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U.S. agencies team up with Mexican authorities to thwart drug, weapon smuggling

(The following appeared on the Progressive Railroading website on August 18, 2009.)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), other federal agencies and the Mexican government recently agreed to develop a coordinated and intelligence-driven response to cross-border weapon/drug smuggling and trafficking.

DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice and Mexico’s attorney general will work jointly to combat violence and criminal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border. The parties plan to develop cooperative protocols to govern weapons and ammunition trafficking investigations in the United States and Mexico, and improve information sharing between the two countries to better identify smuggling and trafficking trends, as well as support bilateral investigation efforts.

In addition, DHS will create the first-ever Mexico-based Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) to coordinate intelligence sharing on both sides of the border. To be staffed with about 40 personnel from four Mexican law enforcement agencies, the Mexico BEST will work with ICE Attaché Mexico City and other U.S. agencies to use intelligence from Mexican government seizures to respond to leads generated by U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the 10 Southwest border BESTs.

"Enforcing our laws at the border requires close collaboration with our international and domestic allies to ensure our mutual security," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in a prepared statement.

The DHS also recently doubled the number of agents assigned to inspect trains heading into Mexico from the Southwest and perform other duties to curtail drug and weapon smuggling. In addition, the agency added mobile x-ray machines, license plate readers, border patrol agents and K-9 detection teams in the region.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

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