Anti-Drug Plan Set For Mexican Border

By chillinwill · Jun 6, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    The Obama administration released yesterday a counternarcotics strategy for the U.S.-Mexico border that calls for deploying new technology, stepping up intelligence gathering and increasing interdiction of ships, aircraft and vehicles that are smuggling drugs, gun and cash.

    Among other things, the 65-page White House Office of National Drug Control Policy document says federal agencies should modernize airborne sensors and extend surveillance of boats "from the coast to beyond the horizon." It also calls for improving tracking devices that can be hidden in illegal shipments and, when necessary, allowing more banned items to move through smuggling networks to expose their leaders.

    The report comes as President Obama has pledged to support and increase cooperation with Mexico President Felipe J. Calderón's crackdown on drug cartels by expanding the focus of U.S. efforts to contraband flowing in both directions between the two countries. The report emphasizes plugging gaps in U.S. intelligence about what goes undetected in the vast movement of goods between the two sides, and also stepping up investigative resources.

    "The best way to partner with President Calderón and the Mexican authorities is for us to gain a deeper understanding of these trafficking operations," drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said, releasing the strategy in Albuquerque with U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

    The strategy revives an interagency intelligence-coordinating group and urged federal, state and local cooperation to conduct complex investigations. It also calls for improved nonlethal technology to stop vehicles and to detect tunnels, and for barriers at border checkpoints so spotters cannot see when or how agents are inspecting vehicles.

    The administration announced this year it was moving to the border 450 additional federal agents and screening technology such as license-plate readers and X-ray machines.

    The administration also asked for $350 million as part of a supplemental war-funding bill to support border efforts to speed up a three-year, $1.4 billion countertrafficking aid program for Mexico. The House and Senate have approved $820 million and $666 million, respectively, in bills that must be reconciled.

    Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, praised the strategy but added: "I am disappointed that it does not call on Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to resolve their long-standing turf battles over drug investigations."

    DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement has long sought permission for more of its agents to investigate drug cases from the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration, which has resisted.

    Spokesmen for the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group that promotes alternatives to the "war on drugs," said that although Obama officials acknowledge the importance of reducing Americans' demand for drugs, the strategy sets no clear steps to increase access to substance-abuse treatment.

    "It is disappointing that our federal officials today remained focused on targeting the supply side of the Mexican drug war," said Julie Roberts, acting director of the group in New Mexico. "We also need to develop a public health plan for safely reducing drug demand in this country."

    By Spencer S. Hsu
    Saturday June 6, 2009
    Washington Post

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  1. Rightnow289
    New drug war strategy focuses on weapons and cash

    New drug war strategy focuses on weapons and cash

    [IMGR="Rt"][/IMGR]WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration plans to use a combination of new technology and old-fashioned police work to crack down on the extensive drug trade along the U.S.-Mexican border.
    Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are due to announce a 2009 counternarcotics strategy at a press conference in Albuquerque, N.M. with White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske.
    The strategy, obtained by The Associated Press, calls for a number of steps along the border to combat and detect smugglers, including:
    _ Building visual shields near border-crossing points so that drug cartel spotters can't alert approaching motorists about inspections.
    _ Improving non-lethal weapons technology to help officers incapacitate suspects and disable motor vehicles and boats used by traffickers.
    _ Revive an interagency working group to coordinate intelligence.
    _ Use more intelligence analysts to ferret out drug-dealing networks.
    The strategy is outlined in a document to be sent to Congress.
    More than 10,800 people have been killed in Mexico by drug violence since December 2006. Mexico has deployed more than 45,000 soldiers across the country to fight the heavily armed cartels.
    Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the strategy is missing a key piece:
    "I am disappointed that it does not call on departments of Homeland Security and Justice to resolve their long-standing turf battles over drug investigations," Thompson, D-Miss., said.
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants more of its agents to have the authority to do drug investigations. But this can only happen if the Drug Enforcement Administration agrees. No such agreement has been reached.
    The strategy's long-range goals include developing new technology to process biometric information from documents used by Mexicans crossing the border.
    That would allow Customs and Border Patrol officers to run fingerprint checks on Mexicans who have border crossing cards to enter the U.S. If the person had a criminal record, that could help investigators stop more low-level drug mules.
    The Obama administration has pledged to provide more help in the effort, sending additional federal agents, officers, and equipment to the border and to Mexico to fight the Mexican cartels.
    Speaking in Tucson, Ariz., Thursday, Napolitano said the U.S. strategy would also focus on reducing demand from drug users.
    "This is not just about slowing or impeding the flow of drugs from Mexico and Central America into the United States, it's also about reducing the demand for those drugs," she said.
    The Marijuana Policy Project, which supports regulating the drug like alcohol, criticized the plan.
    "This new effort will keep a lot of cops and bureaucrats employed but will accomplish very little otherwise, because it ignores the central problem, which is that marijuana prohibition has handed the Mexican cartels a massive market that keeps them fat and happy," said the group's spokesman, Bruce Mirken.

    Associated Press Writer Arthur H. Rotstein in Tucson contributed to this report.

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