by SWJ Editors
State of Siege
Mexico's Criminal Insurgency
by John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus, Small Wars Journal
Mexico is under siege, and the barbarians are dangerously close to breaching the castle walls. Responding to President Felipe Calderon's latest drug crackdown, an army of drug cartels has launched a vicious criminal insurgency against the Mexican state. So far, the conflict has killed over 1,400 Mexicans, 500 of them law enforcement officers. No longer fearing retaliation, cartel gunmen assault soldier and high-ranking federale alike. The criminal threat is not only a threat to public order but to the state. A top-ranking Mexican intelligence official has noted in interview that criminal gangs pose a national security threat to the integrity of the state. Cartels are even trying to take over the Mexican Congress by funding political campaigns, CISEN director Guillero Valdes alleged. Should Mexico's gangs cement their hold further, Mexico could possibly become a criminal-state largely controlled by narco-gangs. This is not just a threat to Mexico, however.
As the intensity of the violence grows, so does the possibility that Tijuana and Juarez's high-intensity street warfare will migrate north. Recent cartel warfare in Arizona indicates that America has become a battleground for drug cartels clashing over territory, putting American citizens and law enforcement at risk. But the northward migration of cartel warfare is not the worst consequence of Mexico's criminal insurgency. A lawless Mexico will be a perfect staging ground for terrorists seeking to operate in North America. American policymakers must act to protect our southern flank.