Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Our Porous Border Has More Grim Consequences

If you've been reading my new mrontario blog about Ontario California, you've probably seen my posts about the kidnapping of Santiago Contreras. In this morning's post, I noticed Ontario police suspicions that the kidnappers of Santiago Contreras were connected to Tijuana.

There have certainly been kidnapping problems in Tijuana, as NBC San Diego notes:

Members of the Sanchez family, of San Diego, said they know firsthand how violent kidnappers in Mexico are. Last October, they said they were driving through south Tijuana when they were approached by a group of armed men.

"They said, 'Stop the car.' We thought it was the police because they were dressed like police officers," said Rosa Sanchez.

But the men weren't police officers -- they were kidnappers....

The couple's 2-year-old daughter was not hurt. But Roberto's 68-year-old father, Jose Maria Sanchez, was taken by the kidnappers.

According to the FBI, he was one of the 26 kidnapping cases that agents in San Diego investigated last year. That compares with 11 cases in 2006 and 10 in 2005.

"I would like to tell you they all came back alive but they didn't," said special agent Keith Slotter. According to Slotter, the kidnappers are well equipped, well organized and extremely bold.

But staying on this side of the border doesn't ensure your safety.

"You have these individuals coming into the U.S. grabbing kidnapping victims and then heading back south again. That raises the stakes considerably," [Slotter] said.

And a law enforcement investigation across the border has its own challenges.

[T]he FBI said recovering victims from Mexico can be difficult, because agents cannot go into the country. Instead, they have to rely on Mexican law enforcement to do most of the work.

And before you complain about Mexican law enforcement hampering investigations, put the shoe of the other foot. How would YOU feel if a law enforcement officer from Baja California came to your door with a search warrant...or an arrest warrant?

Needless to say, it's a problem with no easy solution. The Tancredos of the world claim the solution is to close the border to keep the bad guys from coming in or going out, while the McBamas of the world claim the solution is to open the border. Obviously you can't do both.

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