Capt. Leon Ledbetter spoke about illegal drugs, Mexican drug cartels and things the community can do about it during Tuesday's monthly luncheon meeting of Eagle Forum.
Ledbetter said he believes three major Mexican cartels are battling for power and position. He has been with the Otero County Sheriff's Department since 1991. Ledbetter plans to retire from the department Dec. 31.
"It explains a lot of what's going on with the violence in Juarez," he said. "To get the drugs into the United States, they have to cross somewhere along the border. The people who control the border don't get along with a cartel that doesn't have access to the border, then they will physically take it over."
The death toll from the Mexican drug wars in Juarez is expected to exceed 10,000 people this year. In 2009 the death toll was 9,635 people.
Ledbetter said the Juarez, Sinaloa and Gulf cartels are the three main drug organizations operating in Mexico.
"All the people getting killed in Juarez is economics," he said. "The price of human life to these folks is very, very low."
Ledbetter said a person smuggles the drugs into the country, then tries to cross the border and gets caught by law enforcement.
"The smuggler is still responsible to the drug cartel for the money for the dope," he said to the audience. "Years ago, it was not as violent. I believe it has been escalating. Do I have an answer to the problem? I absolutely do not. I honestly don't know what we can do about it. I believe the best thing that we need to do for our country and community is that we need to secure our border."
Ledbetter said he believes political correctness is destroying the nation.
"I believe we need to get rid of the political correctness and let's let the police be police," he said. "Let's go get the drug dealers and not let them out of prison after serving half their time."
Ledbetter said Otero County belongs to the New Mexico Border Sheriff's Coalition.
"It consists of Hidalgo, Dona Ana, Luna, Grant and Otero counties," he said. "We have a joint powers agreement with the other counties where we're deputized and cross-commissioned to provide law enforcement personnel to the other counties if they need us, or if we need them, in an emergency situation."
Ledbetter said the Otero County Sheriff's Department has worked a number of operations with Hidalgo and Luna counties, and a few with Dona Ana County.
"On a bigger picture, we belong to the Southwest Border Sheriff's Coalition," he said. "It goes from the tip of Texas to the ocean in California. We're involved with every county along the border to the west. It goes back to securing our borders. When you have those resources and need them, it's pretty good to have."
Ledbetter said he believes parents spending time with their children helps prevent drug abuse.
"I've always believed in being involved with your children," he said. "Just be involved with your kid. Know what they're doing. Know who their friends are. You don't have to butt in and impede, but you can always be a good parent."
Ledbetter said he believes most criminals that he has encountered don't have anyone who cares about them.
"If children have someone who love them, care about them and support them, I think that's the biggest thing a parent can do," he said. "Just talk to them, be honest and speak with them not at them. You need to keep the communication flowing with them. It can be as simple as taking your child to lunch."
Source: Alamogordo Daily News