April 17, 2009

Border cooperation is bad news for criminals

By Mariana Martinez

Late Tuesday, Border Patrol agents contacted state police in Tijuana, asking for their help in stopping a kidnapping suspect and his 2 year-old victim, believed to be heading for the border and crossing into Mexico.

Mexican state agents managed to stop 47 year-old Glenn Allen Blake, as he tried to enter Mexico at the San Ysidro port of entry. With him was his small victim, a child he had taken from his Los Angeles home three days before, seeking a $200 thousand dollar ransom for his release.

The child was hungry and dirty, but healthy, and was soon delivered to his parents.

Blake is currently under Mexican custody awaiting extradition for the kidnapping but also being investigated for drug traffic offenses.

Just 24 hours later, a Florida man was arrested in San Diego, accused of prostituting a 17 year old girl, offering her services on Craigslits. His photo was distributed to media on both sides of the border, in hopes of more victims identifying him.

Both cases, as well as the presence of Mexican Marines at the Mexico Gate in Tijuana, are sending a clear signal of binational cooperation and hopes of border integration between law enforcement units for a more secure border, coupled with future screenings of passengers coming North to South.

Until recently, the Border Patrol simply didn’t call, and Mexican authorities just didn’t ask for US counterparts for help, effectively creating a justice void used by criminal organizations, who exploited this void.

“We face international criminal organizations every day” the Baja California State Prosecutor Rommel Moreno Manjarrez, said recently, “therefore it is key for us to work more closely in order to defeat them”.

But for this to work, cooperation has to be clear at all levels, and President Barack Obama’s visit to México might just be that first step.

During the visit, presidents from both countries are going to talk about urgent matters such as security, emigration and drug traffic, adding gun traffic to the mix as a vital part of the security measures urged at the Mexican border.

The million border crossings a day between the two nations are a clear symptom of the intensity and complexity of the dynamic relationship between both countries, and their deep ties to international commerce and democracy.

“There are not two countries with so many asymmetries and so much interdependence in the world, Mexico and the US share such a wide and dynamic border area” explained Economy professor and Northern Border Research Institute (Colef) Alejandro Díaz Bautista.

“These complex relationship and shared problems are specially acute at the northern border area” he explains, “this is even more true in cities like Tijuana, San Diego, Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, considered huge social laboratories showing what is happening to both countries.”

If this is true, recent bi-national cooperation and arrests is a good sign, for both countries.

Return to the Frontpage