David Ogden

Remarks on U.S. - Mexico Border Security Policy

delivered 24 March 2009, White House, Washington, D.C.

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


Under the President's leadership, and together with the State Department and DHS, the Department of Justice stands ready to take the fight to the Mexican drug cartels.

We're all concerned about the increased levels of violence in Mexico, and we very much admire the courage and resolution of our Mexican counterparts who are bravely confronting these cartels in their own backyard. And we'll resolve to do everything we can to work together with them to destroy these criminal organizations.

For more than a quarter century, U.S. law enforcement agencies have recognized that the best way to fight the most sophisticated criminal enterprises is through intelligence-based investigations to target the greatest threats. Under the leadership of the Justice Department, the command and control of La Cosa Nostra, which was once the most powerful organized-crime group operating in the United States, has been effectively dismantled, with many of its most senior leaders behind bars. Built on this same approach, and together with our Mexican counterparts, the Department's Mexican cartel strategy confronts those cartels as criminal organizations rather than simply responding to individual acts of violence.

That strategy is carried out by prosecutor-led, intelligence-based task forces that bring together all DOJ and DHS and other relevant law enforcement agencies to disrupt and dismantle the drug cartels through investigation, prosecution, extradition of their leaders, and the seizure and forfeiture of their assets.

As we've found with other large criminal groups, if you take their money and lock up their leaders, you can loosen their grips on the vast organizations that are used to carry out their criminal activities. Attorney General Holder and I are committed to taking advantage of all Department resources and those of associated agencies to target the Mexican cartels. We will investigate and prosecute the criminals who smuggle drugs into the United States and distribute and sell them in our cities and towns. We will also investigate and prosecute those who smuggle guns, bulk cash and contraband from the United States to Mexico.

Just last month, the Attorney General announced the arrest of more than 750 individuals on narcotics-related charges under Operation Accelerator, a multi-agency, multinational effort that targeted the Mexican drug-trafficking organization known as the Sinaloa cartel. Through Operation Accelerator, prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies, led by DEA, delivered a significant blow to the Sinaloa cartel by seizing $59 million, hundreds of firearms, and more than 12,000 kilograms of cocaine and 12,000 pounds of methamphetamine.

A similarly sweeping DOJ-led initiative against the Gulf cartel, announced in September 2008, called Project Reckoning, produced similarly dramatic results. The President has directed us to take action to fight these cartels. And Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration's comprehensive plan.

Those steps include the following: DOJ's Drug Enforcement Administration, which already has the largest U.S. drug enforcement presence in Mexico, with 11 offices in that country, is placing 16 new DEA positions in Southwest border field operations, specifically to target Mexican trafficking and associated violence.

The DEA is also deploying four new mobile enforcement teams to specifically target Mexican methamphetamine trafficking, both along the border and in U.S. cities impacted by the cartels.

DOJ's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing its efforts by adding 37 new employees in three new offices, using $10 million in Recovery Act funds, and redeploying 100 personnel to the Southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify its Project Gunrunner, which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico.

ATF is doubling its presence in Mexico itself, from five to nine personnel working with the Mexicans, specifically to facilitate gun tracing activity, which targets the illegal weapons and their sources in the United States.

DOJ's Office of Justice Programs is investing $30 million in stimulus funding to help state and local government and law enforcement combat narcotics activity along the Southwest border and in high-intensity drug trafficking areas. Additionally, the state and local law enforcement in those areas can apply for COPS and Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, a total of $3 billion of which were provided in the stimulus package.

DOJ's Organized Drug Enforcement Task Forces Program, or OCDETF, is adding personnel to its strike force capacity along the Southwest border.

And the FBI is stepping up its efforts in the region by creating a Southwest intelligence group, focusing its activities on -- increasing its focus on public corruption, kidnappings and extortion related to the cartels' activities.

As the Department did in dismantling La Cosa Nostra, these new resources will build on the framework already in place to disrupt and dismantle the Mexican drug cartels.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

Audio and Video Source: C-SPAN.org

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Page Updated: 1/23/22

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