A Law Enforcement Crisis in the Making
September 10, 2008
National Association Of Former Border Patrol Officers

A crisis looms for U.S. law enforcement and our society, one unlike anything in this nation’s history.

It is not inevitable, but unless action is undertaken soon to forestall the crisis, it will come to pass. It originates with the demand for illegal drugs. It is a demand that will be filled, and because those drugs are illegal, it is a market that will be managed by criminals.

Because the profits are staggering, those who deal in illegal drugs at the wholesale level draw no lines in what they will do to those who interfere in their trade.

Our concerns originate with Mexico. While individual instances of violence in Mexico draw occasional interest from U.S. media, the American public is generally uninformed about the degree to which drug cartels are using terrorism to challenge Mexico’s government for control of their streets and institutions. Mexican media daily describes events that are bloody and violent beyond civilized comprehension. Viewed day after day after day they paint a bleak picture of a society under assault. The cartels are better financed, better equipped, and often more highly motivated than the police. They have the advantage of drawing no lines about what they will do to whom.

The cartels have assassinated police at the highest level and the lowest, and the assaults extend beyond law enforcement. On August 28, 2008, for example, Milenio, a major newspaper in Mexico City, reported that 71 police officers had been assassinated that month in Mexico. That is more than are killed across the U.S. in a year. In the state of Chihuahua alone, 206 civilians were murdered in that period.

Police, prosecutors, judges, newspapermen, and even clerics are targets. Cartel gunmen have murdered them in front of their families, on the road, in restaurants, and in their own beds. They have murdered families, both incidentally and by way of example. They torture before they kill. They behead after, or while, they kill—last week eleven bodies were found neatly stacked, all without heads, outside Merida, Yucatan. The heads were found later, burned.

There have been firefights with military small arms in the streets of major cities that are military engagements in all but name. Bodies are left scattered like leaves to terrify and discourage others. They publish hit lists and make good on them. Officers fear for their lives to the degree that in Ojocaliente, Zacatecas, recently 51 officers resigned en masse. That is not the first, or even the largest, instance of flight. This month, one-third of the officers (400 total) of the Juarez, Chihuahua, police department were fired for being “unreliable.