LatinaLista — An annual report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Public Safety Threat Overview, underscores how in 2013 Texas' biggest safety threat comes from Mexican drug cartels.
The report's researchers say that Mexican cartels pose the "most significant organized crime threat to Texas." Coming in second place is the state-wide prison gangs, "many of whom now work directly with the Mexican cartels."
Given the shared border and history with one another, it's not surprising that cartels have infiltrated so effortlessly in the United States. Though critics of border security like to blame immigrants as being accomplices of the drug cartels, the sad truth is that it's our own citizens who may be the guilty party.
A recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that three out of four people caught with drugs by the U.S. Border Patrol are U.S. citizens. In fact, the report shows that 60 percent of the time when an American is arrested for drugs, they're carrying enough to be classified as a drug trafficker.
Over the last couple of years, reports of kidnappings, explosive packages left on doorsteps and mysterious murders have dotted the news headlines in Texas and throughout the southwest. In many cases, follow up reports tie the crimes to a cartel connection.
According to the report,
…the majority of the crimes committed in Texas by the Mexican cartels and transnational and state-wide gangs go unreported, and include crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, public corruption, money laundering, and the recruitment and use of children in criminal operations.
If there were a national organized crime index in the Uniform Crime Report, Texas would most likely lead the nation as a direct result of Mexican cartel and gang activity along the border and throughout the state.
However, the report's authors cite that the most heinous crimes committed by cartels in the US is the exploitation and trafficking of children. The children most at risk are children traveling alone from south of the border to the U.S. to search for their parents.
Over 58,000 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) have been apprehended along the US-Mexico border since 2010, according to the Texas report. In 2012, Texas accounted for 65 percent of the UAC apprehensions.
With cartels operating in the U.S., the risk to these children is especially high.
The Texas report finds that six of the eight major Mexican cartels are currently operating in Texas: Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization, La Familia Michoacana, and the Juarez Cartel.
In addition to the types of criminal activity that cartels are committing, Texas law enforcement fear their tactics even more: "torture, beheading, intimidation, and terrorist tactics. Cartel weapons now also include improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and conventional military ordnance and weapons. Most recently, several cartels in Mexico have begun using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs)."
While the report doesn't offer recommendations on how to stem the growth of the cartel threat,it makes clear that with the mounting evidence it won't be long before Texas may find itself sharing more than just a border with its southern neighbor.