Since January 2007, a staggering 11,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico. That's more than double the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Savage gunfights among heavily armed drug cartels have spiraled out of control and threaten to spill across the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, narco-terrorists connected to Mexican drug cartels already have infiltrated 230 American cities.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, immediately south of neighboring El Paso, Texas, is arguably the most dangerous municipality in the Americas. The mayor, Jose Reyes Ferriz, told me that in the past 12 months, more than 1,600 of his citizens have been murdered as his city became the epicenter of a vicious "turf war" among rival drug cartels vying for larger slices of the lucrative "drug delivery business." When he called for help, President Calderon sent in the only force he could trust: the Mexican army. Retired military officers now run the city's police force, and joint military/police units patrol the streets. Even this hasn't stopped the bloodbath. Last month, more than 240 people perished in this murderous metropolis.
Fueling the violence next door: illegal narcotics. Nearly all the world's cocaine originates with coca plants grown in South America, and 90 percent of the coke that ends up on our streets travels to the U.S. through Mexico. Eighty percent of the methamphetamine consumed by Americans is produced there. Our southern neighbor is also the main foreign supplier of marijuana. According to Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora, "At least $10 billion in bulk cash" related to drug trafficking "crosses the U.S.-Mexico border each year" -- meaning that narco-dollars are nearly on par with tourism, which produces about $13 billion annually for Mexico.
With the help of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agents, our investigation took us from a cocaine-processing laboratory hidden beneath the jungle canopy in South America's Andean basin to the coastline of Colombia, where drugs are sent north on "go-fast boats" and semi-submersibles to the streets of Mexico City and across the U.S.-Mexico border -- all the way to a drug bust in an American back alley.
The result: an unprecedented, eye-opening look behind the curtain into the shadowy world of narco-terror -- and those who put their lives on the line to keep the cartels from bringing their bloody battles into our neighborhoods. The extraordinary efforts of these brave law officers and steadfast soldiers deserve more attention than the short shrift they received at the Guadalajara summit.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.