The violence associated with drug smuggling has spilled across the Mexican border to such an extent that last year there was a drug-related kidnapping every 33 hours in the city of Phoenix alone.
That’s one of the eye-opening disclosures from the National Drug Threat Assessment for 2010, published by the National Drug Intelligence Center, a division of the U.S. Justice Department.
“Although much of the violence attributed to conflict over control of smuggling routes has been confined to Mexico, some has occurred in the United States,” according to the Justice Department report, issued shortly before Arizona passed a tough new immigration law targeting illegal aliens in the state.
“Violence in the United States has been limited primarily to attacks against alien smuggling organization members and their families some of whom have sought refuge from the violence in Mexico by moving to U.S. border communities such as Phoenix.
“For example, in recent years, kidnappings in Phoenix have numbered in the hundreds, with 260 in 2007, 299 in 2008, and 267 in 2009.”
The 267 kidnappings in Phoenix last year equal one kidnapping every 1.4 days, or every 33 hours.
The kidnapping victims often have a connection to drug trafficking activities or are innocent relatives of traffickers, the report states.
“An individual or individuals may be kidnapping because of a lost drug load or failure to pay a drug debt.
“The number of U.S kidnapping incidents is most likely underreported because many victims’ families are unwilling to report the crime for fear that the victim will be killed, the kidnappers will retaliate against the family, or law enforcement will discover the family’s drug trafficking activities or illegal alien status.”
Other disclosures of the threat assessment:
* On average, three Border Patrol agents are assaulted each day at or near the Mexican border.
* Last year, mid-level and retail drug distribution in the U.S. was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members, representing approximately 20,000 gangs in more than 2,500 cities.
* In addition to vehicles, Mexico drug smugglers use “cross-border tunnels, subterranean passageways, and low-flying or ultralight aircraft to move drugs from Mexico into the United States.”
* Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) smuggled tens of billions of dollars from the U.S. through the Southwest border into Mexico in 2009.
* Mexican DTO members or associates acquire thousands of weapons each year in Arizona, California, and Texas and smuggle them into Mexico.
The outlook, according to the report: “Without a significant increase in drug interdictions, seizures, arrests, and investigations that apply sustained pressure on major DTOs, availability of most drugs will increase in 2010, primarily because drug production in Mexico is increasing.”