State must organize to fight cross-border crime - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

State must organize to fight cross-border crime

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Posted: Friday, April 16, 2010 1:48 pm | Updated: 3:41 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The March 27th murder of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz has renewed calls for increased efforts to secure the border and stop illegal aliens from coming into Arizona.

State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) wants to force local police to arrest suspected illegal aliens. State Sen. Al Melvin (R-Tucson) reportedly wants a state-funded armed volunteer security force deployed on the border.

The problem of confronting and winning the war against cross-border crime will take more than politically popular legislation and tough talk that targets petty offenders and made-for-TV illegal alien roundups on the streets and down on the border.

Arizona isn’t up against a bunch of misdemeanants; the state is up against the Mexican drug cartels, “the greatest organized crime threat to the United States” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The cartels are real good at what they do and have the leadership, smarts and wealth to prove it and the firepower to back it up. They’ve proven to be more successful than the good guys.

Borders mean nothing to the cartels that control Mexico and now operate globally, including throughout the United States.

The cartels talk about marijuana in terms of tens of millions of pounds. Mexican heroin production in 2008 was estimated at almost 42 tons. Meth and cocaine are discussed in ton quantities while human smuggling involves tens of thousands of human beings annually.

Cartels talk about their wealth in terms of billions of dollars.

Forbes Magazine has named Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera to its list of billionaires in 2008 and 2009. Guzman-Loera is the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel that controls the U.S.-Mexico border with Arizona .

In a 2009 application for federal assistance, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said an estimated 50–60 percent of drugs entering the U.S. come through Pima County.

The Associated Press reported on April 9 that Guzman-Loera now controls the coveted trafficking routes through Ciudad Juarez and that his cartel — “the world’s largest” — is winning Mexico’s drug war.

The Los Angeles Times’ February 14-16 series, “The Heroin Road,” identified Phoenix as one of two U.S. distribution centers for the black tar heroin that’s flooding America.

Arizona has become the path of least resistance for the Mexican mob over the years and is now recognized internationally as the “gateway” for drugs and organized crime entering the U.S. from Mexico.

And Mexican drug lords have easily expanded their growing crime operations in Arizona through partnerships with the homegrown Mexican Mafia prison gang and its links to an estimated 30,000 street gang members. The cartels have an army fighting against law and order in Arizona.

The time has come for the governor, attorney general or U.S. attorney to take the lead and design a comprehensive statewide law enforcement strategy that incorporates city, county, state and federal agencies and the National Guard in an all-out attack on organized, cross-border and serious crime throughout Arizona.

The job of protecting the people of Arizona, from human and drug smuggling to murder, isn’t getting done.

CQ Press ranks Arizona the eighth most dangerous state in America. There were 3,007 murders in Arizona from 2002-2008. Only about half were solved.

Crime in Arizona isn’t just a border problem. Just ask those who’ve experienced Arizona’s statewide crime problems first hand.

Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at

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