Needlepoint Class - Chuck Poulsen  

Kept safe by drug cartels!

“Holy Cow,” said my wife after our friend in Mexico explained to us that we are being protected by the drug cartels.

“Holy ______ cow!!” she added.

We travel to Mexico every winter. We are located on the Pacific Coast between the fishing port of San Blas and the tourist destination of Guayabitos, which many Canadians will be familiar with.

We have always felt as safe here as in Kelowna. I tell people, most notably my mother and mother-in-law, that comparing our area to the bloodbath at the border 1,000 kilometres away is like comparing Iowa to the south side of Chicago.

But perception become reality for many people so there is no point mentioning the facts to them.

“We have not had a single person go missing from here,” said our friend Manuel. “The police say that tells you something. We are pretty safe here.”
Then he explained why.

There have been 30,000 people murdered at the border between Mexico and the U.S. since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels three years ago. The war on the cartels seems to be working because the violence has increased while the turf each cartel occupies shrinks in size and the battle grows even hotter for what is left.

The people at the border are understandably scared. Their towns have become battle zones. Some called for the end to Calderon’s war. He went on TV and essentially said: “OK, I’ll stop. All my critics can look after this mess.”
The next day his approval rating skyrocketed and his war continues.

The cartels are having a tough time with this war at the border. They are killing each other at the same time the federales are killing them. Thus, they are now moving their drugs to the U.S. by water, which is where our section of the coast of Mexico comes into play.

Says Manuel: “There are all kinds of places to come to shore along here. You can see them at 4 a.m., loading up their speed boats with drugs. (Think cigar boats in Okanagan Lake and you have the picture). The cigar boats then meet up with fishing boats. The fishing boats are licensed and actually have fish in the holds. Under the fish are the drugs that have been offloaded by the cigar boats. The fishing boats land in the U.S. to unload. There are thousands of fishing boats and no way to keep track of all of them.

Says Manuel: “The reason there has been no violence from the cartels here is because they don’t want to bring attention to this area. We have had no cartel violence so the federales don’t spend a lot of time around here.”

One note of caution said Manuel: “The traffickers have federales uniforms. But their trademark is Nikes. If you see federales with boots, OK. If you see someone with a federales uniform wearing Nikes, keep going.”

The inland picture is different from the coast. The week before we arrived, a dozen people were killed in the capital city of Tepic, about 150 kilometres from here.

My wife went to Tepic a few days ago to do some food shopping. There is a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club there.

“Get beer and be back well before dark,” I said.

She said she was stopped in an army roadblock just before Tepic.

“I have never seen so many guys with so many guns before, not even in Israel,” she said.

One of Calderon’s first problems was that the municipal police forces in Mexico are inept and corrupt. Policemen (seldom see a policewoman) get jobs because they are related to the president (mayor) of the town. Many are on the payroll of the cartels so Calderon had to beef up the federal army for the assault. Mexico is direly in need of a nation-wide municipal police force in the pattern of the RCMP.

Manuel thinks Calderon is courageous and doing a good job. However, here is the view of another friend who is European but has built a very successful business in this area over the last 40 years.

“Calderon is a fool,” he said. “He can’t win a war on drugs any more than Bush could.

“The drug dealers and the government had a deal ever since I arrived here. The government would allow seven trucks a day carrying drugs to the border. It was understood the police would stop one so they would have pictures for the paper that they were doing a good job. The other half of the deal was that there would be no murders or kidnappings from the cartels. That deal is gone. Now, with Calderon, we have a war.”

Take your pick of opinions but the U.S. needs to recognize it is the market for drugs and the cartels have invaded U.S. cities. Canada too. Recently, Mexicans were stopped coming from Canada at Blaine with a trunk load of money.

Forget Afghanistan. The UN needs to bring in an army of troops to kill off the cartels.

The problem isn’t at the other side of the globe. It’s here.

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