The Trump Administration’s policies have curbed the flood of illegal immigrants trying to penetrate the U.S.-Mexico border, but the region continues to be a hotbed of violent criminal activity.
Recent reports highlighted the stranglehold drug cartels have over border towns when they assassinated an American Mormon family, including women and children. The slaughter made international headlines, and President Donald Trump has been weighing designating these crime syndicates as terrorist organizations. He’s also offered his Mexican counterpart military assistance to bring murderous cartels to justice.
While the number of illegal border-crossing apprehensions has dramatically declined since the president implemented the “Wait in Mexico” policy that negates Obama-era catch and release loopholes, cartels appear to be in full command of the human trafficking trade. Many Central Americans pay cartel-associated coyotes to sneak them into the United States. Some make it across. Others disappear or turn up in mass graves. Women are often victims of rape or sold into sex slavery.
“I remember one lady saying, ‘I let them. I let them because I know (human smugglers) going to do it, and I didn’t want them to get my daughter,’” Del Rio Sector Division Chief of Operations Randy Clark reportedly said. “Those stories are out there. We know it’s part of the border life, and it’s horrible.”
Boots on the ground reporting from sources such as Breitbart News Border and Cartel Chronicles projects Director Brandon Darby estimates that upwards of one-third of all women and girls are being sexually assaulted by cartel members and their affiliates.
“Some estimates when it comes to the way females are treated, the women and girls, I think Doctors Without Borders has it at 33 percent of the females are assaulted sexually along the journey,” Darby said. “Other estimates have it as high as 80 percent of females are sexually assaulted.”
When cartels are not making money from human trafficking and sex slavery, they fill their coffers with drug money. The rise in violence along the southern border has hit epidemic proportions.
In one quiet Texas border town, the Los Zetas cartel launched a brazen drug smuggling initiative. Pandemonium erupted as Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations helicopter aircrew targeted the high-value smuggling operation. Gunfire has grown commonplace as cartels clash with law enforcement on both sides of the border.
A barrage of bullets killed 22 people in the northern Mexico town of Villa Union near the U.S. border in early December. The Mexican government reports that 13 of the dead were cartel members. The report would give the appearance that authorities are putting lawlessness in check. However, multiple mass graves linked to cartel violence near the border and homicide rates hitting all-time highs paint a bleak portrait. In Ciudad Juarez, drug runners and police have shot it out on the very streets hard-working families walk to markets and shops.
“The violence we are living in Ciudad Juarez stems from the sale of drugs, particularly crystal meth. Both in Juarez and in our state of Chihuahua, four out of five killings have to do with the distribution of drugs,” Chihuahua state Police Commission Director Óscar Alberto Aparicio Avendaño said. “They are street dealers for bigger organizations and, in some cases, also their triggermen. Through our investigations, we have found out that many times the people who commit murders are also involved in drug sales.”
For those unfamiliar with the Southwestern landscape, Ciudad Juarez shares a border with El Paso, Texas.
Although illegal immigration attempts have plummeted by upwards of 70 percent since the May 2019 peak of 144,000, law enforcement officers are still putting considerable resources in dealing with more than 40,000 border crossing apprehensions on a monthly basis. In some cases, cartels take migrants’ money and deliberately use them to distract the U.S. Border Patrol in an effort to move drugs in nearby sectors. There’s little doubt that drug cartels have the manpower, resources, and will to do violence that allows them to operate with impunity. That puts everyday Americans in harm’s way near the border.