Illegal immigrants' role in drug trade shouldn't be ignored

Here's something the so-called "immigration advocates" don't want you to know: Illegal immigrants are deeply involved in the drug trade in Northern Nevada, and elsewhere on the West Coast and around the country.

The latest example of the dangerous and troubling connection between illegal immigration and drug trafficking occurred in Reno last month when federal, state and local anti-drug agents teamed-up to arrest 10 Mexican nationals - most of them illegal immigrants - on charges of possessing large quantities of illicit narcotics with the intention of selling them to our children and grandchildren. Members of the Northern Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force seized 100 grams of heroin, 500 grams of cocaine, more than five grams of meth and $100,000 in cash in a series of raids in Reno.

"It's hard to say what sort of impact this will have on drug trafficking in Northern Nevada, but every little bit helps," said Nevada's U.S. Attorney, Greg Brower. "This was much more than just a little bit (of drugs)," he added. Federal drug trafficking charges carry prison sentences ranging from five to 40 years and fines ranging up to $4 million.

Although illegal immigration advocates argue that most "undocumented workers" are honest, law-abiding people who want to work in the U.S. in order to provide for their destitute families in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, the truth is that far too many illegals are involved with violent Latino gangs and Mexican drug cartels. How violent are they? Well, according to Time magazine, at least 3,000 people (including women and children) have died in drug-related crimes since Mexican President Felipe Calderon, a law-and-order conservative, took office in December, 2006.

So far this year, victims of deadly drug violence have included two of Mexico's highest-ranking anti-narcotics officials, who were assassinated in Mexico City last month, along with local policemen, judges and a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was killed as he pursued drug traffickers fleeing from Arizona back into Mexico. In April, 15 drug cartel members were murdered in Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego. And we know that Latino gangs are major contributors to an increase in drug-related violence in Carson City. Recent evidence includes several drive-by shootings, an incident in which shots were fired at a deputy sheriff and a major drug trafficking case against four illegals, one of whom had violated federal deportation orders four times.

I trust that Sheriff Ken Furlong and District Attorney Neil Rombardo will continue to keep the heat on local gangs and that volunteer anti-gang coalitions will do everything possible to involve Hispanic and Latino leaders and families in their admirable efforts. Simply put, I want to see their actions match their encouraging words.


In March, the Washington Post published an investigative report on border drug violence headlined "Tyranny on the Border." "More than 20,000 Mexican troops and federal police are engaged in a multi-front war with the private armies of rival drug lords," the Post reported. "Law enforcement officials and journalists, politicians and peasants have been gunned down in the wave of violence, which includes mass executions ...." And worse yet, "the violence is spilling over into the U.S."

According to the Post, more than 4,800 Mexicans were slain in the last two years, doubling the 2005 murder rate. "Drawing on firepower, savage intimidation and cash, (drug) cartels ... control key parts of the border," the article continued, "securing smuggling routes for 90 percent of the cocaine flowing into the United States." The result is that a river of cocaine and other lethal drugs carried by illegal immigrant "mules" is flowing up from Mexico through Southern California and on into Northern Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. That's why I'm pleased to note that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have joined forces to combat large scale drug trafficking in our area.

As some popular Mexican cowboy bands sing the praises of drug lords, the death toll continues to rise in a once-peaceful nation. Sad to say, you can hear some of that pro-drug culture "golpe" music around here, but I don't hear any protests from alleged Hispanic "leaders." Meanwhile, just south of the California border, three Rosarito Beach (a popular tourist destination) police officers were beheaded not long ago for investigating the powerful Arellano Felix Drug Cartel. But, the Post noted, "to the children of Rosarito Beach, narco-gunmen had become local heroes because they drove fancy cars, wore the latest styles and acted like they owned the town ... (by) openly flashing their weapons (and) snorting cocaine in public ..." Now that's a nice role model for Mexican kids.

That's how bad it is just across our southern border and our federal government should pay at least as much attention to drug traffickers as it does to other international terrorists by giving President Calderon the help he needs to combat the drug cartels. Although the Bush administration has proposed a $500 million annual anti-drug package for Mexico, Congress has so far managed to ignore the proposal in this divisive election year.

My plea is for the Feds and state and local police to get serious about border control and drug trafficking and violence along the U.S. - Mexico border. And let's stop romanticizing the criminal illegal immigrants who make the drug problem much worse.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, worked on several major anti-drug projects during his 28-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.


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