Posted: Aug 24, 2012 5:50 PM
Updated: Aug 24, 2012 6:34 PM
SAN ANGELO - An Arizona police lieutenant said the Mexican drug war is crossing the border.
Phoenix Police Lt. Lauri Burgett spoke during a recent binational narco-terrorism conference in San Angelo.
"Sometimes we worry a lot about that cartel element," Burgett said. "The truth is, there are organizations here that will do (the same)."
Burgett said criminals on the U.S. side of the border may be helping spread the wave of violence north.
"There are illegal crews operating here, and they work together," she said.
Burgett said Phoenix police see criminals carry out crimes similar to the ones perpetrated by cartel members in Mexico, like kidnappings
"Sometimes the trail goes very cold when it goes into Mexico," she said.
Police departments in the Rio Grande Valley often work kidnappings with possible cartel ties.
The most recent case happened Wednesday north of Penitas. Three masked suspects took a man at gunpoint from a tire shop, Hidalgo County investigators said.
Burgett said she also sees an increase in the number of innocent victims.
"That's our fear ... that it will spread because it works ... and the families pay," she said.
Burgett said extortion cases are common in Phoenix. She said kidnappings are a way to make money, so many American criminals without cartel ties are attracted to them.
"I call it the mainstream, the U.S. mainstream and the bleed over ... they adopt these tactics," she said. "They move them to the U.S. mainstream. ... It isn't all about illegals. We see more and more U.S. citizens involved. We see it bleeding over into people involved in U.S. trafficking organizations."
Burgett said kidnappings, home invasions and drug smugglers are common on her side of the border. They also are common in the Valley.