DEA Congressional Testimony
July 16, 1997

DEA Congressional Testimony

Statement by:
Michael T. Horn, Chief
Office of International Operations

Drug Enforcement Administration

Before the:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, Narcotics, and Terrorism

Regarding:
Violent Drug Mafias

Date:
July 16, 1997

Note: This document may not reflect changes made in actual delivery.

Contents

Traditional Organized Crime in America

The Violence of the Colombian Cartels

The Colombian and Mexican Drug Trafficking Alliance

Miguel Caro-Quintero

Jesus Amezcua

Joaquin Guzman-Loera

The Arellano-Felix Brothers

The Effect of International Organized Crime on the United States

The Emergence of New Trafficking Threats to the Western Hemisphere

The Caribbean Corridor and The Dominican Factor

Dominican Distribution Networks

Protecting our Borders and the Heartland

Conclusion

 

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee: I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to address the subject of Drug Violence in the Western Hemisphere. My comments today will entail an objective assessment of the drug violence that is inherent to the drug trade, predominantly controlled by organized criminal groups from Mexico and Colombia. I will provide an overview of these criminal trafficking organizations which control the manufacture, smuggling and distribution of much of the cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine in the Western Hemisphere and into the United States. With the increasing incidence of violence along our Southwest border against American law enforcement officials, this hearing is timely and an important step towards addressing this increasingly volatile threat.

Although Colombian traffickers still control and facilitate significant portions of the drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere, the sophisticated, organized criminal groups from Mexico have eclipsed the drug trafficking criminals from Cali and Medellin, Colombia, as the greatest law enforcement threat facing the United States today. The leaders of these groups--the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers in Colombia, Juan Garcia-Abrego, Miguel Caro-Quintero, the Arrellano-Felix brothers, and recently deceased Amado Carrillo-Fuentes in Mexico--are simply the 1990s versions of the traditional organized crime leaders that U.S. law enforcement has fought to dismantle since the turn of the century. But the influence of American organized crime pales in comparison to the violence, corruption and power that is exhibited by today’s criminal group leaders.

The lifeblood of any organized crime group is corruption, intimidation and violence; which are used to silence and coerce as criminal empires are built. The majority of organized crime is non-ideological. Their motivation is the desire to gain illicit income from a variety of sources. Through the use of raw power and coercion, the members of these organizations strive to keep the body of the group intact and operating in a profitable manner. Organizations often operate on a geographical basis to avoid competition, but when the opportunity for expansion and increased profits presents itself, the leaders of these groups will not hesitate to use any means, from threats to extreme violence, to achieve their goals. This phenomenon has been seen throughout our law enforcement history of battling organized criminal groups.

 

Traditional Organized Crime in America

In the 20th Century, "Traditional Organized Crime" in America rose to what was then considered unparalleled heights. These organizations were built around a hierarchy of leaders and members. This form of organized crime, although of immigrant background, was rooted on American soil. From our earliest exposure to "Traditional Organized Crime," a common thread has been and continues to be the violence with which these organizations are operated, expanded, and controlled.

One example of the ruthlessness and violence which has long been a trademark of organized crime is the rise and fall of Carmine Galante. While working as an "underboss" for the notorious mobster Joseph Bonanno, Galante steered the Bonanno family into narcotics. He built their heroin trafficking operations and later expanded them, from New York into Montreal, Canada. As a result of his successful operations, Galante became the successor to Joseph Bonanno upon his death and attempted to gain control of territory dominated by other American crime bosses. His lust for power and control of profits generated by narcotics, pornography, loan-sharking and labor racketeering, ultimately led to his gangland-style slaying. His thirst for notoriety and profit, and his intentions to expand his operations, resulted in his public murder in Brooklyn, New York, in July, 1979. As we see today, this threat of encroaching upon other competitors territory and profits, within the "Traditional Organized Crime" family, is often met with fierce resistance.

 

The Violence of the Colombian Cartels

During the 1980's, the Medellin Cartel held the citizens of Colombia hostage during a reign of terror that threatened to destroy the country, their way of life, and their institutions. Pablo Escobar, operating with virtual impunity, went so far as to place bounties on the heads of Colombian National Police officers in the amount of $1,000-$3,000 dollars per murder. The ruthlessness of the Colombian traffickers was imported to the United States as they traveled north to meet the growing demand for cocaine. The violence was first manifested in South Florida, where the violence escalated to such a point that the media began describing the Colombian drug traffickers as the "Cocaine Cowboys". The ability of these powerful organized criminal groups to transport this level of vengeful violence to the U.S. was like nothing that law enforcement had ever experienced before. Failure to perform duties as directed, suspicion of betrayal, or merely the need to set an example, were the rationales for dispensing violence at unprecedented levels.

Griselda Blanco, currently incarcerated on cocaine trafficking charges; and awaiting trial in Dade County Florida; has been tied to as many as 40 homicides in the U.S., primarily in South Florida. She was considered the matriarch of a sophisticated drug ring headquartered in Medellin and Miami, and later in Los Angeles. The organization that she directed made the term "Cocaine Cowboys" a household word, after Blanco ordered the infamous massacre at Dadeland Mall on July 11, 1979, in which two men were left dead and four innocent bystanders were wounded. To foster her reputation as the "Godmother" of cocaine, she named her fourth son Michael Corleone, after the fictional mob character portrayed in the movie The Godfather.

During Pablo Escobar’s reign as head of the Medellin Cartel, a number of Supreme Court Justices were killed when discussions arose over Colombia’s extradition policies. Extradition to the United States and significant jail terms in U.S. prisons is the narco-trafficker’s only fear. But as law enforcement pressure increased, and fear of incarceration in American jails became a predominant concern, many of the Colombian traffickers from Medellin fled back to their homeland to establish the headquarters for their immense trafficking empires.

Despite aggressive law enforcement efforts by the Colombian National Police, these powerful trafficking groups still act with impunity, retaining their power through threats, intimidation and murder, directed against rival traffickers, journalists, law enforcement officials, and members of the judicial system.

Colombia still has the highest per capita murder rate in the world, with 24,000 reported murders in 1996. There have also been numerous Colombian National Police Officers killed or injured during the last several years as a result of drug-related violence. Many of these incidents were by the way of car bombings, as well as execution-style murder. Last month in Bogota, eight Colombian National Police Officers were killed and 12 others wounded, when a truck bomb exploded in a precinct parking lot as it was searched for weapons.

While the Medellin Cartel brazenly made a name for itself killing and maiming its foes with car bombs, kidnappings, torture, and automatic weapons, the Cali leaders were quietly and less brutally taking hold of a large portion of the cocaine trade in a sophisticated, businesslike manner. Their ascension to power was also based on a system of violence and intimidation that was meted out when necessary, but in a far less flamboyant manner.

 

The Colombian and Mexican Drug Trafficking Alliance

Since the early 1970's, drug traffickers from Colombia had been using the Caribbean corridor and routes through South Florida to smuggle hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the United States. As a result of their growing notoriety and brazen actions throughout this region, law enforcement attention to the activities of the Colombians intensified. With increased law enforcement presence and enforcement in the Caribbean and South Florida, the Colombians were forced to turn to the less sophisticated and structured Mexican marijuana traffickers to move their products to growing American markets through Mexico and across the U.S. border.

The Mexican traffickers emulated the methods of operation the Colombians had used successfully for so long. They became more structured in their organizations by adopting the Colombian "Cell System," which compartmentalized and insulated each function of the organization. The Mexican transportation organizations began receiving payment for services rendered in the form of cocaine rather than cash, sometimes commanding up to one-half of each shipment being transported across the U.S. border, and turned over to Colombian distribution networks. This arrangement created opportunities for the Mexican trafficking groups to develop their own drug distribution networks and exponentially increase their profits. With this increased wealth came the power to corrupt, intimidate and murder.

The majority of the cocaine entering the United States continues to come from Colombia through Mexico and across the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to the inexhaustible supply of cocaine entering the U.S., trafficking organizations from Mexico are responsible for producing and trafficking thousands of pounds of methamphetamine annually. A number of major trafficking organizations represent the highest echelons of organized crime in Mexico. The leaders of these organizations are under indictment in the United States on numerous charges. In order to fully expose these individuals, it is beneficial to refer to them by name rather than by organization affiliation.

 

Amado Carrillo-Fuentes

Until July 4, 1997, when Amado Carrillo-Fuentes reportedly died in Mexico City after undergoing plastic surgery, Carrillo-Fuentes was considered the most powerful trafficker in Mexico. Amado Carrillo-Fuentes allegedly had ties to the former Commissioner of the INCD in Mexico, Gutierrez-Robollo and reportedly had ties to the Rodriguez-Orejuela’s and the Ochoa brothers from Colombia. The Carrillo-Fuentes organization, based in Juarez, is involved in the trafficking of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, with regional bases in Guadalajara, Hermosillo, and Torreon, where drugs are stored for eventual shipment into the United States. Carrillo-Fuentes’ organization generates billions of dollars a year in illegal profits and he reportedly had forwarded $20-30 million dollars to Colombia for each major operation. At the time of his death, his organization had become so powerful that he was seeking expansion into the traditional Colombian strongholds on the East Coast of the United States.

Amado Carrillo-Fuentes was a pioneer in the use of "727" aircraft to transport cocaine from Colombia to Mexico. He was known as "Lord of the Skies" and reportedly owned a fleet of aircraft and had major real estate holdings. He was the subject of more than 25 separate Mexican and U.S. law enforcement investigations and has been indicted in Miami twice and in Dallas, Texas, on charges including conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.

 

Miguel Caro-Quintero

The focus of Miguel Caro-Quintero’s organization is on trafficking in cocaine and marijuana. His brother is currently jailed for his role in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena in 1985. Miguel runs the organization with his two brothers ---Jorge and Genaro--- specializing in the cultivation, production, and distribution of marijuana; a major cash crop for the trafficking organizations from Mexico. This organization is believed to own many ranches in the northern border State of Sonora, from which drug smuggling operations into the United States are staged. Despite the organization’s specialization in marijuana trafficking, like many of the other trafficking organizations in Mexico, they are also involved in the trafficking of cocaine and methamphetamine.

 

Jesus Amezcua

The Amezcua-Contreras brothers organization is based in Guadalajara, Mexico and is headed by Jesus Amezcua, assisted by Adan and Luis. They currently are the world’s largest smuggler of ephedrine and clandestine producer of methamphetamine. The Amezcua organization obtains large quantities of the precursor ephedrine, utilizing contacts in Thailand and India, which they supply to methamphetamine labs in Mexico and in the United States.

 

Joaquin Guzman-Loera

Joaquin Guzman-Loera began to make a name for himself in his drug trafficking career as an air and logistics expert for Miguel Felix-Gallardo. He was able to rise the Patron level among the major trafficking organizations in Mexico. Although he is presently incarcerated in Mexico, Guzman-Loera is still considered a major threat by both the United States and Mexican law enforcement. His brother, Arturo has assumed the leadership role and the organization remains active in Mexico, along the Southwest border, in the Western and Midwestern regions of the U.S., as well as in Central America. They transport cocaine from Colombia, into Mexico and the United States, for the remnants of the Cali and Medellin Cartels. The organization also has involvement in the smuggling, storage, and distribution of Colombian cocaine, Mexican marijuana, and Mexican and Southeast Asian heroin.

 

The Arellano-Felix Brothers

Benjamin Arellano-Felix is the head of this trafficking organization that operates in Tijuana, Baja California, and parts of the States of Sinaloa, Sonora, Jalisco, and most recently, Tamaulipas. Benjamin coordinates the activities of the organization through his brothers; Ramon, Javier and Francisco. They are arguably the most violent of the Mexican trafficking organizations and were involved in the murder of Cardinal Posadas-Ocampo at the Guadalajara Airport in 1993. Part of the Arrellano-Felix’s signature for violence is not only in carrying out assassinations, but torturing and dismembering their victims to send strong messages to others who would cross them in their trafficking operations.

 

The Effect of International Organized Crime on the United States

The violence that has long been attendant to the drug trade is evidenced in Mexico, although not yet to the degree that it has been seen in Colombia. Increasingly, this violence is spilling across the Mexico-U.S. border as traffickers become more brazen and violent in carrying out their mandate of terror and vengeance. The level of violence that is being experienced in Mexico has a direct effect on the United States. Violence permeates every level of the trade. The Arellano-Felix organization is considered the most violent of the Mexican crime families, extending its tentacles from Tijuana to the streets of San Diego. This organization maintains well-armed and well-trained security forces, described by the Mexican enforcement officials as paramilitary in nature, including international mercenaries as advisors, trainers and members.

Enforcers are often hired from violent street gangs in cities and towns in both Mexico and the United States in the belief that gang members are expendable. These members are dispatched to assassinate targeted individuals and send clear messages to those who attempt to utilize the Mexicali/Tijuana corridor without paying the area transit tax demanded by the Arrellano-Felix domain. The Arrellano-Felix organization uses a San Diego based street gang, the "Logan Heights Calle 30," to carry out executions and conduct security for their drug distribution networks. Six members of this group were arrested by DEA and the San Diego Police Department for the murder of a man and his son in San Diego. A total of 49 members of the "Calle 30" have been arrested by the San Diego Task Force on drug trafficking and violent crime charges.

The majority of the 200 murders in Tijuana last year are believed to have been drug-related. There have been 28 high-profile drug-related assassinations in Mexico since 1993: many of these murders remain unsolved. The problem of violence is particularly acute in Mexico. In the February 24, 1997, issue of U.S. News and World Report, an article titled "An Inferno Next Door" reports that "Mexico’s drug gangs buy the officials they can---and kill those they can’t." In a grisly episode, the article tells the story of Hodin Gutierrez, a young prosecutor who was one of eight law enforcement officials to be killed recently in Tijuana. After winning a conviction against a corrupt State police officer and investigating the murder of a police chief who had refused a bribe, Gutierrez was shot 120 times and his killers repeatedly ran their vehicle over his body. These killers were supposedly working for drug traffickers.

About this time last year, the violence along the U.S.-Mexico border exploded, with reports of American property owners under siege by armed traffickers smuggling drugs into the U.S. Fences were destroyed, livestock butchered and random gun shots were fired into homes of ranchers, who reported seeing armed traffickers in Mexico with night vision equipment and communications devices protecting the steady stream of smugglers into the United States. Increased law enforcement presence in these areas has resulted in diminished reports of violence over the last year, but similar violence in other areas continues.

During the last year, instances of violence directed at U.S. law enforcement have also escalated on and around the Southwest border. In April, two Inspectors from the United States Customs Service assigned to the Calexico Point of Entry were shot after directing a marijuana-laden vehicle to secondary inspection. Officers of the United States Border Patrol regularly report receiving rifle fire from residences on the Mexican side of the border. In at least three separate incidents in recent weeks, Border Patrol Agents have reported receiving fire from Tijuana, and on one occasion in May, a gunman from Mexico fired several rounds from the Mexico side of the San Ysidro Point of Entry, into a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle, injuring the Agent.

Violence directed by the Mexican trafficking organizations continues to surge in Mexico, threatening DEA Agents, their families and our operations. Threats against DEA and other U.S. officials have escalated in Mexico and along the border. From September 1996, until the present, DEA has documented six specific incidents involving Agent personnel, two of which have warranted temporary relocation.

Consequently, in September 1996, DEA established the Mexico Threat Assessment Working Group of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence community members. The goal of the Working Group is to ensure that all information on potential threats against either U.S. nationals or host officials in Mexico and along the Southwest Border are consolidated at a single point and handled appropriately. Since its inception, over forty threats against Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials have been documented. Several of these threats were believed to be serious enough to warrant relocation of affected law enforcement officials from their posts of duty.

 

The Emergence of New Trafficking Threats to the Western Hemisphere

The drug trafficking arena is in a constant state of change; restructuring organizations, adapting to law enforcement efforts, responding to demand, and incorporating new trafficking groups that bring specialties or advantageous distribution networks to the trade. The cocaine trade in the Western Hemisphere, and most specifically the United States, is experiencing its greatest transformation in the last two decades. Due to the largely Mexican-influenced Southwest border area, the Colombian traffickers have pulled back from much of their operations in that part of the United States. They are concentrating their efforts on controlling the cocaine wholesale market in the Eastern United States, Europe, and Asia.

Colombian trafficking groups still maintain a strong-hold on cocaine wholesale and distribution all along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

Mexican trafficking organizations now control operations along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Western coast of the U.S. and well into the Midwest of the United States. For the first time, we are seeing Mexican transportation groups delivering quantities of cocaine to Colombian and Dominican trafficking groups in New York City. We also have reports that the Amado Carrillo-Fuentes organization is aggressively seeking to gain a foothold in the lucrative East Coast marketplace. They have adopted the "cell structure" utilized so flawlessly by the Colombians, and have become more disciplined in their operations.

 

The Caribbean Corridor and The Dominican Factor

In the 1980s, most of the cocaine entering the United States came through the Caribbean and into South Florida. With the Mexican ascension to power and the incarceration of the major Cali traffickers, several powerful Colombian organizations and many Cali splinter groups are now returning to the traditional Caribbean routes and are using Puerto Rican and Dominican specialists to transport, distribute and market South American produced marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

Drug trafficking activities and the violence that accompanies the drug trade increased significantly during the mid-1990s in the Caribbean region. In response, DEA opened its 20th Field Division in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November of 1995. The focus of the Caribbean Field Division is to build prosecutable cases on the leadership of Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican trafficking and smuggling groups that facilitate and control the drug trade throughout the Caribbean corridor.

These Colombian crime syndicates have placed an entire command and control infrastructure in the Caribbean, predominantly in Puerto Rico, to direct the movement of cocaine and heroin into the United States, and take advantage of the opportunities that the Caribbean offers. There has been a definitive effort on the part of these Colombian groups to franchise the smuggling and transportation operations to Puerto Rican and Dominican groups in order to minimize their presence in Puerto Rico. This is an example of the recent decentralization of the cocaine trade in Colombia. The leadership of the new Colombian groups is adopting a less monolithic approach in their operations as demonstrated by a willingness to sub-contract transportation services and franchise distribution operations in the United States.

Their organizational structure, therefore, is taking on a somewhat different look than that of their predecessors. The "cell system" is still employed to provide security and compartmentalization, but it no longer exists to the extent that the Colombian traffickers demand complete control over the distribution networks. The Colombian traffickers have cut off the first one or two tiers of the "cell system" and in many cases have been utilizing Dominican trafficking groups to handle, to some degree, control wholesale and street level distribution.

Dominican transportation networks use Puerto Rico as the primary staging area for transportation of cocaine and Colombian heroin into the United States. This is an attractive alternative for numerous reasons. The proximity of Puerto Rico to the South American coastline as well as to the U.S. makes it a convenient point for shipment and consolidation of drug loads intended to enter the United States through South Florida or along the East Coast of the U.S. Additionally, the U.S. commonwealth status of Puerto Rico makes it the southernmost point of entry into the U.S. for passengers and goods. Once cargo has cleared Customs on the island, shipping cargo to other areas in the United States from Puerto Rico is considered trade from the interior of the U.S., and is often not subject to further inspection. San Juan handles more than 14 million tons of cargo each year, has the third busiest seaport in North America, and the 14th busiest port in the world. More than 75 daily commercial flights arrive in the Continental United States (CONUS) from Puerto Rico, making it a traffickers paradise due to the sheer volume of commercial trade that takes place in the region.

Equally significant is the large legal and illegal Dominican migration to Puerto Rico that has been increasing steadily over the last several years. Some of these Dominican trafficking groups have gained control of a number of Puerto Rico’s housing projects where they utilize violence and intimidation to control the cocaine market. Dominican traffickers have gained a notorious reputation for their disregard for human life. Once the Colombian organizations tranship drug loads into the Caribbean, the Dominican trafficking groups then assume the responsibility for moving the shipment to Puerto Rico and on to the United States, where it is turned over to a Colombian wholesale distribution network, or kept within the Dominican ranks to be sold along the East Coast of the U.S.

Dominican traffickers are clever opportunists who are seeking to further expand and control cocaine trafficking in the northeast corridor of the United States, as well as continue to command a large portion of the market in the Caribbean. The Dominican trafficking groups are no longer merely transporters and low level heroin distributors for the Colombian syndicates, but are expanding their own wholesale distribution networks with Colombian cocaine, and continuing to expand their market share.

 

Dominican Distribution Networks

Organized criminal groups from Colombia are increasingly relying on Dominican distribution networks to distribute their cocaine at the retail level. These trafficking organizations have now established well-grounded operations which not only distribute cocaine and heroin for the Colombians in the lucrative New York market, but in cities all along the East Coast. Dominican trafficking organizations operate with efficiency. They rely heavily on counter surveillance, and operational security to ensure success for their distribution networks and use sophisticated communications equipment, cloned cellular communications, alarm systems, and police scanners to monitor the activity of law enforcement. They also relying heavily on the ingenious construction of vehicle "traps" to secrete and secure their drugs loads for transportation in passenger vehicles or trucks for transportation to cities throughout the Northeast.

The Dominican traffickers provide a natural conduit for heroin to the large addict population in New York. High quality Colombian heroin can easily be snorted or smoked, rather than injected, which has been the traditional method of administration. Approximately 63 percent of the heroin seized in the United States last year was of South American origin. The reliability of the established working relationship between the Colombian traffickers and the Dominican transportation groups have proved successful and are currently being used by the Colombians to establish similar heroin trafficking strategies.

 

Protecting our Borders and the Heartland

To shield America’s Southwest border the DEA and the FBI have launched the Southwest Border Initiative (SWBI) which targets the leaders of the major Mexican trafficking groups that live in Mexico, and control the cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine on both sides of the border. This strategy is designed to dismantle the sophisticated leadership of these criminal groups from Mexico by targeting their command and control functions and building cases on the surrogate members and their U.S.-based infrastructure. The SWBI is anchored in our belief that the only way to successfully attack any organized crime syndicate is to build strong cases on the leadership and their command and control functions. With the assistance of foreign governments, the long-term incarceration of the leadership will leave entire organizations in disarray.

This strategy combines the resources of the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the United States Attorney’s Office, The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA), the United States Customs Service (USCS), and a host of State and local counterparts. Through this initiative we have been able to harness the investigative, intelligence and operational functions of all of these members as well as the resources of DEA, FBI, and USCS field offices to coordinate joint investigations against these drug trafficking organizations.

Working with the FBI, the USCS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), State and local departments in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, and the United States Attorney’s Office in San Juan, we are applying the Southwest Border Strategy in the Caribbean. This Hemispheric Strategy will attack the command and control functions of the South American and Mexican cocaine and heroin traffickers on the Southwest Border and the Caribbean. We have begun to target the communication systems of the Colombian groups in Puerto Rico, as well as the Dominican traffickers in the Caribbean. While building cases on these groups in the Caribbean, DEA will employ intelligence gained from its investigations in coordination with the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Treasury Department, and DOD assets, to substantially step up the interdiction of smuggled drugs at geographic and transportation check points. The effectiveness of this strategy is only hampered by the difficulty of incarcerating the leadership of these trafficking empires who hide in foreign safe havens in Colombia and Mexico. But by continuing to target the leadership and the infrastructure of these groups, we will steadily degrade their abilities to conduct their business in the United States.

 On the homefront, DEA has made a positive impact on many American communities who are struggling to address the drug-related violence that plagues our streets. DEA has addressed the relationship between drug trafficking and violent crime through our Mobile Enforcement Team Program (MET). DEA’s response has been to aggressively target and build cases against individuals involved in violent drug trafficking activities. This initiative attempts to address some of the factors that are believed to be responsible for an increase in violent crime; such as increased teen violence, witness intimidation, violence within the criminal communities, and limited resources among State and local law enforcement components to combat this growing threat. MET’s mission is to lend DEA assistance upon request, to State and local agencies through expertise and resource allocation helping to target and arrest these violent drug offenders in cities and rural towns across the U.S.

In places such as Spartanburg, South Carolina; the Rampart Section of Los Angeles; Galveston, Texas; and Toledo, Ohio, as of the close of the first quarter of 1997, DEA’s MET Program had deployed to 95 State and local jurisdictions across the country. These deployments have accounted for over 3,000 arrests of violent drug traffickers, and seized hundreds of pounds of drugs and millions of dollars in assets. The MET Program, which was fully funded by Congress in FY 97, is based on the belief that those who distribute drugs on the streets of the United States and commit violent activities are part of a seamless international continuum of drug trafficking organizations headquartered in Colombia, Mexico, and Southeast Asia.

 

Conclusion

Organized criminal groups, whether they are headquartered in Cali or Sonora or the homegrown versions that are predators in our cities and communities, significantly effect the American way of life. The interests and concerns of these heinous criminals lie in the advancement of their criminal enterprises, and wealth that they can derive from plying their trade. They will resort to violence, intimidation, kidnappping, and murder to accomplish their goals.

These international traffickers have acted with impunity for many years and believe that they are beyond the reach of law enforcement. This arrogance extends into their enterprises in the United States. As we have seen with the Arrellano-Felix brothers, these violent traffickers send assassins from Mexico into San Diego to exact their revenge on those who do not pay their drug debt or who cooperate with our efforts to put an end to their reign of terror. The brazen attacks on American law enforcement along our Southwest border and in our cities and towns must not be tolerated and must continue to be met with coordinated investigative strategies that will ultimately lead to the demise of international organized crime and its destructive influence on our streets.

Applying a multi-agency approach to attack these organized trafficking groups will continue to be our strongest asset in dismantling the organized criminal syndicates that control the drug trade in the U.S. We must continue working with foreign counterparts to target the upper echelon criminal leaders, as well as their surrogates who bring violence to our communities as they sell poison to our children.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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