The Mexican government has wrapped up a three-week military operation against the brutal Los Zetas cartel in the violence-plagued states along the country’s northeastern border.
Stratfor reports that the assault, dubbed “Operation Northern Lynx,” targeted Los Zetas leadership, operations, and logistics, leading to the arrest of 196 people suspected of cartel ties and the seizure of 1,217 weapons, 3.3 tons of marijuana, and 260 vehicles.
The end of the operation coincides with U.S. acknowledgment that it has expanded its role in Mexico’s drug wars — timing that indicates the U.S. had a hand in the relative effectiveness of Operation Northern Lynx.
The new U.S. operations, first reported by the New York Times, are being coordinated from a base in northern Mexico, where a team of CIA officials, DEA agents and retired military personnel are collaborating with Mexican security officials to gather intelligence and plan operations against the cartels.
The NYT report has raised concerns in Mexico that the U.S. sees their southern neighbour as a battlefield akin to Afghanistan. The Mexican government has already admitted the U.S. flies unmanned drones on their side of the border.
“In recent months, Washington’s growing military, political, intelligence and police interference has been documented in many ways, as has the Mexican government’s acceptance of it,” the Mexican newspaper La Jornada wrote in an editorial yesterday.
The government has so far refused to discuss the NYT report, but has acknowledged that there are U.S. intelligence agents operating on Mexican soil. The AP has identified several hundred U.S. security officials working in Mexico.
That may be why the Obama administration continues to compare its involvement in Mexico to U.S. counternarcotics campaign in Colombia, despite mounting evidence that suggests the new U.S. strategy in Mexico mirrors the one being used in Afghanistan.
The new Mexico-based unit has been compared to the “intelligence fusion” centres that monitor militant groups and support local security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other bilateral “fusion centres” have been reported in Mexico City and Juarez. There is also no doubt Mexicans have realised that the new U.S. ambassador is fresh off of assignment from Kabul.
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