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America Versus America

Before Mexico extradited Joaquin Guzman (Department of State profile) to Brooklyn on the final day of the Obama Administration, an assassin murdered the 37 year old Mexican judge assigned to Guzman's case. CCTV captured the point blank assassination: a young judge shot in the back of the head while jogging across the street (YouTube). Once in Brooklyn, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York described Guzman's ability to influence politicians, judges, police, and militaries across the world, presented eleven exhibits, and petitioned New York's Eastern District court to detain Guzman before trial (pdf): "In sum, it is difficult to imagine another person with a greater risk of fleeing prosecution than Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera." With good reason. Guzman twice escaped maximum security prison. And the Brooklyn US Attorney wants Guzman to forfeit $14 billion.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escaped authorities and assassins alike. On May 25, 1993 he escaped Baja California assassins from the Tiajuana Cartel at the Guadalajara airport. The would-be assassins hit the wrong white Grand Marquis, killing seven souls including one of two Vatican cardinals posted to Mexico. Catholic Mexicans were outraged

The shot up Lincoln at the Guadalajara airport attack signaled a violent apex in the war to control three ports of entry between Baja California and Alta California. Collectively, those California ports connected the world's busiest cross-border economy: San Diego-Tiajuana. January 1992 Tiajuana homicides surpassed previous years, a state policeman was machine gunned in front of his house, authorities located bodies of six 25-35 year old men from Guzman's Sinaloa in February 1992:
Four of the bodies were found Tuesday morning next to a coastal highway north of Ensenada, and two others were found bound and gagged 15 miles east of Tijuana, on a road to Tecate. The condition of the bodies indicated that the men had been beaten and tortured; at least two of them had several fingers cut off before they were shot in the head, police said. Several were also garroted, police said.
The torture-style slayings resemble drug-related murders that have occurred recently in Sinaloa and other Mexican states, police said. (Los Angeles Times)
Guzman retaliated contra the Tiajuana Cartel in November 1992 at Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast. United Press Internationl (UPI) well-expressed the chaotic information environment in this second hard report:
Radio Red reported that some 35 heavily armed men burst into the posh Christine disco early Sunday morning and began firing. The nationalities of the six killed and three wounded were not available but Radio Red said at least two of the dead were Mexicans.
The mayor of Puerto Vallarta, Rodolfo Gonzalez Macias, told the official news agency Notimex that the incident was evidently a shootout between drug traffickers.
Radio Red quoted witnesses as saying, however, that some of the gunmen identified themselves as members of the drug-fighting Judicial Police. The radio network also said one of the victims was carrying a credential identifying him as a Judicial Police agent from the border state of Baja California.
Gonzalez Macias said the gunmen carried some type of police credentials but said he did not know what type, Notimex reported. (UPI)
As drug war raged in Baja California in 1992, the largest US county, Los Angeles County, California, set a homicide record, unbroken as of writing in 2017, 2,589 dead (LA Weekly). 55 of those occurred in April 1992 after a jury found four LAPD officers not guilty of crimes when they beat Rodney King. Of the 2,589 Los Angeles homicides in 1992, police solved a fraction. 

Impunity reached the highest office. On Christmas Eve 1992, President Bush, himself a one time CIA Director, pardoned six officials for Iran Contra crimes during from his 12 year VPOTUS and POTUS terms: "Elliott Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state for Central America; former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane; former CIA officials Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Clair George; and former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger" (Brown University). 11 weeks after Bush's Contra pardons, President Clinton's third-choice Attorney General, Janet Reno, demanded "prompt resignation" of 93 US Attorneys on March 24, 1993 (New York Times). 

The same May 1993 month that Tijuana rivals attacked the Guadalajara airport, Mexican authorities revealed Guzman's 1400 foot tunnel under the Mexican-American border. Days later an international group of authorities, arrested Chapo himself June 9, 1993 at the Mexican-Guatemalan-border. FBI reported Guzman was en route to "a major cocaine operation" in El Salvador. El Salvador's Ilopango airfield was the epicenter of Contra resupply operations and cocaine allegations. Guzman described himself to reporters as a corn and bean farmer. The LA Times described his as "the man widely believed to be Mexico's top drug trafficker and the target of gunmen who mistakenly killed a cardinal and six other people at the Guadalajara airport" (Los Angeles Times, 1993 & FBI docs Houston Chronicle). 

Guzman captured at Mexican-Guatemalan border crossing, 1993
Guzman's story was obscure in 1993. So obscure that Bloomberg referred to drug lord "Joaqun 'Chappo' Guzmn" (sic). Guzman's story surfaced at the end of an era and beginning of a new one. Consider the sea change: Mujahadeen backed by US supply operations, the world's largest opium production, and history's largest bank fraud defeated Soviet soldiers on the Afghan battlefield. The South Florida Drug Task Force, US Coast Guard, and US Navy commanded Caribbean sea traffic and isolated Cuba; American proxy wars onshore bled all sides at incalculable cost. The Wall fell. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Cold War ended. KGB Agent Vladamir Putin went home to become mayor of St Petersburg, Russia (not St Pete, Florida). President Bush invaded Panama, captured General Noriega, and prosecuted him in Miami court from April to September 1992. Nicaraguan authorities held international Contra trafficker, "El Rey de Las Drogas", Norwin Meneses. USA' most prolific trafficker, Rick Ross of Los Angeles, served time in Phoenix federal and Texas state custody. NAFTA passed November 1993. A month later, in December 1993, Colombian paramilitaries with US government support killed Pablo Escobar in Medellin, Colombia.

As of March 2017, information about Escobar's assassination remains so privileged that a court reversed its own decision on how to handle CIA refusal to share documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Data remained missing, information unclear, and incredible evidence impossible to evaluate. For example: CIA Director Deutch appeared in South Central Los Angeles (YouTube) to respond to Gary Webb's San Jose Mercury News story (Internet Archive) that CIA Contra assets smuggled cocaine to Los Angeles distributor Rick Ross. In 1996, Contra leaders told Congress they got $30M cash injection from Saudi Arabia (CSPAN). Whatever the combination of forces coincident with Guzman's capture and the end of the Cold War, data from the US DEA Heroin Signature Program shows a revolution in wholesale heroin seizures during that time from Asia to the Americas.

San Diego's US Attorney filed the first federal indictment against Mexico's largest drug trafficker in 1994 - a pivotal year for the North American political economy. In the 12 months after signing NAFTA in November 1993, US President Clinton bailed out Citibank when the Mexican peso crashed, assassins eliminated two candidates for Mexico's presidency, and Mexico's President Salinas fled to Ireland. In 1994, future US Attorney General Loretta Lynch specialized in drug and violent crime prosecution with the US Attorney in Long Island. 20 years later, Lynch drafted Guzman's Brooklyn indictment as Brooklyn's US Attorney before becoming Obama's 2nd Attorney General in 2015. Since 1994, Lynch was one of seven US Attorneys to indict Joaquin Guzman - including New Hampshire's. On Lynch's final day as US AG on January 20, 2017, her Brooklyn replacement, Ron Caspers, and the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, announced Brooklyn would prosecute Guzman in partnership with Miami's US Attorney and DOJ's Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs section. 

That salvo in the tumult of the 2016 election, in the shadow of the The Wall, capped a dark, violent 8 year era of legal impunity in the international drug war. Especially in the Americas. Central American children sought refuge from drug war carnage by the tens of thousands. An opioid epidemic broke out. Though overall violent crime is down in the United States, unsolved murder rates hit new highs. American men and boys shot each other at world-leading rates. President Obama wept discussing the daily violence in the south and west sides of his hometown Chicago (CNN). 

85 miles from McAllen, Texas, the Mexican town San Fernando recorded two cartel massacres: 72 dead in 2010, 193 in 2011. In 2014, 43 Mexican students disappeared from a bus convoy en route to Mexico City. As of March 2017, Mexican police found a single charred bone fragment matching the DNA of one 20 year old named Alexander (New York Times). March 2017 revealed mass clandestine graves in Veracruz, along the Gulf of Mexico. Investigators so far recovered 250+ remains of "missing" persons. Everyone is a target. Gunmen target Mexican journalists with impunity. On that score, Mexico is more lawless than Afghanistan, the world's largest opium producer and US war zone since 2001 (Committee to Protect Journalists). Because media and government are intimidated and/or corrupt, data is unreliable and vary considerably. Conservatively, total Mexican victims measure in the hundreds of thousands (PBS).

From 2006 - 2014, MX President Calderon deployed the Mexican army 1000s of times mostly to Gulf Coast Texas border towns in Tamaulipas. The most lethal were just south of Tamaulipas in Veracruz Gulf towns. Here is the view from space:

Charles Bowden documented conditions on the ground in 2010's Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields:
The Mexican army is everywhere and can be ill tempered....(it) arrived in new numbers in April 2008 in northern Chihauhua and the general in command held a meeting with the press to lay down some ground rules. He said there would almost certainly be a spate of robberies and rapes, but these were to be explained by the press as the evil deeds of poor Mexicans who come from the far south and who were migrating through the zone to reach the United States. Any questions?
The war escalated from then. The Obama Administration ended with a 100x increase in arms deals between United States and Mexican governments. Before the official spending ramped up in 2015, from day 1 the DOJ allowed arms traffickers to "walk" thousands of weapons to Mexican paramilitaries, two of which were recovered at the murder scenes of US federal agents. Another, a 50 caliber anti-helicopter rifle, was recovered from Guzman's personal armory upon his capture by Mexican marines. 

In the case of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the US House of Representatives held AG Eric Holder in contempt. The first sitting Cabinet official so held (Politico). To protect documents in the Terry case, President Obama issued his Administration's only claim to executive privilege (ProPublica) - a privilege rejected by federal court in 2016. Simultaneous to the Terry revelations in spring 2011, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, "acting administrator" since the Bush Administration, described violence as a sign of success in the drug war. She likened Mexico to "caged animals attacking one other" (Washington Post). Leonhart resigned in 2015 after DEA agents were discovered in the company of Colombian cartel prostitutes. 

In finance, DOJ colluded with UK banking regulators (Guardianto defer prosecuting HSBC bankers for laundering Guzman's cartel money. Instead, future AG Loretta Lynch's Brooklyn attorneys hit bank shareholders with a record $2B fine. So vast the rivers of illegal drug money, the UN drug tsar claimed laundered drug currency contributed liquidity necessary to float banks through the financial crisis (Guardian). Among bankers and traffickers, US Attorneys fought for multiple multi-billion dollar forfeitures. In the flurry of billion-dollar deals and fog of endless war, guilty and innocent disappeared into the ether of American justice.


President Obama did not invent the southern flow of military weapons. Nor did Chapo Guzman invent the northern flow of cocaine and narcotics. Nor HSBC drug war banking. HSBC did, though, industrialize it. HSBC handled silver accounts for British East India's tea and opium wars in which it seized Hong Kong. "Hong Kong" puts the "H" in Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation - or, "HSBC". On a regional USA level, gun and drug trades explain much political economics between a deeply segregated Chicago metro and Midwestern suburbs.  On a continental scale, Guzman's 20 year, $14B legal battle with DOJ is a blip in the war for Central American assets. The map below (Tableau) shows March 2017 data for Specially Designated Nationals meaning that "their assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them" (US Treasury). Specially Designated Nationals cluster in Colombia and align to Mexico's Pacific Coast drug war ports.

In June 2013, Iran dealmaker for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and future acting Secretary of the US Treasury for President Trump, Adam Szubin (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), sanctioned 19 Mexican companies and 35 Mexicans (DOJ) in his capacity as Director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. A month later, three Mexican judges court released the network's primary actor, an old man named Rafael Caro Quintero. Quintero told Proceso that he's friends with Guzman and Mayo.

In the Eighties, Quintero's Guadalajara Cartel smuggled Pablo Escobar's Medellin Colombian cocaine through The Wall. After President Reagan blockaded Colombian and Venezuelan go-fast boats and aircraft to Cuba, Caribbean Islands, and Port of Miami, North American drug distribution moved on shore via Central American land bridge. Guadalajara birthed the modern Mexican cartel system (including Guzman's Sinaloa Federation). And it killed US DEA Special Agent, Kiki Camarena, in spectacular fashion. Arizona Senator John McCain described Guadalajara's counterattack against Special Agent Camarena in a October 21, 2013 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry:
Quintero’s henchmen kidnapped Agent Camarena at gunpoint outside the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara on February 7, 1985.  They blindfolded him and brought him to Quintero’s hacienda five miles away where they brutally tortured him for over thirty hours.  The torture Quintero perpetrated shocks the conscience of all decent human beings.  Quintero and his associates crushed Camarena's skull, jaw, nose, cheekbones and ribs with a tire iron.  They used a power tool to drill a hole in Camarena’s head and repeatedly stuck him with a cattle prod.  As Camarena lay bloody and dying, Quintero summoned a cartel doctor to keep him alive so the cartel could torture him longer.  The doctor injected the anesthetic lidocaine directly into Camerena’s heart and the torture endured for several more hours.  Camarena’s battered and bloodied body was discovered in a shallow grave 70 miles north of Guadalajara several weeks later. (McCain's Senate site)
Camerena's case remains a signal event. He infiltrated a billion dollar marijuana farm in northern Texas visible from outer space. That's just what we know. TBD count were arrested.  That cartel doctor became the basis for Supreme Court case law at the foundation of the Global War on Terror. DEA caught up with Quintero in Costa Rica. His transfer to Mexican prison produced little change - see WaPo/Forbes. 

Quintero's Panamanian lawyers defending his Costa Rican properties wrote of fearing his release. Of their client, Quintero, they described Pablo Escobar as "a baby". Where Tigres hunted Escobar to his Medellin end, When it came 20 years early, NSC staff was "deeply disappointed"; Mexican AG confessed he was "worried". US Treasury's Suzban produced more sanctions on October 31, 2013 (US Treasury). On November 5, 2013, the State Department issued a $5 million bounty for a man US Treasury spox John Sullivan (profile) confessed was a billionaire. 

Throughout the fall of 2013, the US DEA agents most responsible for the investigation of Camarena's torture and execution, DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center director Phil Jordan and Hector Ballarez wanted to talk about Cuban-born retired CIA man present at Che Guevara's execution, Felix Rodriguez. Jordan and Ballarez weren't alone in profiling Felix Rodriguez in the fall of 2013. Fox News produced vivid, detailed testimony about DFS and Quintero's escape. Rodriguez himself appeared via Skype on Spanish language TV (YouTube). National Review described allegations that Rodriguez used Colombian cocaine money to finance Central American Contra war and Rodriguez's subsequent 1987 testimony to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's committee investigating narcotics trafficking. Addressing Kerry at a closed door session, Rodriguez told Kerry, "it is extremely difficult to have to answer questions from someone you do not respect, and I do not respect you and what you are doing here" (National Review).



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