There Are Heroes Among Us

Clark Kent was mildmannered and unassuming, yet, when needed, he became a hero, saving those at risk, the poor and downtrodden. Better known as Superman, he was, at least in the comic books, one person among us who simply did his job, often without fanfare or glamour.

There are real heroes among us, and from time to time one surfaces seeking nothing more than a quick thank you, if that, and back to work he or she goes. Such an event happened in mid-October when Boston firefighters responded to an apartment fire that threatened the lives of many.

He won’t admit to it, but Lt. Glenn McGillivray is a hero. What he will admit is that he was just doing his job when he caught a 6-year-old boy who was dropped from an upper floor of an apartment building that was engulfed in flames in Roxbury. The boy, Xavier, was dropped by his grandparents, who live on the third floor, into the waiting arms of McGillivray.

The firefighter described what he saw as the blaze enveloped the building: “She’s [the grandmother is] hanging on the inside of the window so she doesn’t fall out, and he was petrified as if he was gonna fall, so thankfully we got there in time to get underneath him and catch him,” he said.

McGillivray says he is not a hero. “It’s a job; we are just trying to do the best we can,” he said.

It may just be a job and one that firefighters seem to do so well. Hero isn’t a title you want to hang on just anyone, but the fact is, McGillivray and his fellow firefighters seem to have “heroic” written in their job descriptions, and in this case, as in so many others, the title is deserved.

Then There are the Cartels

Now, we turn from saving children to exploiting young people. The Texas Department of Public Safety says that several Mexican drug cartels are enticing children as young as 11 years old to work for them. Referred to as “the expendables,” these youngsters are lured into the cartels with the promise of easy money.

The children come from poor existences and can earn as much as $50 for moving a car from one location to another, which allows the cartel to determine if law enforcement has it under surveillance.

The cartels aren’t throwing out a safety net, nor are they going to catch any children in their arms if the little ones get into trouble. When a person gets mixed up with the drug cartels, there are always consequences, both with the cartels and law enforcement.

Mexican drug gangs, including the violent Zetas, have command and control centers in Texas that are actively recruiting children. Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven C. McCraw said 25 children have been arrested in one Texas border county alone in the past year from running drugs, acting as lookouts or doing other work for the organized syndicates. In October, law enforcement arrested a 12-year-old boy, who was in a stolen pickup with 800 pounds of marijuana.

Texas has joined the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in “Operation Detour,” where officers meet with children and their parents in schools and community centers to discuss the dangers of what appears to be easy money offered by the Mexican cartels. The drug business is a high-yield, low-overhead business, but the gangs can lure children into the fold with smaller sums of money, and children face less severe penalties than adults, if arrested.

It’s Time for Border Security

Texas officials have released a report suggesting that Mexican-based drug gangs plan to create a “sanitary zone” in the United States and are “intimidating landowners” in South Texas into allowing them to use their property as bases for drug-smuggling activity.

There has never been a better time for the federal government to rethink its border strategy and increase manpower and spending on the Rio Grande River. It’s true the government doesn’t have any money, but since that’s never stopped them before, this would help fight the burgeoning unemployment rates and curtail the ever-present flow of illegal drugs.

In the report, “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment,” CBP officials openly admit that there are several areas along the U.S. border and on our side of the fence that are under cartel control. According to the report, there is a massive spillover of evacuees fleeing the violence in Mexico, including innocent civilians as well as criminals trying to escape the violence.

It’s time for the current White House administration to focus on the U.S.-Mexican border, deploy security measures that will help ranchers in the border states and bring a semblance of peace to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The authors of this report, Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star general, and Robert H. Scales, a retired two-star general, stated in the strategic view of the report that “America’s fight against narcoterrorism, when viewed at the strategic level, takes on the classic trappings of a real war. Crime, gangs and terrorism have converged in such a way that they form a collective threat to the national security of the United States.”

Texas has become so threatened by the spread of Mexican cartel organized crime during the past two years, it has been noted that there is a change in the strategic intent of the cartels to move their operations into the United States and to create a so-called “sanitary zone” at least one county deep to evade Mexican law enforcement and enable the cartels to transform Texas border counties into narcotics trans-shipment points.

The cartels achieve their objectives by organizing gangs who are expendable and have unaccountable manpower to do their dirty work. They recruit on the streets and from prison gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, Tango Blast, Barrio Azteca and many others.

Federal authorities have been weak to admit an ever-increasing cross-border campaign by narco-terrorists, and denial has been facilitated by a dearth of evidence that an organized and substantial campaign exists inside Texas.

It is time for the White House to come to the realization that the fear and anxiety levels among Texas farmers and ranchers have grown enormously over the past two years, and that living on the border is tantamount to living in a war zone. There is a war of terrorism at home; it’s time the White House wakes up to these evident truths that are affecting this country’s youngest citizens.

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Security Today.

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