The War South of Us

Winner takes them all

by baldilocks

What do marijuana, humans beings, fuel, and avocados have in common?

Answer: all are trafficked by Mexico’s cartels.

The cartel members showed up in this verdant stretch of western Mexico armed with automatic weapons and chainsaws.

Soon they were cutting timber day and night, the crash of falling trees echoing throughout the virgin forest. When locals protested, explaining that the area was protected from logging, they were held at gunpoint and ordered to keep quiet.

Stealing wood was just a prelude to a more ambitious plan.

The newcomers, members of a criminal group called the Viagras [yep], were almost certainly clearing the forest to set up a grow operation. They wouldn’t be planting marijuana or other crops long favored by Mexican cartels, but something potentially even more profitable: avocados. (…)

More than a dozen criminal groups are battling for control of the avocado trade in and around the city of Uruapan, preying on wealthy orchard owners, the laborers who pick the fruit and the drivers who truck it north to the United States.

“The threat is constant and from all sides,” said Jose Maria Ayala Montero, who works for a trade association that formed its own vigilante army to protect growers.

After seizing control of the forest in March, the Viagras announced a tax on residents who owned avocado trees, charging $250 a hectare in “protection fees.”

But they had competition. Rivals from the Jalisco New Generation cartel wanted to control the same stretch of land — and residents were about to get caught in the middle of a vicious fight.

Sounds ridiculous, yes? But, thinking it over, if the cartels want to seize of every inch of Mexico, it makes sense to diversify holdings and create a monopoly on popular good — like avocados.

By the way, there are tons of avocado trees here in California, so there should be no worries about a shortage of guacamole in the US – at least for now. We had a huge tree in the backyard of our house in the 1970s.

In fact, California is still ripe – no pun intended – with all manner of fruit trees. There are at least two lemon trees down the street from my present dwelling.

Considering, however, that California’s Organized Left is constantly looking for ways to gouge the state’s middle class, I wonder how long it will take them to come up with a plan to tax property owners for their trees.

Back to Mexico. Consider these thing: recently Mexico’s military surrendered in a war against one of the cartels and another cartel murdered members of an American family. President Trump even offered to send the US military to assist President Lopez Obrador against the cartels, to “wipe them from the face of the earth,” as President Trump so memorably put it. But the Mexican president refused.

So, what will happen to Mexico and Mexicans? The US continues to build a real wall in attempt to stem the flood of illegals. If, due to a strong wall, the flood recedes to a trickle, Mexicans will be forced to have a true confrontation with the cartels or submit and be ruled by them.

We’ll be neighbors with a gangster state and it will be fentanyl and avocados for all.

Not looking forward to that.

(Thanks to The Federalist)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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The problems with Open Source Intelligence

Did you know the Chinese detonated an underwater nuclear device in the South China Sea?!?

Even the Russians are worried!

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fontanka.ru%2F2019%2F11%2F22%2F078%2F%3Fref%3Dt

The Chinese are dismissing the claim as coming from some racist website. Well, we don’t believe them, do we?

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3039040/us-far-right-bloggers-south-china-sea-explosion-claims

Except…it probably didn’t happen.

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/11/no-china-did-not-secretly-detonate-a-nuke-in-the-south-china-sea-to-signal-the-start-of-wwiii/

The military has been asked more and more often to include news articles, social media and other internet sources into their intelligence analysis. Called Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), this information can sometimes be pretty insightful, especially in the case of Humanitarian Assistance missions, when cultural and long standing issues reported by the media can become central to solving a crisis.

The Russians in particular are great OSINT analyzers. Russian operatives scour over contracts, budget requests and laws in various governments, gleaning information such as weapons requirements that speak to future strategies. While its an often grueling process, it can turn up intelligence that can guide future decisions, without the risk of trying to steal classified documents.

But OSINT suffers from fake news. The above “nuclear explosion” is just one of many dead threads. Old pictures of ships in port passed off as current. Troop movements that just don’t exist. The list goes on, and there is no way to eliminate the fake news from the real news.

There is one age-old trick though: verifying source data. Looking at the metadata stamps on pictures makes it easy to find old material. Reading the data from a medical study debunks many of their wild claims. And in the case of the nuclear explosion, looking at NOAA and other nuclear montioring sites, plus understanding the actual units of radiation measurement, make it easy to see a normal background radiation measurement.

We’ll never ban fake news, but perhaps fake news will make us a more skeptical news consumer.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Just Imagine how the Press Would React if …

…a secretary of the Navy publicly defied a commander-in-chief named Barack Obama instead of Donald Trump.


…a Republican candidate talked about snatching patents from companies.


…a republican mayor of a city that a Democrat President had critiqued plead guilty to corruption charges.


… a Democrat President had an economy like this.


…the Catholic Church had a conference on Feminism like this?

Update: Can’t believe I missed this one: