Monday, December 9, 2019


U.S. war in Afghanistan marked by confusion, failure and lies, Pentagon report shows

Christopher Wilson
Senior Writer
Pentagon report: U.S. war in Afghanistan marked by confusion, failure and lies
A trove of documents obtained and published by the Washington Post detail how the United States’ nearly two-decade involvement in Afghanistan wasted billions of dollars, cost nearly 2,400 American lives and implicated three presidential administrations in lies to the public about military progress.
The Post obtained the documents after a legal battle with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which spent $11 million on a Lessons Learned project that involved interviews with over 600 people with firsthand experience with the country the U.S. invaded in 2001. SIGAR published sanitized reports based on their findings, but the underlying commentary from the Americans, NATO allies and Afghan officials they interviewed provided deeper insight into the war that began as an effort to topple the Taliban government, which had been harboring the terrorist network al-Qaida.
The disclosures are reminiscent of the “Pentagon Papers,” the Defense Department study of the origins of the U.S. war in Vietnam, which was leaked to the New York Times by researcher Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 and showed, according to the Times, that the administration of President Lyndon Johnson "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress."
A U.S. soldier shields himself after being dropped off for a mission near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, December 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
A U.S. soldier shields himself after being dropped off for a mission near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, December 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to the Washington Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking. … If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction ... 2,400 lives lost.”
Here are some of the key findings of the Post’s reporting, by reporters Craig Whitlock, Leslie Shapiro and Armand Emamdjomeh.

The Bush White House loses interest

President George W. Bush addresses U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, December 2008. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)
President George W. Bush addresses U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, December 2008. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)
President George W. Bush attacked Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, targeting the al-Qaida terrorist organization and the Taliban leadership of the country. When asked about the potential of a Vietnam-like quagmire days after the bombing began in October 2001, Bush said the operation could take up to a year or two.
“We learned some very important lessons in Vietnam,” Bush replied. “People often ask me, ‘How long will this last?’ This particular battlefront will last as long as it takes to bring al-Qaida to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen a month from now, it may take a year or two. But we will prevail.”
Operation Enduring Freedom ousted the Taliban government in Kabul, the capital, within a few months.
But according to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, by the next year Bush lost interest and the administration turned its attention to the upcoming invasion of Iraq. Rumsfeld attended several hours of White House meetings about Iraq on Oct. 21, 2002. He asked the president if he’d like to arrange a meeting with Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill, who had been serving as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan for the previous six months. Per a newly released memo that Rumsfeld wrote later that afternoon, Bush was confused and uninterested.
“He said, ‘Who is General McNeill?’” Rumsfeld wrote. “I said he is the general in charge of Afghanistan. He said, ‘Well, I don’t need to meet with him.’”
In his SIGAR interview, McNeill said that “there was no campaign plan in [the] early days,” adding that “Rumsfeld would get excited if there was any increase in the number of boots on the ground.”
At the time, McNeill commanded about 8,000 U.S. troops. Five years later, he was named NATO commander in Afghanistan, giving him control of 50,000 combined U.S. and NATO troops. By 2007, there was still plenty of confusion over strategy and end goals in the country.
“I tried to get someone to define for me what winning meant, even before I went over, and nobody could. Nobody would give me a good definition of what it meant,” McNeill told government interviewers. “Some people were thinking in terms of Jeffersonian democracy, but that’s just not going to happen in Afghanistan.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, right, and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hold a news briefing, March 25, 2002, in Washington. (Joe Marquette/AP Photo)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, right, and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hold a news briefing, March 25, 2002, in Washington. (Joe Marquette/AP Photo)
“I may be impatient. In fact, I know I’m a bit impatient,” Rumsfeld wrote in an April 2002 memo six months after the bombing began as the Bush White House projected success in the invasion. “We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave.” 
Since October 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many multiple times. According to Pentagon figures, 2,300 died while serving and over 20,000 more came home wounded. In addition, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and police force members have died in the longest war in American history.
James Dobbins, a career diplomat who served as a special envoy for Afghanistan under Bush and President Barack Obama, pointed out that opening multiple fronts in a global “war on terror” made things harder.
“First, you know, sort of just invade only one country at a time. I mean that seriously,” said Dobbins, according to a transcript of his remarks. “They take a lot of high-level time and attention and we’ll overload the system if we do more than one of these at a time.”

Obama policy failures

Many of those interviewed for the Lessons Learned review were critical of Obama’s strategy of announcing a surge in troops but adding a deadline of 18 months. Before the December 2009 announcement of an increase in troops, there was an assessment from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces.
Obama had said that the goal was to “disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat al-Qaida,” but the first draft of McChrystal’s policy review didn’t mention the terrorist group, because it was mostly gone from the country. An unnamed NATO official who participated in McChrystal’s review said edits were then made. 
President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaks about Afghanistan on Oct. 15, 2015, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaks about Afghanistan on Oct. 15, 2015, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
“In 2009, the perception was that al-Qaida was no longer a problem,” the NATO official told government interviewers. “But the entire reason for being in Afghanistan was al-Qaida. So then the second draft included them.”
The review also had to work around the fact that legal advisers didn’t want the Afghanistan presence to be known as a war, so per the NATO official, it was referred to as “not a war in a conventional sense.”
Obama announced his plan to deploy 30,000 more U.S. troops than initially approved by Bush in a counterinsurgency push. But he added a late qualifier that confused some officials: Those troops would begin coming home in 18 months.
“The timeline was just sprung on us,” Army Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command at the time, said in his SIGAR interview. “Two days before the president made the speech, on a Sunday, we all got called and were told to be in the Oval Office that night for the president to lay out what he would announce two evenings later. And he laid it out, there it is.” 
Barnett Rubin, an Afghan expert advising the State Department, said he and others were “stupefied” at the decision. While it was understandable that Obama wanted to assert that Americans wouldn’t fight forever, “there was a mismatch between deadline and strategy,” Rubin added. “With that deadline, you can’t use that strategy.”
Officials interviewed by SIGAR said that the search was then on for data to prove that the surge was working even if that wasn’t the reality on the ground.
“It was impossible to create good metrics. We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory, and none of it painted an accurate picture,” a senior National Security Council official told government interviewers in 2016. “The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war.”
The official said that suicide bombings in Kabul were portrayed as a sign of desperation from the Taliban, while U.S. troops dying were pointed to as evidence that Americans were on the offensive. 
“And this went on and on for two reasons,” the senior NSC official said, “to make everyone involved look good and to make it look like the troops and resources were having the kind of effect where removing them would cause the country to deteriorate.”
Soldiers carry the remains of Sgt. 1st Class Elis Barreto Ortiz on Sept. 7, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Ortiz was killed by an IED near Kabul, Afghanistan, two days earlier. (Cliff Owen/AP Photo)
Soldiers carry the remains of Sgt. 1st Class Elis Barreto Ortiz on Sept. 7, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Ortiz was killed by an IED near Kabul, Afghanistan, two days earlier. (Cliff Owen/AP Photo)
Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who later advised President Trump’s campaign and briefly served as his national security adviser, said diplomats and military commanders in the field also painted rosier pictures.
“From the ambassadors down to the low level, [they all say] we are doing a great job,” said Flynn in a 2015 interview. “Really? So if we are doing such a great job, why does it feel like we are losing?”
Of the leaders who rotated through the country, Flynn recounted, “they all said, when they left, they accomplished that mission. Every single commander. Not one commander is going to leave Afghanistan . . . and say, ‘You know what, we didn’t accomplish our mission.’ ” 
“Bad news was often stifled,” said Bob Crowley, a retired Army colonel who served as a counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014. “There was more freedom to share bad news if it was small — we’re running over kids with our MRAPs [armored vehicles] — because those things could be changed with policy directives. But when we tried to air larger strategic concerns about the willingness, capacity or corruption of the Afghan government, it was clear it wasn’t welcome.” 

‘A dark pit for endless money’ 

U.S. soldiers from D Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment near forward operating base Gamberi in Afghanistan, December 2014. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
U.S. soldiers from D Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment near forward operating base Gamberi in Afghanistan, December 2014. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Multiple reports across the two decades show how much money was wasted in the country. Beyond direct military expenditures, the U.S. and its allies spent $133 billion on nonmilitary aid — more, adjusted for inflation, than the amount spent rebuilding Europe after World War II. One program was the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which was funded by Congress for $3.7 billion. The military could spend only $2.3 billion of the amount, and the Pentagon was able to provide financial details for only $890 million worth of projects in a 2015 audit. An unidentified NATO official called the program “a dark pit of endless money for anything with no accountability.”
One unnamed contractor said he was expected to distribute $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a U.S. county. He once asked a visiting congressman whether he could responsibly spend that kind of money back home: “He said hell no. ‘Well, sir, that’s what you just obligated us to spend, and I’m doing it for communities that live in mud huts with no windows.’ ”
The money fueled corruption in the country, from President Hamid Karzai stuffing the ballot box for his 2009 reelection to Karzai’s brother and other political allies receiving hundreds of millions in loans from the country’s largest bank. In addition, politicians (including Karzai, who said the CIA delivering bags of cash to his office was “nothing unusual”) and warlords received large sums intended to keep them on the United States’ side. Some officials said that by distributing the money in Afghanistan instead of to consultants in Washington, it at least had a chance of having a positive effect. 
“I want it to disappear in Afghanistan, rather than in the Beltway,” said Richard Boucher, who served as assistant secretary of state for South Asia during the Bush administration. “Probably in the end it is going to make sure that more of the money gets to some villager, maybe through five layers of corrupt officials, but still gets to some villager.” 
Since 2001, the United States has spent nearly $9 billion on attempted drug enforcement in the country, whose poppy fields supply 80 percent of the world’s heroin. Despite that massive investment, SIGAR described the efforts as a “failure” in a report last year.
Those interviewed by SIGAR recounted smaller examples of money being spent to no end: One Army brigade built 50 schools, but due to a lack of teachers, many of the buildings were not used and some were even turned into bomb workshops for the Taliban. Lute, the general who worked under both the Bush and Obama administrations, told a story of a new police station opening that included an atrium, but the chief couldn’t open the door because he had never seen a doorknob like it.
“We are a rich country and can pour money down a hole and it doesn’t bust the bank. But should we? Can’t we get a bit more rational about this?” said Lute.
“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, told government interviewers, adding, “After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan.”
The current Trump policy on Afghanistan is muddled: The U.S. commander in Afghanistan has said the number of U.S. troops in the country has been reduced by 2,000 over the past year, but Trump abruptly cut off peace talks with the Taliban in September before saying they were back on last month. He has called for a ceasefire, but experts say there would be little compelling the Taliban to accept that concession.
“The Americans walked away from the negotiating table, and now the ball is on their side — it is up to them to come back if they want to solve this and get the document to signing and to the stage of implementation,” Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban’s negotiation team, told the New York Times. “Our positions remain the same.”


Dark Waters: American capitalism poisons its population

Directed by Todd Haynes; screenplay by 
Mario Correa and Matthew Michael 
Carnahan, based on the 2016 article “The 
Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst 
Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich, published 
in the New York Times Magazine
Todd Haynes’ new movie Dark Waters is a dramatic recounting of the nearly 20-year legal battle against the massive scale of toxic chemical contamination in Parkersburg, West Virginia by the DuPont chemical company.
Scripted by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan, the movie is based on the January 2016 article, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” by Nathaniel Rich, published in the New York Times Magazine. Rich is the son of former longtime Times drama critic and columnist, Frank Rich.
Mark Ruffalo in Dark Waters
This is Haynes’ eighth feature film. His body of work includes Safe (1995), Far from Heaven (2002), Carol (2015) and Wonderstruck (2017). He also directed the five-part HBO miniseries, Mildred Pierce (based on the 1941 James M. Cain novel), in 2011, one of his most intriguing efforts. Haynes has demonstrated that he is one of today’s more talented and conscious filmmakers. With Dark Waters, he is stepping into somewhat new territory by dramatizing a horrific social crime—an episode that outraged him, as he has explained to interviewers.
The film’s prologue, set in 1975, shows a group of teens venturing into a fenced-off, murky pond adjacent to a DuPont facility. Their nighttime swim is interrupted by men in a boat marked “containment,” spraying the greasy surface of the highly polluted waters.
Mark Ruffalo plays Rob Bilott, an attorney at a very prominent Cincinnati-based law firm, Taft Stettinius & Hollister. In 1998, Bilott is approached by a farmer, Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp) from Parkersburg, West Virginia, an area that Rob has visited as a child. Wilbur is convinced that DuPont, which operates a nearby site more than 35 times the size of the Pentagon, is polluting the town and killing his cows. Parkersburg is basically owned by DuPont, whose motto is “Better Living Through Chemistry.” Wilbur has no hope of obtaining government or legal assistance in the city.
Although Rob defends chemical companies for a living, he nevertheless agrees to look into Wilbur’s claims. The farmer has taken videotapes documenting the demise of his cows. He has also dissected the animals, exposing unusual discolorations and textures of the organs. Some of the cows had malformed hoofs and giant lesions protruding from their hides, among other deformities. DuPont, with the connivance of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has charged Wilbur with inadequate husbandry, i.e., “poor nutrition, inadequate veterinary care and lack of fly control.”
In 1999, Rob files a federal lawsuit against DuPont and soon discovers that in 1951, DuPont started purchasing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), or C8, from 3M for use in the manufacturing of Teflon, the coating for “happy pans.” (The “laboratory-formed chemical,” known as C8 “because it contains eight carbon molecules,” was used “to smooth out the lumpiness of freshly manufactured Teflon.”—EcoWatch)
The chemical company rakes in $1 billion in annual profits just from its Teflon products. Over the ensuing decades, DuPont pumped hundreds of thousands of pounds of PFOA powder through the outfall pipes of its Parkersburg facility into the Ohio River.
In one scene, Rob, to the initial shock of his wife Sarah (Anne Hathaway) begins frantically stripping their kitchen of its pots, pans and flooring. (According to Rich, the fluoropolymers industry is “responsible for the high-performance plastics used in many modern devices, including kitchen products, computer cables, implantable medical devices and bearings and seals used in cars and airplanes. PFOA was only one of more than 60,000 synthetic chemicals that companies produced and released into the world without regulatory oversight.”)
Bill Camp in Dark Waters
DuPont agrees to an epidemiological study to determine whether there is a link between PFOA and disease. If such a connection is found, DuPont will pay for medical monitoring of the affected group in perpetuity.
It takes seven years for the study’s findings to be released. It is now 2011 and the wait has been a hard one. Rob has taken several pay cuts and is losing the confidence of his firm and his family. There is finally proof of a ‘‘probable link’’ between PFOA and “kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, pre-eclampsia and ulcerative colitis.” DuPont backs out of the agreement, even though decades earlier, the company tested the children of pregnant employees in their Teflon division. Of seven births, two had severe eye defects.
In Rich’s article, Bilott asserts that he does not regret the long and all-consuming battle against DuPont. “The thought that DuPont could get away with this for this long, that they could keep making a profit off it, then get the agreement of the governmental agencies to slowly phase it out, only to replace it with an alternative with unknown human effects—we told the agencies about this in 2001, and they’ve essentially done nothing. That’s 14 years of this stuff continuing to be used, continuing to be in the drinking water all over the country. DuPont just quietly switches over to the next substance. And in the meantime, they fight everyone who has been injured by it.”
Dark Waters is a harrowing, gripping film. Straightforward and zealous, its rich cinematography captures DuPont’s environmental destruction of West Virginia, the ruination of the state’s farms and landscape in strikingly graphic manner. The psychological trauma and turmoil of the sick and dying and of those who dare challenge the corporate behemoth are wrenching.
The actors are clearly acting in part on the basis of their collective social conscience. Ruffalo performs in Dark Waters with considerable passion, empathy and integrity. He recently tweeted that it was “time for an economic revolution. Capitalism today is failing us, killing us, and robbing from our children’s future.” Unsurprisingly, Ruffalo’s tweet went on to express support for Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party “brand.”
Ruffalo, Hathaway and Tim Robbins, as Rob’s superior, dramatically convey the importance of the story. Camp, playing a modest farmer destined to die in the midst of the legal action against DuPont, is particularly effective as the irrepressible instigator of the battle with the corporate giant.
And for making such a hard-hitting film, Haynes has come under attack. From DuPont first of all, of course, and its apologists. The firm issued a statement, asserting, “Unfortunately, this movie claims to be ‘inspired’ by real events and appears to grossly misrepresent things that happened years ago, including our history, our values and science. The film’s previews depict wholly imagined events. Claims that our company tried to hide conclusive scientific findings are inaccurate.”
The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association chimed in, claiming that Dark Waters “backed by a well-financed network of activists, investors, and trial attorneys [outside agitators!]—ignores the truth in a bid to make money and boost political special-interest groups. In a thinly veiled ploy to sell tickets and score political points, Dark Waters and its backers misrepresent our way of life in the Ohio River Valley.”
More significant are the attacks from those who would like to pigeonhole Haynes along the lines of the description offered by the British Film Institute, to the effect that he is best known “as a pioneer of the New Queer Cinema movement that emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s.” That he “foregrounds sexualities that are transgressive, deviant and disruptive. In doing so, he actively recentres the oft-repressed identities of those who sit on the outskirts of dominant culture.”
Haynes clearly comes equipped with some knowledge of left-wing directors such as Douglas Sirk and R.W. Fassbinder. Haynes offered a video introduction to Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) when it was re-released on video in 2003. In 2012, Haynes presented an homage to Fassbinder at the Munich International Film Festival.
However, respect and admiration for earlier filmmakers do not overcome all the difficulties, including contemporary social moods and pressures. Haynes’ own Far From Heaven (2002)—a reworking of Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows (1955), the film that also provided the inspiration for Ali: Fear Eats the Soul— is an unsatisfying work that does not tackle the class issues in the fashion of Sirk or Fassbinder. As the BFI description would indicate, Haynes has been more than a little diverted by identity politics.
So there is a certain objective significance to his making of Dark Waters. Filmmakers are now feeling pressure from the worsening of conditions for broad layers of the population and from social forces “below.”
This angers some of Haynes’ erstwhile admirers, disturbed that he is taking up social issues and the fate of ordinary people. One such commentator headlines his review, “What the hell is Todd Haynes doing behind the camera of generic docudrama Dark Waters?,” and calls the film “a crushing disappointment.”
Tim Robbins in Dark Waters
An interviewer from Filmmaker Magazine, so obsessed with identity politics that he performs contortions to try and see the film through some non-existent racial prism, baits Haynes about his placement of “people of color.” To which the director aptly replies: “Well, I’m sorry. I was diverting it more to a description of class, I guess, than of race.”
Haynes also indirectly answers such critics in an interview with GQ: “It’s a story about a massive scale of environmental contamination of a toxic chemical. And [the story] reminds us of global issues about climate change, our policies around our energy systems, and their unsustainability. These are things that have moved into the forefront of concerns among Americans. But I also did this as a filmmaker. It was a dramatic challenge to tell a story that I find staggering. It had a lot to do with me wanting to stretch myself in this kind of genre, with something I hadn’t done before.”
He further points out in Vox: “Then there’s just our environmental situation—global warming, and a culture, and a country, and a leadership that favors industry and keeps defanging regulatory oversight. It’s completely subservient to the needs of commercial interest.” Haynes adds, “We need to make a change, and we’re facing an election year.”
Various commentators have also condescendingly suggested that Dark Waters is merely one more depiction of corporate criminality, hardly concealing their yawns. Quite legitimately, Jake Coyle of the Associated Press noted that it might “seem like there are too many corporate exposés. While they could use some new angles and perhaps fewer lawyer protagonists, I suspect that’s not the problem. Dark Waters plays like a Chernobyl for America. Unfortunately, we probably need a lot more of these.”
In any event, it is entirely to Haynes’ credit that he is “stretching” himself and addressing crucial social realities. Many other artists will unquestionably have to do the same in the coming period.



“Heroin is not produced in the United States. Every gram of heroin present in the United States provides unequivocal evidence of a failure of border security because every gram of heroin was smuggled into the United States. Indeed, this is precisely a point that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on October 18, 2017 when he again raised the need to secure the U.S./Mexican border to protect American lives.” Michael Cutler …

Gulf Cartel Becoming More Violent in Texas

Gulf Cartel SUV
Tamaulipas State Police

Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector say they are becoming more concerned for their safety after several incidents with the Gulf Cartel dating back to August of this year. Several agents recently explained their concerns on the condition of anonymity.
During the final week of November, agents in the Rio Grande Valley were again preoccupied as Gulf Cartel gunmen engaged in shootouts with the Cartel del Noreste (CDN) faction of Los Zetas in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas. The city sits immediately across the border from Roma, Texas. Back-to-back drug seizures also ended in a desperate attempt to avoid apprehension.
The cartel members conducted what is commonly referred to as a “splashdown,” where smugglers drive their vehicles into shallow sections of the border river to reach U.S. soil. Immediately after, a standoff with Border Patrol agents from the Mobile Response Team (MRT) occurred. Agents were forced to call for backup as Gulf Cartel operatives refused to flee the U.S. They held their ground–yelling, blocking, and threatening to physically take on the agents who were seizing the drug load. To be clear, all of this occurred in Texas. During the standoff, cartel members from Mexico’s side of the river retrieved a large portion of the drugs from their partially submerged vehicle.
An agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity with Breitbart Texas said colleagues are becoming more concerned for their safety as the Gulf Cartel grows more emboldened and violent toward U.S. authorities. The agent added their belief that the cartel’s increasingly hostile behavior suggests a sense of desperation.
Some locals in Roma, Texas, are also feeling the worsening aggression, according to conversations with Breitbart Texas. During the early morning hours of December 3, a resident reported they could hear explosions and gunfire coming from Miguel Aleman. They said the fighting sounded closer than in the past. As a point of fact, these creeping clashes started in early July. It was around that time when CDN took over Los Guerra, Tamaulipas, from the Gulf Cartel. Today, the two are still battling for control of Miguel Aleman.
Three incidents in August help to illuminate the new dangers faced by the Border Patrol.
On August 9, a Border Patrol marine unit was fired upon with over 50 rounds from multiple ambush positions on the Mexican side of the riverbank. The Border Patrol unit was struck numerous times, but no agents were injured.
On August 12, agents reported seeing approximately 20 gunmen land on an international river island in the Rio Grande called Fronton Island. The cartel members kept their presence for several hours before disappearing, leading to a specialized unit response.
On August 13, dozens of CDN armored and non-armored vehicles openly traveled in a military-style convoy to Miguel Aleman. Cartel members utilized social media apps to announce they were only in town to attack the Gulf Cartel and locals should feel free to go about their daily business. The actions between the two groups led to tens of thousands of rounds fired. The conflict was carried out with military-style weapons and resulted in multiple deaths.
The conflict between the two cartels is not ending anytime soon. A resident of Roma who regularly travels to Miguel Aleman explained to Breitbart Texas that most shootouts are occurring in the southern part of the town. They typically happen on the back roads that lead into Miguel Aleman, which is consistent with recent Cartel Chronicles coverage detailing the use of rural dirt roads in the area.
Border Patrol agents privately tell Breitbart Texas that they need to improve the public’s understanding of the increasing risks their colleagues face on a regular basis. The solution is clear: agents are in need of more imaging support for real-time situational awareness and surveillance. The concept is often referred to as “ISR” (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance).
Jaeson Jones is a retired Captain from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division and a Breitbart Texas contributor. While on duty, he managed daily operations for the Texas Rangers Border Security Operations Center.

GRAPHIC: Gulf Cartel Gunmen Burn Rivals Alive in Mexico near Texas Border

Reynosa Fire
Screenshot Twitter

REYNOSA, Tamaulipas – Gulf Cartel gunmen continue to spread terror among their rivals and citizens alike by leaking photographs and videos of gruesome executions. In the most recent case, Gulf Cartel members from the border city of Reynosa captured the moment when they set fire to two of their rivals who were still alive.
The gruesome execution follows several days of shootouts in Reynosa where two rival factions continue to fight for control. One faction, called Los Metros, currently controls most of Reynosa and the territories out west while a faction from Matamoros, called Escorpiones or Ciclones, has been trying to gain territory by force, Breitbart Texas reported.
A video recorded by members of the Reynosa faction of the Gulf Cartel and obtained by citizen journalists captured the moment when gunmen from Los Metros set fire to two of their rivals.

Integrantes del grupo "Metros" queman vivos a dos masculinos de la contra y envía mensaje para los "Escorpiones" y "Ciclones" que ingresen a

Embedded video

The men are almost immediately engulfed in flames and can be heard screaming as another man begins to deliver a warning to members of the Matamoros faction. In the warning, the gunman tells them to stay out of their territory or they will meet a similar fate.
Soon after, the man recording the video pulls out a handgun and begins firing at the burning men in an apparent sign of mercy. The bodies of the burned men have not been found.
The video makes mention of a series of recent kidnappings in Reynosa where several innocent women have gone missing. The motive for such kidnappings remains unclear. In recent days, Reynosa has seen a sharp spike in violence that manifested itself in shootouts, carjackings, kidnappings, and executions primarily on the city’s eastern side.
Editor’s Note: Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities.  The writers would face certain death at the hands of the various cartels that operate in those areas including the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas if a pseudonym were not used. Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by “A.C. Del Angel” from Tamaulipas.

Enough Is Enough’: Josh Hawley Calls for Sanctions on Mexican Cartels

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said Wednesday that “enough is enough” and called on the U.S. government to sanction Mexican officials and cartel members complicit in trafficking meth and killing Americans.

Hawley called for harsh retribution against the Mexican cartels complicit in ambushing and murdering nine American women and children near the New Mexico border.
In the wake of the attack on Americans, as well as the Mexican cartels’ complicity in Missouri’s meth crisis, the Missouri conservative called for the U.S. government to sanction the cartel members who are “openly slaughtering American citizens.”
“With Mexico, enough is enough. US government should impose sanctions on Mexican officials, including freezing assets, who won’t confront cartels,” Hawley tweeted Wednesday. “Cartels are flooding MO [Missouri] w/ meth, trafficking children, & openly slaughtering American citizens. And Mexico looks the other way.”
Hawley said that just over the last 14 days, there had been over 40 drug overdoses coming from drugs across America’s southern border.
Hawley continued, “In SW Mo last two weeks alone, over 40 drug overdoses & multiple deaths from drugs coming across [the] southern border. Story is the same all over the state. Cartels increasingly call the shots in Mexico, and for our own security, we cannot allow this to continue.”

 · 6h

With Mexico, enough is enough. US government should impose sanctions on Mexican officials, including freezing assets, who won’t confront cartels. Cartels are flooding MO w/ meth, trafficking children, & openly slaughtering American citizens. And Mexico looks the other way

In SW Mo last two weeks alone, over 40 drug overdoses & multiple deaths from drugs coming across southern border. Story is the same all over the state. Cartels increasingly call the shots in Mexico, and for our own security, we cannot allow this to continue

Hawley spent much of his August recess traveling across rural Missouri, learning what matters to the average Missourian.

This AM I had the great privilege of meeting Brittany Tune, a nurse, a mother of two, a follower of God, and a remarkable woman. Born & raised in rural Shannon Co., she has raised two kids on her own while putting herself through nursing school & dedicating her life to others

Brittany says meth is hammering this community. She has many friends & family members who have been touched by this epidemic. She worries about what it means for her own kids, ages 15 & 10. It’s much worse now than when she was growing up, she says

In an interview with Breitbart News in September, Hawley said that meth coming from Mexico is destroying local Missouri communities.
“Come with me to any town, any town in the state of Missouri of any size, and I will show you communities that are drowning in meth, drowning in it. It is literally killing people; it is destroying families it is destroying schools and whole communities,” he said.
“Missouri is a border state,” Hawley said, adding that “we have to got to secure the border to stop the meth” and “stop the flow of illegal immigration.”
Hawley’s remarks about the Mexican cartel attack on Americans mirrors that of President Donald Trump, who said Tuesday that the United States was ready for war against the drug cartels.
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” the president tweeted.
Trump has campaigned on cracking down on violence on the southern border as well as handling the drug cartels.
During an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Trump said he is “very seriously” thinking of designating the drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).
“It’s psychological, but it’s also economic,” Trump told Breitbart News in March. “As terrorists — as terrorist organizations, the answer is yes. They are.”
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) told Breitbart News in May that he would back Trump’s potential designation of the Mexican cartels as FTOs and that seizing cartel leader El Chapo’s assets would build the wall and make the cartels pay for it. In a similar manner to Missouri, Daines told Breitbart News about how Montana has been ravaged by meth from Mexican cartels.
Daines said that by seizing “billions” of El Chapo’s assets, it “would absolutely fulfill President Trump’s promise to build the wall and make Mexico pay for it. In this case, it would be a Mexican cartel paying for it would be an excellent idea.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


Point/Counterpoint: Should Mexican Cartels Be Designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations?

Washington, D.C (December 2, 2019) – The Center for Immigration Studies presents arguments for and against the Trump administration’s actions to designate some Mexican drug trafficking cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).  An FTO designation triggers powerful American authorities to freeze financial assets, prosecute for activities that support terrorism, and bar entry into the country.

CIS fellow Dan Cadman urges the designation of cartels as FTOs, arguing, “Nine dual-citizen U.S./Mexican Mormons were murdered recently in Mexico, U.S. diplomatic personnel have been brazenly attacked and U.S. enforcement agents murdered on the Mexican side when it suits cartel interests. In U.S. border states and major metropolitan areas, many drug-related murders are the direct result of struggles for control between cartels.” Cadman continues, “We must up our own game. Official designation brings with it a multiplicity of legal authorities and penalties that can make a difference in how the United States responds, in our own interest, to the struggle for control of Mexico.”

CIS fellow Todd Bensman argues that the U.S. hold off designating Mexican Cartels as FTOs as the action could dilute “America's war on 
some 70 currently designated Islamic terrorist groups that aspire, emphatically unlike any of Mexico's cartels, to kill as many Americans as possible on American soil the present war on Jihadists.” He continues, “The sometimes shrill calls, with each new gun battle or atrocity, that Mexican cartels imminently threaten U.S. national security don't hold up under scrutiny, at least not without more evidence. If the U.S. government insists on adding a massive layer of new terrorists to existing U.S. counterterrorism systems, plans for how to resource it and allocate the greater burden among agencies, without taking from the war on terror, should be laid out first.”

FTO designation is a powerful tool. So should the U.S. designate Mexico's major cartels as foreign terrorist organizations under 
Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)?  Section 219 provides that the secretary of state may designate a group as a FTO on finding that it engages in terrorist activity as defined at INA Section 212(a)(3) or terrorism as defined at 22 U.S.C. Section 2656f(d)(2). Does Mexican Cartel conduct meet the threshold definitions, including specifically as a threat to the national security of the United States?

Mexico Will Reject U.S. Designations of Cartels as Terrorists, Says AMLO

Mexico’s president announced Monday that he will reject any designation of cartels as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.

During his morning press conference, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) said he would not accept the U.S.’s potential designation of cartels as foreign terrorist organizations–which could enable direct actions in Mexico.
“We will never accept that, we are not ‘vendepatrias’ (nation sellers),” Lopez Obrador said.
The president’s statements come after the relatives of nine U.S. women and children who died in a cartel ambush in Sonora revealed they would be meeting with President Donald Trump. The family is expected to ask for some cartels to be labeled as terrorist organizations.
Last week, Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Cabeza de Vaca used the term “narco-terrorism” to refer to the brazen attacks on citizens of Nuevo Laredo by a faction of Los Zetas Cartel called Cartel Del Noreste. Cabeza de Vaca publicly called out Mexico City for past inaction in confronting Los Zetas.
Earlier this year, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) filed legislation for the most violent cartels in Mexico to be labeled as a foreign terrorist organizations, a move that would limit cartel members’ abilities to travel and provide tools to better clamp down on financial transactions, Breitbart Texas reported.
On Monday morning, Lopez Obrador’s foreign relations minister Marcelo Ebrard called designations unnecessary and inconvenient, adding that the U.S. and Mexico have a healthy working relationship in fighting cartels. According to Ebrard, terrorist designations would give the U.S. the legal avenue to take direct action on cartels on Mexican soil.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at     


"The threat of Mexican cartel violence and the drugs they bring into our nation can’t be overstated," said Russell Coleman, the top federal prosecutor for the Western District of Kentucky. His office has prosecuted Sinaloa and CJNG members.

“Critics say the Mexican president, known as AMLO, seems more concerned about using federal troops to keep South American immigrants out of his country than challenging the cartels.”

“The cartel also recruits spies in the Mexican government and police to keep its leaders out of jail and avoid drug busts. Those who refuse bribes are threatened or killed.”


"While other witnesses at Mr. Guzmán’s trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn have testified about huge payoffs from traffickers to the Mexican police and public officials, the testimony about Mr. Peña Nieto was the most egregious allegation yet. If true, it suggests that corruption by drug cartels had reached into the highest level of Mexico’s political establishment."

The former president of Mexico, Enrique Peña 

Nieto, took a $100 million bribe from Joaquín 

Guzmán Loera, the infamous crime lord known as

El Chapo, according to a witness at Mr. Guzman’s 


“Mexican authorities have arrested the former mayor of a rural community in the border state of Coahuila in connection with the kidnapping, murder and incineration of hundreds of victims through a network of ovens at the hands of the Los Zetas cartel. The arrest comes after Breitbart Texas exposed not only the horrors of the mass extermination, but also the cover-up and complicity of the Mexican government.”
Macias found success following the cartel's three-pronged business model:

•        Selling drugs in bulk to local traffickers, who then sold to area dealers.

•        Paying semitruck drivers to haul hidden caches of drugs into the U.S. and return cash to Mexico.

•        Using others to deposit drug profits in cartel-controlled bank accounts.

A ruthless Mexican drug lord’s empire is devastating families with its grip on small-town USA


Beth Warren, Louisville Courier Journal

Somewhere deep in Mexico's remote wilderness, the world’s most dangerous and wanted drug lord is hiding. If someone you love dies from an overdose tonight, he may very well be to blame.

He's called "El Mencho."

And though few Americans know his name, authorities promise they soon will.

Rubén "Nemesio" Oseguera Cervantes is the leader of Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, better known as CJNG. With a $10 million reward on his head, he’s on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Most Wanted list.

El Mencho’s powerful international syndicate is flooding the U.S. with thousands of kilos of methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl every year — despite being targeted repeatedly by undercover stings, busts and lengthy investigations.

The unending stream of narcotics has contributed to this country’s unprecedented addiction crisis, devastating families and killing more than 300,000 people since 2013.

CJNG’s rapid rise heralds the latest chapter in a generations-old drug war in which Mexican cartels are battling to supply Americans’ insatiable demand for narcotics.

A nine-month Courier Journal investigation reveals how CJNG's reach has spread across the U.S. in the past five years, overwhelming cities and small towns with massive amounts of drugs.

The investigation documented CJNG operations in at least 35 states and Puerto Rico, a sticky web that has snared struggling business owners, thousands of drug users and Mexican immigrants terrified to challenge cartel orders.

How we reported this story

Throughout 2019, Courier Journal reporters analyzed thousands of court records and transcripts of more than 100 CJNG-linked cases around the country and talked to more than 150 federal drug agents, police officers, defense attorneys and prosecutors, as well as relatives, co-workers and neighbors of those accused. The team traveled to 15 cities across the United States and to Mexico City and Guadalajara. Reporters also reached out to more than two dozen alleged cartel members or associates.

It also identified at least two dozen "cells," which the DEA defines as places where cartel members set up shop to do business and live in the communities.

The unparalleled speed of CJNG’s growth coast to coast in less than a decade has made the cartel a “clear, present and growing danger,” says Uttam Dhillon, DEA's acting administrator.

The billion-dollar criminal organization has a large and disciplined army, control of extensive drug routes throughout the U.S., sophisticated money-laundering techniques and an elaborate digital terror campaign, federal drug agents say.

Its extreme savagery in Mexico includes beheadings, public hangings, acid baths, even cannibalism. The cartel circulates these images of torture and execution on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to spread fear and intimidation.

'They're killing the next generation'

In Mexico, El Mencho is a household name.

But in America, few know who he is or why his rise to power matters.

Brenda and Karl Cooley of Louisville certainly didn’t know his name when their son Adam overdosed on fentanyl in March 2017. Adam died midsentence while writing a thank-you note to a friend on the eve of entering a rehab facility.

Who was to blame? his anguished parents asked.

"They’re killing the next generation, and one of them was my son," Brenda Cooley said.

Courier Journal reporters pieced together CJNG’s network, from the suburbs of Seattle, the beaches of Mississippi and South Carolina, California’s coastline, the mountains of Virginia, small farming towns in Iowa and Nebraska, and across the Bluegrass State, including in Louisville, Lexington and Paducah.

A cartel member even worked at Kentucky's famed Calumet Farm, home to eight Kentucky Derby and three Triple Crown winners.

Ciro Macias Martinez led a double life, working as a horse groomer by day and overseeing the flow of $30 million worth of drugs into Kentucky by night before being imprisoned in 2018 for meth trafficking and money laundering, federal records show.

El Mencho’s drug empire "is putting poison on the streets of the U.S.," said Chris Evans, who runs the DEA’s day-to-day global operations.

CJNG has skirted Mexican and U.S. inspections at legal border crossings by hiding drugs in semitrailers hauling tomatoes, avocados and other produce, dumping at least 5 tons of cocaine and 5 tons of meth into this country every month, according to DEA estimates.

It shows no signs of slowing down.

"It's important for all Americans to understand the threat to their community and what might impact their everyday lives," Evans said.

While officials can't say how much of the U.S. drug trade comes from CJNG, they predict the powerful organization is poised to supplant the more well-known and established Sinaloa Cartel as the world's most powerful drug trafficking organization.

CJNG’s increased distribution of fentanyl across the country has helped the synthetic opioid unseat heroin as the nation’s No. 1 killer.

The Courier Journal could not say with certainty who supplied the drugs that killed Adam Cooley. But federal agents say CJNG was Kentucky’s main supplier of fentanyl at the time of his death.

Throughout 2019, reporters analyzed thousands of court records of more than 100 criminal drug cases around the country and talked to more than 150 federal drug agents, police officers, defense attorneys and prosecutors.

They also contacted more than two dozen accused cartel members or CJNG associates in prison and traveled to Mexico City, Guadalajara and 15 U.S. cities to see firsthand the far-reaching repercussions of El Mencho’s cartel.

The investigation documented how in each new community, CJNG uses local traffickers who can blend in to sell their drugs, with no regard for their race or ethnicity.

"If it’s coming from a cartel, they could have sold a pound to Asians, black guys, outlaw motorcycle gangs, white trash," said Lt. Jeremy Williams, of the Ashe County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina. His testimony helped convict a trafficker connected to CJNG in 2014.

"Once the cartel brings a huge load across (the border) and throws it out there for everyone to sell, it’s out of their hands. They’ve got their money," Williams said.

El Mencho and his cartel, with more than 5,000 members worldwide, have a clear-cut objective:
"They want to control the entire drug market," said Matthew Donahue, who oversees foreign operations for the DEA.

"If that takes them killing other cartels or killing innocent people, they will do it."

CJNG's rapid rise to power and its expansion have stunned and stymied America’s top drug fighters.
"I was surprised that CJNG’s efforts and tentacles were reaching into Kentucky, that they had expanded their reach that rapidly,” said Evans, who previously headed the Louisville Field Division.
He got his first glimpse of CJNG’s success when he was overseeing drug cases in Los Angeles, a key cartel hub.

"I still expected that they would be in markets in the Southwest, a little bit into some of the other major corridors, such as Atlanta and Chicago,” Evans said.

Instead, The Courier Journal’s investigation documented cells where CJNG members moved in, settling into a luxury condo near downtown Nashville’s honky-tonk district; an upscale Hollywood high-rise apartment near Sunset Boulevard; and sidewalk-lined suburbs in Cairo, Illinois; Johnson City, Tennessee; and Kansas City, Missouri.

CJNG even established a cell in south-central Virginia, buying or renting a cluster of modest homes in Axton — an unincorporated community of roughly 6,500.

In Mexico, a DEA investigator said he was stunned when he learned CJNG cells were popping up in communities as small as Axton.

"What are they doing way out in the middle of nowhere?" he asked his team.

Hearing more details, the investigator, who asked not to be identified to protect his work, acknowledged to The Courier Journal: "It’s a great strategy."

CJNG members have followed relatives or friends who left Mexico for the U.S. to find jobs. The cartel exploits its connections with otherwise hard-working immigrants, said Dan Dodds, who leads DEA operations in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

And court records detail how the cartel lures those who need money to serve as drug or cash couriers or money launderers.

For example, a Lexington waitress seeking cash to pay for dental assistant courses ended up making bank deposits that she didn’t know were for CJNG, according to court transcripts.

She got her older sister, a struggling single mom, involved to make quick money.

Both are now in prison for money laundering, and her sister, who has two children living in Kentucky, faces deportation.

In cases in which immigrants resist the cartel's offer, CJNG members often threatened violence — to them or their loved ones back in Mexico, according to court cases and law enforcement officials.
Sheriff's investigators say a Paducah, Kentucky, business owner who fell behind on a drug debt was warned last year by the cartel: "If we don’t get our money, we’re gonna kill you and your family.”
The cartel's expansion into smaller, unexpected communities began to mushroom about five years ago as U.S. intelligence analysts tracked its movements far beyond border towns and major hubs.
Smaller towns. Smaller police forces. More unchecked opportunities.

"Big cities have big police departments and DEA, FBI and (Homeland Security Investigations) and an ability to look at intelligence and focus on their cells and contacts,” said the DEA's Donahue.
"But it’s a little different when you go to Boise, Idaho, and other small towns where they don’t have the resources to really focus on an international cartel."

Americans who may not know of CJNG today should take note, Dodds said.

"I promise, you will hear more about El Mencho."

Filling America's drug demand

The Courier Journal's investigation into CJNG's surge comes during a recent wave of significant violence among warring drug cartels in Mexico.

In mid-October, 13 Mexican police officers were killed in an ambush in El Mencho's home state of Michoacán in western Mexico. Attackers in armored vehicles opened fire with high-caliber weapons, gunning down officers driving five SUVs.

CJNG took credit on social media for the massacre.

In a Nov. 5 tweet, after nine people — including six children — with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship were killed by cartels (though different ones than CJNG), President Donald Trump vowed to assist Mexican officials "in cleaning out these monsters."

"The cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!"

But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined Trump's offer for U.S. troops, saying his country doesn't need help.

Critics say the Mexican president, known as AMLO, seems more concerned about using federal troops to keep South American immigrants out of his country than challenging the cartels. 

The cartels, including CJNG, are feeling empowered because of the rampant violence in Mexico, said Paul Craine, a retired DEA supervisor who oversaw the U.S. hunt for El Chapo.

"That’s why these guys are flourishing.”

A high-ranking state official in Jalisco said Americans are too quick to blame Mexico for the U.S. drug crisis.

“We have all had a drug consumption problem," said the official, who asked not to be identified for his protection. "A very big, increasing problem.

"Your weapons laws (in the U.S.) are too weak," with American guns often ending up in the hands of cartel members in Mexico, he said.

"We have a problem of corruption. So instead of blaming, we should look for solutions.”

In America, Hispanic workers find themselves looked at with suspicion because of political rhetoric that brands the drug trade and immigration as one and the same, say advocates for those workers.

Immigrants, some fleeing criminal violence themselves, can be victimized by cartels on both sides of the border and unfairly targeted by U.S. political rhetoric or perceptions stoked by cartel crime.

"Our community is paying a steep price," said Carlos Guevara, a senior policy adviser for UnidosUS (LA RAZA), America’s largest Latino civil rights organization.

The rise of El Mencho and CJNG

For 53-year-old El Mencho, success did not come early. He dropped out of sixth grade to help his family pick avocados.

The teenager sneaked into the U.S. and tried to build a customer base as a street-level dealer. But he kept getting caught.

As a young adult, he and his older brother, Abraham Oseguera Cervantes, sold heroin to two undercover police officers at a San Francisco bar in 1992 and were sent to federal prison on drug trafficking charges.

El Mencho was deported in 1997 and then traveled to Tijuana. There, he built a thriving drug trafficking business, but the city's dominant cartel ordered him to leave when leaders became threatened by his success.

He briefly worked as a police officer in Tomatlán, a small town in Jalisco, learning the inner workings of law enforcement, said DEA Special Agent Kyle Mori, who is heading the U.S. criminal investigation against El Mencho from Los Angeles.

El Mencho eventually joined the Milenio Cartel, gaining a reputation as a cunning sicario, or hitman, and then a boss of hitmen in Guadalajara, Jalisco's capital city.

Passed over for promotion, El Mencho teamed with his in-laws who ran an affiliated cartel and forged his own criminal organization in early 2011 — CJNG.

He quickly amassed a private army, with CJNG members recruiting or kidnapping hundreds of men in their 20s and boys as young as 12. The DEA's Donahue said many were taken to remote paramilitary camps where they were trained as assassins.

Those who tried to run were tortured, killed and sometimes cannibalized by fellow recruits in what U.S. federal agents describe as a disturbing rite of passage. 

His followers have spread to nearly all of Mexico's 32 states, including the cities of Guadalajara and Tijuana, both crucial to moving drugs into the U.S.

From there, El Mencho's empire went global, with a steady — and growing — customer base in the U.S., as well as in Australia, Europe and Japan.

In 2015, El Mencho flexed that power to strike back at law enforcement who tried to stop him.

Tipped off that a police caravan was on its way to grab El Mencho, CJNG hitmen hid along the route in April 2015 and ambushed four police vehicles. Cartel members fired hundreds of rounds and hurled grenades and jugs of gasoline.

Fifteen officers died.

A month later, Mexican authorities learned of El Mencho’s new hiding spot and organized a secret mission to capture him.

Federal police officer Ivan Morales, his partner and soldiers with the Mexican national defense climbed aboard helicopters and headed toward a CJNG compound in the Jalisco mountains.

As they hovered over a cartel convoy, CJNG members fired Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers, shooting down Morales’ helicopter into a cluster of trees.

Eight soldiers and Morales’ partner died. Flames left Morales disabled and disfigured.

"I thought I was going to die," he said.

Just hours after the crash, the cartel carried out coordinated attacks in 39 cities, blowing up banks, gas stations and setting cars and semis on fire on major highways to slow down police reinforcements. 

"When they shot the helicopter out of the sky is when everyone respected CJNG as a powerhouse cartel and a rival of Sinaloa," Donahue said.

The violence of 2015 was a wake-up call, said Terry Cole, a former New York City police officer who oversees DEA agents in Guadalajara as the assistant regional director for North and Central America.

"That's the type of terrorists we’re dealing with here."
CJNG's diversified business operations

Through corruption and intimidation, CJNG has thrived, even as it found additional ways to make money.

The cartel has run brothels in Mexico, often using teens and women forced into CJNG's web.

It also operated a tequila label, casinos, two shopping centers, a medical clinic, real estate companies and a Pacific Ocean resort frequented by Americans, according to U.S. Treasury Department records.

Adults and children are forced to work in CJNG's crude meth super labs — vats on patches of dirt hidden in the jungle. Entire families who resist have been slaughtered, Donahue said.

The cartel also recruits spies in the Mexican government and police to keep its leaders out of jail and avoid drug busts. Those who refuse bribes are threatened or killed.

A veteran Jalisco police officer, who asked not to be identified for his safety, said CJNG has officials on its payroll at the local, state and federal levels. The information leaks make catching El Mencho extremely difficult, he said.

He shares intel with the DEA, but not his own people.

"If you provide information to the Mexican government, it’s probably the last thing you would say."

A violent cartel in an unsuspecting town

CJNG's plan to move into small-town America and cash in on the country's addiction crisis played out in Lexington, Kentucky.

There, amid the lush pastures and white rail fences, a Mexican immigrant with a sinister secret quietly groomed prized thoroughbreds at historic Calumet Farm, according to court records.

Ciro Macias Martinez was praised by his supervisor and fellow farmhands alike for his punctuality, work ethic and soothing manner with horses at the breeding and training farm in the heart of Kentucky.

But when the day’s chores were done, Macias didn't socialize with others over drinks or dinner.

At night, from 2015 through April 2017, Macias directed the flow of $30 million worth of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, crystal meth and fentanyl from Mexico to Kentucky's two largest cities: Lexington and Louisville.

During that time, overdoses sent more victims to Kentucky's morgues than bullets and car crashes combined — with the commonwealth suffering the fifth-highest overdose death rate in the nation.

Agents say Macias didn't involve Calumet in his drug crimes. His boss, Eddie Kane, Calumet's general manager, declined repeated requests for comment.

Macias' associate, Imanol Pineda Penaloza, headed a cell in Louisville while running his drug business through his used tire shop, Los 3 Hermanos.

Macias found success following the cartel's three-pronged business model:
•        Selling drugs in bulk to local traffickers, who then sold to area dealers.
•        Paying semitruck drivers to haul hidden caches of drugs into the U.S. and return cash to Mexico.
•        Using others to deposit drug profits in cartel-controlled bank accounts.

Macias recruited Brizeida Janett Sosa, the mother of his youngest child, to help organize the money laundering scheme, court records would later show.

She recruited helpers, too, and they frequently made deposits of less than $10,000 — amounts small enough to dodge federal reporting requirements — at bank branches in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, as well as Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In eight months, Sosa’s crew laundered about $1 million for CJNG, stacking drugs and cash behind a wall of their trailer.

Kentucky Department of Corrections Ciro Macias Martinez (left) led a dual life, working hard in the daytime as a groomer at famed Calumet Farm, home to Triple Crown and Derby winners. At night, prosecutors say he served as CJNG's Kentucky cartel boss. He's now in prison. Brizeida Janett Sosa (right), Macias' common-law wife, headed up the money laundering arm of the cartel's Kentucky cell. Her crew funneled more than $1 million for CJNG.
To help Macias smuggle drugs into the U.S., cartel leaders used a Toyota Camry with a secret compartment on the armrest that opened through a sequence of steps: Turn on the heater. Close the air vents. Pull up the seat.

It could hide 9 kilos of drugs and a pile of cash.

Betrayal led to the drug ring's collapse.

Someone aware of the Lexington-Louisville operation talked to a DEA agent in 2016, who, in turn, flagged investigators in Kentucky.

On April 13, 2017, federal agents arrested Macias on his way to Calumet Farm. They seized more than $1 million in drug money his couriers were hauling to Mexico.

Macias and Sosa were convicted of meth trafficking and money laundering and are serving 31 and 15 years, respectively, in federal prison.

Eleven months after the Lexington raid, a SWAT team crept in the darkness and blasted the front door to the Los 3 Hermanos tire shop in Louisville.

Pineda Penaloza and his crew were convicted of drug trafficking and are now in federal prison.

"The threat of Mexican cartel violence and the drugs they bring into our nation can’t be overstated," said Russell Coleman, the top federal prosecutor for the Western District of Kentucky. His office has prosecuted Sinaloa and CJNG members.

Yet, no sooner had authorities busted Kentucky's CJNG ring than the cartel replaced Macias, sending in another team. It hauled in more than 3 kilos of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid so potent that an amount as small as Abraham Lincoln's cheek on a penny can be fatal.

CJNG wasn't the only cartel in the Bluegrass State in 2017, but authorities say it was the main supplier of fentanyl — when Louisville's Adam Cooley, who sought heroin, snorted 20 times a lethal dose.

CJNG's network moves into more unsuspecting towns
CJNG's Kentucky strategy has been repeated in town after town across America, in places better known for cheese, cows and corn.
Pointing to more than 70,000 Americans who overdosed and died in 2017, Coleman said, “We’re fighting a war for our families, and (the cartels) are winning.”

That fight has been waged across America over the past seven years, federal court records show:

•        In Hickory, North Carolina: CJNG used local drug dealers to move meth into the poor, addicted mountain region. One couple created their own small "redneck drug dealing" ring before law enforcement shut it down.

•        In Axton, Virginia: Investigators uncovered a hidden hub of stash houses run by alleged CJNG members, part of a drug trafficking web in Virginia that stretched to other mid-Atlantic states.

•        In Omaha, Nebraska: Cartel members bought cars with drug profits and sent them back to Mexico for resale, another way to launder the cartel's wealth. The FBI broke up the ring in a case that is still active.

•        In Gulfport, Mississippi: A state trooper working with a DEA task force nearly brought down El Mencho after tracking messages the cartel boss' girlfriend texted to him at his Mexican hideout. He sent her $1 million worth of meth.

CJNG is also using a mix of street gangs and white-collar 

businessmen to move the drugs and hide the money.

In Illinois, the cartel teamed with Vice Lords gang members to 

grow a drug network that stretched from Southern California 

through the Midwest and into Nashville and Paducah, 

Kentucky — known for its riverwalk murals and the National 

Quilt Museum.

After agents toppled the drug ring, the cartel turned on the gang. Chicago prosecutors allege in court filings that Luis Alderete was a “high-level cartel operative” who shopped for a hitman on Facebook to “take care” of a gang member in Cairo, Illinois, to silence him.

Alderete also is accused of asking a criminal informant in Paducah for assault rifles and a grenade launcher to supply a cartel "war" in Mexico, said Jesse Riddle, the Narcotics Unit captain with the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office in Paducah.

Alderete was indicted in September 2019 in Chicago on charges of trafficking more than a kilo of heroin and at least 400 grams of fentanyl from May to June of this year.

While Luis Alderete maintains his innocence, court records show that his brother, Roberto Alderete, identified Luis as a cartel lieutenant. Roberto is awaiting sentencing in Paducah in August for trafficking meth while armed with a gun.

Further details Roberto Alderete revealed about CJNG remain hidden in sealed documents.

CJNG also has enlisted white-collar expertise.

In an international operation that stretches back to 2011 dubbed "King's Gold," Homeland Security investigators in Chicago uncovered a money laundering organization that funneled more than $101 million to CJNG and another cartel.

Court documents outlined how it worked:

•        Two masterminds now in prison orchestrated the scheme from Guadalajara: Carlos Parra Pedroza, alias “Walt Disney,” who owned a jewelry store; and Diego Pineda Sanchez, an accountant.
•        CJNG members or associates would sell drugs to traffickers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, California, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina.
•        Dozens of couriers throughout the U.S. would then collect the drug profits and use the dirty money to buy scrap and fine gold.
•        Businesses in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Los Angeles would buy the gold and then send the payments through wire transfers to Mexico — including to Parra Pedroza's precious metals business.
•        Prosecutors say Parra Pedroza and Pineda Sanchez would keep a percentage, with the rest going to cartel members in Mexico.
Parra Pedroza and Pineda Sanchez received 13 and 15 years, respectively, in prison after both pleaded guilty to money laundering.
Pineda Sanchez's attorney, Lawrence Beaumont, disputed his client's involvement.

"He was very minutely involved. He was not a millionaire," Beaumont said. "If he was, I didn’t charge him enough."

To build their lucrative drug networks in the U.S., CJNG bosses mandated discretion to dodge police attention. In America, El Mencho expects cartel members and associates to avoid violence, hide wealth and disguise their CJNG affiliations, agents say.
But some CJNG bosses didn’t follow those rules. 

Members of a cartel cell in Kansas City, with drug houses in both Kansas and Missouri between 2013 and 2016, splurged on $10,000 tickets to rapper Pitbull’s concert and a Louis Vuitton purse.
And, in a 2019 case pending in federal court, an accused cartel lieutenant connected to Chicago drug trafficking settled into a $2 million Nashville condo.

Other bosses used threats of violence in the U.S., despite El Mencho's warnings against it.

In a Chicago money-laundering case, a Guadalajara businessman working with CJNG urged an informant to settle his drug debt quickly, describing how cartel members settled another man’s debt: "They chopped off his fingers."

And federal prosecutors alleged in court that convicted drug trafficker Jesus Enrique Palomera, the leader of a cartel cell in Tacoma, Washington, ordered the kidnapping and murder of a man whose fingers and toes were chopped off — a common method of torture in Mexico.

During a brief telephone call from prison in August 2019, Palomera said he is a family man who never harmed anyone.

"I know I’m not that person," he said, refusing to elaborate. "My family knows I’m not that person. I don't really care what the prosecutor says.”

U.S. takes aim at cartel

Alarmed by CJNG's surging violence in Mexico and continued expansion across this country, U.S. officials have pushed back.
Beginning in 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department designated El Mencho a "kingpin," along with his brother-in-law, Abigail González Valencia, leader of the Los Cuinis cartel.

That designation allowed the department to levy sanctions against Mexican businesses linked to the cartels, including a sushi restaurant, a tequila business, shopping centers, a medical clinic, two newspapers and famed Hotelito Desconocido, visited by Hollywood stars.

The strategy: Make it illegal for any U.S. citizen or company to spend money at a cartel-affiliated business. It also forbids any U.S. bank to approve loans or credit card transactions for those CJNG-backed enterprises.

While some moves targeted the cartel’s finances, others were more personal.

In June 2015, the Mexican military arrested El Mencho’s son and second-in-command, Rubén Oseguera Gonzáles. Unlike his reclusive father, the 25-year-old lived in a luxury high-rise apartment in downtown Guadalajara and often stepped out in designer clothes to eat in fancy restaurants.

When authorities arrested him, they found two assault rifles, one inscribed with "Menchito" — little Mencho — and another engraved with "CJNG 02 JR."

American authorities are still seeking his extradition to the U.S. to face drug charges.

Mexican marines almost captured El Mencho in October 2018. They stormed a hideout west of Guadalajara, but the cartel leader climbed into a vehicle and was rushed to safety.

After his escape, the U.S. took its manhunt public.

On Oct. 16, 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, standing next to a large "Wanted" poster of El Mencho, announced a $10 million reward for his capture and unveiled detailed indictments against him and CJNG. 

Treasury Department officials stood with Sessions and announced more sanctions on businesses linked to CJNG and its affiliate, Los Cuinis. More than 60 were targeted, including a biotech consulting company, a bakery and hillside vacation cabins.

"We consider this cartel to be one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations on the face of the Earth, and it is doing unimaginable damage to the people of this nation," Sessions said.

Officials in Attorney General William Barr's office declined to comment on The Courier Journal's findings.

Will El Mencho ever be captured? 

On the run and out of sight, El Mencho is described by some veteran agents as a ghost. From the shadows, he continues to lead CJNG with ruthless authority.

U.S. drug agents believe he's in western Mexico, hiding in remote jungles or mountains of Jalisco, Colima or Michoácan.

"All intelligence indicates he’s still there, moving regularly," said Craine, the retired DEA supervisor who led the successful hunt for El Chapo.

Even if U.S. and Mexican investigators can track El Mencho's location, capturing him won't be easy.

Agents say he typically travels in a convoy, surrounding himself with dozens of well-trained mercenaries armed with military-grade weapons that can tear through tanks, even aircraft.

"It's gonna be hard to catch him slippin'," said Mori, the DEA agent overseeing the U.S. criminal investigation against El Mencho.

"He doesn't make a lot of mistakes."

Moreover, the U.S. lacks the authority to make arrests in foreign countries, said Evans, a senior DEA official.

"If an agent saw him, we couldn’t say, 'Hey, we’re gonna grab El Mencho right now, take him and put him into custody.' We're guests in their country.”

But DEA agents across the border are sharing intelligence and working with their Mexican counterparts to devise ways to dismantle CJNG and arrest its leaders.

Throughout Mexico, more than 40,000 children and adults remain missing. Ransom-seekers and other cartels are responsible for many of those disappearances, with CJNG to blame for thousands, DEA agents say. The U.S government has crippled dozens of businesses that supported CJNG and sent El Mencho’s son and chief financial backer to prison, along with members of his inner circle.

Still, El Mencho’s empire is growing.

"It was almost unbelievable, the things we were hearing, the amount of drugs," said Benjamin Taylor, who oversees investigations for Homeland Security in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Even after El Mencho's girlfriend went to prison, the cartel quickly returned to the Gulf Coast with more loads of drugs.
Make no mistake, Taylor said. CJNG is "among us."

"That’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s true."

Reporters Jonathan Bullington, Kala Kachmar, Chris Kenning and Karol Suarez contributed to this story.

Investigative reporter Beth Warren spent three days in Mexico City and Guadalajara with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexican police and government officials. Warren traveled to six cities in the U.S. and reviewed thousands of documents in more than 100 court cases and sought prison interviews with more than two dozen cartel members and associates.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: A ruthless Mexican drug lord’s empire is devastating families with its grip on small-town USA

“The greatest criminal threat to the daily lives 

of American citizens are the Mexican drug 


“Mexican drug cartels are the “other” terrorist threat to America. Militant Islamists have the goal of destroying the United States. Mexican drug cartels are now accomplishing that mission – from within, every day, in virtually every community across this country.” JUDICIALWATCH
“Mexican authorities have arrested the former mayor of a rural community in the border state of Coahuila in connection with the kidnapping, murder and incineration of hundreds of victims through a network of ovens at the hands of the Los Zetas cartel. The arrest comes after Breitbart Texas exposed not only the horrors of the mass extermination, but also the cover-up and complicity of the Mexican government.”

Overall, in the 2017 Fiscal Year, officials revealed that a record-breaking 455,000 pounds plus of drugs had already been seized. In 2016, that number amounted to 443,000 pounds. The 2017 haul is worth an estimated $6.1 billion – BREITBART – JEFF SESSION’S DRUG BUST ON SAN DIEGO

“Heroin is not produced in the United States. Every gram of heroin present in the United States provides unequivocal evidence of a failure of border security because every gram of heroin was smuggled into the United States. Indeed, this is precisely a point that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on October 18, 2017 when he again raised the need to secure the U.S./Mexican border to protect American lives.” Michael Cutler


Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has testified before a Congressional committee that in 2004, 95% of all outstanding warrants for murder in Los Angeles were for illegal aliens; in 2000, 23% of all Los Angeles County jail inmates were illegal aliens and that in 1995, 60% of Los Angeles’s largest street gang, the 18th Street gang, were illegal aliens. 




BEHEADINGS LONG U.S. OPEN BORDERS WITH NARCOMEX: The La Raza Heroin Cartels Take the Border and Leave Heads






MCALLEN, Texas -- The capture of three top Mexican drug cartel bosses on the U.S. side of the Texas border helps to illustrate the irony of how even narco's seek refuge from the violence in Mexico.



Federal agents raided Q.T Fashion and numerous other businesses in the downtown fashion district Wednesday, cracking down on a scheme that cartels are increasingly relying on to get their profits — from drug sales, kidnappings and other illegal activities — back to Mexico, authorities said.

Nine people were arrested in raids targeting 75 locations, and $90 million was seized — $70 million in cash. In one condo, agents found $35 million stuffed in banker boxes. At a mansion in Bel-Air, they discovered $10 million in duffel bags.

"Los Angeles has become the epicenter of narco-dollar money laundering with couriers regularly bringing duffel bags and suitcases full of cash to many businesses," said Robert E. Dugdale, the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of federal criminal prosecutions in Los Angeles.


“Heroin is not produced in the United States. Every gram of heroin present in the United States provides unequivocal evidence of a failure of border security because every gram of heroin was smuggled into the United States. Indeed, this is precisely a point that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on October 18, 2017 when he again raised the need to secure the U.S./Mexican border to protect American lives.” Michael Cutler …