Iraqis, Grenades, and Mexican Cartels

In a federal indictment charging the suspects, it was alleged that the center of their criminal operation was an Iraqi social club in El Cajon, and authorities say the suspects distributed drugs supplied by Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel to the Detroit area.

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Photo: pattiane.Photo: pattiane.

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) warned us about possible ties between Hezbollah and Mexican drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border in June of 2010. She called for Janet Napolitano and Homeland Security to investigate these reports. She was ridiculed.

Even though she is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and cited creditable sources, the mainstream media treated her like another Chicken Little. Only a few reporters, including Yitzhak Benhorin of Israel News, reported her statements with any seriousness. Benhorin filed an excellent article on June 26, 2010.

I wonder if those naysayers have read the recent reports about the Sinaloa Cartel's involvement with an Iraqi drug and weapons trafficking ring operating along the California border with Mexico. Maybe those critics should apologize to the congresswoman.

In an Aug. 18 report by Julie Watson of the Daily Caller, federal drug enforcement agents in San Diego, Calif., announced the seizure of 18 pounds of  methamphetamine, cocaine and other narcotics including 3,500 pounds of marijuana; $630,000 in cash; 30 guns including assault rifles; and four improvised explosive devices (IEDs). About 60 suspects from Iraq, some here legally and others here illegally, were arrested in this operation by DEA and police in El Cajon, a city just east of San Diego.

In a federal indictment charging the suspects, it was alleged that the center of their criminal operation was an Iraqi social club in El Cajon, and authorities say the suspects distributed drugs supplied by Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel to the Detroit area.

Law enforcement was made aware of the group's existence after tips from neighbors, and even a few club member's spouses, who had complained for years of the establishment's criminal activities that included attempted murder, illegal gambling, and the sale of illegal drugs and weapons.

The Chaldean social club featured high-stakes gambling with armed guards to protect the games. The club's troubles with local police date back to 1998 when authorities seized illegal slot machines from the building. Four years ago, police identified the club as a hot spot for Iraqi drug deals and two years later began the investigations for weapons and explosives trafficking. 

Many of the suspects are Iraqi Chaldean Christians, who fled Iraq due to persecution from Muslim extremists in their own country. Police said several of the people arrested were linked to the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate (COCS), an Iraqi gang based in Detroit.

Detroit is home to the largest Chaldean population in the U.S., and San Diego's Chaldean population is second. Christians make up one third of the 53,700 Iraqis known to have resettled in the U.S. since 2007, according to the state department.

For over 20 years, Mexican human smugglers have helped many of the Chaldeans illegally enter the U.S. Somewhere along the way, the Iraqis formed ties with the Mexico's most violent cartel. Many of the Chaldeans crossed into the U.S. in the Tijuana-San Diego border area.

During the nine-month DEA investigation, undercover operatives were shown a live hand grenade by one of the Iraqis, who identified the Mexican military as the source of the grenades. Officials believe the explosives were intended to be sold locally, and there were are no indications that the group supplied weapons to the Sinaloa cartel — led by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman — for his war against drug-cartel rivals and Mexican drug fighters. That means the grenades and IEDs were meant for criminal gangs on the U.S. side of the border to be used against U.S. citizens and law enforcement.

According to the Daily Caller article, a total of four federal indictments were unsealed, charging nine people with narcotics and weapons trafficking charges and the unlawful possession of various firearms and explosives. One of the suspects named was Nofel Noel Suleyman, who was also charged with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. About half of the 60 who were arrested are charged federally and half face state charges.

Border patrol and ICE agents together with local police and sheriff's deputies operating along the border increasingly report confrontations with Other Than Mexicans (OTMs) involved in criminal or suspicious activity in their jurisdictions. We have several incidents now where explosives or grenades have been used against U.S. law enforcement. Only the most naive and uninformed individual could deny the growing danger.

In March of this year, Napolitano stressed that protection of the border "is better now than it ever has been" and violence has not spilled into the U.S. So who is the fool? Is it North Carolina Congresswoman Sue Myrick or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano?


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