(Phoenix, Ariz. -- July 22, 2010) Testifying at a congressional hearing today in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Terry Goddard urged the federal government to intensify its efforts to take down the Mexican drug cartels and to utilize techniques developed by his Office to disrupt the flow of money that funds their violent operations.
Defeating the cartels would be the best way to reduce illegal immigration into the United States, Goddard said, because they control the smuggling of both humans and drugs across the Mexican border.
"The Justice Department has called the cartels 'the greatest organized crime threat to the United States,' and I agree,” Goddard testified. “The overwhelming majority of illegal border crossings are conducted and coordinated by these criminal organizations. It is long past time for Congress to make dismantling the cartels a top national priority."
Goddard offered a list of what he called the five most important things Congress can do to stop alien smuggling:
- Target the drug cartels and their leadership. Without cartel assistance, illegal border crossings will drop dramatically.
- Go after the money. The cartels are estimated to bring in as much as $40 billion a year from drug-smuggling and human-trafficking. Stopping the flow of funds could do more than anything else to weaken them.
- Follow Arizona's lead. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has developed techniques to stop illegal money transfers that work. This effort should be expanded across the entire southwest border.
- Anticipate the cartels' next moves. One move will likely be greater use of stored value devices, which need to be regulated much more effectively.
- Provide resources adequate to meet the threat. Additional federal resources should include $50 million in Operation Stonegarden funds to match the $50 million from our settlement this year with Western Union to support law enforcement agencies in the four southwest border states.
Goddard testified before the House Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism. The hearing was titled "Enhancing the Department of Homeland Security's Efforts to Disrupt Alien Smuggling Across our Borders."