March 25, 2009 By Corey McKenna
Because of the close ties between the U.S. and Mexico on so many issues, the White House is coordinating the strategy being led by the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and State Department to deal with the drug and money-induced violence along the border with Mexico..
The plan calls for deploying additional border patrol agents, intelligence analysts and screening technology along the nearly 2,000 mile border between the U.S. and Mexico, and sharing information with Mexican and U.S. state and local law enforcement authorities via eight additional Law Enforcement Tactical Centers
Every state along the border will now have a Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) team. These teams combine state and local members with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents.
"We are engaging state and local law enforcement in a way I don't think has been done previously with regular calls and conferences with state and local law enforcement in those border areas," Napolitano said.
Napolitano said the U.S. government wants to share intelligence with the Mexican government but acknowledged that keeping that intelligence out of the hands of the drug cartels had been a problem. "We want to make sure it doesn't get into the hands of the cartels," she said. Technology will also play a major role in stemming the flow of drugs and money across the border. CBP will be inspecting all southbound rail traffic. License plate readers will be monitoring all southbound lanes and ports of entry for vehicles belonging to suspected smugglers. CBP is also using X-ray machines to detect vehicles carrying arms into Mexico.
DHS also plans to increase the capacity of law enforcement along the border to run fingerprints of people they've apprehended through databases maintained by ICEand others to aid in identifying illegal immigrants and criminals.
Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized guns, gun parts and thousands of rounds of ammunition from Southwestern Arizona and Texas. Agents in Arizona found five SKS rifles, two AK-47 rifles, two semi-automatic 9 mm pistols and one CVA .50 rifle, along with several thousand ammunition rounds hidden in an ice chest. In Pharr, Texas, officers stopped a commercial tractor-trailer with Mexican registration at the Pharr/Reynosa International Bridge and discovered 19 bottles of gun powder, 9,000 pistol primers, 1,100 bullet reloads and two rifle barrels. Officers in Laredo arrested a U.S. citizen attempting to drive over the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge into Mexico after a cache of gun parts, accessories and ammunition was discovered hidden in the truck's side panels and gas tank. CBP has also prevented millions of dollars in drug money from crossing the border.