ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER ANNOUNCES $4.17 MILLION IN RECOVERY ACT GRANTS TO SUPPORT TEXAS LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder today announced more than $4.17 million in Recovery Act funds will go to Texas communities to use in fighting crime and drug trafficking as part of the Justice Department’s Southwest Border Strategy.
“A central part of the Recovery Act is focused on building communities – making them better places to live and work,” Attorney General Holder said. “We can’t reach that goal without supporting the men and women who work to keep our communities safe.”
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. Yesterday, the Justice Department announced that 10 alleged Mexican cartel leaders were among 43 defendants indicted in Brooklyn and Chicago. The alleged leaders and other high-ranking members of several of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels were charged with operating continuing criminal enterprises or participating in international drug trafficking conspiracies.
“The Recovery Act funding for these Texas communities will help local law enforcement in our joint efforts to combat the threat posed by these cartels,” Holder said. “The Department of Justice is intensifying its efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish members of the Mexican drug cartels. 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 is helping to target these very real threats to our communities, boosting resources for local law enforcement and giving greater protections to our citizens,” Holder added. 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. 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. 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. Top Department officials participated in a 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) grant program. 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 City of Arlington ($1,138,984) plans to hire law enforcement personnel and purchase equipment to intercept contraband and drug trafficking operations that impact the North Texas area, while focusing on reducing the amount of narcotics transported into the area, reducing drug related crime and violence and increasing drug seizures. Cameron County ($2,251,742) plans to hire law enforcement personnel to expand the Sheriff’s Special Investigation Unit to combat arms trafficking, money laundering, and expand investigations of other drug-related crime such as homicide, kidnappings and home invasions. Webb County ($783,615) plans to hire law enforcement personnel and purchase equipment to implement intelligence-led jail management to reduce international, national, state, regional, and local drug trafficking, money laundering activities, drug-related crime, drug availability and drug-related public corruption.
The Department of Justice has already awarded $8.7 million in Recovery Act funds to three communities in California and $5.5 million to four communities in Arizona as part of the Southwest Border strategy. 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. The Recovery Act also provides an additional $10 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to combat firearms-trafficking on the U.S. Southwest Border.
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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.BJA09150