Monday, August 08, 2011

Report: Mexican drug cartels adopting military tactics

Mexican drug cartels are using military weapons and tactics while also recruiting Texas teenagers to carry out their operations, which are evolving into full-blown criminal enterprises, experts said. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said last week in a report given to Congress that the cartels "incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades." McCraw testified that the cartels are recruiting youths in high schools to commit crimes for them. "The border region constitutes 9.4 percent of the state's population and now has nearly 19 percent of the juvenile felony drug and gang referrals," he told the committee without elaborating. Four years ago, U.S. federal agents arrested a high school graduate and accused him of belonging to a student-led drug-trafficking ring in east El Paso County. Agents said that 15 to 20 students were recruited and paid about $1,500 to drive vehicles across the border from Juárez and $3,500 more to drive loads to Oklahoma City. Earlier this year, U.S. border officials intercepted a 16-year-old El Paso boy who was driving a vehicle from Juárez that had a hidden compartment packed with illegal drugs. "While conditions are substantially similar, we have noticed a disturbing trend where the cartels have been increasing threats to U.S. law enforcement officers," McCraw said Wednesday. Nearly all of the experts who testified before Congress said that the Zetas cartel is the most dangerous group and that cartel disputes pose grave dangers for the U.S. border...more

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