Time to Neutralize the Cartels and Take them out of Business
Paul E. Vallely, US Army (Ret)
January 22, 2022
It is time for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, and the Defense Department to prepare and execute an operational war plan to take the Cartels out of business. More focus is on Russia and protecting Ukraine from an invasion. Putin’s desires a buffer between Russia and NATO and preclude Ukraine from joining NATO. It is ironic that US leadership would sacrifice US and NATO lives to protect Ukraine from the Russians, but we cannot protect America from the militarized Cartels on our southern borders. America has lost more American lives from cross border drug operations of the cartels than we lost in battle in the Middle East wars over the past 20 years.
Drug overdose deaths, fueled by fentanyl, hit record high in US. Nation records more than 100,000 fatalities over 12 months for first time. The U.S. recorded its highest number of drug-overdose deaths in a 12-month period, eclipsing 100,000 for the first time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were an estimated 100,306 drug deaths in the 12 months running through April, the latest CDC data show. This marks a nearly 29% rise from the deaths recorded in the same period a year earlier, indicating the U.S. is heading for another full-year record after drug deaths soared during the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s telling us that 2021 looks like it will be worse than 2020,” said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistic
Opioid-related deaths, fueled by the potent drug fentanyl, accounted for about three quarters of the deaths through April 2021, according to the CDC, which counts provisional drug deaths in yearlong blocks. These records take months to compile because drug overdoses typically require local death investigations and toxicology tests.
Fentanyl has for years been a major catalyst in an intensifying U.S. overdose crisis. The nation was reporting fewer than 50,000 fatal overdoses as recently as 2014. In 2020, the number surged to a record of about 93,330.
Fentanyl overdoses become No. 1 cause of death among US adults, ages 18-45: ‘A national emergency’. More adults between 18 and 45 died of fentanyl overdoses in 2020 than COVID-19, motor vehicle accidents, cancer and suicide Fentanyl overdoses have surged to the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 45, according to an analysis of U.S. government data. Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 79,000 people between 18 and 45 years old — 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021 — died of fentanyl overdoses, the data analysis from opioid awareness organization Families Against Fentanyl shows. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be deadly even in exceedingly lesser amounts, and other drugs, including heroin, meth, and marijuana, can be laced with the dangerous drug. Mexico and China are the primary sources for the flow of fentanyl into the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Comparatively, between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 15, 2021, there were more than 53,000 COVID-19 deaths among those between the ages of 18 and 49, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This is a national emergency. America’s young adults — thousands of unsuspecting Americans — are being poisoned,” James Rauh, founder of Families Against Fentanyl, said in a statement. “It is widely known that illicit fentanyl is driving the massive spike in drug-related deaths. An innovative approach to this catastrophe is needed.”
More Americans are dying from overdoses during the coronavirus epidemic than ever before, and one of the biggest threats is disguised as a safe tiny blue pill, according to a new Drug Enforcement Administration report released Tuesday. More than 83,000 people died from an overdose in the 12-month period ending in July of 2020 — the highest amount of overdose fatalities ever recorded, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than an 18% increase from the overdose death toll during the 12-month period ending July 2019.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, remains a top killer, according to the DEA’s annual National Drug Threat Assessment, and is sometimes dyed blue and stamped to look like the prescription pain pill oxycodone or OxyContin. On the streets, the pills are known as “Mexican Oxy” or “M30s” because the cartels stamp one side with “30” and the other with an “M.”
Cartels use social media to recruit: How Mexican drug cartels are using Tik-tok to entice young people into organized crime. Many users do not know if, or how much, fentanyl is in the pill — or that they could be taking a fatal dose. Fentanyl also can be used as a powder and sprinkled into other drugs, with an amount as small as Abraham Lincoln’s cheek on a penny.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic plagues this nation, so too do transnational criminal organizations and violent street gangs, adjusting to pandemic restrictions to flood our communities with dangerous drugs,” DEA Acting Administrator Chris Evans said in a news release warning of the dangers. Synthetic opioids, primarily illicit fentanyl, appear to be the primary driver of the increases in overdose deaths, increasing more than 38% in the 12-month period ending in May 2020, compared with the previous 12 months, according to the CDC.
Overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased by 35%, according to the CDC, surpassing cocaine-involved deaths. DEA agents say cartels or local drug traffickers sometimes mix fentanyl with meth and cocaine.
The bulk of deadly fentanyl and other drugs are coming from Mexican cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel, and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, known as CJNG. These two cartel powerhouses appear to be increasing the production of wholesale quantities of fentanyl in both powder and pill forms, according to the DEA report. “Mexican transnational criminal organizations continue to supply most of the cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl smuggled into the country,” Evans noted in the report. “While violent street gangs dominate the retail sale and distribution of these illicit drugs at the local level.” Cartels send drug shipments into the U.S. on airlines and even attached to drones, but their top method continues to center on sneaking them across the border in cars or semis, according to the DEA’s report.
CDC Director Robert Redfield cautioned about the acceleration in overdoses in December: “The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard.
Please read carefully who the cartels are:
The Mexican government has asserted that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, and on preventing drug manufacturing and distribution along with the U.S. functionaries. Guess what, Mexican politicians have been comprised over the years with payoffs and threats that has prevented the Mexican government from eliminating cartel operations.
Violence escalated soon after the arrest of Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo in 1989; he was the leader and the founder of the first Mexican drug cartel, the Guadalajara Cartel, an alliance of the current existing cartels (which included the Sinaloa Cartel, the Juarez Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel, and the Sonora Cartel). Due to his arrest, the alliance broke, and certain high-ranking members formed their own cartels and each of them fought for control of territory and trafficking routes.
Although Mexican drug trafficking organizations have existed for several decades, their influence increased after the demise of the Colombian Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market and in 2007 controlled 90% of the cocaine entering the United States. Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.
Federal law enforcement has been reorganized at least five times since 1982 in various attempts to control corruption and reduce cartel violence. During that same period, there have been at least four elite special forces created as new, corruption-free soldiers who could do battle with Mexico’s endemic bribery system. Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 to $49.4 billion annually. The U.S. Congress passed legislation in late June 2008 to provide Mexico with US$1.6 billion for the Mérida Initiative as well as technical advice to strengthen the national justice systems. By the end of President Felipe Calderón‘s administration (December 1, 2006 – November 30, 2012), the official death toll of the Mexican drug war was at least 60,000.] Estimates set the death toll above 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing Since taking office in 2018, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared that the war was over; however, his comment was met with criticism as the homicide rate remains high.
These cartels control vast areas of the country and are also responsible for political corruption, assassinations, and kidnappings.
But which groups are the most powerful?
The Sinaloa Cartel Territory: Much of the north-west.
The US government has described the Sinaloa Cartel as one of the largest drug-trafficking organizations in the world. Founded in the late 1980s, it was for many years headed by the notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. “El Chapo” – or “Shorty” – was once ranked as one of the world’s richest men. His life and vast drug-trafficking empire have been the subject of numerous books and TV series. Under his leadership, the cartel garnered a fierce reputation for violence and outfought several rival groups. Mexican cartels often clash with one another, but it is also worth noting that they can form strategic alliances as well. The Sinaloa became the biggest supplier of illegal drugs to the US during Guzmán’s long reign as leader, officials say.
“El Chapo” was arrested in 2014 and is now serving a life sentence in prison The cartel kidnapped, tortured, and slaughtered members of rival criminal gangs. It also had access to a huge arsenal of weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and Guzmán’s own gold plated AK-47.
But in July 2019, the drug lord was sentenced to life in prison following one of the most high-profile trials in recent US history. Prosecutors said Guzmán had trafficked cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and kept a network of dealers, kidnappers, and assassins on his payroll. His jailing led to an increase of violence in the region as other groups sought to take advantage. Despite this, the Sinaloa Cartel remains hugely powerful. It still dominates north-west Mexico and is reported to have a presence in cities ranging from Buenos Aires to New York. It also continues to make billions of dollars from trafficking illicit narcotics to the US, Europe and Asia, experts say. With its long-time leader now behind bars, the cartel is said to be partially controlled by Mr Guzmán’s son, Ovidio Guzmán Lopez.
Watch clashes between Mexico’s security forces and drug cartel members When the younger Guzmán was arrested by the security forces in October 2019, Sinaloa Cartel shooters were quick to demonstrate the group’s serious military might. They fought street battles with the army in broad daylight, set fire to vehicles, and even staged a prison break before their leader was eventually freed. It was a sign the group remains an immensely powerful force.
The Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) Territory: The west, the Tierra Caliente region. Formed in about 2010, the Jalisco cartel is the strongest and most aggressive competitor to the Sinaloa. The group has expanded rapidly across Mexico and is now one of the country’s most dominant organized crime groups. Its assets are thought to be worth more than $20bn). The cartel is led by Ruben Oseguera, known as “El Mencho”, a former police officer who is Mexico’s most wanted man. The bounty for his capture? A cool $10m.
The US government is offering a $10m reward for the capture of the Jalisco cartel’s leader. The Jalisco cartel is one of the main distributors of synthetic drugs on the continent, according to the US government. It is a key player in the illegal amphetamine market in the US and Europe and is also thought to have links to the drug market in Asia. It has grown much more powerful in recent years and its rise has been fueled by its use of extreme violence. “It remains the most aggressive cartel in Mexico,” according to the US-based geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor. “Its efforts to expand its area of control are largely responsible for the persistent wave of violence racking Tijuana, Juarez, Guanajuato and Mexico City.” Indeed, the cartel has gained notoriety for a series of attacks on security forces and public officials. It has downed an army helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, killed dozens of state officials, and has even been known to hang the bodies of its victims from bridges to intimidate its rivals. And, according to experts in the region, it is set to expand further.
The Gulf Cartel Territory: The north-east, centered around the border state of Tamaulipas. This is one of Mexico’s oldest criminal groups and its roots can be traced back to the 1980s. It became known around this time for trafficking cocaine and marijuana into the US. It is also thought to have smuggled heroin and amphetamines, and it worked closely with cartels in Colombia. By the 1990s, the Gulf Cartel’s drug trafficking operation was bringing in billions of dollars every year. It maintained this network by engaging in political corruption and bribery to keep officials on side.
Mexico’s drug war: Has it turned the tide? The cartel was initially led by Juan García Abrego, the first Mexican drug lord to be included in the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. He was captured in 1996 and jailed for life in the US. His heir, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, built up the cartel’s military wing. He recruited several corrupt special forces soldiers and pushed an even more violent approach. Those soldiers would eventually go rogue and form a rival cartel of their own (more on this later).
Cardenas was arrested in 2003 and is currently serving 25 years in jail in the US. His brother and top leader of the cartel, Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, was killed in a shootout with Mexican troops in 2010. The cartel then split into multiple factions with different leaders. It has been weakened as a result, and is engaged in a vicious turf war with the…
Los Zetas Cartel Territory: Also, the north-east. This group was founded by corrupt members of an elite unit of Mexico’s special forces. More than thirty ex-soldiers were hired by the leader of the Gulf Cartel in the 1990s but, as mentioned above, they broke away and formed their own operation in 2010. The two cartels then clashed violently, particularly in Mexico’s north-east. The Zetas became particularly well-known for their brutality, often torturing and decapitating their victims. By 2012, the Zetas had reached the peak of their powers. They were named as the country’s biggest drug gang, overtaking their bitter rivals the Sinaloa, and were thought to operate in more than half of the Mexican states. Zetas leader Omar Trevino Morales was captured in 2015
They moved beyond drugs and turned their hand to any crime that brought them money, from cigarette smuggling to human trafficking. But, later in 2012, one of their leaders was killed in a shootout with the Mexican Navy. His replacement, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, was captured. His younger brother, Omar Treviño Morales, took over but was also caught in 2015. This marked the beginning of the cartel’s decline. A lack of leadership caused the Zetas to splinter and allowed rival groups to assert dominance, according to analysis from Insight Crime, which monitors organized crime in the Americas. The Zetas lost ground as others, notably the Jalisco cartel, expanded to take their east coast territory. Internal divisions have also served to weaken the group, but it remains a dangerous force.
Heavily armed Mexican cartel ‘taunting’ US soldiers at border.
Mexican cartel members dressed in military-like outfits and toting AK-47 rifles have been taunting U.S. soldiers assigned to the southern border, an unprecedented act of aggression, Texas authorities say. “What’s been happening actually this past week is we see a group of individuals that are coming across — they’re smuggling people — but what they’re doing is they come across the river into the U.S. and smuggle people, they go back into Mexico, and they get their weapons,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lt. Christopher Olivarez said during an interview Wednesday.
Texas authorities say: “These are assault rifles, OK, AK-47s. They’ll stand in the middle of the river, and then they’re brandishing their weapons and taunting the National Guard, who’s across on the U.S. side,” Olivarez said. Such threats did not occur before this week. Brandon Judd, the Border Patrol union’s national president, said Wednesday that the cartels are profiting more than $400 million each month from smuggling people over the border. The Mexican men are always in tactical vests and carry high-powered rifles, said Olivarez, who speaks on behalf of the state troopers assigned to the border as part of Operation Lone Star.
The international boundary is the middle of the river, so the men are not on U.S. soil. Olivarez said U.S. troops would be allowed to take lethal action, including shooting, to defend themselves “if they make a threat towards National Guard or if they raise that weapon.”
America continues to face a worsening crisis of Federal Government sponsored uncontrolled illegal immigration. The Biden administration’s approach has weakened the border in historic proportions. The situation is critical and continues to undermine the rule of law. Biden adopted an extremist tack beginning his first week in office, issuing an executive order authorizing “catch and release” programs at the border, and freezing deportations. It also emerged that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is saying that apprehended aliens are not being tested for COVID–19, potentially introducing new disease vectors into the American population at large. As such, releasing them into the country places the public health at risk, not only from COVID-19 but also, as Judicial Watch has reported, from tuberculosis, pneumonia and other health risks. People are dying each day on both sides of the border. The Mexican Cartels are in control of the refugees and the frequency of the border crossings. Governor Abbott of Texas has declared that Texas will pursue its own course to defend its borders and commit funds to continue building the Trump Wall.
The Biden administration has revived the so-called “catch and release” system when it comes to dealing with undocumented immigrants at the southern border. President Biden signed an executive order revoking former President Donald Trump’s ending of the controversial practice – which allows undocumented migrants to remain in the US while awaiting immigration proceedings announced its 100-day freeze on deportations while it evaluates further changes to Trump administration immigration policies. A Jan. 20 memo from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary David Pekoske, “Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Procedures,” laid out the details on the deportation freeze and new enforcement priorities. The only “non-citizens” subject to removal (or even questioning) under the terms of the memo are those deemed to be national security threats, post-Nov. 1 border crossers, and those “currently incarcerated for an aggravated felony conviction and who are determined to be a threat to public safety.” This means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not deport those with other criminal records, including sex offenses, domestic violence, drug violations, property crimes and any misdemeanors. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the shift in policy was result of three issues — the influx of migrants and children from Central America, Mexico’s refusal to take in families with children under twelve, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the agency’s detention facilities and transportation capacity.
The executive order — part of sweeping changes Biden has already made to immigration policy — only permits Border Patrol to hold an undocumented illegal alien crossing the border up to 72 hours. “CBP has seen a steady increase in border encounters since April 2020, which, aggravated by COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, has caused some facilities to reach maximum safe holding capacity,” CBP public affairs officer Rod Kise told Fox News.
“Per longstanding practice, when long-term holding solutions are not possible, some migrants will be processed for removal, provided a Notice to Appear, and released into the U.S. to await a future immigration hearing. The executive order only permits Border Patrol to hold an undocumented immigrant crossing the border for up to 72 hours. “As the administration reviews the current immigration process, balancing it against the ongoing pandemic, we will continue to use all current authorities to avoid keeping individuals in a congregate setting for any length of time.” In Texas, where migrant apprehensions have doubled in recent months, which is led to the US increasing beds for unaccompanied minors to seven hundred at a shelter in Carizzo Springs, Fox News said. A facility in Donna also received five hundred extra beds.
The swell of illegal immigrants has raised health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Federal officers are not doing any COVID testing for immigrants coming across,” McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez told the outlet. “So, we reached out to the state of Texas, to the governor’s office. And they instantly sent us thousands of test kits so that we could supply the charity taking these people in.”
Our southern border continues to be breached by illegal border crossers and now, fully supported and funded by the Cartels. Laura Logan (Fox Nation) reports are the most extensive investigative reports on the Cartel’s domination of cross border operations. There is now evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is working hand in hand with the Cartels on illegal drug (particularly Fentanyl) shipments into the heart of America.
We cannot count on the Biden administration to give us the full story about the potentially negative impacts of its misguided policies. White House press secretary Jen Psaki seemed befuddled when asked about the lack of COVID-19 testing for those caught and released under Biden’s new executive order. But recall that, in 2014, it was revealed that the Obama-Biden administration had lied when it claimed that the 2,200 detained illegals it released into the country for budget reasons only had minor criminal records. In fact, internal documents were uncovered that showed some of those who were released were facing charges including “kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.” Under the new Biden policy, at least we know that such felons are already being given the green light to stay in the country.
These changes to immigration policies serve as critical examples of the ideologically driven, extreme policy priorities of our moderate president. Biden is effectively seeking open borders amnesty by any means, with zero regard for public health and safety – or rule of law. *
We can no longer play defense on the US side of the Border. Time to play Offense and neutralize the Cartels. The stakes are too high with the cartels controlling the entire Southern Border without repercussion. I have requested repeatedly that the Defense Department develop and execute an operational plan to neutralize the Cartels. Not an answer is given to the American people that our Armed Forces are prepared to defeat this the real and present danger. I with other National Security experts as well as retired Admirals and Generals agree that the US is past due for offensive military actions against the cartels. Now if I were the Commander-in-Chief, I would have my national security staff and military commanders plan and execute a covert special operations strategy that would take down the Cartels and secure the southern border. Allow US rule of law to prevail and take the Cartels out of their global business. We now know through intelligence reports that the Cartels are, in fact, a militarized force composed of the various Cartel members in the Sinaloa triangle. They possess state-of-the-art weapons, weapon systems, drones, communication/IT equipment that surpass the Mexican military and certainly, our Border patrols, ICE agents and National Guard.
It is now time to truly enforce the rule-of-law along our southern borders. No more excuses…no more delays…no more politics., no more kowtowing to special interest groups, or claims by open border believers and LaRaza. The fact is that the Citizens of the USA are in daily danger and are being killed or families harmed because the border states of Mexico are controlled by the Cartels and compromised Mexican government officials. Once again, the entire area is festooned with upheaval, violence, and lawlessness as it was in 1846. The northern states in Mexico; Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas are under Cartel control, and the Mexican Police and Army cannot control them. Therefore, it is in the national interest of the United States to restore order of the border as well across our borders. Because of this clear and present danger to US Citizens and our economy, positive action must be taken without delay.
The US Government with its resolute National Security Council, Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Intelligence agencies and State assets should already have a plan in place and capable of executing an operational plan to secure our southern borders. Let me provide some guidance and an executable plan of operations for the US Government to undertake with resolve and commitment to protect and secure the American people for now and the future.
The problems on and across our southern borders of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas are in the news every day. You would have to live in a perpetual cave not to know the situation. We have a war of gigantic proportions…illegal invasions, treacherous drug cartels, gangs, human trafficking, drugs (is there not a war on drugs???), smuggling, kidnappings, and corruption of officials on both sides of the borders.
The plan is basic and involves advanced unconventional/conventional war planning. This combines the best use of our Forces that will encompass intelligence, targeting, structural organization of our forces to accomplish the mission, base operations, offensive and defensive operations. First, task the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to build and develop a war plan to find and neutralize the 5-6 Cartels operating out of Northern Mexico. Task the Treasury Department to track the international banking accounts of the Cartels and affiliates and stop the flow of money.
SOCOM is to use existing bases (lily pads) in those border states to launch operations such as FT. Hood, Ft. Bliss, Texas, Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Camp Pendleton, California. There is no requirement to create any new operational bases. Selected units and personal will be relocated and moved to these designated bases. I would also declare with Mexico, a twenty mile “Control Zone” on the Mexican side of the border. Any group or persons occupying this zone engaging in criminal or illegal activities against Mexico or the United States will be engaged on site.
The mission for the Command will be to target and conduct offensive and defensive operations on the Mexican side of the border. National Guard, Border Patrol, DEA, and local sheriff’s units will conduct border security operations on the United States side of the border. This initiative does not violate any existing Posse Comitatus laws. A cohesive, well thought oplan can take down and neutralize the Cartels in seven (7) days. The mission would be secretly planned and executed by a Special Ops covert operation with the support of the Border Task Force Groups.
1878, after the end of Reconstruction, with the intention (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) of substantially limiting the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (today the Army, Navy, Air Force, and forces when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain “law and order” on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States. The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act.
The National Guard is and will be the asset of the State Governors to be used as required to augment the Active Force operations on the US side of the border. Maximum use must be made of our Special Operators, Delta Force, Special Forces, Seals, AF Special Ops, Rangers, Marine Recon and Special Ops Air Assets and augmented by Active Force regular Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. The Border wall construction operations must be reinstated immediately.
There are trusted assets in Mexico with which this plan can be coordinated. They must be completely vetted to include the President of Mexico. This is a maximum security operation. Surprise is essential.
The concerns and anxiety of Americans, particularly in the Border States, have grown significantly in the past year. Changes in law enforcement operations have forced smugglers of drugs and illegal aliens into ever more isolated areas, increasing the number of deaths and the level of violence to a point where even the most hardened enforcement officials are alarmed.
The political ferment over illegals has never been greater. Seventy-eight percent of Americans think and know that the government is not doing enough to control our borders; talk shows bristle with demands for action. Additionally, Global terrorists (like ISIS) and others are a major threat as they eye the southern border as a path of least resistance to strike inside the United States.
America, we must act before it is too late and reject President Biden’s policies. To our Defense
Department, our Generals and Admirals, you must take action to protect America from our enemies, foreign and domestic. The oath that you took requires it! As well, our Senators and Congressional leaders must function as well as per your oath!
Distributed and Released by the Stan Up America US Foundation