with Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith
In the early 1980s when I was a young narcotics cop - and the first and only female in my unit - all we heard about were the Colombian drug cartels. It was every young narc’s fantasy to get the “big score” that would lead us straight to a Colombian connection. The cartels were famously ruthless, and it took many years and too much bloodshed for them to be dismantled in the late 1980s, but dismantled they were.
Nearly three decades later, the modern-day Mexican drug cartels pose one of the biggest threats to the safety of American law enforcement officers not just on our southern border, but throughout this nation. Recently, I was privileged to speak with crime analyst, author and cartel expert Sylvia Longmire about this complicated and dangerous situation.
First and foremost, Sylvia is truly a role model for any woman in law enforcement or the military. She is a medically retired Air Force captain and former Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. She is an experienced investigator and has worked extensively in the fields of counterintelligence, counterespionage, and force protection. During her last assignment, she worked at HQ AFOSI as the Latin America desk officer, analyzing issues in the US Southern Command area of responsibility that might affect the security of deployed Air Force personnel. For over four years Sylvia worked as a senior intelligence analyst for the California state fusion center and the California Emergency Management Agency's Situational Awareness Unit, focusing almost exclusively on Mexican drug trafficking organizations and southwest border violence issues.
For the last six years, she has regularly lectured on terrorism in Latin America at the Air Force Special Operations School's Dynamics of International Terrorism course. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of South Florida in Latin American and Caribbean Studies - this woman knows her stuff! Sylvia is currently an independent consultant, freelance writer, and dynamic public speaker, and like many of you, she balances a busy career with an even busier young family.
Drug wars: This isn't your mother's cartel