VIOLENCE IN CANADA LINKED TO MEXICO DRUG WARS
Thursday, 15 April 2010 12:14 UK
The increase in gang violence on the streets of Vancouver
and other Canadian cities has direct ties to the grisly
drug-cartel wars that have terrorized Mexico and some American
border towns, say Canadian and U.S. police.
has reached a fever pitch in parts of Mexico where the government
of President Felipe Calderon has sent in 45,000 soldiers
and 5,000 federal police to try to curb cartel activity.
More than 7,000 have died in the last two years, with 1,000
deaths this January alone.
Tattoo's show allegiance to a particular
United States has felt the impact, with the cartels sending
assassins across the border and more and more cells springing
up across the country to distribute cocaine from the south.
distribution lines ultimately lead to Canada, making this
country far from immune to what's going on in Mexico, says
RCMP Superintendent Pat Fogarty with the combined forces
special enforcement unit.
gang-related violence in British Columbia and elsewhere
is "directly related to this Mexican war," he
said in an interview Tuesday.
all cocaine in Canada comes via Mexico, the hub for South
American producers. Canadian-based organized crime groups
buy the drug either directly from the cartels in Mexico,
or from middlemen in Los Angeles and other American cities.
the supply of cocaine is hampered by crackdowns in Mexico
or in the United States and the price goes up, says Fogarty,
competition for the remaining kilos gets tense in Canada.
The bigger players with good lines into the south prevail,
leaving the smaller ones scrambling.
are running around trying to find other sources of cocaine.
The price goes up and the guns come out," said Fogarty.
really about power. The people up here want the nice car,
the money and the flashy girl beside them, and if they lose
that they lose that status and the power."
came up several times at a high-profile U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration news conference last week. The agency announced
it had arrested 750 people linked to the notorious Sinaloa
cartel, and had seized more than 23 tonnes of drugs.
Washington to Maine, we have disrupted this cartel's domestic
operations - arresting U.S. cell heads ... and seriously
impacting their Canadian drug operations as well,"
acting administrator Michele Leonhart told reporters.
U.S. drug agency wouldn't point to a specific case where
Canadian police assisted with so-called Operation Xcellerator,
although Fogarty says the RCMP is constantly collaborating
with American colleagues on trafficking cases.
Agent Jeffrey Wagner of the agency's global enforcement
unit says the cartels have established cells or distribution
points close to the Canadian border. Those cells will help
funnel the cocaine to points north. They use flatbed trucks
covered with commercial merchandise, or even cars.
Mexicans aren't generally at the helm of Canadian gangs,
organized crime here does have contact with the Sinaloa
and Gulf cartels in Mexico.
don't think it's a stretch to see there might be emissaries
or people associated with those organizations, making trips
for negotiations or to see operations or to be treated by
the people they're selling to," said Wagner.
a business, you have people coming from one sector of the
world to see what's going on in another sector."
gangs don't always deal with cash. Often, the Canadians
will trade the coke for readily available ecstasy or pot.
Wagner: "What happens is the organizations, instead
of smuggling currency over the border to pay for cocaine
to bring up and then again smuggling ecstasy or marijuana
over the border, they look at it as a way to pay their debt."
U.S. drug agency is trying to raise awareness of the cartel
situation in Mexico and its impact on the United States,
with some success. Major American newspapers have splashed
details of the cartel wars on their front pages.
Washington Times quoted senior U.S . military officials
Tuesday who warned that if Mexico's two main cartels joined
forces, they would have the equivalent power of an army
Other senior figures in Washington have named Mexico as
one of the top domestic security threats, just behind Pakistan
around the cartels has been characterized by the most gruesome
kinds of killings. Victims have been decapitated and even
disposed of in vats of acid. Civilians have been caught
in the crossfire - at a recent festival in Morelia, drug
figures threw a grenade into a crowded marketplace.
Foreign Affairs Department last week revised its travel
report for Mexico, warning Canadian tourists to avoid areas
around the U.S. border, especially Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.
tourist destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, the Mayan
Riviera and Hualtuco have not been singled out, although
the resort towns of Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco are located
the affected states of Baja California and Guerrero.
Kent, Minister of State for the Americas, said the Canadian
government is collaborating with Mexico on several levels
to help it tackle the drug problem, including cooperation
at political, military and police levels.
said the issue of security throughout the region will be
a dominant issue at the upcoming Summit of the Americas.
recognizes and encourages Mexico's crackdown on drug gangs
and organized crime, but the side effect of success has
been the displacement of some of that to Guatemala and (other
countries)," Kent said in an interview.
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