According to the National Drug Threat Assessment 2009, Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States today. They threaten our economy, our communities, our children - all for obvious reasons. Simply put, combating DTOs must be a priority in the overall fight against drugs. Today, the Department of Homeland Security finalized an important step as part of that effort.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Mexico (PGR) formalized a new agreement, called the Illegal Drug Program (IDP), today in El Paso to help halt the progress of DTOs. Under the new agreement, Mexican nationals (except those with dual citizenship or permanent resident of the U.S.) who smuggle drugs through El Paso ports of U.S. entry will now be sent back to Mexico where they will face prosecution and possible imprisonment in their home country.
ICE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations Alonzon Peña said of the agreement, “The governments of Mexico and the U.S. both realize that it is vital to the national security of our respective nations and the health and well-being of our respective citizens, to dissuade and reduce the smuggling and trafficking of narcotics across our shared border.”
U.S. law enforcement agencies normally prosecute Mexican nationals caught trying to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Under the IDP, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office review of these cases, ICE will transfer these drug smugglers coming through El Paso back to Mexican authorities who will prosecute them.
The IDP extends the bilateral enforcement effort, which was initiated in Nogales, Ariz, in October 2009. As a result, two drug offenders were sentenced to 10-year prison terms.
The agreement is an example of the collaborative effort between the governments of Mexico and the U.S. as we work to stem the flow of drug smuggling and violence this crime brings along the southwest border.
Expanding the IDP along the El-Paso-Juarez border requires adding 23 special agents and three group supervisors to the region. These courageous men and women will be on the front lines working to bring an end to the terrible effects of the drug trade and the violence it brings.