Attorney General Eric Holder today announced more than $8.7 million in Recovery Act funds for three communities in California to use in fighting crime and drug trafficking as part of the Justice Department’s Southwest Border Strategy. In March 2009, the Department announced its Mexico Cartel Strategy, which uses federal prosecutor-led task forces that bring together federal, state and local law enforcement components to identify, disrupt and dismantle the Mexican drug cartels through investigation, prosecution and extradition of their key leaders and facilitators, and seizure and forfeiture of their assets.
"The Department of Justice is intensifying its efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish members of the Mexican drug cartels," said Attorney General Holder. "The guns, drugs, and bulk cash that are the backbone of the cartels’ business contribute to addiction and drug-related violence in our communities. The Recovery Act funding these three California communities are receiving will help local law enforcement in our joint efforts to combat the threat posed by these cartels."
The Department is increasing its focus on investigations and prosecutions of the southbound smuggling of guns and cash that fuel the violence and corruption and attacking the cartels in Mexico. In recent months, the Department has announced resources for the Southwest border, including an increased law enforcement presence and is now providing additional resources through the Recovery Act grants announced today. In addition, the Department is continuing to collaborate with counterparts in Mexico to strengthen Mexico’s law enforcement capacity and institutions.
Department officials are taking an active role in the national effort to combat the Mexican drug cartels. Two weeks ago, top Department officials participated in the Violent Crime and Arms Trafficking Summit in Albuquerque, N.M., where federal, state and local officials worked to refine enforcement strategies. In June 2009, the Attorney General, along with Secretary Janet Napolitano and Director Gil Kerlikowske from the Office of National Drug Control Policy released President Obama’s National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy, designed to stem the flow of illegal drugs and their illicit proceeds across the Southwest Border by, among other things, increasing coordination and information sharing with state and local law enforcement agencies. Previously, the Attorney General and other Department officials participated in high-level meetings with U.S. and Mexican officials at an arms trafficking conference in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
As part of the efforts to combat Mexican drug cartels, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is administering the $30 million Recovery Act Assistance for Law Enforcement along the Southern Border and in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (Southern Border/HIDTA). This will provide resources for hiring, retention, assistance and equipment to law enforcement to combat criminal narcotics activity stemming from the southern border-states.
The Attorney General was joined by local law enforcement officials as he announced grant awards to the California communities of Chula Vista ($2,864,605); San Mateo County ($800,700); and San Diego County ($4,999,996). The Chula Vista Police Department, on behalf of the California Border Alliance Group, plans to use these Recovery Act funds to support task force efforts to gather intelligence related to cross-border violence, including creating or retaining 10 positions. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Northern California HIDTA, plans to use the funds to develop an automated intelligence management system to track wholesale distribution from Mexican drug trafficking organizations out of the San Francisco area. San Diego County plans to use the funds to create a team of 16 uniformed officers to patrol the border for drug smuggling and criminal activity and fund a dedicated deputy district attorney to prosecute those apprehended. The remaining Southern Border/HIDTA grant awards are being processed and will be announced in the near future.
The Southern Border/HIDTA grant program is part of more than $4 billion in Department of Justice Recovery Act funds available to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement and for other criminal justice activities that help to prevent crime and improve the criminal justice system in the United States, while supporting the creation of jobs and much needed resources for states and local communities.
OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at www.ojp.gov.