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Big Media Discovers US Special Ops are Targeting Mexican Crime Organizations
Unlike Wine, Old News Doesn’t Improve With Age
By Bill Conroy via Narcosphere
Earlier this week, the Washington Post and a series of other mainstream media outlets breathlessly reported that the Pentagon has set up a US-based special operations center that is focused on helping the Mexican government track down “cartels.”
The real nut-graph of the Post story, however, is buried at the end of the article:
US officials stress that sharing this expertise does not mean U.S. special operations teams will be conducting raids against targets in Mexico, nor will they be entering the country with their own weapons. Mexico forbids U.S. military or law enforcement officers from carrying guns inside their borders, with few exceptions, though American commandos have conducted training missions in the past, two current and one former U.S. military official said.
Well, it seems the Washington Post, and the mainstream media in general, are very late to the party on this story.
Narco News broke the news of US special forces operating inside Mexico several years ago and has continued to follow the story, while the mainstream media has been silent. In fact, Narco News has obtained a series of emails involving the Pentagon that offer further proof that those operations were in play well before the recent MSM reports.
The Washington Post reported that the special ops unit targeting Mexico is charged with training Mexico’s security forces “to hunt drug cartels the same way special operations teams hunt al-Qaida.” But the Post story also makes clear, between the lines, that this special operations team already existed and that the change, or news, announced by the Pentagon will turn it into a “new headquarters” under the command of a general, instead of a colonel, and that it will now have more “autonomy” and likely get a staff boost — going from 30 to 150 personnel.
So, despite the apparent currency of the Washington Post report, and others hitting the Net over this past week, there is very little new about them. The US has had special-forces boots on the ground inside Mexico for some time now.
In June 2010, Narco News broke a story revealing that “a special operations task force under the command of the Pentagon is … in place south of the border providing advice and training to the Mexican Army in gathering intelligence, infiltrating and, as needed, taking direct action against narco-trafficking organizations.”
From the 2010 Narco News story:
The U.S. unit, dubbed Task Force 7, since early 2009, according to the CIA operative [Tosh Plumlee], has helped to uncover a warehouse in Juarez packed with U.S. munitions and under the control of drug traffickers; provide critical intelligence that led to the raid of a Juarez sweatshop that was manufacturing phony Mexican military uniforms; worked with the Mexican military in uncovering a mass grave near Palomas, Mexico, just south of Columbus, New Mexico; and, behind the scenes, cooperated with the Mexican Navy in hunting down a major narco-trafficker, Arturo Beltran Leyva — who was killed by Mexican Navy special forces last December during a raid on a luxury apartment complex in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
“This task force [one of several in place in Mexico] is pretty heavily armed and is embedded with the Mexican military,” says William Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, a former CIA contract pilot who flew numerous missions delivering arms to Latin America and returning drugs to the United States as part of the covert Iran/Contra operations in the 1980s. “These are boots on the ground … seven to eight of them [in Joint Task Force 7], working in a civilian capacity, meaning they are not in uniform.
A follow-up to that report, published by Narco News on June 5, 2011, reported that “a Pentagon document has come to light that confirms the U.S. has put special operations troops on the ground in Mexico as the drug war there continues to escalate.”
From that 2011 Narco News story:
The document is a Department of Defense briefing presented in mid-May 2009 in Washington, D.C., to a group of business and political leaders from northwest Florida. The “Unclassified/For Official Use Only” briefing reveals the 18 Latin American nations where 7th Special Forces Group soldiers [Airborne Green Berets] were deployed as of fiscal year 2009, which ended Sept. 30, 2009.
Among those nations, according to the briefing document, was Mexico.
Those reports were met with deafening silence from the US mainstream media and outright denials by the Mexican government.
A series of emails obtained by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks also confirm the Narco News reports of US troop operations inside Mexico.
The emails involve correspondence between a Mexican diplomat codenamed MX1 and an Austin, Texas-based intelligence firm called Stratfor— which describes itself as a privately owned, “subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis.” Stratfor has been billed in some media reports as a “shadow CIA.”
Narco News was provided access to the Stratfor emails this past summer through an investigative partnership organized by WikiLeaks that includes journalists, academics and human rights organizations.
The revelations contained in the Stratfor emails offer some important insights into the inner-workings of the drug war with respect to US/Mexican operations and also confirm past reporting by Narco News about US special-forces operations inside Mexico.
Here is what the Mexican diplomat MX1 (also identified as Fernando de la Mora in the Stratfor emails) has to say on the subject of US troops operating in Mexico, according to one Stratfor email obtained by WikiLeaks:
Information about US military involvement in Mexico is provided only as a need to know basis. The Americans have been adamant about this, and we agree even more. Therefore, I can confirm that there is Marine presence, but I don’t know if it is MFR [Marine Force Recon]. [Emphasis added.]
…Furthermore, operational coordination and indeed joint exercises have been conducted, and there are more in the planning stages. We do indeed have US military presence in Mexico as part of the MI [Merida Initiative] coordination office (even though they are sometimes under official cover as DOS [Department of State], etc…) There are advisors and intelligence operatives that work on the tactical level with their Mexican counterparts…
To cap it off, some critical email correspondence pertaining to US special-operations forces surfaced in early 2012, well before the spate of mainstream media reports surfaced this month on a special forces command being set up for Mexico.
The emails were obtained by Narco News (revealed here for the first time) and provide yet another source of confirmation for the existence of Task Force 7 — the special forces team whose covert operations inside Mexico were first revealed to Narco News in 2010 by former CIA asset Plumlee.
The email correspondence is between a congressional staffer who works for the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Pentagon official. Narco News has redacted names and titles in the emails to protect their identities.
From: xxxx (Judiciary-Rep)
Sent: Tuesday, xxxx 2012 X:XX PM
To: xxxxxx OSD LA
Subject: RE: 2011-09-28 DEI & CEG Letter to JTF North
Any update on the remaining questions our office had? Thank you
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
From: xxxx OSD LA
Sent: Tuesday xxx 2012 XX:XX PM
To: xxxxx (Judiciary-Rep)
Subject: JTF North
I confirmed through multiple sources that there is JTF-7 [Joint Task Force 7] is in existence, and I could find no one who had heard of it previously either.
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs
Stay tuned ….