AUSTIN, Texas - Escalating violence by drug cartels and deteriorating security in Mexico will make this the most deadly year yet for that nation's drug-related crime, and the violence is spilling into the United States, according to a report released Wednesday for a state panel.
"The deteriorating security situation has profound implications not only for Mexico but also for the United States, since drug violence increasingly crosses the border," says the report, submitted to Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Border Security Council.
The report's chief author is former State Department counterterrorism agent Fred Burton, now an Austin-based consultant and a member of the governor's council.
It says U.S. law enforcement faces poor coordination, corruption and lack of resources for battling drug smuggling.
Describing turf battles between two of the most powerful Mexican drug cartels, Sinaloa and Gulf, the report says drug violence in Mexico has escalated despite efforts by President Felipe Calderon.
It said there were 1,543 drug-related killings in Mexico in 2005 and more than 2,100 in 2006, and that the more than 2,100 estimated since Jan. 1 will "certainly make this year the deadliest yet."
On the U.S. side of the border, The Associated Press reported in August that at least seven killings in Laredo in the last two years were linked to the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels. Rosalio "Bart" Reta, a 17-year-old U.S. citizen and alleged soldier for the Gulf cartel, pleaded guilty this summer to a Laredo killing and faces charges on others.
The report says "the underreporting of crimes ... and corruption among low- and midlevel U.S. law enforcement officials facilitate the northward spread of cartel activity."
Conrado Cantu, the former Cameron County sheriff whose territory included the border city of Brownsville, is serving 24 years in federal prison for drug trafficking, extortion and corruption. Three National Guardsmen assigned to the Laredo sector have been charged with human smuggling; one of them has pleaded guilty.
The border security council was set up to help state officials allocate the $100 million that the Legislature authorized this year for law enforcement along the Mexican border.
The council held its first meetings recently in border cities.