DOJ: Drug Traffickers ‘Have Begun To Threaten Local Police Officers’ In Arizona

By Edwin Mora | January 5, 2012 | 8:14pm EST

Bags of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics seized by U.S. law enforcement. (AP Photo.)

( -- The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), a component of the Department of Justice (DOJ), reported that Mexican drug trafficking organizations are threatening law enforcement in Arizona in an effort to “deter their enforcement activities.”

Mexican drug trafficking organizations “have begun to threaten local police officers to deter their enforcement activities,” revealed  the DOJ’s 2011 Drug Market Analysis for Arizona. “Violent criminal groups often referred to as border bandits, rip crews, or bajadores, operate along trafficking corridors in remote locations, preying upon law enforcement officers and smugglers who transit their territories.”

“For example, border bandits murdered a CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] agent in December 2010 during a gunfight in an area of Santa Cruz County, known for high levels of illegal activity,” reported the DOJ analysis.  “Border bandits often dress in tactical gear in an attempt to appear to be legitimate law enforcement personnel.”

In December 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in Santa Cruz County by Mexican bandits. His murder has been linked to the botched DOJ “Fast and Furious” operation that allowed a reported 2,000 guns to walk into the hands of Mexican criminals with the intention of tracing them to cartel bosses.

Mexican soldiers stand guard around a huge cache of arms seized in a 2008 raid on safe houses in northern Mexico – across the Rio Grande from Hidalgo County, Texas – belonging to the notorious Los Zetas drug cartel. (AP Photo)

Statistics from the CBP, a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “indicate that violence directed at law enforcement officers has increased within the HIDTA [High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area] region,” added the report. “While assaults against Border Patrol officers decreased from 50 in FY2009 to 32 in FY2010 in the [Arizona] Yuma Sector, assaults increased by 61 percent in the [Arizona] Tucson Sector during the same period.”

The DOJ analysis projected that violence against law enforcement will continue to grow as a result of law enforcement activities in the area.

The drug intelligence center “assesses with high confidence that violence against law enforcement will increase as interdiction efforts are expanded,” reads the anlysis.

“Drug-related violence against law enforcement officers in the Arizona HIDTA region is increasing as drug traffickers try to reduce the impact of law enforcement efforts to disrupt drug smuggling,” states the report.

U.S. Border Agent Brian A. Terry, shot and killed on Dec. 14, 2010, near Rio Rico, Arizona, while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants.

In April 2010, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said the U.S.-Mexico border is “as secure now as it has ever been.”

The same DOJ report mentions that the Sinaloa Cartel controls most of the drug corridors along the Arizona-Mexico border, which it uses to expand its influence beyond the southwest border and into “much” of the United States.

The DOJ “assesses with high confidence that the Sinaloa Cartel will retain its strong position as the predominant drug trafficking group in the region and will increase its drug trafficking operations in the Arizona HIDTA region,” said the report, adding that, “The Arizona HIDTA region is a major entry point for illicit drugs, particularly marijuana and heroin, transported from Mexico to the United States. Approximately half of the marijuana smuggled from Mexico typically transits Arizona HIDTA counties.”

According to the White House, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) is a federally funded program created by Congress through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.

The program gathers federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in task forces that conduct investigations into traffickers in areas identified as “critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.” HIDTA-designated regions are located across the continental U.S. including the nation’s capital, as well as in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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