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29 Facts About the Border and Mexican Cartels You Need to Know

1) No one is proposing a wall between all of Mexico and the U.S.—the U.S. southern border is approximately 2,000 miles. The discussion is about 1,000 miles of physical barriers in regions that are heavily controlled by drug cartels.

2) The Texas border is about 1,200 miles of the approximately 2,000 miles of the total southern border. Most of that border is the Rio Grande, a river which varies in intensity with respect to currents.

3) Mexico has numerous states under the direct influence of drug cartels that have standing armies with access to RPGs, armored vehicles, artillery, and explosives. Most of Mexico has military forces patrolling streets to deal with cartel paramilitary forces.

4) The most violent drug cartels operate south of the Texas border. Factions of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel routinely allow their violence to spill over to the average person.

5) The border city of Tijuana has some of the highest murder statistics in all of Mexico. Despite record-setting figures, most of the victims tend to be tied to drug trafficking.

6) Border cities south of Texas like Reynosa, Tamaulipas, have much lower murder rates than Tijuana. Despite the difference, average citizens are often touched by cartels including shootouts, kidnappings, and other violent activities.

7) Most of the efforts by drug cartels to control migration happens South of the Texas border. Criminal organizations like the Reynosa faction of the Gulf Cartel profit more from human smuggling than drug trafficking.

8) The majority of tunnels are found on the Arizona and California borders. The tunnels are generally discovered in areas where there are population centers on both sides of the border and a wall or fence is already in place. Few have been found in Texas, where there is a river.

9) Most tunnels are discovered thanks to informants; law enforcement technology has rarely been successful in locating border tunnels.

10) Most of the border does not have a drug tunnel problem. They are typically found in Douglas and Nogales, Arizona, as well as Mexicali, San Diego/San Isidro, California.

11) Cartels spend a lot of money building a tunnel–only to be discovered shortly after.

12) Claims by Democrats about the low crime rates in El Paso are an example of walls working. In areas with considerable border barriers such as El Paso, the regional criminal groups turn more professional and shy away from illegal immigration to traffic harder drugs through ports of entry.

13) The presence of physical barriers in cities like El Paso has led to fewer people coming over the border to commit petty crimes or bring loads of drugs on their backs. The criminal organizations in the area shifted toward corrupting U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to smuggle harder drugs.

14) A partially secured border is more deadly than an open or well-secured one. Previous administrations put barriers south of most cities in Arizona and California to funnel illicit traffic into areas that were easier to manage or too desolate to cross. This led to a spike in deaths since the desire of people to reach the U.S. pushes them to more remote and dangerous areas.

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