Mexican drug czars are muscling into Colombia, encroaching on the multibillion-dollar cocaine industry traditionally controlled by cartels from cities like Medellin and Cali, according to several U.S. intelligence officials.

Mexican drug organizations are dipping further ... into Colombias cocaine market, said a U.S. law enforcement official, with knowledge of Mexican and Colombian drug operations.

That was echoed by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who recently visited U.S. military officials and law enforcement personnel in Colombia. He said there is evidence the Mexican drug cartels are sending their members out of Mexico and into Colombia.

Poe, who is calling for hearings on the growing violence along the U.S.-Mexican border, said the expansion of Mexicos cartels should be a warning to both the U.S. and the Mexican governments. Theyre more ruthless and violent than even their Colombian counterparts, and according to our guys on the ground they want more control of Colombias cocaine trade.

Jay Bergman, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrations Andean regional director has been closely watching the expansion of Mexican cartels in the regions.

With the dismantlement of the former Colombia cartels and the retraction of these cartels from key geographic locations outside of Colombia, the Mexican cartels have filled the vacuum first by assuming supremacy of the cocaine distribution market in the United States and in recent years in a much broader global context, he said.

That was illustrated in a case that unfolded late last year in which a consortium of Mexican drug cartels were busted attempting to smuggle 1,200 tons of cocaine into the United States from Colombia. That case demonstrated how Mexicans, including the Beltran-Leyva and Sinaloa cartels, were in charge in major drug shipments from Colombia to the United States, with Colombians assuming a diminished role.

The Mexican cartels have representatives in Colombia who coordinate with Colombian drug trafficking organizations on the acquisition of cocaine and transportation to Central America and Mexico, said Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman in Washington. Ten years ago it was the exact opposite in that the Colombian cartels were embedded in Mexico and coordinating with the Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

Despite current efforts by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and U.S. authorities to dismantle the cartels, the drug organizations have become more brazen in expanding their operations globally. In doing, so they have strangled the communities in the regions they control, according to law enforcement officials. The situation has led to the gruesome deaths of thousands of people along the U.S.-Mexican border.

In Juarez, a city of 1.3 million people bordering El Paso, Texas, more than 200 deaths a month have been linked to drug wars this year. It has made the city a major route for drugs traveling from Colombia through Mexico and into the U.S. one of the most dangerous in the world.

Ignoring the situation has only made it worse, according to U.S. anti-drug officials.

By not dismantling the cartels when they were first organizing more than 10 years ago, narco-traffickers like Chapo Shorty Guzmans Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel and others have amassed foot soldiers of more than 100,000, from assassins to accountants, said one U.S. defense official, who asked not to be named.

Colombia has made tremendous progress combating the drug trade, but Mexicos cartels are out of control and they have been able to gain enormous power not just inside of Mexico but in other countries where theyre setting up shop, as well, said the defense official, who works closely with Colombian military counterparts.

A retired Special Forces military official, who worked operations in Colombia, said, Over the years the Mexican cartels have been trying to elicit a greater percentage of profit and change the nature of the transactions in Colombia to full control of distribution centers.

The military official warned that if something isnt done to stop the spread of Mexicos drug cartels on a global scale, we could watch Mexico turn into a narco-state and see the security of the border deteriorate even further than it has in recent years.

After September 11 I dont think anyone wants to see that happen, the military official said. But were not going to change anything by ignoring it. Mexico and the U.S. have to work together we both have too much to lose.

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