Ex-DEA and FBI Agents Disagree on Mexican Border Violence Threats

Former DEA and FBI agents don't see eye to eye on the potential threat to the U.S. of Mexican border violence caused by cartels. A former FBI agent tells Fox News:

"It's moving across into the rest of the country, so we can't just look at it and say it's just the border, don't worry about it," said Don Clark, former director of the FBI Office in Houston.

Former DEA Agent Gary Hale, a 30 year veteran of DEA, takes an opposite view. He writes in a published paper (available here):

While some spillover violence does in fact occur, it is generally confined to the border region, most specifically near the border city pairs, and rarely reaches the interior of the United States in such a manner that should cause alarm or incite fears of threats to national security, when compared to jihadist terrorism or other extremists that publicly proclaim their desire to kill Americans.”


Drug-related violence in Mexico is linked to cartels fighting to control lucrative drug routes into and out of the country. However, “once the drugs are in the United States, there is little to fight over; a drug delivered (inside the United States) is a drug sold. End of story.”

Hale says he echoes the views of U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who wrote in his January, 2012 statement to Congress:

The Mexican cartels have a presence in the United States, but we are not likely to see the level of violence that is plaguing Mexico spill across the US border. We assess that traffickers are wary of more effective law enforcement in the United States.

Moreover, the factor that drives most of the bloodshed in Mexico -- competition for control of trafficking routes and networks of corrupt
officials -- is not widely applicable to the small retail drug trafficking activities on the US side of the border. U.S. officials and citizens in Mexico are at increased risk because of generalized violence.

DEA Agent Hale uses Clapper's report to point out we don't need to recast Mexico cartel members as terrorist threats.

While some in the U.S. government want to designate Mexico’s drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, “Clapper ignores this issue in his testimony and instead … defines the cartel wars as internecine battles between criminal organizations.”

Fox News found a single ex-FBI agent to back up its premise. The only support in the article for the agent's fear-mongering conclusion is that of a lone Texas resident who isn't even involved in law enforcement.

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    Jihadist terrorism keep you up at night? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 07:08:09 AM EST
    I mean, here in the US, is this something you think about when going about your daily activities?  Does jihadist terrorism seriously cause alarm or incite fears of threats to national security?

    Mexico is a disaster (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 07:57:11 AM EST
    No, the violence will not spill over to the exaggerated degree some fear, but it also won't have the kind of negligible effect others predict.  The ugly truth is always a more complex beast.  However, no matter what the reality is, we will end up with a completely militarized border, there isn't the slightest chance in hell that won't happen.  Our entire society is becoming more militarized every day.