Mexican drug cartels are now as heavily armed as America’s enemies during the Iraq war and are extending their bloody conflict into the United States, say security experts.
Law enforcement agencies in American cities close to the border with Mexico — including San Diego in California, and El Paso in Texas — are “gearing up” for street confrontations with the drug gangs, which are armed with rockets and grenades and have brought death and chaos south of the border.
The confidence of the cartel chiefs has increased so much that they are moving to affluent neighbourhoods in America to kidnap Mexican businessmen and smuggle them across the border to be ransomed, a private security consultant told The Daily Telegraph.
Van Bethea, the operations director for the Steele Foundation, an American private security company that has protected foreign businessmen in Mexico as well as Iraq, said the two countries were now comparable in terms of the potential danger.
“Quite frankly, in Mexico you can’t be armed enough,” said Mr Bethea. “The dynamic of this combat is approaching the early days of the Iraq war. The cartels’ men are well trained, disciplined and are armed with the latest weaponry, including armour-piercing bullets, rocket-launchers and grenades.”
His claims were backed by Congressmen in Washington, who have said money and guns smuggled from the US were fuelling violence that was now creeping over the border.