Reports from the border indicate a crisis is looming. Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security asked for volunteers from senior staff to support border agents, warning they expect high numbers of border crossings to continue for months. ICE has asked officers to deploy as soon as this weekend. A record number of unaccompanied minors have also arrived. Internal memos show 3,500 children were waiting in border control stations in addition to the 8,500 already housed in HHS shelters awaiting placement. Yes, this means the Biden administration has children in the “cages” the Obama administration built.
While these flows at the border are a significant concern, the existential threat comes from who is profiting and how it increases their power. According to retired captain of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division Jaeson Jones, the beneficiaries are cartels. He now runs an organization called Tripwires and Triggers that seeks to bring media attention to the border risks that do not receive sufficient coverage.
“It was never about the human trafficking was taking over at our border. Or the human smuggling issue. Fentanyl pouring into the country which we knew was going to be a killer. But there is also the fact that the cartels themselves had gone through a quantum leap and change from originally organized crime into what we see now as a parallel government.”
In his description, it is clear that these are not unsophisticated gangs that may operate in a territory but don’t control a territory. They are disciplined, militarized, transnational organizations that wield power over local and national governments to the south of our border. Cartels are also not just a U.S.-Mexico problem. Sinaloa is in 54 nations globally, and Carte Jalisco in over 48 countries.
Cartels control the entire 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. They have strong links to China to procure the raw materials required to manufacture crystal meth and fentanyl to traffic into the United States. Their ties go so deep with China that there is intermarriage between them. One cartel has hired chemists to find a formulation of fentanyl that has precursors readily available in Mexico to diversify their supply chain.
Chillingly, these cartels have had to refine the processes they use to bring illegal migrants over the border. Jones says traveling the routes defined by the cartels and their smugglers is the primary way migrants reach the U.S. border and that caravans are a consequence of the violence and sexual assault that is rampant on the journey. Migrants are trying to achieve safety in numbers by traveling in larger groups.
The current flows have stretched the cartels’ resources, and they are operationalizing their human trafficking operations. Recently agents have discovered a new wristband system. There are marks on the band that include a symbol that indicates the cartel, whether or not the migrant had fully paid the fee, and a numbering system. This assigned number is the most concerning aspect to Jones:
That number was specifically assigned to that migrant where they had taken what we call the PII or personally-identifying information. Meaning that now they had the migrant’s cell number and destination where they were going. And any identification they may have had in their wallet or on their person at the time.
But also, there’s another part to this. And that is their country of origin. They pick up the phone, they call the family, and validate that the family, how they’re linked. And then they get their address and their phone number. Now here’s why that’s important because we’re going into a realm of debt bondage. The prices at the border, the cartels are really charging a lot more than we’ve seen historically.
When Jones says debt bondage, he means a migrant has only paid a portion of the fee, and the cartel now has all of the information they need to come collect in the United States. He confirmed this means the debt bondage increases the likelihood the migrant can be pressured into criminal activity to support the cartel’s activities once they arrive. According to Jones, there are thousands of cartel operators throughout the United States to coordinate these types of activities.
It is not just migrants from Mexico and Central and South America headed for the southern border. Jones explained:
If we were on the border right now and we were talking to migrants that are being apprehended, what they would tell you is that the Biden administration said to come, and they have come. That’s just the facts of it. I mean throughout the campaign the Biden administration said that if people are going to cross, they’re going to be let in the country. And you have to understand that was like a beacon to folks all over the world.
Jones said it is well-known that perception drives migration. He also said that people have been traveling to South America from China and Africa for the last nine or ten months to make their way north. Jones also said we will see more Special Interest Aliens than we have ever seen. This term is a designation for migrants who come from countries with a terrorism nexus. There are already large numbers of SIA’s hitting the Darrien Gap, a break in the Pan-American Highway in southern Panama. Jones says as the numbers of migrants increase, it is easier for those individuals to go undetected.
To address the national security threat of a criminal parallel government, the safety risks to our communities from the cartels’ activities within the U.S., and reduce the amounts of deadly drugs flowing over the border, Jones says several things must happen. First, law enforcement data collection and reporting need to be revised to capture crimes that occur at the border like drug and human trafficking, murders linked to the cartels, kidnapping, and extortion.
Second, designate the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations to bring the Department of Defense and the Intelligence agency resources into the fight. It would also allow cartel members who are apprehended to be deported immediately. It would also limit the cartels’ movement globally because the Mexican government could seize their assets, and the U.S. could put members on terrorist watch lists. Jones has been advocating for this for four years.
In 2018, The Federalist’s Ben Domenech warned of the threat of a failed state to our south after the cartels had murdered 113 candidates for political office and their staff members. He said at that time that he didn’t think Congress had the will to grasp the seriousness of the situation and do what was required. Listening to Jones, the threat of a failed state is now on our doorstep, and it is almost sure the Biden administration will not address it.
WATCH the full interview with Jaeson Jones on American Thought Leaders.