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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Mexican Cartels Have Infiltrated Your City

Cartel operatives move into suburban neighborhoods, until surprised neighbors witness SWAT raids.

April 29, 2013  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

Mexican drug cartels smuggle marijuana into the U.S. in bundles like these. Photo by Paul Clinton.
Mexican drug cartels smuggle marijuana into the U.S. in bundles like these. Photo by Paul Clinton.
Sometimes a new trend identified by the American media is really an old problem that's become so obvious that it can no longer be denied. Suddenly the light switch is turned on, and we see the cockroach infestation. These bugs have been hiding in the dark for a long time.

Mexican drug cartels are now operating deep in the U.S., reports the Associated Press. They're operating not just in the border areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. They're making beach heads in suburban communities near Chicago; Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; and Louisville, Ky. They've also been active in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

Investigative reporters from the Associated Press interviewed dozens of federal agents and local police. They reviewed hundreds of court documents. The results seem to support law enforcement reports of increased cartel presence in numerous non-border cities. Cartel operatives move into tree-lined neighborhoods and appear unremarkable. They try to fit in to the community. Neighbors are often surprised when SWAT teams show up to raid the residence. They watch police cart away large seizures of drugs and weapons.

About 1,700 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Chicago Crime Commission, a non-governmental agency that tracks crime trends in its region, recently named the Sinaloa Cartel's leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, as the city's "Public Enemy No. 1." This title was last held by Al Capone. Unlike Capone, Chapo has probably never set foot in the city. However, the cartel's narcotics have now flooded America's Second City.

This supply of illicit drugs fuels the violent gang turf wars now engulfing Chicago. James O'Grady, the Chicago police commander who oversees narcotics investigations, has said street gang disputes over turf accounted for most of the city's 500 murders in 2012. Jack Riley, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago office, has said the cartel is "probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime." Riley also argues that the cartels should be seen as an underlying cause of Chicago's disturbingly high murder rate.

Chicago gang cop Joe Sparks has been sending me photographs and news articles of Mexican cartel activity in Chicago for several years. Chicago authorities began seeing that the cartels were putting their own "deputies on the ground" in Chicago two or three years ago, said Art Bilek, executive vice president of the Crime Commission. "Chicago became such a massive market ... it was critical that they had firm control."

Firm control meant that they couldn't continue to rely on their American gang partners—their distributers and enforcers. In order to ensure their continued profits and to prevent skimming by middle men, cartel leaders sent Mexican drug cartel members and even members of their own families to the U.S. to run the business. In 2008, Jose Gonzales-Zavala was sent by the La Familia Cartel to the U.S. to oversee wholesale shipments of cocaine to Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. The former taxi cab driver and father of five settled in a middle-class neighborhood in Joliet, southwest of Chicago.

The same Mexican cartel assigned Jorge Guadalupe Ayala-German to provide security for a Chicago-area stash house for $300 a week. He was promised a $35,000 payment once he returned to Mexico. Both men would subsequently be arrested and charged criminally. The wiretap transcripts from law enforcement's electronic surveillance linked them to their Mexican cartel bosses.

To combat the growing problem in Chicago, a joint task force that included 70 federal agents began operating from a new secret location to focus on the point of contact between these suburban-based cartel operatives and the city's street gangs. This is the point where both are most vulnerable to detection. Their meetings can be monitored, and their cell phones tapped.

A massive drug operation run by the La Familia Cartel was discovered in Atlanta's suburban Gwinnett County in 2011. The operational leader, Socorro Hernandez-Rodriguez, has been convicted. In February, Ohio authorities arrested Isaac Eli Perez Neri, who told investigators he was a debt collector for the Sinaloa Cartel.

Once arrested, investigators and prosecutors have had little success in "rolling over" cartel operatives. Mexican cartels have the well-earned reputation in Mexico of terrorist-like murderers. Over 50,000 men, women and children have been slaughtered since the drug wars began. Family members, journalists, and policemen are not spared. Horrific dismemberment and beheadings often intimidate and "send a message" to those who would cross the cartel.

Danny Porter, Gwinnett County's chief prosecutor, told the Associated Press he has tried to entice cartel members to cooperate. Nearly all have declined. Some laughed in his face. "They say, 'We are more scared of them then we are of you. We talk and they boil our family in acid.' Their families are essentially hostages."

Here's the part that irks me most. So far, cartels don't appear to be directly responsible for a large number of murders in the U.S. Before I retired in 2004, Mexican nationals in Los Angeles were murdering as many people (as many as 600 a year) as the prolific gangs. Many of these murders remain unsolved. They haven't been identified as cartel-related cases because professional hit men make the hit and then quickly return to Mexico. Fear of the cartels keeps witnesses from coming forward and identifying the individuals involved. I imagine that many murders in non-border cities haven't been identified as cartel-driven violence. Nobody is gathering these statistics.

In 2008, U.S. cities reported a cartel presence in 230 American communities. By 2011, that number had climbed to 1,200. In my opinion, the Mexican cartel presence can be found in every major U.S. city and most American suburbs where drug and human trafficking flourishes. If you have a large illegal immigrant population, you have cartel activity.

Tags: Mexican Drug Cartels, Sinaloa Cartel, Chicago PD, La Familia Cartel, Prosecutors, Crime Trends, Drug Enforcement


Comments (17)

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17

Capt. Crunch @ 4/30/2013 7:19 PM

Well if you don't close the border things like this happen. Our politicians need to wake up.

Mac @ 4/30/2013 10:16 PM

Closing the border will solve nothing......you can't keep drugs out of federal prisons, how are you going to seal thousands of miles of border? It's funny they mentioned Al Capone.....His power came FROM prohibition. The war on drugs is lost. The cartels hope we will keep fighting it......because their money comes from our drug laws. You cannot treat the drug problem with cops. It's a complete failure.

Jack Betz @ 5/1/2013 12:14 AM

SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW

Boston @ 5/1/2013 3:23 AM

@Capt Crunch Its not just the politicians its us for being dumb at the voting booth and not caring what's happening to our country. The Feds could correct this problem but they chose not to. We have plenty of National Guard, Law Enforcement, active military scattered all over this world. I see North and South Korea don' have a border crossing problem Mac. Liberal Politicans, Muslims and the Cartels will destroy this country and you can take that to the bank unless we vote these people out.

Rob @ 5/1/2013 5:51 AM

Bureaucracy, businesses' desire for cheap labor, bleeding hearts, alternative agendas, and American's quest to heave the right to get high all contribute to this problem. Requiring any employer, financial services provider, banking institution, medical provider, education provider, etc to use the E-Verify system would significantly cut sown on the number of illegal aliens and other predators entering or operating in our country. If that were to happen, getting control of the border would become more manageable, and thus might other problems such as foreign DTOs and perhaps then we could enact meaningful immigration reform.

jway @ 5/1/2013 7:01 AM

Without money the cartels are nothing. And as the bulk of their money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., the obvious thing to do is to legalize marijuana like beer and wine, thus allowing stores to undercut cartel prices and drive them out of the market.

Marijuana's a significantly milder, safer and less addictive alternative to alcohol, so legalizing marijuana like wine will allow people to choose marijuana instead of alcohol which will *reduce* the amount of harm and addiction in society. It's a win-win for everyone! Everyone except the cartels, that is.

Milwoutlaw @ 5/1/2013 7:32 AM

And yet our Ptresident, AG, and Homeland Security Chief tell us the borders safe and secure. border security is disgraceful no matter what these liars and frauds say.

Rick @ 5/1/2013 8:40 AM

E-verify is a waste of time. I'm a former Fed tactical officer, now in the security industry for a high end Club. We started issuing proximtiy ID cards to employees and vendors, but had to check their ID to ensure it was valid before issuing the prox card. I found several illegals that had ID in the name of someone that was a legal citizen or someone that was a legal green card holder. They had presented HR fake green cards with a real person's name on the card as ID, and the HR person accepted the cards, not knowing they were fraudulent. I came along and discovered them. I then went to LaserCards, who makes the green card for the government and had them make us the first civilian green card reader. If the card doesn't fit in the machine or read, we deny the person a prox card ID until they provide a card that reads. The fake cards usually are too wide or too thick to go into the machine. If it does fit, it doesn't have the optical memory to read, so the machine doesn't read it. Sometimes, but not often, the card is real, but doesn't read because the covering over the optical memory is cracked. In that case, I verify through visual inspection if the card is valid and we then issue the ID.

gp cobb @ 5/1/2013 11:42 AM

J Way, you got it figured out, follow the money.

Dave @ 5/2/2013 12:37 AM

Excellent article Rich...Denial does no good...and you just may be in the wrong place at the wrong time with family on an outing as things happen, hot water indeed!

Fresh50 @ 5/29/2013 2:43 PM

I say start hitting these cartels at home. Start taking them apart with drone strikes, special ops groups, send them in to dismantel their operations. War is war!

elvatoloko @ 5/29/2013 3:42 PM

Did you know that some of the money financing the political campaigns of politicians with 'tough on drugs' policies comes from the cartels...they want drugs to remain illegal and want the war on drugs to continue as it is a source of profit for them.
So what is (are) the solution(s)? legalize drugs? NO. Get rid of illegal immigrants NO. What we need is to give law enforcement the means to pursue drug dealers, we need to clean up the financial system so money laundering is hindered, we need to expand and simplify the procedures to seize the assets and proceeds of drug trafficking. Hitting the cartels in the wallet is the best way since the vast majority of judicial sentences are only passed on underlings. The seized drug money and assets should be spent on LEO overtime, training and equipment and to fund expanded interdiction measures, not re-circulated in the general funds of localities...

We also need to combat drug use more effectively. Sentence all drug users to do work of national interest, like repairing potholes, working to improve our infratstructure, cleaning streets and high crime neighborhoods, mandate detox and above all, provide them with an out from the life of drug use and petty dealing. How can we expect people to go to work and leave the trade if all they have to look forward to is a measly job paid at minimum wage, with no benefits without being able to make a living anywhere? Why would they give up making $300-$500 a day to make $400.00 a week? . Effective sentencing must be implemented with severe minimum prison time for dealers. The risk of being imprisoned for a long time is the best deterrent.

Adam Weihauspt @ 5/29/2013 6:18 PM

PROPAGANDA. where are the gringo carteles?

BIG MAMA @ 6/18/2013 12:08 AM

YOU CAN CLOSE THE BORDER (EVEN CHINA DID IT GENERATIONS AGO!): THE FENCE THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BUILT AND WAS PROMISED US (*THAT WE VOTED FOR AND PASSED AND BUSH EVEN SIGNED BUT NEVER BUILT MORE THAN 35 MIS. OUT OF 735 MIS.) IS AN ISRAELI-TYPE FENCE THAT IS 95% SUCCESSFUL. DUNCAN HUNTER, SR. GOT ONE BUILT IN S.D. AND IT IS ALSO 95% SUCCESSFUL AND KEEPS THE ILLEGALS OUT! BUSH ONLY BUILT 35 MIS. OF IT AND AS A SHAM PUT UP "VEHICLE BARRIERS" WHICH ARE 3' HIGH (I HAVE SEEN THEM) AND YOU CAN LIFT YOUR LEG AND WALK OVER IT (A CHILD CAN JUST RUN UNDER IT). WE NEED TO BUILD THE FENCE. BUT OUR GOV'T APPARENTLY WANTS CHEAP LABOR (EVEN THOUGH TERRORISTS, FOREIGN VIOLENT CRIMINALS & CONTAGIOUS DEADLY DISEASES CONTINUE TO SNEAK IN!!!)

BIG MAMA @ 6/18/2013 12:08 AM

YOU CAN CLOSE THE BORDER (EVEN CHINA DID IT GENERATIONS AGO!): THE FENCE THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BUILT AND WAS PROMISED US (*THAT WE VOTED FOR AND PASSED AND BUSH EVEN SIGNED BUT NEVER BUILT MORE THAN 35 MIS. OUT OF 735 MIS.) IS AN ISRAELI-TYPE FENCE THAT IS 95% SUCCESSFUL. DUNCAN HUNTER, SR. GOT ONE BUILT IN S.D. AND IT IS ALSO 95% SUCCESSFUL AND KEEPS THE ILLEGALS OUT! BUSH ONLY BUILT 35 MIS. OF IT AND AS A SHAM PUT UP "VEHICLE BARRIERS" WHICH ARE 3' HIGH (I HAVE SEEN THEM) AND YOU CAN LIFT YOUR LEG AND WALK OVER IT (A CHILD CAN JUST RUN UNDER IT). WE NEED TO BUILD THE FENCE. BUT OUR GOV'T APPARENTLY WANTS CHEAP LABOR (EVEN THOUGH TERRORISTS, FOREIGN VIOLENT CRIMINALS & CONTAGIOUS DEADLY DISEASES CONTINUE TO SNEAK IN!!!)

j @ 9/13/2013 6:45 PM

The problem with hitting these cartels at home is that the us gov mainly cia and fbi are in bed on record with los zetas and seneloa as discovered in fast and furious however what the state ran us media fails to disclose to the sheeple is that for all the guns allowed to cross the borded 100 fold in cocaine is allowed to come back in its a joke and dem and repub globalists are the root of the problem

mike @ 7/5/2014 4:50 PM

Napalm strikes,cluster bomb assaults,b 52 bomber carpet bombing air raids, drone strikes,agent orange jungle defoliant,tanks and flame throwers,along with a million boots on the ground,those are the only things these sicko drug cartels will understand,yes,damn right,another vietnam in mexico,to crush and obliterate,thats what needs to be done,they have sown the wind by killing americans and so they should be forced to reap a hellish whirlwind of molten steel brutally and relentlessly raining down upon them from above morning day and night until they are annihilated and erased from the earth.

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