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I am a consultant and analyst with eight years of military law enforcement experience, six years of analytical experience covering Latin America, and over seven years of analytical experience covering Mexican TCOs and border violence issues. This blog is designed to inform readers about current border violence issues and provide analysis on those issues, as well as detailed focus on specific border topics. By applying my knowledge and experience through this blog, I hope to separate the wheat from the chaff...that is, dispel rumors propagated by sensationalist media reporting, explain in layman's terms what is going on with Mexican TCOs, and most importantly, WHY violence is happening along the US-Mexico border.

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With over a dozen years of combined experience in military law enforcement, force protection analysis, and writing a variety of professional products for the US Air Force, state government in California, and the general public, Ms. Longmire has the expertise to create a superior product for you or your agency to further your understanding of Mexico’s drug war. Longmire Consulting is dedicated to being on the cusp of the latest developments in Mexico in order to bring you the best possible analysis of threats posed by the drug violence south of the border.

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February 10, 2011

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Guns are not the problem the drug laws are.
The drug laws allow for the astronomical profits the cartels from drugs.
It all comes down to one thing money.

Sylvia,

As I always, I appreciate your cogent analysis and I very much look forward to reading your book when it comes out. However, I must quibble with one point you made in your post. You say, "You've read my rants on the use of statistics, and I don't like them simply because they can be so easily manipulated." As a quantitative social scientist who uses statistics to make sense of social and economic phenomenon, I am biased myself. I think statistics are important. Even more so in understanding the complicated dynamics at work in the Drug War. What is the effect of guns moving south on drugs moving north? Given a fixed law enforcement budget, what combination of gun law enforcement, border patrols, and intelligence yields the best outcome in the Drug War? What is the optimal way to attack the demand part of the equation--treatment, decriminalization, legalization, some combination thereof? All of these questions can better be understood through the proper application of statistics and econometrics. I do not think the problem is with statistics per se, but bad statistics. Ignoring their importance takes a key tool away from law enforcement and analysts.

@Thomas - You're absolutely right, and that's very well put. I'm oversimplifying, but you make a very salient point. People need to PROPERLY apply statistical analysis to make sense of a problem, and acknowledge all the variables. Human behavior plays a huge role when it comes to analyzing the drug war, and I don't believe you can use statistics alone...never have. But they definitely have their place, as long as they're used in the correct context.

With the known strawman purchase of AK47s with Mexico as their potential destination, how can our government tie ATF's hands by denying their request for reporting of multiple purchases? Are the pro-gun lobbyists so powerful that our government leaders fear them?


As both you and Thomas seem to agree, statistics are of course important, but only so far as those statistics being founded from sound material which has not been tampered with. In the case of both weapons going south, and drugs flowing north we are in fact dealing with tainted and tampered material from which such statistics would be based. If we consider the well document fact that the CIA along with such folks as Oliver North were not only turning a blind eye but were in fact up to their eyebrows in both weapons and the narcotics trade back in the 80’s, it is quite plausible then that something on that line is taking place today.
In fact I believe at the present Senator Grassley is attempting to look into just such a circumvention of laws and policy in regards to weapons recovered from the crime scene where the Az Border Patrolman was fatally wounded. I believe his inquiry was spurred by whistle blower reports he received from within the BATF it’s self. How many guns have the BATF allowed to leave gun show tables, and gun stores knowing that those weapons were in fact being bought by straw buyers with the intent of crossing the weapons into Mexico? 100? 1000? Or perhaps several thousand? Whatever the number I am quite certain neither the citizens of Mexico nor of the U.S. will ever be made privy to. Is it also just a coincidence that Oliver North has resurfaced and materialized right here on our border with Mexico, and at the same time linked up with the Fox News people? Then there is of course Tosh Plumlee who has been feeding certain media sources information about covert missions being carried out in Mexico by American forces. Trust me Hollywood couldn’t do a better job of presenting fiction as fact than some in our own government do.

Fred

"The ATF tracing system is an operational system designed to help law enforcement agencies identify the ownership path of individual firearms. It was not designed to collect statistics." Congressional Research Service.

On February 2008, William Hoover, Assistant Director for Field Operations of ATF testified before Congress that over 90% of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States.

In 2010, when confronted by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, ATF admitted the 90% figure cited to Congress was misleading. In other words, Mr. Hoover didn't tell the truth to Congress.

We are not concerned about the exact percentage of American guns smuggled to Mexico. However, we are concerned when a Federal Agency falsely reports information in an overt effort to lobby for additional funding.

Project Gunrunner was created to prevent gun sales to traffickers. Nevertheless, we now learn that ATF in Phoenix, over the objections of the gun dealers involved, and without notification to the Mexican Government, encouraged and facilitated the sale of well over 700 firearms to straw purchasers and traffickers, knowing fully well the guns were intended for Mexico. The evidence is clear in the indictments, and some of those guns have now been found throughout Mexico.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2011/US_v_Avila_Indictment.pdf
http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2011/US_v_Flores_Indictment.pdf
http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2011/US_v_Broome_Indictment.pdf
http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2011/US_v_Aguilar_Indictment.pdf
http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2011/US_v_Abarca_Indictment.pdf
http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2011/Fast_Furious_Map_ATF.pdf

The cartel wars in Mexico would probably continue even if the U.S. market was completely cut off - because of competition for the Mexican internal market for drugs.


"Why can't we acknowledge the same about our shared weapons trafficking problem without getting wrapped around the axle over the exact percentage figure???"

Why, Sylvia? Because those who foolishly confuse their Right to Bear Arms with the need to own as many killing machines as their adolescent hearts desire buy into the NRA propaganda with total disregard for the lives lost.

Sylvia

Let me make a constructive suggestion. Maybe someone out there in law enforcement is listening to this blog (!)

A big part of the border problem is related to jurisdictions. The USA has no effective way to control what's happening in towns south of the border, and Mexico is unable to put in place a system of reliable, honest law enforcement in its northern towns. But without such a reliable force of law officers, the battle with the cartels is getting worse - not better.

How about if the USA and Mexico act together to create a joint law enforcement unit called the "Border Rangers". Essentially this would be a unit like the Texas Rangers, but with an operational jurisdiction that includes the southern states of the USA AND the northern States of Mexico - say within a 100 mile distance of the border in both directions (north and south). Within that zone, the Border Rangers would have the power to interdict shipments of drugs, weapons and money, and to make arrests. Criminals arrested within Mexico would be turned over to the Mexican system; criminals arrested in the USA would be turned over to the US system.

The value of this idea is that the Border Rangers could provide solid reinforcement for local Mexican police who are assigned to small towns near the border - to stop them being intimidated. The Border Rangers could also coordinate raids based on information supplied by both the US and Mexico. Furthermore, the members of such a unit would be vetted by justice organizations within both the USA and Mexico - making it very difficult for cartels to undermine the rangers with spies or double agents.

It's something to think about. We need creative solutions to this border problem. There's a huge jurisdictional issue that would have to be overcome with the idea of the "Border Rangers", but it could be a big step forwards for solving the drug and weapons smuggling problems.

P.


Ike, I wish to personally thank you for posting the links to these indictments. Clearly the information contained within them supports what I posted here yesterday. One only needs to read the detailed accounts contained in these indictments of the movements and actions of the conspirators to understand that they were under ATF surveillance both during and after the illegal gun purchases were made. Clearly the ATF could have prevented these weapons from being illegally crossed into Mexico at any given time, yet they did not. At the very least with their now known clear intent to allow these illegally purchased weapons to be illegally crossed into Mexico, one would have thought that they would have seen fit to render the weapons inoperable, clearly the ATF has blood on their hands in this matter and heads should roll…starting with Bill Newell.

Again, thank you Ike,
Fred

I've said I oppose any fire arms restrictions and until Sylvia Longmire wrote "Obama Administration's New Proposed Gun Regulation for Border States Met With Bipartisan Dissent." and that made me question my long held beliefs.
If I read it right it's not stopping me from buying more then one magazine fed long barrel weapon a week it's just tells the cop's if I do and only in the border states.Sounds reasonable and the statistics above can be used in a variety of ways.One thing is obvious,there are large numbers of weapons from U.S.gun shops going to Mexico and they are killing men,women and children.

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