Congressman Hunter seeks to redirect funds for an escalation in drug-relation violence
San Diego –Congressman Duncan Hunter-R-Calif. wrote President Obama a letter requesting the administration redirect funds to the Full Time National Guard Duty Counterdrug (FTNGDCD) Program. The congressman asked the President to simply redirect funds from money that is already available through the Merida Initiative.
The letter to the President explained there has been more than $1 billion in federal funding in the past two years given to Mexico and other Central American countries. This money was used to fight drug trafficking and organized crime-related issues. The funds included $420 million in the recently enacted FY2009 war supplemental bill as well.
While the Hunter believes it is money well-spent, due to increased violence on the Mexico-America borders it should be our first priority to fully-fund domestic agencies.
This particular agency has been responsible for nabbing $28 billion in drugs and $226 million in cash in the fiscal year 2008 alone.
The letter states; “Despite the success of FTNGDCD, the force size has steadily decreased. Nationwide, the number of National Guard support personnel for Counterdrug operations is projected to decline from approximately 3,200 to 1,850 in FY2010. In California… this force size has decreased from 525 to less than 200 personnel.”
The administration has recently provided Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with full “Title 21 Authority” and Congressman Hunter believes this is an important step. However, fully-funding successful programs need to be kept in mind as well.
Title 21 authority is a section of the U.S. code that provides the Justice Department with the legal authority to investigate certain crimes, in particular drug-related crimes.
The White House declined to comment on Hunter’s redirection of funds request.
Dubbed Operation Xcellerator, the U.S. Drug Enforcement netted $59 million from the Sinaloa drug cartel, according to new Attorney General, Eric Holder.
“International drug trafficking organizations pose a sustained, serious threat to the safety and security to our communities,” he said. The operation dealt a “crushing blow” to the Sinaloa cartel.
Among the confiscated drugs were – 12,000 kilos of cocaine, 1,200 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.3 million ecstasy pills. Quite a catch for the good guys.
9,900 and counting is the number of drug-war-related deaths in Mexico alone since January of 2007, according to the University of San Diego Trans Border Institute.
Mexico and U.S. border towns are under siege, the open-air gun fights continue and last week a Mexican congressional candidate narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on his life.
In the last year, there were more than 12 mayors and City Hall employees that have been murdered, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to White House Press spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, the administration has black-listed three Mexico drug cartels – Sinaloa cartel, Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana.
One particular part of San Diego known as “Smugglers Gulch” sits at the western most edge of the city. It is also the area where the border fence was just completed, despite environmental protests.
Despite a finished fence, a week ago Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement uncovered a 53-foot tunnel just east of Smugglers Gulch, according to ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack.
The tunnel started in Mexico through a manhole, Mack said. The entrance into the U.S. was at a South Bay International Wastewater Treatment plant.
According to officials, the tunnel was outfitted with battery-powered lights and could be used to smuggle humans and illicit drugs into the U.S.