BONO MACK: ILLEGAL DRUG-RELATED VIOLENCE THREATENS SO CAL COMMUNITIES
Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) today voted in favor of the Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act (H.R. 6028), a U.S. counter-narcotics assistance package for Mexico and Central America to help reduce the flow of illegal drugs and stem violence that the drug trade has caused along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bono Mack, who has also joined Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-29) in introducing the Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Act (H.R. 3547), issued the following statement:
"The fight against organized crime and the drug trade is very real and too close to home," said Bono Mack.
"Reducing violent gang activity and illegal drug trafficking are serious issues facing even our community. In Riverside County alone, there are 474 known gangs, 108 more than just eight years ago.
"Part of the fight against illegal drugs at home is supporting similar efforts abroad. Only through collaboration with neighboring countries can we effectively fight organized crime and keep its devastating affects from flowing across our borders and into our communities in Southern California."
Bono Mack notes that just this year, the Mexican government has reported 1,200 drug-related killings, and several top police officials have been assassinated, including Mexico's national police chief on May 8.
Specifically, the Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act authorizes nearly $1.6 billion over three years for counter-narcotics work for law enforcement modernization, fighting organized crime, institution-building and support for the rule of law. Responding to a significant request from Mexican authorities, the bill authorizes almost $74 million to bolster U.S. efforts in stemming the illegal flow of arms going south by significantly expanding ATF's Project Gunrunner.
Bono Mack has consistently supported measures to stem the onslaught of gang activity affecting communities throughout Southern California and the nation, including the Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Act, H.R. 3547. This bill would take concrete steps to fight gang violence by increasing federal support for law enforcement and strengthening penalties for gang-related crimes, while expanding intervention and prevention programs for at-risk youth.