A few days ago Professor Robert Chesney made a statement that really struck home with me when he said that the new fight against Mexican drug dealers is similar in many ways to the "War on Terror." He pointed to a DoJ press release put out last week that detailed the Mexican Cartel Strategy which is a collaborative effort by many federal agencies and the Department of Justice. The MCS involves renewed efforts by DEA, ATF, FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service that are targeted at dealing with the specific challenges that the Mexican cartels pose. DEA now has 29% of its special agents in the Southwestern U.S., and will be stepping up its efforts to control methamphetamine trafficking. ATF will focus its efforts on combatting gun running while the FBI will focus on investigating public corruption, extortion, and kidnapping, and the Marshals will keep their traditional focus of fugitive apprehension.
The focuses of these agencies aren't really a departure from their traditional roles, but the parallel between the the cartel strategy and the fight against terrorism is the cooperation between the agencies. After 9/11 alot of emphasis was put on cooperation between agencies rather than competition which had been the general atmosphere pre-9/11. Here with the cartel strategy you have a concerted effort between law enforcement agencies to combat an explosive situation. Another obvious parallel between the cartels and terrorism is the violence associated. In both situations you are dealing with people who have absolutely no regard for human life. The main difference is that the motivation for the cartels is financial while the motivation for terrorists is ideological. You can also look at the fact that the cartels use kidnapping as a tool for advancing their position just like terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have used.
While the fight against the drug cartels and terrorism isn't exactly the same they are both serious national security concerns since both threaten American lives. It will be interesting to see how the new effort against the cartels will work to stem the violence that is spreading into the U.S.