It’s a rare opportunity to take part in a fact-finding trip along the Mexican border, so I accepted the invitation and headed south. The concept of this operation first took root in December of 2015, as a few of the SOFREP writers met in New York City for the annual SOFREP subscribers’ party. There, Jack noted the need for an observational mission on the Mexican border, and asked the writers for their thoughts and if any of us were interested. I excluded myself as a participant, as my expertise lies in Europe and the Middle East, the cartels kill more people than Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) without much attention or deterrence, and I have not had to speak Spanish since I was a student at my Catholic junior high school.

Image courtesy of PBS/Frontline

In spite of this, on the 26th of February, 2016, I found myself driving south from Ohio toward the eastern starting point of the Mexican border, on the Gulf of Mexico in Brownsville, Texas. Most of the news from the border comes with obvious bias. I was bringing something unique to the border with me. I had fresh eyes. My opinions on the Mexican border were abstract and removed. All that I understood were the geographical facts of the landscape and that the border represents a political hot button. In all honesty, I left home significantly less informed about the Mexican border than many of our foreign readers.

My destiny was out there, laid along the rough terrain of the 1,989-mile border. Fortunately, I have a strong sense of curiosity that drives me on, because my total trip ended at 8,174 miles and lasted for a total of 31 days.

On the border, I primarily encountered what I would consider light pockets of civilization at metropolitan crossroads—shared-nation cities such as El Paso, Laredo, Nogales, San Diego, and Yuma. As I drove along the border, I became aware of the spatial intersection of numerous activists, agencies, criminal enterprises, factions, non-government organizations, and militias, all at odds with one another. The scene is from Iraq, not America.

The border fence near Brownsville, Texas. The gate acts in respect to hydrological concerns and its inland offset allows for farm and ranchland access.
The border fence near Brownsville, Texas. The gate acts with respect to hydrological concerns, and its inland offset allows for farm and ranchland access. Image courtesy of Buck Clay.

These border organizations act as thresholds perched upon the edge of the world’s largest stretches of lawlessness. They behave as belligerents, in a constant state of armed, deceptive, seldom diplomatic conflict with one another. Here, human life is cheaper than dirt.

Meanwhile, the few organizations you want to succeed in such an inhospitable place are operating in a forced state of negligence. For example, the hands of Customs and Border Protection agents are so extensively tied up with red tape, they can hardly operate outside of fixed checkpoints and paved roads, nor can they successfully prosecute criminals.

These many groups with diverse goals are tacitly recognized as the true landowners here, by way of deed, destruction, or duty. These miscreants defile both the United States and Mexico—nations obligated to one another to act only as slumbering giants. Meanwhile, a drug-fueled campaign of blood for money rocks across the shared border. The two countries remain in a state of medical negligence: Both are clueless as to the extent of their shared illness or the long-term implications of ignoring it, allowing what may have once a been little more than a mild rash to become downright cancerous. Even as their symptoms become more apparent, they apply only meek treatment. The citizens of both countries can only watch idly as these giants apply a simple topical ointment to stage-three cancer, lying to themselves and to all of us about the seriousness of the problem.

One of many signs with a similar message that pepper the length of the border. Image courtesy of Buck Clay.

A menacing threat is emanating from the border. Wherever you may live in the United States of America, you have felt its effects in one way or another. There is a national opiate epidemic that claims the life of an American every 19 minutes. This biological hazard, along with Bacchus’s bounty of narcotics, is but one facet of the core issue.

A seller’s market invites heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine to cross the Mexican border at an increasing rate because the sky is not the limit for the cartels. Currently, these narcotics are crossing by land, sea, air, and even underground for sale in the United States, ready to fuel the criminal enterprises of those who assign no value to any life but their own. These criminal enterprises manufacture, transport, and distribute narcotics through the use of humans traffickers—expendable cogs in a machine to fuel their greed.

For those exploited and lost by such criminal enterprises, it is not going to get any better anytime soon. The evils of slavery have reemerged in the form of human trafficking. Those victimized by this trend include a growing number of Americans, exploited and forced into subjugated labor.

To stop or even hinder these actions goes well beyond building a wall. I challenge you to build a 50-foot wall, and then watch as a glut of 51-foot ladders appear. Another suggestion may be to create tougher laws. By all means, take that path, but know that for every narcotic seized or criminal arrested, a new and improved replacement shall appear. Our resources will implode long before these criminals run out of people to use as cogs in their machine.

I will lay out my reasoning and experience beyond these introductory points as the series continues.

Featured image: A U.S. sign that designates the border now rests on the Mexican side, riddled with shotgun damage. Image courtesy of Buck Clay.