(TMU) — Mexican media and public figures are increasingly growing nervous about the possibility that continued drug cartel violence in the country could lead their northern neighbors in Washington to act rashly by declaring the powerful criminal groups to be “terrorist organizations,” resulting in a U.S. military intervention on Mexican soil.
The speculation comes after nine U.S. citizens from a Mormon sect were slaughtered this week by a drug cartel. On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered in the remote farming community of La Mora in the northern Mexican state of Sonora to mourn the deaths of the innocent civilians, many of whom were children.
Also on Thursday, Mexican daily Sin Embargo published a story detailing how U.S. lawmakers and top media outlets are pushing for the U.S. government to declare the cartels to be “terrorists.” Such a move could clear the path to unilateral actions by the Pentagon, handing the mantle of a “war on drugs” to the U.S. Armed Forces after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (commonly known as AMLO) has repeatedly made clear that he is in favor of pursuing socio-economic solutions to the huge problem of crime in the country or, as he puts it, “hugs and not bullets” (“abrazos, no balazos”).
The newspaper said:
“Treating criminal organizations as terrorists would allow U.S. military operations on Mexican soil as is the case in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria.
The United States Army operates—through such a justification—in several countries of the world without having to consult with local authorities.
And it carries out such [military] attacks on the pretext of ‘legitimate defense’ because U.S. law justifies these as ‘preventive’ attacks.”
— La Jornada Maya (@LaJornadaMaya) November 6, 2019
Indeed, in recent days some U.S. legislators have spoken about the need for unilateral military action in Mexico without the consent of the country’s authorities. On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told Fox News that it’s clear that the Mexican government can’t control crime, adding:
“President Lopez Obrador came into office almost a year ago saying that his strategy for dealing with the cartels was going to be more hugs, not bullets. That may work in a children’s fairy tale, but in the real world when three American women and six American children were gunned down and burned alive the only thing that can counteract bullets is more and bigger bullets. If the Mexican government cannot protect American citizens in Mexico, then the United States may have to take matters into our own hands.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has also said that he favors passage of a law that would dub Mexico’s cartels to be classified as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) on the same level as such notorious groups as ISIS. On Tuesday, he said:
“There are parts of Mexico that I’d rather go to Syria than Mexico.
I’m having my staff check whether or not Mexican cartels are terrorist organizations within the confines of the U.S. law. If they’re not, I’d like to make them.”
And on Wednesday, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) wrote an opinion piece for the Hill that luridly compared the crimes of Mexico’s cartels to the worst atrocities of al-Qaeda and ISIS. In a piece titled “To fight Mexican drug cartels, we must designate them Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” the representative said:
“The United States can no longer afford to sit idly while our friends in Mexico are being overrun. Our backyard is on fire. It is time we grab the fire hose.”
Also this week, the Wall Street Journal wrote an aggressive editorial titled “The Cartelization of Mexico” that explicitly called for U.S. military intervention in Mexican territory. In the op-ed, the editorial board excoriated AMLO’s policies, claiming:
“Mayhem has risen under the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office last year and promised to end the anti-cartel campaign accused by his two immediate predecessors. He called the war on drugs a failure and promised to ‘start a peace process with organized crime organizations and adopt transitional justice models that guarantee victims’ rights.’ This is left-mumbo-jumbo for surrender, and the cartels have taken the message and gone on the offensive.”
Concluding, the editorial board said:
“But if Mexico cannot control its territory, the United States must do more to protect Americans in both countries from the cartels. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should be able to find out the identity and location of those who ordered or carried out Monday’s killings, ensuring that their passing would be a signal that American justice has long reach. An American military operation cannot be ruled out.”
Also Monday, the far-right New York Post offered a similar prescription, arguing that “while a modern invasion by U.S. forces may not be imminent, it’s not unthinkable,” citing President Trump’s tweet this week offering to send the U.S. Army to help “wage war” on cartels.
….monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
In the face of this concerted push for the United States to intervene in Mexico and violate Mexico’s sovereignty, AMLO has pushed back and insisted that a continuation of the failed “war on drugs” would hardly benefit his country. On Wednesday, the Mexican president pointed to the tens of thousands of victims of Mexico’s drug wars and said:
“We are carrying out a different policy … We are carrying out a different policy, because the policy they applied for 36 years was a resounding failure and caused so much damage, so much sadness, so many deaths and losses for the Mexican people.”
And at the same time, Mexican Security Secretary Alfonso Durazno pointed out how many of the weapons that were used to perpetrate the attacks, such as .223 Remington cartridges for AR-15 rifles, were clearly manufactured in the United States.
Yet while many Mexicans are expressing extreme unease about U.S. talk of a military intervention in the country, others are extremely critical of the Mexican government’s strategy of non-confrontation with the cartels, which led last month to the spectacular failed arrest of Ovidio Guzman, the son of notorious jailed cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in the northern city of Culiacan.
AMLO remains adamant that the U.S. would not be permitted to dictate policies to the Mexican government, especially over such a sensitive subject as the country’s struggle with cartels. In a heated exchange with reporters last week, he pointedly snapped:
“We do not receive orders from Washington!”
But it remains to be seen whether Washington will respect Mexico’s sovereignty or act on its own, potentially plunging its southern neighbor into a new—and deadlier—phase in the fight to control organized crime.
Prison Guard Who Had Sex With Inmate In Front Of 11 Prisoners Is Now Behind Bars
A prison guard in California now finds herself behind bars after she was caught having sexual relations with an inmate – in one case, performing the act in full view of 11 other prisoners.
Former Fresno County correctional officer Tina Gonzalez, 26, was arrested last May following an investigation by the vice unit of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office’s and its internal affairs division.
Gonzalez, who worked as a prison guard from 2016 to 2019, was investigated after authorities were tipped off that an inmate was having sex with a prison guard who had also smuggled in a phone, reports the Fresno Bee.
In one case, Gonzalez even cut a hole in the pants of her uniform to allow easier access during sexual acts with the unnamed prisoner at Fresno County Jail.
Gonzalez was also accused of having sex in full view of 11 inmates, an act that her former boss says “is something only a depraved mind can come up with.”
Assistant Sheriff Steve McComas, who once supervised the unit Gonzalez belonged to, said that in his entire career of 26 years he has witnessed some “pretty disgusting things” but none as bad as Gonzalez’s conduct.
“She took an oath which she betrayed and in doing so endangered her co-workers’ lives,” McComas said.
“But she has shown no remorse,” he added. “She continually calls and has sexually explicit conversations with the inmate in question and boasts about the crimes she carried out.”
Gonzalez pleaded no contest in April to one count of sexual activity by a detention facility employee with a consenting confined adult, one count of possession of drugs or an alcoholic beverage in a jail facility and a misdemeanor count of possession of cellular device with intent to deliver to an inmate.
When she was being sentenced, Judge Michael Idiart decried her acts as “terrible, stupid” and noted that her career had been “ruined.”
“But I also believe that people can redeem themselves and you have the rest of your life to do that,” the judge added. “Good luck.”
Gonzalez is now serving her sentence of seven months in county jail to be followed by two years of probation.
Judge Orders New Trove of Secret Ghislaine Maxwell Files to Be Unsealed This Month
A large trove of secretive files about Ghislaine Maxwell will be unsealed this month, including those shedding light on her relationship with disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a judge ruled on Thursday.
The documents will include details on her finances, as well as “funding received from the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation,” according to court records.
The documents are also believed to detail Maxwell’s extensive connections with powerful men such as Prince Andrew of the British royal family, reports the Daily Mail.
It has long been well-known that Epstein and Maxwell associated with both Clinton and former President Donald Trump. Clinton also reportedly met with accused Maxwell for an “intimate” dinner in 2014.
The documents are a part were filed by Epstein accuser and former “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre in a 2015 civil lawsuit against Maxwell and must be released in mid-July, Judge Loretta Preska ruled in Thursday’s telephone hearing.
Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after she was accused by the British socialite of fabricating the sexual abuse allegations against her and Epstein in the lawsuit, which has since been settled.
Last July, a deposition by Giuffre was unsealed. In the deposition, Giuffre went into detail about alleged “constant” orgies that Maxwell and the late pedophile engaged in on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
“There’s just a blur of so many girls,” Giuffre explained in the 2015 deposition.
“There were blondes, there were brunettes, there were redheads,” she continued. “They were all beautiful girls. I would say the ages ranged between 15 and 21.”
“The island was a place where orgies were a constant thing that took place. And again, it’s impossible to know how many,” Giuffre said, noting that she was “100 percent certain” that Maxwell took part in sexual acts with the girls.
Maxwell is accused of grooming multiple minors to engage in sex acts with Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, by befriending them to ask them about their lives and families while building friendships with the young girls alongside Epstein by taking their victims on social outings or out shopping in the 1990s and 2000s.
Maxwell has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, pending trial.
Her five appeals to be released from jail have all been rejected.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in a lone cell in the special housing unit (SHU) of a federal Manhattan prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.
2 More Catholic Churches in Canada Burned as Third Mass Gravesite for Indigenous Kids Found
An additional two Catholic churches have been the target of likely arson in Canada as anger continues to grow in the aftermath of the discovery of over 1,000 human remains belonging to Indigenous children.
The news coincides with the discovery of a third site where 182 unmarked graves were located near a discovered near a residential school in British Columbia’s interior.
Early Wednesday morning, firefighters were dispatched to respond to a fire at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, Alberta, which was basically gutted by the blaze.
“The fire was already fully involved from the basement when the first fire crews got here,” Morinville’s infrastructure general manager Iain Bushell told CTV News. “They entered the building but there was already collapse occurring on the inside of the church so they backed out and it’s been a defensive or exterior fire fight ever since.”
Police officials have described the blaze as “suspicious.”
Roughly an hour later, a fire was also reported at the Catholic St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, reports CBC.
At least seven churches, nearly all Catholic, have come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks. Activists and Indigenous advocates have also defaced Catholic churches with bloody red hand and foot prints, while demonstrations have also been staged involving stuffed animal and the slogan “we were children.”
While it remains unclear what precisely caused the fires, they are believed to be linked to the recent discovery of mass graves and unmarked graves containing over 1,000 human remains near Catholic-run residential schools for First Nations children.
The discovery came just few weeks after the grim discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s bodied by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation in a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Colombia.
Also last month, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced its discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area.
Another site with 182 unmarked graves was announced Wednesday after an investigation undertaken by the community of ʔaq’am, near Cranbrook, British Columbia.
About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has confirmed that large amounts of Indigenous children fled such residential schools or died there, their whereabouts unknown. Former students have also testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad students died from preventable diseases that rapidly spread in unsanitary conditions, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”
Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are also demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. Activists have also rejected Canada Day celebrations this year to highlight the anti-Indigenous atrocities that the founding of the North American country entailed.