Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler visited the Tucson Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and learning first-hand about the organized Mexican drug cartels which funnel deadly illegal drugs into the United States.
"Traveling to the Arizona-Mexico border allowed me to see first-hand the challenges facing our customs officers and Border Patrol agents on the front line," said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who has been actively combatting the scourge of drug abuse in her Missouri district. "It is a warzone putting our dedicated agents against the highly funded, highly manned, and well-organized Mexican cartels. The cartels control the entire Mexican border and are consistently looking for lucrative opportunities, such as smuggling people and drugs into the United States," added Hartzler, who toured the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona. Hartzler saw cartel scouts conducting counter surveillance on the hills in Mexico overlooking the Port where they watch the border around the clock to find gaps in security. This allows them to smuggle people and drugs into the United States.
Hartzler noted that the Mexican cartels use a variety of methods to conduct their illicit activities along the U.S.-Mexico border. In Nogales, over 100 tunnels have been discovered since 1990 used primarily to smuggle drugs. Over the last several years, there has been a decline in marijuana seizures and an increase in hard drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. Drug mules (people used to transport illicit drugs by foot across the border in remote areas) have become more violent and more likely to attack Border Patrol agents in order to protect their products. Hartzler added that consumer drones are used by the cartels to monitor and assess U.S. border activities in order to direct and plan movement into the United States. Earlier this year, Hartzler introduced legislation that allows the Department of Homeland Security to target and interdict these drones. This bill was incorporated into the FAA Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law this month.
"I am glad we were able to secure this important authorization to stop the drug drones from crossing our border, but this is just one of the steps needed to win this war on drugs. Mexican drug cartels are currently exploiting gaps in our border security and it is our responsibility to fill those gaps to keep their illicit activities out of the United States," said Hartzler. "This includes investing in three key capabilities for a strong border -- funding for a secure border wall, providing advanced technology such as sensors and cameras, and securing more customs officers and Border Patrol agents. There are many challenges along the U.S.-Mexico border, and these three investments will help to enhance U.S. border security. One of the ways to combat the flow of drugs into our local towns and communities is to stop them at the border, and this means supporting our customs officers and Border Patrol agents with the tools needed to win this battle," added Hartzler.