By Michael Webster: Syndicated Investigative Reporter.
According to a DEA operative in the L.A. area who insists on remaining anonymous told the U.S. Border Fire Report that businesses along the dangerous U.S. Mexican border from Texas to California have been the victims of extortion attempts and threats. He further indicated that he believes that a good number of minority owned businesses in the Los Angeles area are also victims of extortion and that Mexican Drug Cartels and L.A. gangs and others are responsible. “He said that many of the victims especially those without papers are fearful of reporting the crime to authorities as they fear retaliation”.
Recently in the Los Angeles area grand jury indictments have come down charging hundreds of gang members of notorious L. A. street gangs with wide ranging criminal charges including extortion and 88 of those have been named in a wide-ranging federal RICO racketeering indictment.
According to a 222-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury recently, members and associates of the Avenues street gang are part of a criminal enterprise that engaged in a host of criminal acts, including murders, attempted murders, narcotics trafficking, robberies, extortions, money laundering and witness intimidation.
“No matter how many times gangs like the Mexican Mafia and the Avenues seek to reassert control through intimidation, we will do what it takes to combat that intimidation, and ensure that residents need not live their lives in fear,” said Acting United States Attorney George S. Cardona.
Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton stated: the “operation demonstrated not only a continuing commitment to this area, but an ability to foster and maintain long-term relationships with diverse communities and law enforcement agencies. The satisfaction comes when these neighborhoods spring back to life.”
In addition to the murders and extortion the indictment alleges that the gang “is continually engaged in” the distribution of narcotics, such as crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. Avenues leaders control drug distribution by providing “street-level” amounts of crack cocaine — to numerous gang members and associates who law enforcement believe then sell it to other street dealers and drug attic’s then collect extortion payments from them– commonly called “taxes” or “rent” — from all the sellers of the drugs. If they burn or refuse to pay they will be murdered by the gangs many times by order of the MDCs who the gang leadership obtain their drugs from.
Los Zetas the deadly paramilitary terrorist hit men and enforcers for the Mexican Drug Cartels (MDCs) is now operating and extorting American businesses on the U.S. Side of the border. Federal law enforcement investigators believe that goons of the MDCs has apparently begun to threaten businesses in the United States.
Federal government officials on both sides of the border are reported to be investigating the mafia style extortion plots. Two American city police departments L.A. and El Paso are investigating. Other cities police departments with similar problems believed looking into the matter is Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, and other smaller towns bordering Mexico.
According to information from an El Paso newspaper word of the threats has put the El Paso police on alert. At least two businesses in El Paso have reportedly received threats by a man identifying himself as a commander of Los Zetas. One businessman said that the man “demanded in an intimidating voice” a payment of $50,000 to be paid immediately or “the next time we meet will be at the funeral of a loved one.” While such tactics are routine in neighboring Cd. Juarez, but never before have American businesses been extorted from thugs from a foreign country and is a new problem for American businesses to have to deal with and apparently extortion has crossed into the US.
U.S. businesses are receiving threats by extortionists claiming to be members of MDCs, a sign that criminal tactics common in Mexico are showing up north of the border.
This week alone, at least two El Paso businesses reported to police calls they had received from a man identifying himself as a Zetas commander working for the Gulf cartel.
One man, in a “bullying voice,” called an El Paso businessman and demanded “$50,000 immediately, or the next time we’ll see you, it will be at the funeral of a loved one,” the businessman said.
The businessman spoke on condition of anonymity, citing concerns for his safety and that of his family. The family said it reported the incident to police.
Police said the caller may have been someone posing as a cartel member, hoping to use the fearsome reputation of the drug-trafficking groups operating across the border in Ciudad JuÃ¡rez to extract money from businesses in El Paso.
El Paso police spokesman Javier Sambrano said he believes the incident is a “scam”, but an investigator had been assigned to the case, and he acknowledged that other businesses had been threatened in the past few days, but he refused to say how many.
Last year the El Paso Police Dept. did not think that the killings in Juarez would spill over into El Paso. They have been proved wrong as assassinations by MDCs of American citizens have taken place in El Paso and other cities around the country. Its believed many other Americans have been kidnapped and forced to Mexico where they were tortured and killed by MDCs murderous gang members and hired hit men. U.S. law enforcement believe American gang members also participate in many of those kidnappings and murders and follow the orders of the MDCs.
According to Mexican sources and the El Paso Times such extortion calls have become common in Mexico, where drug cartels have morphed into full-scale mafias, running extortion and protection rings as they try to expand their criminal operations.
The Times reports as Mexicans flee the growing insecurity and move to U.S. border cities, American business owners have said they fear that the cartels, with members living on both sides of the border, will also prey on them and demand “protection” fees.
Such demands have wrecked hundreds of businesses across Mexico, particularly in cities such as Ciudad JuÃ¡rez, Tijuana, as well as other cities along the border, where the cartels are most active.
JuÃ¡rez is considered the most dangerous city in the Americas. So far this year, more than 1,800 people have been killed in criminal violence, including more than 300 in September alone.
The Times went on to say the destruction in JuÃ¡rez is measured in more ways than body counts.
In downtown JuÃ¡rez, burned-out businesses have become a common sight, many of them victims of organized crime carrying through on threats to destroy shops of owners who refused to pay protection fees, authorities say.
Last month, an owner of a funeral home was killed, and a day later, his business was burned. Mexican authorities said they believe the owner refused to pay protection fees.
Mexican newspapers report that a survey of members of the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico showed that 75 percent of respondents felt that growing insecurity in the country had had an impact on their businesses. Fifty-seven percent said their companies planned to increase their security budget within the next two years, said Marina Tavares, spokeswoman for the chamber in Mexico City.
The Times article continued that a family-owned business in east El Paso, such stories of insecurity and extortion were once nothing but tales read in newspapers. But then came the threatening call last week.
“There are only so many companies they can extort on the Mexican side,” said one of the business owners. “Sooner, or later, they will start operating here. After all, we’re so close, right along the border.”
The family said it called police, but the officer who responded to the call told them there was little the police can do other than monitor the situation and have detectives periodically check on them.
For now, the family is adjusting their routines. One of the business owners said he won’t work late anymore.
In the end, the mother of the business owner said, the calls may be part of a hoax, or they may be made by opportunists trying to take advantage of a people on both sides of the border who are already on edge.
Either way, the mother said: “We’re taking this very seriously. We’re not getting much rest. And whenever I think about it, I shake like a leaf.”
According to the National Gang Threat Assessment of 2009 report there are over 20,000 violent murderous street gangs, motorcycle gangs, prison gangs and international gangs which total well over a million foot solders and members. These gangs are criminally active in the U.S. and elsewhere today including Afghanistan. Many are well armed and U.S. militarily trained and are organized as well as our most sophisticated corporations; all use violence to control members, citizens as well as entire neighborhoods, drug corridors and turf, to boost their illegal money-making activities totaling more than $400 billion dollars, which include Mexican Drug Cartel (MDC’s) retaliation hit squads, murder for hire, drug trafficking, smuggling drugs, guns and humans, robbery, theft, fraud, extortion, prostitution, retaliation kidnappings, kidnappings for ransom and military grade weapons trafficking.