WASHINGTON, D.C. B Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Attorney General of Mexico Daniel Cabeza de Vaca today jointly announced initiatives to enhance the coordination of U.S. and Mexico law enforcement efforts that combat the substantial threat of violence posed by narcotics trafficking groups and their associates operating along the U.S. -- Mexico Border.
Attorney General Gonzales and Attorney General Cabeza de Vaca met in San Antonio, Texas today with representatives from the federal law enforcement and criminal justice communities of the United States and Mexico and their state counterparts from Texas and Tamaulipas. The meetings focused on aggressive, bilateral, multi-agency law enforcement actions to quell the “narco-violence” that threatens the security of communities on both sides of the border.
“Day in and day out, our citizens and law enforcement officers confront the threats and consequences of narcotics trafficking and violence,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “These challenges do not stop on one side of the border, and neither should our law enforcement efforts. The specific actions we've agreed to today with the Government of Mexico and the states of Texas and Tamaulipas will help us find new ways to work together and new methods for curbing narcotics-related violence.”
“Bilateral cooperation, along with information and intelligence exchange, is the best way to face common problems on our border, such as violence. Those who break the law and generate violence must be aware that their illicit activities will not be tolerated on our side of the border,” said Attorney General of Mexico Cabeza de Vaca.
The U.S. and Mexico share 2000 miles of international land border. The threat from major drug trafficking and other criminal organizations and the violence they wreak on border towns is a significant security risk for each country, affecting the economy and general quality of life in those areas. Nuevo Laredo, just over the border from Laredo, Texas, has experienced an increase of narco-related violence in recent months.
Attorney General Gonzales and Attorney General Cabeza de Vaca expressed a firm commitment on the part of U.S. and Mexico law enforcement to initiate immediate and sustained operational law enforcement efforts along the border, separately and in coordination with each other. In addition to the increased law enforcement efforts, the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to share training and technical assistance in an array of criminal investigative areas, including port security, forensics, prison security, victim and witness security, and firearms and explosives.
Attorney General Gonzales also announced the expansion of the successful Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) to Laredo, Texas. VCIT's are rapid response teams led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and designed to bring together unique aspects, capabilities, and cutting-edge technologies of participating agencies in federal, state, and local law enforcement to proactively investigate firearms-related and other violent crimes. With the addition today of Laredo, VCIT's are now implemented in 22 cities across the United States.
The U.S. and Mexico have also agreed to improve the coordination and timeliness of law enforcement information and intelligence sharing between U.S. and Mexican federal and state authorities and agencies on both sides of the border. The two nations will place special emphasis on the coordinated and prompt exchange of information about relevant events that occur on either side of the border that may impact the other country, so that both may effectively determine and initiate a coordinated law enforcement response. The U.S. and Mexico will also explore opportunities to coordinate law enforcement efforts against the movement and transfer of criminal proceeds. In addition, officials of Texas and Tamaulipas will continue their expert law enforcement support through the effective and coordinated use of task forces in both countries.
The enhanced law enforcement efforts were recommended to the Attorneys General by over 100 federal and state law enforcement personnel from both countries who met - at the request of the Department of Justice -- in Houston, Texas, on September 13, 2005 to address joint concerns of the U.S. and Mexico governments at every level about the narco-related violence in the shared border area.
The Attorneys General were joined by the U.S. Attorneys for the Southern and Western Districts of Texas, as well as representatives from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, DEA, FBI, ATF, ICE, the Texas Attorney General=s Office, Mexico=s Attorney General=s Office (the Procuraduría General de la República [PGR)] and the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Tamaulipas, in whose state the City of Nuevo Laredo is located.