Ability to Control Territory, Co-opt Governments Makes Mexican Cartels Greatest Threat to U.S.
While mainstream media coverage of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threat assessment focuses on white supremacists, the lengthy report offers plenty of other serious national security threats that have selectively been ignored. Among them are Mexican-based drug cartels that control territory along the U.S. Southwest border. DHS released the 26-page document, titled “Homeland Threat Assessment” (HTA), recently to provide the American people with an overview of the information collected and analyzed by agency employees around the world. “The HTA is primarily informed by intelligence analysis prepared by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and by the Component intelligence offices, which identified the leading security threats to the Homeland based on a review of all-source intelligence information and analysis,” the report states. “Given the array of potential issues, I&A’s scoped its analysis to focus on key threats covered by the intelligence elements of the Department, which expert analysts considered most likely and with the potential to significantly affect U.S. security.”
The agency determines that white supremacists pose the most persistent and lethal domestic terrorism threat to the U.S. and the media ran with it, essentially ignoring other serious problems documented in detail by DHS in the first annual report. For instance, DHS writes that “Mexico-based cartels pose the greatest threat to the Homeland because of their ability to control territory—including along the U.S. Southwest Border—and co-opt parts of government, particularly at a state and local level.” They are considered Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs) by the government and will continue to undermine public health and safety in the U.S. and threaten the country’s national security interests, according to DHS. “They represent an acute and devastating threat to public health and safety in the Homeland and a significant threat to U.S. national security interests,” DHS writes. “Beyond their complicity in the 71,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. last year, TCOs destabilize partner nations, decrease citizen confidence in good governance, foment corruption, and destroy confidence in the international banking system.”
Homeland Security officials reveal that countering the drug cartels will remain an enduring challenge to U.S. safety and security in the future. “TCOs will continue to take advantage of illegal migration flows to enter the United States and attempt to exploit legal immigration avenues,” the agency writes, adding this: “Criminal elements attempting to provide a level of legitimacy to their illicit immigration claims by intermingling with migrants travelling to the US Southwest border pose an intrinsic risk to the U.S. lawful immigration system.” COVID-19 disrupted some cartel operations, but the criminal syndicates’ ability to move large quantities of illicit goods into and throughout the U.S. remains largely intact. The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) networks are identified as the Mexican TCOs that pose the greatest cross-border drug smuggling threat in the near-term. “They dominate the lucrative trafficking of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine to the United States,” DHS writes.
Another pertinent threat ignored in news coverage of the DHS assessment is the prediction of a mass illegal immigration crisis at the southern border in 2021. The agency anticipates a huge wave of migrants from both Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. This will be due to the lifting of COVID-19 border restrictions within Latin America which will facilitate transit and the devastating economic impact of the pandemic in the region. “DHS anticipates that the number of apprehensions at the border will significantly climb post-pandemic, with the potential for another surge as those who were previously prevented from seeking entry into the United States arrive at the border and as poor economic conditions around the world fuel migration,” the report states. “This high volume of illegal immigration, including unprecedented numbers of family units and unaccompanied alien children arrivals, stretch government resources, and create a humanitarian and border security crisis that cripples the immigration system.” The migrant surges could undermine the agency’s ability to effectively secure the border without adversely impacting other parts of the immigration system, DHS further writes.
A section on natural disasters, claims that severe weather, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and winter storms also threaten the nation. “These disasters pose a significant threat to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security while subjecting the nation to frequent periods of insecurity, disruption, and economic loss,” DHS writes in the last page of the document. “Over the last year, the United States has faced the COVID-19 crisis while simultaneously dealing with numerous natural disasters. These natural disasters require the Department to readjust its priority focus, as resources continue to be reallocated to focus on responding to multiple natural disasters, while continuing to handle its traditional roles and responsibilities.”