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tv   Senate Judiciary Hearing on Drug Cartels Border Security  CSPAN  December 18, 2018 1:15am-2:36am EST

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>> hearing on drug cartels and d voters activity. a senate judiciary subcommittee heard from homeland security officials including the chief carla provost. provost. this is two and a half hours. >> good afternoon and welcome. today's hearing is entitled marcos transnational cartels anl border security. today's hearing will provide an opportunity to look beyond our borders and examine the larger problems contributing to the
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ouisis along our borders. if you watch the news recently you can see how serious the crisis has become. back in the time we had thousands of unaccompanied minors at the rio grande valley sector president obama call that a humanitarian crisis. i think i would als that would e what is happening today in and around tijuana and we will hear more about that. but as we know there are currently thousands of migrants at the southern border trying to enter the united states. this is not a new phenomenon. regardless of which party's control, republican or democrat we've dealt with sudden influxux is with migrants for decades. in the 1980s that was the cubait was the cubanboat lift ss the cuban and haitian influx into just a few h years ago as i they mention the 2014 we saw a surge of unaccompanied minors from central america.
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so, improving border security doesn't mean just improving physical security along the border, it also means addressing the problems that bring them here inm the first place. the mass movement of the migrants is only a symptom of the problem and want i hope he wilwewill discuss in detail here today. one of the greatest threats to the national security is the trafficking of persons, drugs and the range of illicit goods into the united states. there is no single point of origin for those crimes and we can see this stemming from around the world from east asia, africa, europe and south america. trafficking of course it's big business and unfortunately for us they've proven to be good at it. the proceeds from illicit drug sales are worth approximately $64 billion annually. that is billions, not millions. that's money isn't fueling the
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u.s. economy, it's lining the pockets of criminals, the cartels, then our toes if you will and continuing to perpetrate cycle. in short i think they are winning in his efforts notwithstanding our efforts or the hero like efforts of law enforcement and other government officials because congress hasn't awakened to the real crisis to come up with a solution to deal with it at multiple levels. the drug cartels transnational criminal organizations and games will start debate .-full-stop it's nothing to make sure the business model remains intact and profitable and the international corridors for trafficking remain wide open. they are shrewd, adaptive and they evolve and use every tactic in the book e to further their criminal enterprises whether it's murdering government officials, regular folks threatening people, intimidating people, rape, torture, slavery,
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fraud, peddling fake documents, money laundering, the list goes on and on and on. not only are we dealing with ruthless criminal enterprises, where battling enemies are ever evolving as i said in a constantly on the move. they are what i've heard referred to as commodity agnostics. they really don't care as long as they make money and they don't care who they kill, who they hurt o her with the consequences of a criminal enterprise are. they spread terror and prey on the weak and take control over large parts of mexico and several central american scountries. we frequently see these organizations preying on migrants headed towards the countries southern border safely cross the border in exchange for money but as today's witnesses can attest this safe journey is anything but.
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too often they are abandoned or crammed into the back of an eight team and the other with a dozen other victims. i've seen it time and time again they have no respect for human life. it's not just the people who die at their hands while attempting to enter the united states illegally, it's the place and they imported into the country. america's opioid crisis is being further fueled by the illicit narcotics being smuggled by these organizations. fentanyl is one of the deadliest drugs ine the world. lsthe growing criminal organizations have led to global and regional insecurities and there is a need for increased security cooperation to be sure with our neighbors in mexico and central america just to name a
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couple. the united states needs to work to develop a comprehensive plan to address these problems. of the war on drugs, trafficking and smuggling is one that affects all of us and it's time we pick up the pace in dealing g with it in a focused and hopefully successful way. again the problem doesn't begin or end of the borders. it's a global problem, but for our purposes focuses primarily on the countries to the south but certainly the avenues available in the united states can be exploited by anybody that has the money or the will to try to come into the united states illegally so by partnering with the governance in europe and central america we can begin to fight these cartels and take the money and profits out of the sordid business. i look forward to hearing from the witnesses about the scope of
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the problems in some of the biggest challenges we have is a lack of public awareness this isn't looking through a straw this is a much bigger problem and more complex and the need to try to understand before we can begin to come up with solutions. before turning to senator durbin for his opening arcs they would ask unanimous consent senator grassley's opening statement be included in the record which it will be without objection. >> let me say to you and the witnesses and the audience my apologies for coming out a few minutes late. i was on the floor for the farewell address of our colleague, senator nelson, and i'm sorry that i wasn't here at the moment i should have been. thank you for the hearing. it was almost ten years ago i held my first hearing is the chairman of the crime and drug subcommittee in this room. subject to the hearing the
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threat to the united states posed by the mexicanat drug cartels. ten years ago we had that hearing. at this hearing in march of 2009, i quoted a report that concludedth mexican drug cartels are, quote, the greatest organized crime threat in the uniteunited states, so here we e ten years later. how are we doing? last month to 2018 national drug threat assessment concluded mexican drug cartels remain the greatest threat to the united states.ed i closed by 2009 hearing by saying we must take action to reduce the demand for the illegal drugs in the united stateste and stem the flow of illegal guns and money to mexico. democrats, republicans must work together to find a bipartisan commonsense solutions to this challenge. now today ten years later we are in the midst of a drug epidemic
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like we've never seen before. in 2017, drug overdoses in the united states killed a record of 70,237 people. the deadliest drug we face is fentanyl. last year 28,466 overdose deaths involving sentinel and use of more than 45% over thecr previos year. much of this comes from china through the mail but it's also being shipped from china to mexico before being trafficked across the u.s. border. the dea has foun found the carts transports the bulk of their illicit goods over the southwest border through legal portspo of entry using passenger vehicles were tractor-trailers. yesterday we had a hearing in the same room, the customs and border protection commission told me directly in october of 2017 of his top priority was to
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secure the border with more drive through inspection systems, which he characterized as c. portals and when i asked him what he needed to keep our codecs out of the united states to keep it safer he said technology and personnel. he didn't say a wall. according to department of homeland security the strike through inspection systems that he has referred to examine 98% of all of the cars passing into the united states but only 18% of cargo passenger vehicles combined gets the 2019 president's budget request included only $44 million for the systems. i asked yesterday what would it take, what do you need to put these systems in basically scanned the vehicles as they
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come through to try to detect drugs, people being smuggled, drug trafficking, human trafficking what do you need, he said $300 million. that's a fraction of 500 billion the president is demanding for the wall. the administration sadly did not ask for any funding for additional customs officers even though we need more officers to detect drugs at the ports of entry and international mail. it was six months ago i got off a plane in o'hare instead of chicago had stayed at a postal facility and looked at how we monitor the mail coming into the united states to try to detect drugs that are being sent by mail and it happens every day. it's a good system but it's not what it should be and people will tell you that. they look at it and they catch hame of them but a lot of them are not caught. instead what the president is telling us now is we have to
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shut down our government if he doesn't get $5 billion for a wasteful ineffective border wall. we need technology to stop them from importing the play poison s killing our kids not a medieval solution like awol from sea to shining sea. they are not just exporting drugs into the united states, we are exporting laundered drug money into mexico. what have we done to stop the river of guns in the united states arms mexican cartels to the teeth in 2016 the gao found 70% of crime guns seized in mexico traced through the crime gun tracing program came from the united states. according to the gao, andnd i quote most were purchased legally at gun shows and gun shows in the united states and in trafficked illegally to
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thmexico. federal agencies with jurisdictiofederal agencies witn flow of guns were atf which enforces federal gununfl laws ad i.c.e. which investigates traffickers and cartels. are they doing enough plaques they have an agreement that governs the firearms trafficking from the united states to mexico but in 2016 they found that there were rules and informatioe information sharing and collaboration between the two and an improvement was needed. i will be sending a letter to the general accounting office asking them to update their 2016 report and expand it to look at the firearms trafficking to central american countries. i invite my colleagues to join me. the border protection also plays a key role. the gao found, and i quote, customs and border protection southbound mission is to facilitate the movement of legitimate cargo while interdicting the illegal export of weapons and other contraband
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out of theti united states. however, in 2017, the cbp spokesperson said southbound inspections are only connected," no one resources permit. why on earth doesn't this administration request for resources for outbound inspections to stop the export of deadly firearms from the united states to these mexican cartels? one thing congress should do this finally prohibit the straw purchasing gun trafficking in a federathe federal law. right now the attorneys office have to prosecute them as paperwork violations which we wn most won't spend any time doing it at all. i joined senator leahy and senator collins real teeth for this effort. during my hearing we heard testimony about the smuggling of the bulk cash and laundered money from the united states back to the cartels. it's the circle of the export in
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the united states and the export guns and laundered money back into these cartels. we wonder why they are so powerful. according to the latest drug threat assessment the amount of cashsh seized has been steadily decreasing over the b last eight years. the reports showed large amounts of cash continue to be interdicted among major corridors where it is typically concealed and hidden in the vehicle compartment among legitimate cargo. again there would be strong bipartisan support in congress for more resources for outbound inspections if only the administration put as much priority on this effort as they do on a wall. there is more congress can do in 2013 when the democrats controlled the senate we passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. do you know how much was included in the border security funding?
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$40 billion in over 60 senators voted for it. no lack of will when it comes to border security. security. but republican leaders of the house refused even consider the bill. earlier this year we tried again after we got the report from mr. [inaudible] and others. increasing the funding for the scanning devices, the port of entry infrastructure and personnel funding for the biometric entry and exit screenings. on february 15 a bipartisan majority in the senate supported the agreement with the border security included but failed to reach the 60 votes it needed because the president opposed it. on the same day a bipartisan supermajority in the senate rejected the president's alternative to. we've got to be honest about the challenges we face it is more the way we use the resources to address them.
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i work with colleagues to reform the broken immigration system and prove security reducing the smuggling will no must be accomplished by the border wall or punishing innocent victims of cartel violence that we desperately seek safety in the united states. we have to work to address the epidemic in the nation .-full-stop the buttons and cash flow south of the cartels and the elaborate more effectively with regional nations to the strength of e their economies ad to decrease the cartel violence. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i was glad to hear tenen yeas ago he convened a hearing on some of the aspects of thee same problem, but being an optimist basically based on what you're saying you weresaying i see somd for investing in the scanning devices and customs officers dealing with straw purchasers and couples transfers across the border i see some components of the legislation that we could work on together like we worked
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on criminal justice reform which i hope it's successful. at the same time i noted during the gang of eight immigration bill with the b $40 billion appropriated for border security, and in the dock a proposal that got 44 votes i think it was 25 early in and i'm still confused about the fight over the 5 billion, but i agree it shouldn't be just about the fiscal barriers tha it should be about technology, it should be about personnel. it's more of a system is the way i tend to think of it. maybe the e chief alumni tennis further i'm sure she will so it's my pleasure to introduce the witnesses for the first panel, the assistant director of the opioid coordination group and the office of national drugn control policy. before coming here mr. chester was senior director for national security and intelligence at the
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private-sector consulting firm in washington, d.c. and beforepr that, completed 27 years of service in the united states ons army and in the servic ending te deputy director for intelligence the regional center and chief of the office of the counternarcotics worldwide. janice ayala is with the u.s. immigration and customs informant, enforcement, excuse me. prior to the current position, ms. ayala served as the joint task force west directory and served as a specia special agenn charge for i.c.e. homeland security investigations in my hometown of san antonio, texas, and i.c.e. headquarters as the assistant director of the domestic operations. as the assistant director for domestic operations, ms. ayala oversaw the investigations of more than 10,000 agents assigned to 26 offices throughout the united states including investigative matters related to national security, money
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laundering, bol. the third witness is familiar to the committee she's been here before. ms. carla provost chief of the u.s. border patrol at the u.s. customs and border protection before her current position, the chief provost served in a number of capacities within the border patrol including a field operations supervisor a to the tucson sector and chief patrol at the sector and the deputy chief patrol agent of the el paso sector and assistant chief patrol agent for the yuma sector. mr. paul knierim is the director for the office of global enforcement of the dru drug in person agency. before his current position, the deputy chief knierim served as a special agent in the denver job division and was also assigned
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to the country office. he also served as the country attaché in the costa rican country office and assistant regional director for the north and central american region based in mexico city. thank you all for being here today. we likeih each of you to provide us with her opening statement. we know we have a written document for each of you so don't feel necessary to read from that were repeat that. it will be made part of the record. we will turn to you. >> thank you. >> one method of business. do you swear or affirm the testimony were getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god god >> please start again.
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>> yes sir. chairman cornyn, ranking member durbin and members of the subcommittee on behalf of deputy director tank you for inviting the office of national drug control policy here to discuss the threat posed to the united states by mexican transnational criminal organizations and as mexicol cooperation to address drug policy issues in both countries. rion february 9, 2017 2017, pret trumpresidentof trump signed ane order7, stating the transnationl criminal organizations including drug cartels represent a threat to the safety of the united states and its citizens. mexican cartels primarily the writer economic power from the production movement and sale of illegal drugs. drugs provide a means for mexican cartels to employ military grade weapons systems, attempattempts to corrupt justid security officials and expand their territorial control in mexico and the u.s. markets making them the greatest criminal threats to the united states. in 2017 mexican cartelsme
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cultivated 44,100 opium poppy and produced 111 metric tons of pure heroin in mexico. cycling the majority to the united states. increasingly, mexican cartels suppressing fentanyl and clandestinely produced in china and the prescription filled smuggling across the southwest border. mexican cartels also produced the majority of the methamphetamine consumed in the united states and they facilitate the colombian trafficking of cocaine which is also increasingly affecting ours communities. the two previous mexican presidentiapresidential adminiss attempted to confront the threat posed by the mexican cartels in their own ways. however, despite mexico's best efforts, the cartels exploited vulnerabilities in governmental institutions at all levels allowing the economic expansion even beyond drug trafficking. the profit earning potential of the mexican cartels exceeds the
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mexican government's annual budget allocated to its homeland security which amounts to less than 1% of mexico's annual budget. the governments of the united states and mexico have developed a common understanding of the impact of the mexican cartels on both countries and currently addressing the burden is a shared responsibility. they engage directly with the governmentic of mexico and has a participant in high-level bilateral meetings including the security cultivation group and high-level dialogue on disrupting the national criminal organizations. moreover, the traveler north american drug dialogue chaired by the department of state brings together the governments of the united states, mexico and canada to expand the drug cooperation in the united states and a possible three countries to cooperate closely on the thread throughouthr the contine. in an effort to improve coordination between the united aids and mexico, to work with the counterparts of the government is focused on three
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primary goals. first, to complete the monitoring system of the crops and mexico program and in conjunction with the office of drugs and crime to develop a shared understanding of the opium yield and mexico. this will be the first study completed in more than 15 years. second, to complete the program funded by the bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs that provides legitimate technical svalidation of mexico's unification process. to use the programs to establish an agreed-upon united its mexico puppy eradication program a shared goal and a joint strategy for intelligence driven eradication and mexico. on december 1, the president andres lopez was inaugurated as mexico's president vowing to fight corruption and to develop a vision to improve mexico's internal security. a few weeks prior to his
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inauguration president lopez presented as national peace and security plannd to address security concerns in mexico and one of the plans eight pillars is to develop a narcotic strategy. although specific details of the strategy were not presented, we expect that it will contain concrete and deliberate measures to directly address the cartel problem that affects both our countries, and we stand ready to acontinue the close and productive relationship and the new administration in this endeavor. in closing, the dynamic nature of the illicit marketplace controlled by mexican n cartels demand the united states continued to engage with mexico to prevent the ongoing proliferation of illicit drugs originate from the transit through mexico. we cannot allow mexican cartels to continue to contribute to the dangerous and often fata fatal effects of illicit drug use in the united states. we will continue to work with our international partners across the federal government and with our partners at the state, local and tribal levels
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to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in the united states have increased a profound effect they are having in our communities. the american people should expect nothing less from us. thank you for the opportunity to testify today, and i'd be happye happy to answer your questions. >> mr. chairman, ranking member bourbon, thank you for the opportunity to appear for you today. u.s. immigration and customs enforcement enforces the laws and border patrol, customs and immigration to promote homeland elcurity. i.c.e. has three primary director of its homeland security, enforcement removal operations and the office of principal legal advisor employing more than 20,000 employees in over 200 offices across the u.s. and in 50 countries. today i will provide perspective on the challenges we face in this sophisticated smuggling smg efforts on the southwest border into some of what we do to address these contraband arrived at the borders into the united states.
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i am an hsi assistant director serving the task force investigation for the department of homeland security. in 2014 the former secretary directed the departmentwide comprehensive security strategy with efforts across the components and commission free task forces. the investigation is in the west are geographically focused on the southern land and maritime borders and approaches. it is responsible for enhancing andnc integrating the prioritizd criminal investigations to accomplish this they create and manage a nomination and selection process for homeland criminal organization targets in the networks and fixing homeland security and then coordinates dozens of investigations and obligations for a national case management. the executive agent which consists of over 70 interagency investigative officers and analysts and is the largest investigative proponent come hsi
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conducts multifaceted law enforcement operations and investigations to combat the terrorist activities. the primary southwest border on the mexican drug cartels and over the last decade the united states working with the counterpart has sustained success in attacking the leadership. however they are highly network and built-in u.s. border security and law enforcement activities. they have a list of proceeds and higher assets and conduct transactions globally and to transform by the smuggling trade ceased wondering, professional blogger chris crypto currency and misuse of the services and emerging payment systems. they exploit vulnerabilities in u.s. and mexican financial systems and conduct financial transactions to circumvent regulatory scrutiny. the u.s. government has a responsibility to target money laundering and financial violations through interagency
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investigations, capacity building and direct engagement with at-risk financial institutions and jurisdictions. they utilize these pricks torsion to map providing violent acts and in 2005 the established the community shield and internationainternational law-et initiative to combat the growth of criminals in prison and games. in 2012 they worked with the office to designate ms 13. the first so designated. we've assigned within 1500 special agents in more than 150 research specialists to the offices and since 2005 the border enforcement task forces include the border tunnel task force to provide comprehensive response to the border security and national security. hsi comprised more than 180 nfnfral, state, local, tribal and international agencies. due to their success, the task
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force was signed into law in 2012. the attaché office throughout south and central america utilized the traffic units which are dhs trained law-enforcement counterparts with the authority to investigate and enforce the violation of the law. these are from the us-mexico border and colombia and panama as an added layer of security for the southwest border. during the 28th in the investigations lead to 34,344 criminal arrests at an all-time high and includes the 3600 trent national gang members and seizure of the narcotics with violations and over 1.2 billion of currency and monetary instruments. we also identify 300 trafficking
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victims. thank you for your committed support to dhs, i.c.e. and your interest on these issues. i would be pleased to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you.ny chairman cornyn, ranking member bourbon, it is my honor to appear before you today. this saturday december 15 marks eight years since the border patrol agent was murdered by members of a cartel red cruder than a gunfight in southern arizona. they patrol the border mexico looking for opportunities to rob illegal aliens and other drug smugglers. he was a military veteran, former police officer and had served with the border patrol for over three and a half years. ushis murder was a great loss fr the agency and illustrates the dangers presented by cartels and theirss associates. cartel is another organization where they are a threat to the national security and public
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safety. a tc does maintain a diverse portfolio of criminal activity including fraud, and trafficking comic acting and extortion. they are heavily involved in all kinds of smuggling moving people, weapons, cash and drugs through sophisticated criminal. in fiscal year 2018 the border patrol seized wit within $7 miln in currency market and 7,000 pounds of cocaine and heroine and more than 450 pounds of marijuana. methamphetamine seizures increased 75% since fiscal year 15 and we have seen a 115% increase in fentanyl features between the ports just this last year. they also maintain influence over the us-based games to expand thehe distribution proce. this means that not only present a threat the borders through
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criminal networks and alliances they present a threat to the interior of the country as well although not all members are affiliated with cartels less to the border patrol at the end of more than 800 members that is a 50% increase over the previous year. this is in addition to the 6700 we apprehended70 last year who have criminal histories including theft, drugs and weapons trafficking and violent crimes. they conduct operations without regard for human life money and power are there only motivations into the commodity agnostics famous people with no more care than guns are bundles of drugs. the desperate aliens who enter the networks are at risk of being beaten, assault, rape and even killed on their journey to the border. they are motivated and ruthless and may operate as does mrs. but they do not play by the rules of
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law and are not bound by the impediments we sometimes facing government. they will stop at nothing to gain profit andll power. they are willing to spend countless resources to maintain and expand control of the criminal enterprises. to address the threat we must have a united comprehensive strategy and an aggressive approach across all levels of government. cbp must continue to work in conjunction with our law enforcement partners including my o colleagues to interdict illegal aliens, drugs, cash and weapons of the border. this is a key component of the u.s. border security and by extension the national security. thanks to the support of congress in the past decade the department of homeland security has deployed more personnel, technology and infrastructure than any other time in our history. as they continue to exploit the
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environment for their own financial gain we must continue investing in all of these tools in the highest priority areas along the border. today we've already begun upgrading old vehicle barriers like drugrunning. we've also prioritized high-traffic locations that black border infrastructure for deployment of new carriers, the pianist g. and additional personnel. we stand ready to execute and forward to working with congress on theseng priorities. i honor to represent them and to make the country safer by combating cartels and other threats. when they resolved to work to get no way of knowing what they may encounter if you lost in o e desert were risk group armed with fully automatic weapons the job as some predict and
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demanding but whether they are stopping criminals and narcoti narcotics. thank you for your time and i look forward too your questions. >> there is a vote in the senate. i'm going to go vote and turned the gavel over to senator cruz and will be back shortly. good afternoon it's an honor to appear to discuss the mexican cartels and the extent of the efforts tort manufacture within the united states to combat this threat that had thehe privilegef being a special agent since 1991 the sophistication and capacity of the cartels worries me now more than ever operating in
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mexico and the united states have been and will continue to be the most significant source trafficked inside the united states bear the primary source y source of illicit drugs on the street. perhaps the disturbing aspect has been a confluence of three things the synthetic drug threat, the epidemic of opioid abuse and the cartels attempt to expand their profits by intentionally fixing send them all substances with heroine, counterfeit prescription drugs and other illicit drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine as is done for one simple reason, greed. it's a national threat to public health emergency fueled by fentanyl which is cheap to make them har,hard to detect and dany
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potent. for the proliferation of heroine,s fentanyl. to generate profit the same organizations continue to transport cocaine at an alarming rate we cannot allude to afford to lose and for the trafficking in the record amountand the recf methamphetamine entering the united dates recent increases in the cultivation and art troubling and foreshadows an increase of importation of use
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and overdose in the united states from these substances as well. we anticipate that cartels, the gold cartel [inaudible] will continue to be the primary networks operating in more than one country to plan and execute the criminal enterprise. these cartels dor not serve bals in mexico, the united states or any other country. as you know in 2016 mexico extradited to solve and recently in the district of new york we've already heard one of her testify to the cartel leaders extensiveve lucrative cool and ruthless operations. the details of the testimony highlights the ability of the cartels to influence legitimate professionals such as
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accountants, attorneys, notaries, bankers and realre estate brokers across the illicit and illicit world and provide services too the judgmet customers and criminals across guthe globe this is why we partr with my colleagues at the table before you today as well as the state, local, tribal and international law enforcement partners in specially mexico and let me mention my gratitude to the mexican law enforcement, military security counterparts with whom we are partnered and have made the ultimate sacrifice. our goal for taking to the protecting citizens from harm in taking these out of our society is that unites us together in partnership. this leads me to what they are doing to counter the threat. we recognize this will take efforts acrosss a broad spectrum to include interagency and global partnerships for decades we've maintained a world which was to address the source of drugs and in this case we have a robust presence and critical partnership in mexico.
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in mexico they continue to synchronize and expand capabilities to combat thet growing epidemic we've developed a right lateral strategy for intelligence sharing, coordinated investigation, training for increased sharing of forensics investigation and orprecursor chemicals. we participated in the north american drug dialogue along the federal government officials from mexico, canada and the united states that focuses on building a strategy to attack the production, trafficking and misuse of illicit narcotics in north america. pie mexican cartels and the epidemic will require a community effort at every level state, local, federal and with our dedicated international partners such as mexico. they will continue to pursue criminal trafficking and p illit drugs targeting the most prolific dangerous drug traffickers is a dynamic and evolving mission and wha with it comes. thead challenges. throughout history they've aggressively met thoseha
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challenges and produced impressive results. we look forward to continuing to work with you and colleagues identified the resources and authorities necessary to completete the mission thank you for the opportunity to testify before the committee on this issue and i look forward to your questions. >> outhank you to each of the witnesses foror your service. each of your work is an incredibly difficult and important job and we are grateful for the hard work you put in. mr. chester, let's talk about sentinel for a minute. it's killing americans each and every day. can you tell the committee where it comes from and how it makes its way into the united states? >> senator and you are correct. what we have seen over the last two plus years in the united states is the rise in the prevalence and the salvia fentanyl in the u.s. communities
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to the point that it is outpaced heroine and all other drugs in terms of brutality in the u.s.. it is primarily manufactured in china. speak wit .. united states. there are two primary routes. the first is individuals who get on the internet, usually on the dark web using cryptocurrency, purchase it for themselves or for distribution to a small number of known userses and that generally comes in the country through the u.s. mail system or express consignment carriers who are commercial carriers. >> what quantity are we talking about? >> very small quantities senator, so you're really talking about 6-700, 800 grams. and because of the potency it's
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purchased as a small dollar amount. it's in a small package, and it's at a dollar figure that doesn't raise a lot of suspicion. that's the primary vector in the united states. the second is up through mexico where finished fentanyl is purchased in china, sent to mexico, and then either shipped as part of a poly-drug load mixed in and milled with heroine or inert matter like lactose south of the border and brought up and sold as synthetic heroine or the third way pressed into pills and sold as fake prescription opioids and brought in large numbers of pills across the southwest border. so there are several different vectors for the t to get into the united states. we can clearly see the public health effects that it has in the united states, and fentanyl in its an logs will continue to be a substantial problem in our drug environment in america.
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>> how many deaths are we looking at at an annual basis from fentanyl. >> >> kemp: in 2017 was 28,400 deaths or 9 per day. that is what's termed by the centers of disease control is synthetic opioids other than methadone which is dominated by fentanyl and its an logs, and that is a 47% increase from the previous year. >> what's the role of the mexican drug cartels and bringing fentanyl into this country? congressmen principally. >> kemp: their role is to purchase it from mexico, and process it in mexico and bring it into the united states -- through their own distribution change and to a face-to-face sale in the united states. one of the things that makes fentanyl so attractive for drug
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cartels is the low upfront price and the high profits on the far end. that is whether it is mixed into heroine and purchased by an interconvenience drug user by a known drug user or whether it is sold as a fake pill who believes they are getting oxycontin and fentanyl analogue. >> do we have an assessment of how much the cartels are making from this trafficking. >> kemp: trafficking as a whole in. >> let's take fentanyl or other. >> kemp: overall, i believe it was senator cornyn who quoted the price of $64 billion today and that's absolutely within the realm of the possible. $64 billion, the drugs continue to be the most lucrative and reliable source of income for transnational criminal organizes in mexico. >> thank you for your work i
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have to know a greatmen and women in your agency, and i'm grateful for their service. let me ask you from your preves. what additional tools are needed to slow down or stop this flow of fentanyl and other illegal drugs? >> thank you senator, there are numerous things we need. as you know the border is very dynamic, and there is no one thing that it just seems to be that main issue that would stop it. we need between the ports of entry in particular, obviously more technology, more detection technology, we need more men and women, i need more canine handlers sequel, we utilize them, and i do need more barrier that does impede and deny and it does prevent the entries at the ports of entry, there was discussion earlier and my colleagues over there are
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expanding their non-intrusive technology which we also utilize as aerocheckpoints and stat assists us as well but it is a no one size fits all it is a mixture of all those things. >> one of the tools you mentioned that you needed was more physical barriers be it a wall or other barriers as you know we're in the midst of vigorous debates in the senate. let me ask you in your professional experience. what is the impact of a wall or physical barrier and what are the benefits of it? >> carla: personally and to keep it on topic with cartels. whether i was an agent in douglas, arizona, eeses of douglas there was a drive through as we called them, and we had numerous drive through in the area. i was involved in the seizure of 490 pounds of cocaine. thankfully the drive shaft broke as the vehicle was trying to get
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south away from us. we had no barrier at that time along the border in that area. once we put barrier in that area those drive through stopped. that is just one example when it comes to particularly narcoticser narcotic smuggling, as you know senator, the barriers are needed for impedance and denial. technology provides a completely different capability for us. it provides situational awareness and we certainly need that as well. but if we can't impede and deny when we're talking about a 2,000 meanwhile border, and very difficult terrain to work in, then the situational awareness let's me know something's crossing but it sure doesn't stop it from crossing. >> in terms of technology what have you found, being eboo it infrared, fixed wing, rotary wing aircraft, what is the greatest positive impact to allow allow you to do your job.
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>> carla: it truly depends upon the area. when we are talking about areas with quick vanishing time, camera technologies -- when we work in the remote areas, more detection capability is necessary for us. we have been expanded our tools and tool kit, and have found that having a diverse tool kit is critical for us to be able to deploy the appropriate resources in the appropriate location. >> ms. ayalla can you describe the violence perpetrated by the cartels in the united states and mexico? >> janis: i would say that mexican cartels and cartels in general have become more and more violent. they follow a pattern of violence and then when certain federal officials are sent to
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certain areas then the areas calm down and they're discouraged from violence in order for them to pursue their trafficking activities throughout the border areas, south of the the border. on this side of the border i think we saw a lot of violence as far as in 2005 in the south texas border, and then later on murders, and then what we saw was mostly the purchase of weapons, to smuggle -- to the mexico in order to engage in extortion and other assaultive and violent actions and torture on the mexican side. what we see is a cartels are using ms13 and other gang members for kidnapping extortion, and other violent crimes. and that fall under the statutes. >> why is that crossing north to the border into the united
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states. >> carla: when we're talking about the gang piece, to put in perspective we have about 100,000ms13 gang members in the northern tracking, and more than half of them are in -- sathousand in jail, 30,000 on the street, we have 10,000 gang members here, in the united states, and through our operation community shield, last 5 or 6 years we picked up over 8500ms13 members, associates and seized multi-quantities of drugs, and weapons, and other implements. ammunition and so forth. >> thank you senator crus for following that while we were
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voting. >> so let me ask each of you, or anybody who has an answer. but not that long ago to united states government decided we needed to do something to help the government of columbia deal with the narco-traffickers, and cocaine in particular that was coming up into the united states, deal with things like cocoa eradication, and provide equipment and training for the government of columbia. i was in columbia about four months ago and while things aren't perfect, they are far, far better, and i think most people who have paid attention would say plan columbia was a success. nothing's 100 percent successful, and the -- many challenges remain. president dukaei has made a commitment to more eradication
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than his predecessor had. do we need a plan central america, or plan columbia or something like that mr. chester. >> kemp: yes sir, i can start off. other members can add. you're right on the successive plan of columbia. i think playing columbia combind two things. the first was the physical eradication of coca manually and airially. that was important going to the manifestation of the problem. it built the capacity of the clum beben forces to deal with the problem on the ground. what we have in mexico is the mayorten initiative. and the mayorten initiative has been the primary vehicle in itsmered administered by the department of state with its four pillars to build capacity, and go after transnational organized crime.
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since its inception the initiative funding has been $1.3 billion to the government of mexico and made a substantial difference. in mexico's capability to be able to deal with this problem as a partner. a lot of the activities that we have with the government of mexico in terms of the professionalization of the military forces the training and capacity building for their police, all the way to things like prison reform, and transitioning to new criminal justice system, and including one of the programs that i mentioned in my opening statement are funded through the initiative and that is a very component what we are doing with mexico. it follows the same model of being able to handle the physical problem on the ground, and build capacity of the forces themselves. >> the rest of you have a comment about that chief?
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>> just to comment sir. you're exactly right working with our partners in central america is key. we continue to expand our footprint to assist whether it's in this case talking about the cartels and the narcotics that are coming into this country, we rely heavily on our relationships much like we do in mexico it is critical that we do continue to expand our effects in central america as well. >> roger: what has been said i think the bilateral relationships and partnerships that we're able to develop and really lead to a joint focus integrated effort to address the threats and things like the initiative and others that bring a coalition together in order to build capacity as well as strengthen those relationships and partnerships so while you're working the investigations on the one hand you're increasing your proscutorial capacity
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simultaneously, so it does provide a mechanism in order to further strengthen those joint bilateral effects. >> i share your support for the initiative, and i hope we can do more amidst what is pretty gloomy news in terms of how much geography in mexico the cartel is controlled, and the level of violence, in mexican that president lopez said was going to be his top priorities. we've seen more people die of violence in mexico since 2007 that have died in the wars of afghanistan and iraq combined. i remember what happened after 9/11 after 3,000 americans died in new york, and washington, d.c. at the pentagon, we went to war against al qaeda and the taliban, but 72,000 -- 70,000 americans have died from drug over dose, all this flood of
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heroine and methamphetamine coming across the border just doesn't seem like our -- seems like we have become desensitized to the outrage that replacements and the threat it represents to our analysis security. so i know senator feinstein obviously coming from a border state has talked to me about working on something like central american plan. i know president obama under his administration had a plan to support the triangle of countries in central america. we need to figure out something more than just sending money. we need to find out what works and that's the reason i mentioned plan columbia. i think there is a lotted of interest on the bright side amidst as i said a gloomy prospect in terms of central america and large parts of mexico. i was encouraged to see what the incoming administration and mexican i happened to be down there for the inauguration of
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president lopez, and i know that secretary nielsen and others of the administration had been directly negotiating with the incoming administration on how to deal with the asylum issue. mexican has begun issuing work permanents, offering asylum in mexico. many of these individuals want to be reunited with their family in the united states so they're turning that down and saying i'm going to the united states, but the agreement to allow those claims to be processed while the applicants remain in mexico represents a change in policy and will provide some level of deterrence perhaps to the efforts many -- come from central america and the into the united states. did you have an opinion on that chief progressivee can you provide color on that? >> carla: our relationship with
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mexico has been an outstanding relationship, and considering all we are dealing with on our shared border it is critical going forward we continue down that path with the relationship we have our partners in mexico have been doing as much as they can with the limited resources that they have as well, and have been great partners. >> given our history with mexico they're skeptical of the united states as you can imagine. we've taken a substantial piece of mexico and made it texas, and other parts of the southwest, and i agree with characterization, you and mr. chester have made this has to be a shared responsibility because i think trying to do this to our friends in mexico or for them will not be well received and so i'm actually encouraged by seeing this very modest step in terms of the asilese, and claims for asylum coming from central america, and i'm hoping with the new
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administration we can develop those relationships and develop programs we can work on together and would certainly welcome any input, insights advice you might give us in doing that. >> dick: how important is the export of firearms and drug moon from the united states to the mexican cartels to their existence? >> carla: the money that is going back into mexico and into the hands of the cartels, is a great concern for us as well as the weapons we do run operations along the border. routinely we do bilateral operations with our partners along the mexicanen border as well as outbound operations to do our best with the resources we have to address the issue.
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>> dick: how frequently are vehicles traveling southbound checked for illegally exported weapons. >> carla: i would have to defer to my partners of field operations and refer to them. >> dick: is it a priority? >> carla: it is a priority sir. >> dick: if you wings v wins the seizure of weapons if headed down to the border of mexico. >> carla: my assistants have seized weapons and money going south. >> dick: you might have heard my earlier testimony, are you flaw with the testimony of z-x- z-x-portals. >> carla: it is a non-intrusive technology that supports our ability to inspect vehicles and cogger o that are coming through the ports of entry and
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checkpoints. >> dick: it's a x-ray or scanning devices non-intrusive. >> carla: that has helped with seizures, the technology is one capability that we -- or one resource that we utilize in our tool kit to support our effects as we do our best to address the issue of all of the narcotics coming across the border. >> dick: are you troubled with the fact that fewer than one in five vehicles are subject to that time type of scanning as they head north. >> carla: i can't speak to the number that come to our entry, i would have to take that back to the officers in field operations, i know they continue to expand the amount of technology that they are deploying at the ports of entry and continue to request that technology. >> dick: you refer to your field people if they can tell us their
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numbers we have 18% of vehicles searched by this nonintrusive scanning device, and a request from at least -- last year if that was his highest priority, that's why we included it in our bill. my guess is the vehicles headed southbound, even fewer being scanned for weapons, heading down to the united states from the mexican cartels, i'd like you to produce on z-portals being used for those exporting weapons and contraband from the united states to the cartels. and mr. cuknierim, you had testimony here that you said in your testimony, seizures of smuggled bulk cash decreases from $437 million in 2016, to 193 million in 2017. that means the smuggled bulk
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cash which we assume is somehow associated with drug trafficking decreased by 56%. you also say that the gross amount of bulk cash seized as steadily decreased since 2010. to what do you attribute this decrease and is it possible that it's a sign that the cartels have found more sophisticated way to launder their money. >> kemp: one thing i would like to highlight are the significant efforts that are being taken to investigate money laundering and the transfer of illicit proceeds. there are many different tactics and techniques the cartels use and we likewise are available to utilize several investigative tools. i think there are obviously a lot of efforts being made to continue to identify the bulk currency that is being moved south. we also recognize that there are
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additional technologies and virtual currencies that are being implemented by some of the trafficking organizes in particular as it's going forward. >> the point i want to get to is the one i opened up with. what i described scanning the vehicles as they're coming into the united states, 18% are being scanned. scanning the vehicles that are heading south from the united states with weapons, contraband, money, having the means to deal with the technology by which they are now transferring this laundered drug money back into the cartels to make the next round of narcotics and to strengthen themselves has nothing to do with a wall. nothing to do with a wall. sign me up for more money to address the things i've just described to you. don't sign me up for a $5 billion weul that was supposed to be paid for by mexico. and if i could ask one more question. >> i was wondering if i could address the last question as far
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as techniques. while tco's continue to use utilizing funnel accounts, corroborate banking and other financial prod and money laundering they're also using storage value -- and there's been a significant increase in money laundering using cryptocurrency investigations. we've doubled our seizures since last year. we have seen chinese tco's containing narcotics contracts from mexican tco, and pulling traditional methods such as money pick ups and structuring through casinos banks and wires. we're also seeing, which is of concern to us and we're investigate chinese counterfeited foreign documents that are being shipped in bucto mexico, and they're provided to tco's to create financial accounts or to register businesses, which makes it more difficult to see true defltion
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ownership. >> what you're telling me is the sophistication goes beyond bulk cash, and they're smart enough to know it isn't working we'll. we have to be smart about the right people and right technologies. when i went to that postal facility that cbp facility at o'hare airport, those are good people. doing the best they can. you wouldn't believe all the junk that comes through the mail into the united states, and a lot of it is trash and junk, and some of it has to be carefully inspected because it contains fentanyl, and narcotics and the rest. we need a system, and we need more people. it's putting in technology in personnel to effectively deal with the threats of the united states. and i think fentanyl is one of the most dangerous threats, thanks mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> let me start on the last point that my friend and
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colleague senator durbin made. are there places along the border where a physical barrier makes sense as part of a system. >> yes senator there certainly are. >> and as i recall 2006 congress passed the secure fence act which authorized 700 miles of fencing and passed on a broad bipartisan basis. has most of that been constructed so far. >> yes sir, most of it has been. >> so in some places physical barrier does make sense, just to make that point. >> yes it does and if i may -- in relation to technology, women and the resources that support our effects when the comes to having enough people to make the apprehension or make the
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seizure. i would like in it to the ring doorbell the doorbell is great technology that ring doorbell and the ability to be able to see somebody that comes up to steal a package off your porch but does not prevent them from stealing the package off your porch. you need the impedance and denial that is what a barrier brings, and you need to law enforcement personnel as you stated to make the arrest or to make the seizure. >> thank you for that. >> so i just want people to understand, i think every one of us there's have some sympathy and certainly empathize with people who are experiences violence, or lack of economic opportunity, jobs, in their home countries. and who want a better life. that's just the human condition. but, are the same people, the
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same narco-traffickers, the same human traffickers, the same people who facilitate the transit of migrants from central america through mexico into the united states, are they the same ones that are importing heroine and methamphetamine in the united states? >> the cartelseen the applauses and run the areas along the entire border. they run the plazas. they may not be the ones who are moving them through however the alien smuggling organizes have to pay a fee to move people through those areas. so they work hand in hand. you mentioned before, senator, the very dynamic situation in which it comes to the people. i've said it before, and i'll say it again. our men and women do not check their humanity at the door. they have a tough job to do, and a tough mission dealing with
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humanitarian and law enforcement mission and i'm proud of what they do. >> well we thank you for saying that. i think you speak for all of us. but inpoint i want to make is that the same transnational criminal organizes that traffic in drugs, and traffic in women and children for sex slavery, are the same ones that move the migrants across the border from central america, correct? >> they certainly have involvement in the movement of the migrants. >> and it's all about the money, right? it's their business model. >> it is and as i stays in my opening statement unfortunately they do not treat the migrants, the people any different than they do the drugs or the money. >> and to senator durbin's point the same sort of technology that the commissioner talked about yesterday that you're discussing that can identify the movement of people, drugs, and other contraband coming north, if
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there were sufficient numbers of them and we have the infrastructure in place that would allow it that could also scan vehicles heading south containing bulk cash and weapons. , is that correct? >> yes there is the potential to use that as well. >> but i understand it it's been the priority on traffic coming north. because we're talking about the drugs again, and the other contraband and illegal immigration. and so there hasn't been deployed the sort of resources in terms of manpower or technology for traffic heading south. >> my colleagues specifically at the ports of entry my colleagues as you both know have a difficult mission in they have a dwarfs mission and a mission to facility lawful travel and trade. and they focus their resources of course on inbound however they do deploy as much as they
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can to outbound operations as well. >> but they have to have priorities given limited resources. >> yes senator. >> and you've answered this at another hearing but i want to reiterate this. the caravans of migrants that are showing up at the bridge, and tijuana, and which are showing up every day in what i would call a mini-caravan, roughly 400,000 people detained at the southwestern border in fiscal year 2017, tens of thousands of unaccompany andy children and family units do the cartel use them as a diversion to tie up border patrol and other law enforcement authorities and then use that gap to exploit the importation of illegal drugs in the united states. >> yes, senator, that is a tactic they have used over the years, and certainly with the influx we are having in regard to this humanitarian issue they
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most certainly use that as a diversion for us as my men and women are spending a large majority of their time dealing with the humanitarian effort, it takes them away from their border security mission, and the cartels, and tco's know that and use it to their advantage. >> this is my final question, mr. durbin is discussing how creative and you were discussing how creative they have gaunt when it comes to money laundering, it's not just bulk cash coming across the southwestern border. is it possible for the cartels and other criminal organizes simply to wire money back to the mexico -- and central america because without identifying who is sending it, in other words are there other tools or authorities that our law enforcement agencies need to stop that and is that a problem.
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the reason i ask is because i know tens of boins of dollars of remittances are sent each year from the united states back to the home countries of people who have come to the united states and i just want to ask you whether that's a vunlt in terms of creative money a laundering or wiring money back to the home country. >> i think one of the -- biggest vunlts as far as money laundering is correspondent banking and some of the rules and regulations we have as far as depositing money, the name of a bank account, and/or bank in the name of a business. what's happening in many high profile cases we're working. working on commercial fraud and making that a priority. as much money is laundered through little bit trade, and they're involved in cryptocurrency as we talked about, and some of the lack of transparency and beneficial
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ownership as far as corporations makes it difficult for us to assert what true ownership there is in a business and be able to sees assets. i think capacity building, overseas with our partners, building their capacity for financial investigative efforts, and their ability to engage in asset forfeitureture, would be -- would give us the biggest bang for our buck. >> thank you very much. thank you all for being here, and helping us understand this problem, and providing some good answers, and food for thought. for further action. there is another vote on so we'll excuse the first panel, and go vote and come back, and take up the second panel, thank you, we'll be in adjournment m..
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> my appallgies for the back and forth. welcome to the united states senate where the best laid plans sometimes go awry because of the voting schedule. it's my flesher to now introduce the witnesses for the second panel, the first


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