting a surge in the number of Mexicans crossing the border to seek asylum in the U.S., an increase analysts say is due to the drug violence and criminal activity that claimed a record 5,300 lives in Mexico last year.

The surge creates a huge workload for immigration officials, since American law prevents sending asylum-seekers home before they have gone through a month long legal process, which almost always proves fruitless. Most of the asylum-seekers wind up being found ineligible and sent back over the border.

But first they must fill out paperwork to apply for asylum. Then they are fingerprinted and go through background checks. After an applicant receives an interview notice, he is interviewed by an asylum officer from Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, to determine his eligibility. Once the asylum officer makes a decision, his supervisor must review it. Only then does an applicant receive a decision.

That process is expensive, since each case can take up to four months to resolve, and American taxpayers pay to keep the asylum-seekers in protective custody while they await a decision, which almost always isn’t in their favor.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2,231 Mexicans sought asylum in the United States in fiscal 2008 – up from 1,366 in 2006, before drug violence in Mexico began to escalate. And it is not just the number of applicants that is increasing – the number of approved applications has more than doubled from 61 in 2006 to 123 in 2008.

“The issue of asylum claims is one part of a number of signs we’re seeing that are the results of border violence,” says Michael Friel, director of media relations at Customs and Border Protection.

Few of the Mexicans are actually eligible to be given asylum status. According to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, those seeking asylum in the United States must face persecution in their homeland based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinions.

Escaping violence from drug wars does not make a person eligible to be granted asylum in the U.S.

“Fleeing violence in a particular region of Mexico doesn’t provide me a basis to claim asylum under our immigration laws,” says Kathleen Walker, immigration attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association in El Paso Texas.

The process for seeking asylum is strict; an applicant has to prove not only that he is being persecuted in his country of origin, but that he also has a “credible fear” of persecution. He must also prove that there is nowhere in his country that he can go.

“If I can go to another area of Mexico, and it’s not something that is countrywide, then the element of persecution is not going to be established,” Walker told FOXNews.com. “CBP has to assess whether or not this person belongs to a particular class, they have a particular political belief, or whatever it may be that one can fall into the grounds that one can be granted asylum on. Just because you’re fleeing generic violence is not a grounds to seek asylum and have it granted.”

But some human rights activists say the asylum-seekers deserve assistance once they’re here, regardless of whether they are in fact eligible.

“People who are fleeing violence often have special needs, and before you can even consider the political issues that come with it, the first response should be how you help these people with their basic needs,” says Cynthia Buiza, Director of Policy and Advocacy for CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

“If there is a need from a very vulnerable population, such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, I think there’s just this most basic moral, ethical responsibility to help people who have, who are in a dire situation like that.”

But those working to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. disagree.

“This is going to be part of their ploy, part of their plan,” says Al Garza, President of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, a citizens organization whose members patrol the border to alert Border Patrol agents to illegal immigrants entering the country.

Garza believes that the Mexicans’ requests for asylum are just another way for aliens jumping the fence to get into the U.S. without going through the proper channels.

“They use all these excuses that they come up with – that (seeking asylum from violence) would obviously be one of them,” he said.

Immigration lawyers say they don’t believe the U.S. will reach a point where it cannot afford to keep all of the asylum-seekers here, but they do agree that the immigration system will be heavily strained. Already, asylum officers are working with insufficient resources to process the number of applicants.

According to a 2005 survey by the Immigration Policy Center, 93 percent of surveyed asylum officers said they routinely worked overtime, without pay, in order to avoid a backlog of cases. Some also said that they didn’t have enough time to thoroughly address each case, leading to the fear that they may have made wrong decisions in granting asylum.

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Jury Awards Illegal Aliens Money!

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Jury: Rancher didn’t violate illegal immigrants’ rights

TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal jury found Tuesday that a southern Arizona rancher didn’t violate the civil rights of a group of illegal immigrants who said he detained them at gunpoint in 2004.

The eight-member civil jury also found Roger Barnett wasn’t liable on claims of battery and false imprisonment.

But the jury did find him liable on four claims of assault and four claims of infliction of emotional distress and ordered Barnett to pay $77,804 in damages — $60,000 of which were punitive.

Barnett declined to comment afterward, but one of his attorneys, David Hardy, said the plaintiffs lost on the bulk of their claims and that Barnett has a good basis for appeal on the two counts on which he lost.

“They won a fraction of the damages they were seeking,” Hardy said.

All six plaintiffs are citizens of Mexico, five of whom are living in the United States with visa applications pending, and the sixth resides in Mexico but was allowed into the U.S. for the trial, said Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She declined to say where in the U.S. they’re residing.

Perales called the outcome “a resounding victory that sends a message that vigilante violence against immigrants will not be tolerated.”

David Urias, attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “Obviously we are disappointed with some aspects of the verdict. But I think that overall this was a victory for the plaintiffs.”

For years, Arizona has been the busiest point along the Mexican border for illegal immigrants entering the United States.

For more than a decade, Barnett has been a controversial figure in southern Arizona. He’s known for aggressively patrolling his ranch property and along highways and roads in the area, often with his wife and brothers, on the lookout for illegal immigrants.

The plaintiffs alleged that Barnett threatened them with his dog and told them he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.

Barnett’s lawyers argued that his land was inundated with illegal immigrants who left trash on his property, damaged his water supply and harmed his cattle.

Barnett’s wife and a brother were dismissed as defendants; in addition, 10 more people initially named as plaintiffs were dropped from the proceedings.

Barnett has been known to wear a holstered 9-mm pistol on his hip and upon coming across groups of migrants, to flash a blue and gold badge resembling that of the highway patrol, with the wording “Barnett Ranch Patrol. Cochise County. State of Arizona.”

The Barnetts detain and turn over those whom they encounter to the U.S. Border Patrol. In 2006, Barnett estimated that he had detained more than 10,000 illegal immigrants in 10 years.

His actions have resulted in formal complaints from the Mexican government against what it considers vigilante actions, and in several other lawsuits, including one stemming from an October 2004 incident.

In that case, a jury awarded a family of Mexican-Americans on a hunting trip $100,000 in damages, later upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Barnett’s 22,000-acre ranch, about five miles north of the Mexican border, includes private and federal lease holdings in addition to nearly 14,000 acres of state-leased land.

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

Top Ten Terror Threats

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Via(Homeland Security News)

CIA Director: Top Ten Terror Threats

homegrown_terrorism

Outgoing CIA Chief Michael Hayden lists Top Ten Terror Threats

1. Al Qaeda: “It is the organization that has the capacity to most threaten the physical safety of America and Americans. So it remains job No. 1. And we have talked about some successes and so on, but it is resilient, and therefore we have to continue to keep an eye on Al Qaeda,” he said.

2. Violence in Mexico: “Our good friend and neighbor Mexico had this horrible surge in violence that may cause — in fact has caused — us to talk with our Mexican friends, in more meaningful and deeper ways, to discover ways that we can cooperate against what we now view to be, and has always been, a common problem. …

“What you’ve got is President Calderon, very heroically, taking on drug cartels that I think everyone agrees threaten certainly the well-being of the Mexican people and the Mexican state, and taking them on in a very, very progressive way. Now, it is not quite the same thing as Colombia, where you had a politically motivated movement, the FARC, merging with narcotics organizations. Here it is largely in the business of crime but the effects could be just as dangerous, certainly to the well-being of the Mexican people.”

3. Iran’s nuclear program: “I included Iran, in terms of as they move forward in their own decision-making process, as they continue to churn out LEU, low enriched uranium, they do it at great cost, diplomatically and economically with regard to sanctions. They seem to be doing it with a purpose. As that quantity of that stockpile grows, you would think that at some point in that process, they are going to have to make a decision as to what it is they are going to do with it. So that is something we have to keep a close eye on as well.”

Read the rest of the Top 10 here:

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The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

No R&R in Tijuana for U.S. Marines!

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Tijuana off-limits to U.S. Marines

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — For tens of thousands of U.S. Marines in Southern California, new orders from the brass amount to: Baghdad si, Tijuana no.

Citing a wave of violence and murder in Mexico, the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton has made the popular military “R&R” destinations of Tijuana and nearby beaches effectively off-limits for his Marines.

The order by Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland restricts travel into Mexico by the 44,000 members of the unit, many of whom have had multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones under their belts — or are there now.

The limits were first put in place for the Christmas holiday. Last week the commander extended the order indefinitely, said Mike Alvarez, civilian public information officer for the unit at Camp Pendleton.

“The situation in Mexico is now more dangerous than usual,” he said. “The intent is just to look out for the Marines’ safety and well-being.”

Tijuana has been a popular attraction for Californians since Prohibition days, when legal liquor was unavailable north of the border. In more recent times, its 18-year-old drinking age, cheap prices, gambling, beaches, tourist-oriented businesses and bars have attracted civilians and off-duty military from the San Diego area and elsewhere.

San Diego, heavy with Navy and Marine presence, adjoins the Mexican border and Camp Pendleton is in northern San Diego County, about 50 miles from the border.

Fallen on hard times

These days, sidewalk restaurants along Tijuana’s main tourist street, Avenida Revolucion, often are empty. Tourists are buffeted by barkers and merchants desperate for U.S. dollars. Visitors may be approached with offers of drugs or prostitution as well.

Tijuana, like Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, has been hit particularly hard by the drug violence that has spread across Mexico. Tijuana saw its bloodiest year ever in 2008 with 843 killings, compared with 337 the previous year.

The violence in Tijuana grew toward the end of last year and continued this year with numerous execution-style slayings. Many of the bodies were found decapitated. The State Department has issued a travel alert for Americans going to Mexico.

Officials from the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana regularly check with Mexican police and jails for Americans in trouble, and U.S. military Shore Patrol officers check daily. Alvarez said “there have been incidents from time to time” but did not know how many Marines have gotten into trouble.

Helland’s directive requires written approval from a lieutenant colonel or higher-ranking officer for travel across the border — whether for official business, to visit family or for leisure, known in the military as rest and relaxation, or R&R.

Marines venturing over the border also must complete anti-terrorism training, receive a military security briefing and “use the buddy system,” that is travel with a companion 18 or older, according to Helland’s order.

Most of the affected Marines are at Pendleton, but some are at other bases in Southern California and Arizona. And 13,500 members of the unit are currently deployed overseas, said Alvarez, a retired captain and helicopter pilot who served three tours in Iraq.

As part of the order, Marines who cross the border on approved travel must carry contact information for the U.S. Consulate General and the Border Shore Patrol.

The restrictions don’t apply to the more than 75,000 active duty Navy sailors in the area, but they are required to inform their chains of command if they cross the border, said Lt. (j.g.) Lenaya Rotklein, public affairs officer for the Navy Region Southwest Command at San Diego.

For Marines, the order is enforceable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Violators could face a court-martial.

“It’s a lawful order,” Alvarez says. “As Marines, we obey lawful orders.”

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie