Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Border city fears influx of guns, drugs
To get a border city's perspective on immigration issues, we spent some time recently in Laredo, Texas, a city of around 200,000 people.

Residents here are concerned about what they say is a porous border with Mexico and an apparent turf war between drug-running gangs. A key drug-smuggling route into the United States runs right through Laredo.

They say a lot of their trouble comes from Nuevo Laredo, a once-popular Mexican tourist town just across the border. This year alone, more than 90 people have been killed in Nuevo Laredo. This includes four Mexican drug agents who were shot dead in broad daylight. A local newspaper was also shot up, an attack newspaper employees interpret as an attempt to muzzle them.

Now, law enforcement officials from Webb County, which encompasses Laredo, say they are seeing an increase in violence on their side of the border.

Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores says his deputies confiscated $17 million worth of narcotics, more than $1 million in cash, and serious firearms, including an AK-47, last year. But Sheriff Flores says his greatest fear is that terrorist groups will infiltrate the drug cartels, and eventually, smuggle weapons into the United States using the cartels' technology and knowledge.

What's the solution to this problem? Sheriff Flores says he needs more men on the ground and better equipment to keep up with the cartels' night vision and GPS technology.

"It's impossible to have people every 10 feet in the border. I'm not asking for that. But it's been long overdue that we get the assistance to have more bodies to be more vigilant," Flores said.

The U.S. Border Patrol says it recognizes it needs more people on the ground to help local law enforcement. It hopes to do more recruiting to increase its numbers by 9 percent this year.

But will that be enough? How concerned do you think we should be about drug cartels crossing our border? And do you really believe terrorists may enter through Mexico?
Posted By Randi Kaye, CNN Correspondent: 3:33 PM ET
  26 Comments
We should be real concerned. Didn't we have a story a short while ago about tunnels under the border that were being used for smuggling both drugs and immigrants? And another story about drugs being smuggled in the bellies of puppies that were cut open to insert the drugs?

Not all the people who want to come in from Mexico are hard working people who are just looking for a better life for their familes, or are families with starving children. Alot of them are drug gangs, human smugglers, and criminals.

Again, the border patrol has been under-funded and under-manned for too long. Don't we have any way to increase their manpower? Army Reserve? National Guard? Volunteer army? Something?

But again, if the president and congress weren't so concenred with giving tax breaks to the wealthy who don't need it, we'd have money for the border patrol.

We need more funding for more walls, more vehicles, more agents, more dogs, more guns, and more of every other law enforcement tool the border patrol needs to do its job effectively. Maybe if the wealthy paid their taxes, we could afford it.
Posted By Anonymous Bill W, Coatesville PA : 4:19 PM ET
Terrorists will enter through the longest unsecured border in the world (Canada/U.S.) but mostly they will come in through our airports as legal immigrants (they are well educated and can afford first class fares with their oil money).

Let's not confuse drug cartels, bandidos, Coyotes, gun runners or immigrants with the terrorists. We are lumping them up into one because of political expediencies not because it is the best way to address these problems.

To lump up all these issues as one is to lose the focus is to lose the war on terror.
Posted By Anonymous J. Charles - Topeka, KS : 4:23 PM ET
Drugs are a HUGE problem in the US. They always will be, why?-- because money is being made. Someone is getting rich off of this nightmare. It will never end. Legalization is the only way this problem would be solved. If we cut out the money making part of this epidemic, it would end. That also will never happen because most drugs can be grown in your backyard... the gov't couldn't tax us on that. There'd be no money to be made... Hence, it will never happen.
The border problem is not even half of this problem. They definitely need a new system. They have all this time and energy to fight a war that shouldn't even be happening... but they can't seem to stop people from entering the US illegally. I believe that if the Mexican's are finding ways into this country, we can be sure that the terrorists are already here.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Toms River, NJ : 4:23 PM ET
There will be nothing done to curve the problem of illegal immigration until it is 'critically necessary.' That time is not upon us. The time will come when there 'really' is a seriuos strain on the American economy as well as a negative effect on the standard of living of everyday Americans. When this time comes, and it will come, there will be decisive action both, politically and militarily, to stop the problem of illegal entry into this country.
Posted By Anonymous MG, Pasadena, Ca. : 4:25 PM ET
As horrible as drug cartels are, I think people need to realize that the only reason they're in business is because Americans have an appetite for drugs. People who use drugs for fun or for whatever reason are indirectly responsible for the deaths and trafficking on our borders. For every suburban mom who uses meth, to the high school kid or college kid who experiments, or the model/actress who uses drugs to stay thin or the hard worker who wants to unwind at home with a joint or the drug addict who just can't get his life together. These are all the people who pay the drug cartels. Drug users may not give the drug cartels the money directly but they are profiting from them. So the only way we can stop the drug cartels is to stop doing drugs.
Posted By Anonymous Syl, LA, CA : 4:31 PM ET
I think our Government needs to get to work and figure out how to secure our borders. I feel that if they truly cared, this would have happend on 9/11.
What is the problem here? Is anybody listening? Our Country is very vulnerable and watching these illegal aliens march on Monday proves how vulnerable we really are. What are our leaders doing? (NOTHING APPARENTLY)
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, Tampa, Fl : 4:34 PM ET
Randi, yes, they can enter through Mexico, probably through the remotest parts of the border. However, let's not forget that terrorists prefer like their business clean and tidy, without leaving any traces. So I think some will try to enter here legally to make their visit seem legit.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Columbia VA : 5:00 PM ET
That's where are focus and resources should be, on drug dealers, gangs and gun runners, along the border and in America's heartland. Not some poor Illegal Alien trying seek a better life for himself and his family.
Posted By Anonymous A Ruiz Houston, Texas : 5:00 PM ET
If America decriminalized drug use and stopped arresting and jailing people for possessing relatively small quatities of drugs, law enforcement offcials could focus a lot more energy on the big fish - the dealers and cartels who are moving thousands of pounds of the stuff.

And please stop with the generalizations about Mexicans. There are illegal immigrants who are good people trying to feed their children and there are illegal immigrants who are bad people who deal drugs to children. The same can be said for every group of people you want to name.

Being Mexican does not make you a drug dealer, just like being black doesn't make you a drug addict and being an American citizen doesn't make you rich.

I would like to see an expose about white, educated, upper-class American citizens who run their own drug operations and make as much money as these Mexican drug dealers. They exist, but conveniently enough, because their skin is not brown, they fall under the radar.

I would also like to see an article about all the drugs smuggled over the Canadian border, because once we get that fence built across Mexico, people are just going to get their drugs from somewhere else and a lot of pot is coming from Canada.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Baltimore, MD : 5:08 PM ET
J. Charles is right. While we expend all our efforts with the south of the border to stop illegal immigration, building a wall, finding tunnels and the like... our seaports, airports, coastline, Canadian border are so much more accessible to these terrorists.

Like Iraq was really NOT the huge terror problem we all thought it was... but Iran. Its beyond me why so many people are buying into this Mexican border terror connection.
Posted By Anonymous V. Daly - Sandusky, OH : 5:08 PM ET
The U.S. is addicted to drugs and guns and cheap priced goods.

Why blame the cartels or the gun runners for supplying our citizens' demand?

Why blame the illegals from coming in to answer the call of our business leaders?

Let us all direct this 'righteous anger' to the real culprits. Then we can change the world.
Posted By Anonymous Pete H. - Chicago, IL : 5:18 PM ET
Hi Randi,
It seems to me that as a Nation we spend too much time analyzing and talking to death every issue we face.. There comes a time when debates have to end and decisions have to be made..We need to get the border under some control. Millions of Americans can agree on that..I'm beginning to think the problem with all this is that we've become positively petrified to make a decision. Our indecision is now being used against us as a sign of weakness on every issue we face from A to Z... No one is afraid of laws or rules..That includes those who would cross our borders..There simply is no fear and no respect for boundaries..What's the solution, you ask....I think we need to realize that no decision or solution will ever garner 100 percent approval..But what solutions ever do? It should never be the reason to not make a decision..And on that note, I'll sign off..Guess I'm as GUILTY as the rest for talking and talking an issue to death, I'm exhausted at the sound of my own thoughts....Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 5:22 PM ET
Where is the National Guard when you need them?
Posted By Anonymous John Davis Cumberland,Maryland : 5:33 PM ET
Why don't we put up a "Friendship Fence" along the US-Mexico border? Expensive to erect, yes, but it'll probably pay for itself by avoiding all those extra federal DEA, FBI, et al. agents' salaries.
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 5:38 PM ET
Being from Arizona, I am adamantly against any kind of amnesty given to anyone coming across the border into the U. S. legally or otherwise. If you really want statistics on what and who come across, talk to the "Shadow Wolves" in Southern Arizona. They pick up terrorists along with the illegals.
Posted By Anonymous W. Lee Wacker Hopkinsville, Ky. : 5:50 PM ET
Randi Kaye said "Do you really believe terrorists may enter through Mexico?"

Duh.....
Posted By Anonymous Melanie Thomas - Seattle, WA : 5:51 PM ET
But wait a minute....I forgot...
Drug cartels that come here from Mexico are "just trying to have a better life and they are important to our economy, right? Right. That's what I thought.
Posted By Anonymous Melanie Thomas - Seattle, WA : 5:54 PM ET
THE DRUG WAR HAS BEEN A FAILURE , AND WILL ALWAYS BE A FAILURE , BECAUSE OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RUN'S IT LIKE EVERYTHING THE FED'S RUN FAILS
AND THAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE
Posted By Anonymous DUCK SALT LAKE CITY UT. : 5:57 PM ET
I have been there. They are frightened.. and they should be. That element of the issue is the element that says we need the military on the border in hot spots. In spots that the drug cartel might use as a crossing, and as we look at a map in Northern Mexico, we can clearly see where we need military. Be good for everyon, but especially those law enforcement folks in Larado and Larado Nuevo!
Posted By Anonymous Joel E. Wischkaemper, Fargo, North Dakota. : 6:01 PM ET
Capitalism is built on the premise of 'supply and demand'. Yet when it comes to drugs we simply ignore this concept. If we were to spend less killing people in foreign countries, spend more for drug treatment and to help our less fortunate neighbors we would be more likely to be successful. Face it, our porous borders, air travel etc. make it impossible to keep drugs and terrorists out. I believe our best bet is a lot more tolerance for people different than ourselves (we all bleed red) and a lot less greed. We need to help our neighbors, and in this day and age, they are world wide.
Posted By Anonymous Linda D., St. Helens, OR : 6:07 PM ET
Do we really need to be asking this question? Seriously, the US people and most especially the US government has been well aware of drug cartel activity since the early 1980's. We even use military assetts to try and stop the influx but the one thing we DONT do is put warm bodies on the ground at the border.

If we remember the good old days of Vietnam we can look to the way the Thai's handled drug and gun running across thier border - they simply shot first and asked questions later. This may not be the most "PC" way of dealing with it but it sure put a big dent in smuggling.

We don't even need to ask if terrorists are using the US/Mexico border as an entry point. There is substantial physical evidence (including a full set of 9/11 plans) to show that terrorists have been long infiltrating this country via South American countries, most specifically Mexico.
Posted By Anonymous John, Portland Oregon : 6:12 PM ET
Pete H. is right. I am a Presbyterian missionary living in a Mexican border town. The folks cross the border because they need to support their families and businesses in the US are actively recruiting folks in the interior of Mexico...as if to say, "come, we'll pay you big bucks if you can get here alive!". As to the drug trade and problems in Laredo...I know them well. I live nearby. It is so sad to see 16 year old "street dealers" killed.....the killing is at all levels and its all done as two cartels fight for "their territory" (ie. Laredo)...their avenute through which to mee the drug appetite of North Americans. I pray that more folks will find peace and comfort in God and not drugs, guns, and the other things money can buy but which will NEVER satisfy the needs deep down inside of all of us.
Posted By Anonymous Susie, Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico : 6:16 PM ET
Osama Bin Laden could have walked through the Arizona desert and George Bush would never know it. Do I really believe terrorists are sneaking through my state in the night, no, but they could if they wanted to. They are used to our hot desert climate since it's similar to theirs and they know how to survive our intense heat. We will always have drug dealers as long as there are drug users.
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 6:19 PM ET
As a Laredoan I can say with pretty much certainty that the drug cartels have crossed the border. Where do you think many of the drug lords live if not in the million dollar houses in Laredo? Drug business is huge in Nuevo Laredo. Everyday we open our newspapers to read about more murders committed the previous day. We no longer feel comfortable going into Mexico to shop, eat dinner,etc. Do I fear the illegal immigrants, the terrorists? Not really. I fear the drug cartels responsible for bazookas in the streets, kidnappings, and other blatant crimes in what was once a peaceful Mexican border town.
Posted By Anonymous Angie H.; Laredo, TX : 6:34 PM ET
I have traveled the southern border many times. I worked as an over the road truckdriver for eleven years, and have driven from San Diego CA to ELPaso TX many times, as well as Laredo TX. The border can be mostly sealed, but only with a herculean effort by the whole country. We are up to it.
The only way to fully stop them though, is to criminalize the hiring of illegals here in this country. Hard prison time for business owners and managers who knowingly employ illegals.
That is the very reason they come here in the first place. Eliminate the jobs for them here, and they will not come.
We would also need to send back a large portion of those who are already here.
Posted By Anonymous Kent S. Clinton, MO : 1:01 AM ET
I would like to see a terrorist trying to get from Mexico to the US without being robbed and/or rapped and/or killed! No, they know the best way to get into the US is to fly!
Now, regarding the drug problem, it all starts at every home. Because there is someone willing to buy, there are those willing to sell. Plain and simple! I haven't hear from any druglord to bust into someone's house to make you addict, so after that you end up buying!
In Mexico the only place you can buy weapons legal is direct in the Defense Dept. it takes tons of paperwork. and you can only get up to a .380 semiautomatic, or a .38 revolver. And you can only have those in your home. Anything bigger than that even in your home, is a felony. So where do you think all those huge weapons come from?
Posted By Anonymous Erwin Rubach, Phoenix, AZ : 2:54 AM ET
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