From AOL News:
Lost in the rhetoric about illegal immigration are new reports that Mexican drug cartels have moved into the United States, gaining a major foothold here that may be the start of a permanent expansion onto this side of the border. They're even growing marijuana in our national parks, one expert says.
Mexico's cartel families and their associates have moved into cities in the southwestern U.S. as part of their ongoing drug selling and distribution operations, according to an alert from the U.S. Justice Department's Drug Intelligence Center, first reported April 11 by Mexican media.
Roberta Jacobson, deputy secretary of state for Mexico and Canada, said on April 12 that Mexican drug cartels are now operating in 230 American cities. Drug trafficking "is not a crisis that affects only the border," Jacobson said. ""It's a crisis in our cities across the country."
The Los Angeles Times reported this week about a member of Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel who operated a cocaine operation in South Carolina and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The report said there are similar rings run by cartel members living and working in Seattle, Minneapolis and Anchorage, Alaska.
The new warnings coincide with the discovery of mass graves in the state of Tamaulipas, just south of Texas, with at least 116 bodies in them earlier this week, and a discovery late Wednesday of 26 bodies in a mass grave in Durango.
The Mexican government says the Los Zetas drug cartel is responsible for the Tamaulipas murders. So far, about 35,000 people have died in the Mexican drug wars since 2006.
The cartel-related violence is spreading to the U.S., law enforcement officials say. And it all starts at the border.