Drug War Moving North

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If you aren’t familiar with the San Juan Basin area of New Mexico, it’s on the northern border of the state, near the Four Corners region where New Mexico meets Colorado, Arizona and touches Utah. Importantly, this area is more than 400 miles north of the Mexican border.

Recently, New Mexico’s Region II Narcotic Task force has been talking to city governments in the area. These briefings can only be described as dire warnings about impending combat. The combat is with Mexican drug cartels and the meetings are meant to advise local governments in the basin region that, no, they aren’t far enough away. In fact, the drug war has moved north, past the border and into their communities.

Notably, the task force only deals with felony level drug crimes and focuses on major trafficking. Two news stories highlight what’s going on. A briefing in Aztec, the largest city in the area, came late last year. Other meetings were held in Bloomfield, and more recently in Farmington. This follows news of the damage cartels are doing to Mexico itself, where it’s reported there is a drug murder every half-hour.

Task Force representative, Lieutenant Neil Haws, explained the situation this way, “The Mexican nationals will stay in the area for about six months and then move on. The entire time they are here, they are working counterintelligence against Region II. They’re always protecting their dope.”

Cartels change distribution routes for methamphetamine, for instance, and the task force tracks activity by where seizures come from. “If it comes from Phoenix, we know it is Sinaloa. If it comes from California, it’s Michoacán,” Haws said.

For New Mexican citizens, the fear is that the violence seen in Mexico will move northward along with the drugs. So far, it’s still dealer on dealer violence, but in Mexico, that soon spread into the population at large – along with police and government corruption.

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