My comments yesterday about the murder-suicide at the Ft. Bliss Veteran’s Center and Monday’s post about my contention that El Paso is corrupt to the core elicited some comments pointing out the homicide rate in Cd. Juárez. To be clear, I agree that Cd. Juárez has its share of corruption problems. I am not blind to that fact. However, it is my contention that the El Paso leadership either ignores the rampant corruption at the city or partakes of it and as a result Juárez suffers in blood.
Other comments revolved around the notion of ethnicity. Specifically, the notion being that El Paso’s proximity to Cd. Juárez is an enabling reason for the corruption; as if corruption derives solely from the Mexican culture. Some commenters have successfully pointed out the fallacy of this notion. Therefore, today I’m going to focus specifically on why I believe El Paso is the root cause of the drug violence in Cd. Juárez. As I lay out my case, it will readily become apparent that the body count and the blood lay squarely on the shoulders of El Paso.
I realize that some of you are aghast that I’m daring to blame El Paso for the violence and the death in Juárez. It is a natural thing to defend your city. As you go about defending your city, pause for a moment and consider how the families of those killed in Juárez feel as they see their loved ones gone forever while they listen to the El Paso elite continue to pretend that corruption does not exist in El Paso nor does impunity for that matter.
There are many facts I can offer you to make my argument but for brevity sake, I’m going to focus on the most poignant ones.
Let’s start with a few inconvenient facts everyone likes to pretend do not exist.
First is the fact that there are El Paso politicians and businessmen who have served time in jail or are currently in jail for public corruption. It is not the case of one, two, three or even ten. I can rattle off a list of at least 100 individuals that at one time or another were held to a high-esteem as the movers and shakers of the city by the local chambers of commerce and the news media alike and have been connected to corruption activities. These individuals were routinely touted for their philanthropy (with corrupt monies) and business acumen not to mention their vision for a wonderful city. More importantly, these individuals were exposed for their corruption within the last decade.
Some of you are probably muttering to yourself, yea we agree but that doesn’t compare to the murder rate in Juárez. This is a fair point so let’s explore this a little more.
Everyone universally agrees that the violence in Cd. Juárez is the direct result of the illegal drugs that are consumed in the United States. The majority of those drugs are transited through Cd. Juárez to the consumers. Interestingly most everyone glosses over the fact that the drugs go through El Paso on their way to the consumers.
Yea, but what does that have to do with the murders some of you are asking. Others are smirking, thinking that I missed an important point – the fact that the homicides are a result of the impunity, or the government’s inability to secure the city. With much glee, those of you thinking this are pointing to the “safest city” designation for El Paso and adding that the drug cartels are afraid of the El Paso police department.
There is another side to this argument about violence as a result of illicit drug trafficking – the one where the criminals have an accommodation to keep violence down in return for their unimpeded criminal activity. The argument being that when a community goes after the criminal element the violence rises as the criminals are kept from their criminal enterprises.
We know the drugs go through El Paso. There are numerous rumors of well-to-do businessmen and politicians being involved in drug trafficking, directly and indirectly. I know rumors do not prove anything. So let’s look at a few facts. A sitting county commissioner, Willie “The Godfather” Gandara is currently in jail for drug trafficking. Let us not forget that many of his immediate family members are currently under indictment or being investigated for various criminal activities. However, one apple doesn’t make everyone bad some of you sighing.
While this is true, there is ample evidence in court cases, arrests and allegations levied against the local police force to argue that the local police force is riddled with corruption. Remember that one police assistant chief told everyone that the police chief, Carlos Leon covered up an investigation into drug cartel infiltration of the police department. Carlos Leon was reprimanded for tampering with official government documents. Carlos Leon is currently an elected official at the county. The current Sheriff, Richard Wiles, was also involved in the allegations of a cover up of drug cartel activity within the ranks of the El Paso police department. These two individuals were in command of the police department that cultivated the numerous police officers that have been indicted, prosecuted or implicated in criminal activity ranging from fraud, government document tampering, theft and drug trafficking. It isn’t one, two but numerous police officers within the last few years.
But wait, Leon and Wiles haven’t been convicted of anything, how can you make the leap towards drug cartel infiltration, some of you are asking. You are correct; however, as they say where there is smoke there must be fire. Let’s keep going. To be effective it has to be a conspiracy. Like all conspiracies, secrets and arrangements are made. I’m not pointing out one case, or two; I’m pointing out numerous examples of issues.
First of all, let’s be clear, drug cartel infiltration does not require everyone to be involved. All it requires is for certain well placed individuals to look the other way, ignore certain issues or outright take money for criminal activity. Like everyone else, I do not know the full extent of any involvement by Carlos Leon or Richard Wiles but like everyone else, I can see the results of their leadership. Numerous police officers have been or are being prosecuted for criminality that clearly shows a complete and fundamental breakdown of ethics. Both Leon and Wiles were in the leadership ranks and still are.
However, I’m not done yet.
The Carrillo Fuentes cartel, better known as the Juárez cartel, brought in an army of foot soldiers to wage war against the Chapo Guzman cartel that was trying to take over the plaza, or corridor through the El Paso sector. Guess where those foot soldiers came from to wage war in Juárez? The Barrio Aztecas, which were created and cultivated in El Paso starting around 1986.
Do you know who was a police officer when the Barrio Aztecas were been cultivated in El Paso? Carlos Leon joined the police force in 1974 and rose through the ranks. In 1999, he was appointed Chief of the El Paso Police Department. Within months, George DeAngelis accused an administrative assistant of Leon of providing confidential information about undercover officers to drug dealers. Likewise, Richard Wiles, today’s sheriff, joined the police force in 1982, rose through the ranks and became the chief in 2004. Both of these men were in positions of authority while the Barrio Aztecas were being cultivated in El Paso.
Now ask yourselves this simple question. How murderous would the drug war in Juárez had been if the Juárez cartel had not been able to rely on the Barrio Aztecas for waging a war against Chapo Guzman? Better yet, how lucrative would Cd. Juárez be to the drug cartels today if drugs were effectively stopped in El Paso before reaching the consumers? I argue that without the Barrio Aztecas, the Juárez cartel would not have been able to wage war and thus the murder and mayhem would have been substantially diminished or nonexistent.
Now, let’s look at who are leading efforts to legalize drugs at the state and national legislatures? That would be El Paso representatives. Why the push for legalization? Hmmm, could it be that legalization would open up other avenues of income for those involved?
Those thinking about legalization are forgetting another inconvenient fact. Individuals like Willie Gandara, who is sitting in jail today, would have served a jail term for a crime that is no longer a crime if the legalization efforts prevail. How can someone be prosecuted today for a crime that others are trying to do away with? More poignant and thus more important is how do you think many of the families who lost loved ones because of the drug war feel today if drugs were legalized? If it were your loved ones, would you be angry? Would you look for retribution?
It is easy to point towards Cd. Juárez as a worse example of corruption, impunity and mayhem but stop and think about that for a moment. Would Juárez residents have had to pay in blood if the El Paso leadership truly cared about law and order?
As some of you snicker, get angry or both when I point out the endemic corruption in El Paso answer a very simple question, does El Paso have the right to absolve itself of the blood shed on Juárez streets? I think not!