By Rep. Ted Poe
Op-ed in The Daily Caller
For 10 years, thousands of American troops have fought against terrorism and for the liberation of Iraq. Many have sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom on behalf of people in a land halfway around the world, leaving their families with the memory of their fallen heroes. Meanwhile, American taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on the military equipment used during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, the U.S. is withdrawing from Iraq and thousands of our desert warriors will soon be enthusiastically welcomed home.
The United States is leaving behind a massive amount of military equipment deemed to be too expensive to bring home. Over the past year, 2.4 million pieces of military equipment — worth at least $250 million — have been transferred for free to the Iraqi government, and more gifts are going to be in Baghdad’s Christmas stocking. But some of the modernized pieces of military equipment are coming home to America. The Department of Defense currently facilitates the distribution of this surplus equipment through the Defense Logistics Agency. One place in serious need of security and equipment is our southern border with Mexico.
There is a war raging in Mexico that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people since 2006. In 2010, there were more civilian deaths in the town of Ciudad Juarez (just down the road from El Paso, Texas) than in the entire country of Afghanistan. Mexico’s militarized drug cartels are a powerful army complete with narco-tanks, helicopters and a massive stockpile of dangerous weapons. The drug war has destabilized Mexico, yet the administration seems to think that the violence will not reach our citizens. The truth is it already has. Human trafficking and drugs flow north of the border every day. Money and firearms go south over our dangerous and insecure border. The narco-terrorists are fully operational in Mexico and in many major cities in the United States.
Those who say that the border is secure and the violence is contained in Mexico are living in a blissful state of denial far from reality. Case in point: Last week, three SUVs carrying Mexican Zeta cartel soldiers attempted to hijack a tractor truck rig loaded with drugs on a road in Houston and unleashed blazing gunfire. A shootout occurred with police who were tracking the truck. The truck driver was killed; a peace officer was wounded. Three Mexican nationals and another of unknown citizenship were charged with capital murder. Sadly, this brazen violence is a familiar scene on the streets of Mexico. And, now it has become a reality in the United States. The local head of the DEA, Javier Pena, said of the incident in Houston: “We are not going to tolerate these thugs using their weapons like the Wild Wild West.” Until Washington realizes that what happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico, more cartel shootouts on American streets are coming our way.
Yes, there are towns on the border that are relatively “safe.” But in the vast, wide-open, rugged and desolate regions along the border, between the safer legal ports of entry, the cartels are successfully smuggling illegals and drugs throughout the United States. The loyal local first responders of the southern border are in serious need of modern military equipment and well-trained manpower. Washington officials seem to live in a blissful state of denial about their constitutional responsibility to secure the border and protect our national sovereignty. Since the federal government refuses to give law enforcement officers in the border region the equipment and manpower they need, this equipment should be sent to local and state law enforcement to help stop the aggression against America. It’s time to quickly implement a strategy to defend against this threat to American sovereignty.