Editor’s Note: The transnational criminal gangs Gen. Jacoby is warning about traffic in cigarettes as well as drugs, guns and children. For more information, see the National Gang Intelligence Center’s 2013 report here.
From: US Department of Defense
By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 27, 2014 – Transnational criminal gangs based in Mexico and Central America pose a threat to the region, Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado yesterday.
The response to the threat has been increased cooperation between the United States and Mexico, Jacoby said.
U.S. Northern Command is a post-9-11 creation dedicated to protecting the homeland. It has geographic responsibility for North America and the Bahamas.
Transnational criminal gangs and associated networks are responsible for many of society’s ills, Jacoby said.
“If you are not worried about the drugs and the 40,000 dead Americans and what they do to our youth” then people should worry about organizations “so ruthless, so violent, so powerful” that they have virtual freedom of movement on the U.S. southern border, he said.
Jacoby said such criminal gangs and organizations can smuggle anything from drugs to guns to unaccompanied children.
“Children are just another product to them,” he said, noting these organizations have undermined and threatened the governance of U.S. partners throughout Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico.
And these gangs are a network, he said. They cooperate when they need to. And the general said he personally believes there is plenty of evidence of links between terrorists and criminal organizations.
“We have learned that the best way to fight a network is with a network,” he said. “Counter-network tactics, techniques, procedures, collection are called for in effective dealing with cartels and other criminal organizations.”
DoD personnel play a role in interdicting drugs in what professionals call the transit zone. There have been record numbers of drug seizures, but officials really have little idea of the impact they are making.
“[The drug cartels] are more powerful, they are more globally interconnected, they are making more money and they are more violent than they ever have been,” Jacoby said.