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Blackwater USA – Daily Brief 6/4/19


  • A Conservative Review op-ed on territorial security in Mexico is pasted below. Its conclusions are a bit aggressive, but it cites a useful Mexican government survey showing that 80% of the 266 districts evaluated are controlled or disputed by cartels, and the government has full control over only 20% of them. (Note that the districts considered here are only the ones targeted in Mexico’s counter-cartel program, so they’re the most populated or cartel-threatened ones—less populated, calmer districts are omitted).
  • The NYT reports that Mexico is starting to crack down on illegal migrants, perhaps in response to Pres. Trump’s tariff threat. Mexico has stepped up raids and arrests near the Guatemalan border, hoping to catch migrants before they get too far into the country.
  • Separately, I’m starting to see rumors that Mexico will retaliate against new U.S. tariffs if they indeed go into effect on June 10th, but we probably won’t hear anything firm until after high-level meetings between the two countries that start Wednesday in Washington.


  • Today’s the beginning of Eid, and many people had held out hope that there would be another ANSF-Taliban ceasefire like last year’s. However, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.


  • Sudanese police killed at least 35 protesters yesterday, according to opposition groups. The constitutional council then cancelled all of its agreements with the main opposition coalition, and said it would hold elections within nine months.


  • Nigerien security forces foiled three attacks over the weekend: one in Niamey, and two in Diffa. Western embassies had issued warnings about possible attacks on Saturday, and apparently shared their information with the security services, who arrested five people—including two “known terrorists”—near the airport.


  • Reuters says that Pres. Trump is going to lobby PM May against letting Huawei build parts of the UK’s 5G network when they meet in London, but it’s unlikely that May will want or be able to do anything about it in her lame duck period.


  • U.S. rhetoric towards Iran has softened a bit recently. SecState Pompeo told a conference audience that the U.S. is “ready to sit down with [Iran],” and Pres. Trump has said he’s willing to meet “anytime they want,” but the Iranian Foreign Ministry called the invitations “word play.”


  • Kim Jong Un’s sister, Ri Sol Ju, appeared in public at a sports exhibition, contradicting rumors that she was ordered to lay low after her translation mistakes at the failed Trump-Kim summit in March.


  • DRC’s Ebola crisis has gotten a lot worse lately: it took eight months to register the first 1,000 cases, but only two more for the next 1,000 (we’ll likely hit the 2,000th case this week).


  • One soldier from each side died in a new flare-up on the disputed region that Azerbaijan and Armenia both claim. That doubles the number of combat fatalities in Nagorno-Karabakh to four this year.
  • An Azeri MP, Aydin Mirzazade, called on soldiers to assassinate the PM of Armenia, but political forces seem to be trying to walk that statement back and tone down the rhetoric: news stories reporting the comment have been deleted, and Mirzazade himself said his words were “distorted”—though they seem pretty clear and undistorted to me: “I ask our snipers, please shoot [Armenian PM] Pashinyan.”


  • We learned yesterday that the Russian military contracting firm Rostec was leaving its advisory roles in Venezuela because Venezuela couldn’t afford its cost, and today The Daily Telegraph added that Venezuela is actually already way behind on overdue payments to Rostec.

Big Tech

  • U.S. regulators are splitting up responsibility for overseeing big tech firms. The DoJ will watch Apple and Google, while the FTC will look at Facebook and Amazon. The overall implication is that tech companies are going to face more scrutiny, so tech shares fell significantly yesterday: Google dropped 7%, and Amazon lost 5%.

Other News

  • Environmental non-profit CDP published a new report estimating that climate change will cost the 215 companies analyzed a total of $1 trillion in the next five years.

Mexican government admits 80% of its populated territory is run by cartels, including key border areas (Conservative Review)

As of last year, the Taliban controlled or contested 46 percent of the districts in Afghanistan’s civil war. That was enough justification for us to keep our military perpetually engaged there in combat. What if you were told that 80 percent of Mexico’s territory is controlled by dangerous cartels, including all of the key smuggling routes at our border, and that the cartels are orchestrating all of the illegal immigration into our territory and bringing their members back and forth across our own border?

Several weeks ago, the Mexican investigative journal Contralínea posted a map of Mexico prepared by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), showing that 80 percent of the country’s 266 districts recently targeted for enforcement by the Mexican National Guard in a new counter-cartel operation are either controlled (57.5 percent) or disputed (23.3 percent) by the cartels. “Only 53 (19.92 percent) enjoy a low level of violence, which means that control is exercised by the authorities,” reported Contralínea on May 4, citing the data on the color-coded map.

As you can see, Mexico looks awfully similar to Afghanistan in terms of how much is controlled by insurgent groups. The map of Mexico shows the districts in red fully controlled by the cartels, the ones in yellow in dispute, and the ones in green in control of the Mexican government. They all represent priority enforcement areas for a new Mexican National Guard operation against the cartels proposed by the AMLO regime.

It’s important to note that according to Jaeson Jones, retired captain of Texas’ Department of Public Safety Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, the priority areas color-coded on the map are mainly the areas where people live, and the ones left out are simply not a priority, not because the cartels don’t control most of those areas, but because there is little infrastructure or population in those areas.

For example, the areas color-coded at the border are all the cities where people live, such as Tijuana, Mexicali, San Luis, Nogales, Juarez, Piedras Negras, Loredo, Miguel Alimen, and Reynosa (going west to east). And notice how every one of them is controlled by the cartels. All of the major smuggling areas leaning into California, Nogales, Arizona, El Paso, Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas are fully controlled by the cartels. The other areas are deserts with few people and no infrastructure, so they weren’t a priority for the Mexican government’s campaign, but they still affect our security because the cartels are sending large flows of migrants in areas like Antelope Wells, New Mexico, which are absolutely controlled by Sinaloa.

Thus, we now see from an internal document of the Mexican government an admission that Mexico has essentially lost control over every important populated area in Mexico outside Mexico City and a few others, and particularly the most sensitive areas of the U.S.-Mexican border.

So why do we not have Special Operations Command engaged in protecting our border from the cartels? Unlike the Taliban, cartel operatives come over our border all the time. Why do the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the State Department refuse to recognize the border issue as a military problem and agree to target the cartels as terrorists?

If the Taliban were orchestrating a flow of mass migration across parts of Afghani-controlled territory, strategically shutting down our security, and profiting from it, we would instantly take military action. When Mexican cartels are placing our own country in mortal danger, why is that not reason enough to treat this is a military threat instead of an immigration issue?

What is amazing is that Border Patrol and the National Guard are ordered not to engage the cartels and armed smugglers at all and cannot nab any of them even a few feet over our border for concern of violating Mexico’s sovereignty. We won’t even fight back when they detain and disarm our regular military units on our own side of the river. Yet, we now see that the Mexican government itself admits it has no sovereignty over that area. Why should we allow our sovereignty to be trampled by cartel figures going back and forth with impunity when fighting them won’t even violate Mexican sovereignty and will actually help it?

Our government is fully aware of this dynamic. This map of control was sent out by a federal agency to Border Patrol in a daily intelligence briefing on May 9. CR has obtained a copy of this briefing from a Border Patrol agent who must remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the press. Why the relevant government agencies refuse to recognize the border as an insurgency conflict rather than simply an immigration issue remains a mystery.

Reps. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Mark Green, R-Tenn., asked the president to designate the cartels as terrorists earlier this year. This move would open up new resources to target the cartels and to treat all of our border policies in a much different light than simply a domestic immigration problem. Yet the State Department continues to balk.

The cartels have long passed the stage of simply profiting from drugs. They are international organizations that are engaged in endless criminality, most prominently human smuggling, but they seek to control territory and terrorize populations as well. Mexican drug cartels seek to replace local governments by imposing their own law. The Mexican cartel culture is similar to the ideology of ISIS and al Qaeda in the sense that they seek “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) or to effect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping,” which is the definition of international terrorism defined under 18 U.S.C. § 2331.

The day we solve our sovereignty issue will be the day our government finally prioritizes the security of America the way it prioritizes the security of the Afghani government. That will not happen until we take our sovereignty as serious as we do the sovereignty of the Mexican government’s ever-diminishing control over a handful of cities.