Mexico's rising violence and drug-related crimes represent a very serious security challenge to the United States and students going there on spring break should take special precautions, says a homeland security expert at Texas A&M University.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Mexico’s rising violence and drug-related crimes represent a very serious security challenge to the United States and students going there on spring break should take special precautions, says a homeland security expert at Texas A&M University.
Dave McIntyre, who heads the Integrative Center for Homeland Security at Texas A&M and is an expert on security and terrorism matters, explains that Mexican drug cartels have established networks in almost every major U.S. city. “They fight among themselves for the trade routes into the U.S.,” McIntyre says. “In recent years, the Mexican government has tightened down on the leadership of drug gangs, but the result has been that the violence has increased dramatically.”
Because thousands of college students head to numerous Mexican locations for spring break, McIntyre says there are some do’s and don’ts about traveling there in light of the recent violence.
“While tourists do not appear to be specific targets, all visitors should take heed to the recent State Department warnings concerning violence in Mexico,” he says.
“Students should travel only in groups, stay near the habited areas and avoid any activity that would make them an easy target. They should especially avoid too much drinking of alcohol that would affect their awareness and their ability to respond, and they should never flash large amounts of money.”
McIntyre notes that the drug cartels are ruthless – they kill to make a point and to strike fear into anyone that presents a threat to them. “They not only kill policemen, they kill their entire families, including children,” he adds, noting that the police chief of Cancun recently came out of military retirement to help and was killed within a week.
“They are lawless and they make their own rules. And they also are extremely well-armed – many times, the drug gangs have superior firepower over local police. The sophistication of their weapons has greatly increased, such as using anti-tank weapons and .50-caliber sniper rifles as well as foreign-made grenades. You didn’t see those types of weapons in the past, but now they are common.”
One U.S. agency report estimates that at least 1,000 guns are smuggled into Mexico every day, with most of them winding up in the hands of the drug gangs.
“The violence along the border towns between the U.S. and Mexico has steadily increased, but now you are seeing it move farther inland into the U.S.,” McIntyre adds, pointing to the more than 350 kidnappings that have occurred in Phoenix in the past year.
“In Phoenix, gangs crossed the border and were dressed as Phoenix SWAT members and attacked a home, and that incident was not unique. Uniformed guards have crossed the U.S. border hundreds of times in the past to secure drug shipments onto U.S. soil.”
At least 6,000 people have died in Mexico in the past year because of the widespread drug violence, “and that estimate may be low,” McIntyre says. “It’s a problem that could easily get worse and it’s one story that has probably been under-reported. America’s drug problem fuels these gangs. People here don’t realize that every time they use a recreational drug, they are contributing to thousands of rapes, kidnappings and murders in Mexico.”
Contact: Dave McIntyre at ( 979 ) 862-2432 or email@example.com or http://homelandsecurity.tamu.edu or Keith Randall at ( 979 ) 845-4644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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