Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Drug cartels moving further into the U.S.

The slaying in Southlake Town Square of a Mexican attorney with reputed ties to drug cartels was a brazen and well-coordinated assassination that illustrates the increasingly long and lethal reach of the brutal criminal organizations, security experts say.

The flamboyant public hit was unusual because Mexican cartels try to stay off the radar on this side of the border.

But it underlines an ominous trend: Dallas-Fort Worth has become a key "command and control" center for moving drugs and people across the country, top state and federal law enforcement officials confirm.

DFW is more than 400 miles from the Mexico border, but its central location and vast network of interstates and rail lines make it a vital distribution point for drugs.

"When you have these kinds of incidents in your nicer communities, it really resonates and brings home the cartels’ reach," said Fred Burton, a security analyst with Austin-based Stratfor Global Intelligence who monitors the cartels, their areas of influence and their drug routes.

"There’s a perception that these guys don’t do that kind of stuff here, but in reality they do. They are selective, but if they do want to kill somebody, they’ve been successful in doing it, as evidenced by what happened in Southlake," he said.

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