Security Debrief contributor Michael Braun, former chief of DEA operations, discusses the spiraling drug violence in Mexico, and how it is impacting American communities, with the LA Time’s Josh Meyer.

Mexico’s drug war: Mistrust bedevils war on Mexican drug cartels – Los Angeles Times

Both the United States and Mexico agree that the cartels have morphed into transnational crime syndicates that pose an urgent threat to their security and that of the region. Law enforcement agencies from the border to Maine acknowledge that the traffickers have brought a war once dismissed as a foreign affair to the doorstep of local communities. The trail of slayings, kidnappings and other crimes stretches through at least 195 U.S. cities.

So far, the fight has largely been waged by the Calderon administration, which deployed thousands of federal troops and police to 18 states to take on the cartels, some of which have paramilitary forces protecting them and many police officers and politicians in their pockets.

“They know they have a monumental undertaking, but you have to start somewhere,” Michael A. Braun, former assistant director and chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration, said of the Mexican government. “If you don’t, in another five years the cartels will be running Mexico.”

Washington, particularly the DEA, is so distrustful of Mexican authorities that they share sensitive counter- narcotics intelligence and evidence with only a small group of Mexican officials. And after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. turned away from the drug fight, some Mexican officials counter.