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Above the Tearline: Mexican Cartel Violence In Texas

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Video Transcript: 

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the recent murder allegedly committed by Mexican cartel members and the complexity faced by law enforcement agencies when cross-border violence occurs.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In this week's Above the Tearline, we are going to look at an incident that appears to be a Mexican cartel-related murder in Texas.

Last Monday, in the Houston area, several undercover officers from a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force (known as a HIDTA) were following a tractor-trailer from south Texas transporting drugs in an undercover operation. Four suspects ambushed the truck, firing shoulder weapons, shooting and wounding a task force police officer and killing the driver, who media have identified as an undercover government informant.

The true motive for the attack is unclear. There has been speculation in the media that the suspects attacked the truck to steal the marijuana, with others speculating the real target was the undercover informant. It is unknown if the shooters were aware that undercover police officers were surveilling the drug load. We have heard through our law enforcement contacts the suspects may be linked to the violent Zeta cartel organization. The brazen nature of the ambush certainly fits their m.o., but killing government informants in the U.S. is something the cartels have typically tried to avoid. The pressure the feds can place on the cartels disrupts their supply chain and causes the cartels to lose money.

The DEA has taken the lead investigative role, which is a positive step, assisted by the Houston Police Department Homicide Division and the local sheriff's department. However, behind the scenes, other state and federal agencies are also assisting the DEA, to include the Texas DPS, ATF and the FBI. Three of the four suspects are allegedly Mexican nationals, so the State Department and ICE will interface with our Mexican counterparts, and an investigation will be conducted in Mexico to determine if the suspects are connected to a drug trafficking organization. At the national level, traces will also be conducted on the suspects through the entire U.S. intelligence community. As you can see, a lot is taking place behind the scenes.

What is the Above the Tearline aspect of this video? The DEA needs to determine whether or not a cartel source sold out the details of the undercover operation to the bad guys. If so, the internal leak needs to be found before other drug operations are jeopardized.

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