Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today traveled to Tucson, Ariz. to inspect border security operations at the Southwest border, meet with state and local stakeholders, and to highlight the significant progress achieved at disrupting illegal drug trafficking and improving operations along the Southwest border.
As part of their visit, Kerlikowske and Secretary Napolitano provided an update on counternarcotic work along the Southwest border, citing significant progress made in key areas such as stemming the flow of illegal drugs at and between ports of entry, bolstering investigations and prosecutions, increasing border security resources, and enhancing cooperation with the Government of Mexico. Some highlights from the report:
During 2009-2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seized 39 percent more drugs, 71 percent more currency, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to fiscal years (FY) 2005-2008.
DHS has increased the number of personnel on the ground from approximately 9,800 Border Patrol agents in 2001 to more than 21,000 today. Since 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deployed a quarter of all its operational personnel to the Southwest border region, doubled the number of officers dedicated to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations, and more than tripled deployments by Border Liaison Officers who facilitate cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities. ICE HSI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals Service have also dedicated unprecedented numbers of Federal agents to the Southwest border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has expanded the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems from California to Texas and has completed 651 miles of fencing along the key trafficking areas. Since 2011, CBP has also increased the number of large-scale imaging systems along the Southwest border from 137 to159, increased the number of low-energy mobile imaging systems from 52 to 62, and increased the number of canine teams along the Southwest border from 341 to 360.
Since December 2009, the U.S. and Mexican governments have apprehended over 40 high value targets. Additionally, the numbers of U.S. defendants extradited from Mexico to the United States are at their highest levels in history.
As part of its commitment to reduce the demand for drugs in the U.S., the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has funded 18 Drug Free Communities within 100 miles of the border in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. These coalitions provide outreach services to young people to prevent drug use before it begins.
Crime rates in border communities including Nogales, Douglas, Yuma, and other Arizona border towns have either remained stable or fallen in the past decade, even as drug-related violence has dramatically increased in Mexico.
"At DHS, we are committed to making sure that the entire Southwest border is secure while expediting legal travel and trade," said Secretary Napolitano. "Over the past four years, this Administration has dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, and undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform our nation's immigration enforcement systems into one that focuses on public safety, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system."
"Working together, we have made real progress in stemming the flow of drugs and weapons across the border, but there is also work to be done at home to reduce the demand for drugs," said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "Through funding and support to drug prevention groups in communities along the border and across the Nation, we can make our borders safer while improving public health."
In January, President Obama announced key principles for commonsense immigration reform that would continue to build upon this progress by investing in the ports of entry, and helping our officers and agents focus on public safety threats; making it harder for transnational criminal organizations to operate, while encouraging immigrants to pursue a pathway to earned citizenship; holding employers accountable and strengthening the integrity of the immigration system overall. The passage of the President's proposal will help make sure that officers and agents along the border are better able to focus on combating public safety and national security threats, including drug trafficking.
For more information on Obama Administration efforts to bolster border security and create an immigration system for the 21st Century go to: