I testified today before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee about the cycle of guns, drugs, and violence in Mexico. A segment of my testimony is below, and you can download the entire testimony here.
"The Mexican cartels’ ‘corporate’ headquarters are set up South of our border, and thanks to corruption, cartel leaders often carry out their work in palatial surroundings. The cartel leaders manage and direct the daily activities of ‘command and control cells’ that are typically located just across the border in our Country. Those command and control cells manage and direct the daily activities of ‘distribution, transportation and money laundering cells’ all across our Nation.
The cartels operate just like terrorist organizations, with extremely complex organizational structures, consisting of highly compartmentalized cells: distribution cells, transportation cells, money laundering cells, and in some cases assassination cells or ‘hit squads.’ Many experts believe Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking organizations are far more sophisticated, operationally and organizationally, then Middle Eastern terrorist organizations. In fact, some experts believe that Middle Eastern terrorist organizations actually copied the drug trafficking cartels’ sophisticated organizational model for their advantage. This sophisticated organizational model continues to thwart law enforcement and security services around the globe. Cell members are so compartmentalized that they possess little, if any knowledge of the greater organizations that encircle and support their nodes; therefore, they can share little of value with law enforcement when apprehended.
The Mexican cartels rely heavily on three of their most important tradecraft tools to maintain power: corruption, intimidation and violence—the ‘hallmarks of organized crime.’ If they can’t corrupt you, they will intimidate you; if that doesn’t work, they will turn to brutal violence. Without the hallmarks of organized crime, the cartels simply cannot effectively operate. The Mexican cartels spend hundreds of millions of dollars to corrupt each year, and they have succeeded in corrupting virtually every level of the Mexican government. If anyone believes for one minute that these powerful syndicates are not looking north into the United States to corrupt—they’re obviously blind. We are already experiencing a spillover of drug related violence, and it’s not just in communities along our SWB. It’s also playing out in places like Atlanta, Chicago, Omaha, Seattle, Maui and Anchorage.
We must also understand that the Mexican cartels operate with Fortune 100 corporate efficiencies. They are masters at creating demand, expanding their markets and developing a diverse product line. They have pushed into West Africa, into places like Guinea-Bissau, the quintessential example of ungoverned space, and established a transshipment base for the movement of multi-ton quantities of cocaine into the rapidly developing markets of Europe and Russia."