tv Senate Judiciary Hearing on Drug Cartels Border Security CSPAN December 12, 2018 2:30pm-5:19pm EST
workplace? >> i mean that has quite changed. ally, men in the workplace, you know, we used to be able to hug, just how are you, good morning, and now, it is a very peculiar place in the workplace, it is very good, it is very necessary, but it is so interesting that you have to say, you know, can i give you a hug, you know, you have to ask now, instead of just presume, which i guess is very important. it is. you know, i think, i think the me too movement and the time's up movement has put a lot of men in their corners and made them hide and it has also made a lot of men step up. and i think it is in its infancy and it is here to stay. >> we are going to leave this recorded women's leadership summit but you can find it on our web site, c-span.com. we take you live now to a senate judiciary subcommittee hearing
good afternoon. and welcome. today's hearing is entitled narco's, transnational cartels and border security. today's hearing will provide an opportunity for us to look beyond our borders and examine the larger problems contributing to the crisis along our borders. if you've watched the news recently, you can see how serious the crisis has become.
back in the time when we had thousands of unaccompanied minors in the rio grand valley sector, president obama called that a humanitarian crisis. i think that would also describe what is happening today in and around tijuana and the san ysidro bridge. there are thousands of central america migrants waiting at the southern border waiting to enter the united states. this is not a new phenomena. regardless of which parties control, republican or democrat, we've dealt with sudden influxes of migrants for decades. in the 1980s, it was the mural cuban boat lifts number the 1990st, the cuban and haitian influx, and just a few years ago, as i mentioned 2014, we saw a surge of unaccompanied minors from central america. so improving our border security doesn't mean just improving physical security along our border. it also means addressing the
problems that bring them here in the first place. the mass movement of these migrants is only a symptom of a greater problem, one that i hope we will discuss in detail here today. one of the greatest threats to our national security is the trafficking of persons, drugs, and a range of illicit goods into the united states. there is no single point of origin for those crimes, and we see this flow stemming from around the world. from east asia, africa, europe, and south america. trafficking of course is big business, and unfortunately, for us they have proven to be pretty good at it. the proceeds from illicit drug sales are worth approximately $64 billion annually. that's billions. not millions. that money isn't fueling the u.s. economy. it's lining the pockets of criminals, the cartels, the narkos, if you will, and
continuing to perpetrate the cycle. in short, i think they're winning in this effort, notwithstanding our efforts, notwithstanding heroic efforts of law enforcement and other government officials, because frankly, congress hasn't awakened to the real crisis and come up with a solution to deal with it at multiple levels. drug cartels transnational criminal organizations and international gangs will stop at nothing to ensure that their business model remains intact and profitable. and that the international corridors for trafficking remain wide open. they are shrewd. they are adaptive. and they evolve. they use every tactic in the book to further their criminal enterprises, whether it is murdering government officials, regular folks, threatening people, intimidating people, raping, torture, slavery, fraud, pedaling fake documents, money laundering, the list goes on and on and on. not only are we dealing with ruthless criminal enterprises,
we're battling enemies that are ever einvolving, as i said, and constantly on the move. they are what i heard referred to as commodity agnostic. they really don't care, as long as they make money. and they don't care who they kill, who they hurt, or what the consequences of their criminal enterprise are. they spread terror. they prey on the weak. and they have taken control over large parts of mexico and several central american countries. we frequently see these criminal organizations preying on migrants headed toward this country's southern border. they will offer to smuggle migrants or their children, safely across the border, in exchange for money. but as today's witnesses can attest, this safe journey is anything but. too often, these migrants are abandoned, or crammed into the back of an 18-wheeler, with a dozen other victims, i've seen it time and time again, that these groups have absolutely no
respect for human life. it is not just the people who die at their hands, while attempting to enter the united states illegally. it is the poison that they import into the country. america's opioid crisis is being further fueled by the illicit narcotics being smuggled by these organizations. fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is one of the deadliest drugs in the world. and its analoging are mainly manufactured in china and then smuggled into the united states by these organizations. the growing influence of cartels, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations has led to global and regional insecurity. and there's a need for increased security cooperation to be sure with our neighbors in mexico and certainly central america. just to name a couple. the united states needs to work with our international partners to develop a comprehensive plan to address these problems. this war on drug, trafficking,
and smuggling is one that affects all of us. and its sometime we pick up our pace in dealing with it, in a focused and hopefully successful way. again, this problem does not begin or end at our borders. this is a global problem. but for our purposes, focused primarily on our country's to the south, but certainly the avenues available into the united states can be exploited by anybody who's got the money or the will to try to come into the united states illegally. so by partnering with governments in asia, africa, europe, and central america, we can begin to fight these cartels, and take the money and the profits out of their sordid business. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses about the scope of the problems. i think one of the biggest challenges we have is a lack of public awareness. this is not looking through a soda straw at what is happening at the san ysidro bridge at
tijuana. this is a much bigger problem, much more complex and one that we need to open that aperture and you will help us here today in trying to understand before we can begin to come up with solutions. before turning to senator durbin for his opening remarks i would ask unanimous consent to senator grassley's opening statement for this hearing be included in the record which it will be without objection. senator durbin? >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me say to you and to the witnesses and the audience, my apologies for coming in a few minutes late. i was on the floor for the farewell address of my, our colleague senator nelson. and i'm sorry that i was not here at the moment i should have been. mr. chairman, thank you for this hearing. it was almost ten years ago that i held my first hearing as the chairman of the crime and drug subcommittee in this room. the subject of the hearing, the threat to the united states posed by the mexican drug cartels. ten years ago, we had that hearing. at this hearing, in march of
2009, i quoted a justice department report that concluded, mexican drug cartels are, quote, the greatest organized crime threat to the united states. so here we are ten years later. how are we doing? last month, the d.e.a.'s 2018 national drug threat assessment concluded that, mexican drug cartels remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the united states. i close my 2009 hearing, by saying we must take action to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the united states, and stem the flow of illegal guns and money to mexico. democrats and republicans must work together, to find bipartisan common sense solutions to this challenge. now, today, ten years later, we are in the midst of a drug epidemic like we've never seen before. in 2017, drug overdoses in the united states killed a record
70,237 people. the deadliest drug we face is fentanyl. last year, 28,466 overdose deaths involving fentanyl, an increase of more than 45% over the previous year. much of this fentanyl comes from china, through the mails. but fentanyl is also being shipped from china to mexico, before being trafficked across the u.s. border. the d.e.a. has found that the cartels transport the bulk of their illicit goods over the southwest border through legal ports of entry, using passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers. yesterday, we had a hearing in the same room, the customs and border protection commissioner mr. mcleanen, told me directly, in october of 2017, that his top priority was to secure the border with more drive-through inspection systems which he characterized as z portals. when i asked him what he needed
to keep narcotics out of the united states and make it safer, he said technology and personnel. he did not say a wall. according to the accident of homeland security, these drive-through inspection systems, which mr. mcleanen has referred to, examine 98% of all the rail cars passing into the united states. but only 18% of cargo passenger vehicles and sea containers combined. 98% of the railroad. 18% of the others. yet the 2019 president's budget request included only $44 million for these systems. i asked mr. mcleany yesterday, what would it take, what do you need to put these portal systems in, that basically scan these vehicles as they come through, to try to detect contraband, drugs, people being smuggled, drug trafficking, human trafficking, what do you need? he said $300 million.
that's a fraction of $5 billion that this president is demanding for the wall. and the administration sadly in its budget request did not ask for any funding for additional customers officers, even though we clearly need more officers to detect drugs at the ports of entry and in international mail. it was about six months ago that i got off a plane at o'hare, instead of heading into chicago, stayed out there at a postal facility, and took a look at how we monitor the mail coming into the united states, to try and detect drugs that are being sent by mail. and it happens every day. it is a good system. but it is not nearly what it should be. and the people there will tell you that. they work at. it and they catch some of them. but a lot of them are not caught. instead, what the president is telling us now, is we have to shut down our government. if he doesn't get $5 billion for a wasteful ineffective border wall. we need modern drug technology
to stop the drug cartels from importing the poison that is killing our kids. not a medieval solution like a wall from sea to shining sea. this is a circle, too. there aren't just exporting drugs into the united states. we are exporting drugs and laundered drug money into mexico. what have we done to start the iron river of guns from the united states that arms mexican cartels to the teeth? in 2016, the jao found that 70% of crime guns seized in mexico traced through atf's crime gun tracing program, came from the united states. according to the jao, and i quote, most were purchased legally at gun shows, and gun shows in the united states, and then trafficked illegally to mexico. the federal agencies with jurisdiction over the southern flow of guns, or atf, which enforces federal gun laws and i.c.e., which enforces export
law, and investigates traffickers and cartels, are they doing enough? atf and i.c.e. have an agreement that governs their coordination on firearms trafficking from the united states to mexico. but in 2016, the jao found that there were short falls in information sharing and collaboration between atf and i.c.e., and that improvement was needed. i'm going to be sending a letter to the general accounting office asking them to undate their 2016 report, and to expand it to look at firearms trafficking to central american country. i invite my colleagues to join me. customs and border protection also play a key role here. the jao found, and i quote, custom and border protections outbound mission is to facilitate the movement of legitimate cargo while inter dicting the illegal export of weapons and other cont bant, t band out of the united states -- contraband out of the united states. however in 2017, a cbd
spokesperson says outbound inspections are only conducted quote when resources permit. why on earth doesn't this administration request more resources for outbound inspections to stop the export of deadly firearms from the united states to these mexican cartels? one thing congress should do is finally prohibit straw purchasing and gun trafficking under federal law. right now, u.s. attorneys office, have to prosecute those crimes as paperwork violations which means most of them won't spend any time doing it at all. i have joined with senator leahy and senator collins on a bill that would create real offenses with real teeth for this effort. during my hearing ten years ago, we heard testimony about the smuggling of bulk cash and laundered money from the united states back to cartels. it is the circle. they export narcotics in the united states. we export drugs, pardon me, we export guns and laundered money back into these cartels. we wonder why they're so
powerful. according to the latest dea drug threat assessment, the amount of bulk cash seized has been steadily decreasing over the last eight years. d.e.a.that, quote, large amounts of cash continue to be interdicted along major highway corridors with the cash typically concealed and hidden vehicle compartments are 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 that congress can do. in 2013 when democrats controlled the senate we passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. do you know how much was included in that bill for border security funding? $40 billion and over 60 senators voted for it. no lack of will when it comes to border security. sadly, the republican leaders in
the house refuse to even consider the bill. earlier this year we tried it again after we got the report for mr. bacalenan and others and i worked on a bipartisan agreement to work on the provisions he asked for including the funding for the z portal skaping devices and port of entry infrastructure and personnel and the exit screening. on february 15th, a bipartisan majority of the senate supported our agreement with this border security included, but it failed to reach the 60 votes it needed because the president opposed it. on the same day a bipartisan super majority of the senate rejected the president's alternative bill. we've got to be honest about the challenges we face and i'll work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reform our broken immigration system and improve security. reducing cartel violence anding
someling will not be accomplished by a border wall and punishing innocent victims of cartel violence who are desperately seeking safety in the united states. we have to work to address the drug epidemic in our nation, stop the weapons and cash that flow south to cartels and collaborate more effectively with regional nations to strengthen their economies and to decrease cartel violence. thank you, mr. chairman. >> well, i was glad to hear that ten years ago it was convened on this same problem, but being an optimist, based on what you were saying i see some common ground for investing in scanning devices and customs officers dealing with the straw purchasers and the bulk cash transfers across the border. i see some components of a -- of some legislation that we can work on together like we've worked on criminal justice reform which i hope is successful, but at the same time i noted that during the gang of
eight immigration bill they're appropriated for border security and in the daca proposal that got 44 votes and i think it's 25 billion, i'm still confused about the fight over 5 billion, but i agree with you. it shouldn't be just about physical barriers. it should be about technology. it should be about personnel and more of a system is the way i tend to think about it. maybe the chief will enlighten us further. i'm sure she will. so it's my pleasure to introduce our witnesses for the first panel. mr. ken chester is currently the assistant director of the opioids coordination group and the office of national drug control policy. before coming to ondcp, mr. chester was a senior director for national security and intelligence at a private sector consulting firm in washington, d.c. and chief of the office of the counter narcotics worldwide.
janice ayala is currently director for the joint task force investigations for u.s. immigrations and customs enforcement, excuse me. prior to her current position ms. ayala worked as deputy director of joint task force west. she's served for special agent in charge for i.c.e. in my hometown, san anton why, texas and headquarters as domestic operation. as assistant director for domestic operations ms. ayala oversaw the investigative efforts of more than 7,000 hsi special agents assigned to 26 sac offices throughout the united states including investigative matters related to national security, money laundering and both, drug cash smuggling and human smuggling and trafficking. the third witness is familiar to the committee. she's been here before. miss carla provost, chief of the
u.s. border patrol at the u.s. customs and border protection. before her current position chief provost served as field operation supervisor in the tucson sector, chief patrol agent for the el centro center and assisted for the yuma sector. mr. caneram is deputy chief of operations for the office of global at the enforcement at the drug enforcement agency. before his current position deputy chief knierim served in the denver field position and was also assigned to the quito. >> quito, ecuador, country office. he served as country attache in the costa rican country office and is assistant regional director for the north ask
central american region based in mexico city. thank you all for being here today. i would like each of you to provide us with your opening statement. we know we have a written document from each of you so don't feel necessary to read from that or repeat that. that will be made part of the record. so mr. chester, we'll turn to you for your. >> thank you, sir. >> think rairanking member --? one matter of business. i need to swear you in, please. do you swaur or affirm that the testimony given before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing, but the truth so help you god? thank you. >> excuse me, mr. chester, please start again. >> yes, sir. chairman corn inayn and durbin, members of the subcommittee thank 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 u.s.-mexico cooperation to address drug policy issues in both countries. on february 9, 2017, president trump signed an executive order stating the transnational criminal organizations including drug cartels represent a threat to the safety of the united states and its citizens. mexican cartels, primarily derive their economic power from the production, movement and sale of illegal drugs. drugs provide the means for mexican cartels to employ military-grade weapons system, attempt to corrupt justice and security officials and expand their territorial control in mexico and in u.s. markets making them the greatest criminal threat to the united states. in 2017, mexican cartels cultivated 44,100 hectares of opium poppy and produced 111 metric tons of pure heroin in mexico, smuggling the majority to the united states. increasingly, mexican cartels are placing fentanyl and
fentanyl analogs clandestinely produced in china into fake prescription pills and smuggling them across the southwest border. mexican cartels also produced the majority of the methamphetamine consumed in the united states and they facilitate colombian cartel trafficking of cocaine which is also increasingly affecting our communities. the two previous mexican presidential administrations attempted to confront the internal security threat presented by mexican cartels in their own ways. however, despite mexico's best, forts, these cartels have exploited vulnerabilities governmental institutions at all levels allowing their economic expansion even beyond drug trafficking. the profit earning potential of mexican cartels exceeds the 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 mexican cartels are having on both countries and
currently view addressing this burden as a shared responsibility. ondcp engages directly with the government of mexico and as a participant in high-level bilateral meetings including the security cooperation group and the high-level dialogue on disruption transnational criminal organizations. moreover, the trilateral north american drug dialogue shared by ondcp and the department of state brings together the government of the united states, mexico and canada to expand counter drug cooperation in north america and allows all three countries to cooperate closely on the tcl threat throughout the continent. in an effort to improve coordination between the united states and mexico ondcp's worked with its counterparts with the government of mexico and is focused on three primary goals. first, to complete what's called the monitoring system of illicit crops in the mexico program with the office of drug asks crime to to develop the understanding of
opium yield in the crop of mexico. this will be the first study completed in more than 15 years. second, to complete a program funded by the state department bureau of international, nah on theics and laucw enforcement affairs that provides a legitimate validation of mexico's poppy eradication process and third, to use these programs to establish an agreed upon, united states-mexico poppy eradication program, a shared eradication goal and a joint strategy for intelligence-driven eradication in mexico. on december 1st, president andres lopez obrador was inaugurated as mexico's president vowing to fight corruption and developing a new vision for internal security. a few weeks prior to his administration, president obrador presented his peace and security plan to address the security concerns in mexico and one of the plan's eight pillars is to develop a narcotics strategy. although specific details of this narcotics strategy were not
presented and we'll expect to deliver concrete and deliberate measures to address a cartel problem that affects both our countries and we stand ready to continue our close and productive relationship with the new administration in this endeavor. in closing, the dynamic nature of the illicit marketplace controlled by mexican cartels demands that the united states continue to engage with mexico to prevent the ongoing proliferation to illicit drugs and transit through mexico. we cannot allow mexican cartels to continue to contribute to the dangerous and often 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 to introduce the state of illicit drugs in the united states and to increase the profound effects they're having in our community. the american people should expect nothing less from us. thank you for the opportunity to testify today and i'll be happy to answer your questions.
>> thank you, mr. chester. ms. ayala? >> chairman cornyn, ranking member durbin. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today, we govern 400 federal laws to promote homeland security. my security investigations enforcement removal operations and the office of principal legal adviser employ more than 20,000 employees in over 200 offices across the u.s. and in 50 countries. today i will provide a perspective on the challenges we face and the sophisticated smuggling threats in the southwest border and some of what we do to address dcos well before contraband arrives in our borders or enters into the united states. i am an hsi assistant director serving for the investigations for the department of homeland security. in 2014, former secretary jeh johnson directed a
departmentwide com prehensive departments and jtf-east and jtf-west. it is focussed on the the southern land and maritime boards and a proechs. jtfi is responsible for enhancing and integrating prioritized criminal investigations. to accomplish this, jtfi managed a nomination selection process for homeland criminal organization targets which are the top ten criminal networks impacting homeland security and then coordinates dozens of investigations and operations through the national case management. i.c.e. is the executive agent of jtfi which consists of 70 interagency investigators and analysts. as well as investigative component within dhs, they conduct international law enforcement operations and investigations to combat tcos and prevent terrorist activities. they threaten our southwest board or mexican drug cartels and over the last decade the
united states working with mexican counterparts have had sustained success in attacking cartel leadership. they're highly networked and built in redundancies and based on intelligence of u.s. border security and law enforcement activities. cartels will have a list of proceeds that conduct transactions globally. they transfer under proceeds by trade-based money laundering and funnel accounts and professional launderers and cryptocurrency and the misuse of money service businesses and emerging payment systems. cartels exploit vulnerabilities in u.s. and mexican financial systems and conduct layered financial transactions to circumvent regulatory scrutiny. the u.s. government to target money laundering and financial violations through interagency investigations, capacity building and financial sanctions and direct engagement with at-risk financial institutions with jurisdictions. >> cartels have an extortion for violent acts.
in 2005, hsi established operational shield to combat the growth of transnational prison and outlaw motorcycle gangs. in 2012 hsi worked with the office of control to designate ms-13 as a tco. it's the first criminal street gang so designated. we've assigned 1500 special agents and almost 150 intelligence resource specialists to southwest border offices and since 2005 to border enforcement security task forces to include two border tunnel task forces to provide a comprehensive regional response to border security and national security. hsi led are comprised of more than federal, state, local tribal and international agencies. due to their success the border enforcement security task force was signed into law in 2012. mexico has proven to be an outstanding partner in the fight against tcos so attache is
throughout south and central america with the criminal investigative yien investigative units to investigate and enforce violations of law and their respective countries. these efforts are thousands of miles from the u.s.-mexico border in countrieses like colombia and panama. during fy-2018 hsi investigations tloed 3investig n investigations lead to 344,000, we made over 1100 seizures of violations of export law asks seized over $1.2 currency in monetary instruments. we also identified and assisted over 300 trafficking victims. thank you for your committed support to dhs, i.c.e. and our missions and your interest in these important issues and i would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have. >> chief provost?
>> thank you. chairman cornyn and ranking member durbin. it is my honor to appear before you today. december 17th marks when terry was killed during a gun fight in southern arizona. they look for opportunities to rob illegal aliens and other drug smugglers. agent terry was a military veteran, a former police officer and had served with the border patrol for over three and a half years. his murder was a great loss for our agency and illustrates the dangers presented by cartels and their associates. cartels and other transnational criminal organizations or tcos are a threat to our national security and to public safety. tcos maintain a diverse portfolio of criminal activity including fraud, human trafficking, kidnapping and
extortion. they're heavily involved in all kinds of smuggle, moving people, weapon, cash and drugs through sophisticated criminal networks. in fiscal year 2018 the border patrol seized more than $7 million in currency, more than 7,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin, and more than 450,000 pounds of marijuana. methamphetamine seizures increased -- have increased 75% since fiscal year '15, and when we -- and we have seen a 115% increase in fentanyl seizures between the ports just this last year. tcos also maintain influence over u.s.-based gangs as a way to expand their domestic distribution process. this means tcos not only present a threat at our borders through criminal networks and alliance e they present a threat to the interior to our country, as well. although not all gang members are affiliated with cartel, last year the border patrol apprehended more than 800 gang members and that's a 50%
increase over the previous year. this is in addition to the nearly 6700 aliens we apprehended last year who have criminal histories including theft, drug and weapon trafficking and violent crimes. tcos conduct their operations without regard for human life, money and power are their only motivation. these networks are commodity agnostic. they move people with no more care than guns or bundles of drugs. desperate aliens who enter these networks are at risk of being beaten, assaulted, raped or even killed on the journey to our border. tcos are both motivated and they are ruthless. they may operate as businesses, but they do not play by the rules of law and they are not bound by the bureaucratic impediments we sometimes face in government. they will stop at nothing to gain power and profit. they are agile and adaptable, willing to spend countless
resources to maintain and expand control of their criminal enterprises. to address the tco 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 colleagues represented on this panel today to interdict illegal alien, drugs, cash and weapons at the border. this is a key component of u.s. border security and by extension, our national security. thanks to the support of congress in the past decade, the department of homeland security has deployed more personnel, technology and tactical infrastructure than at any other time in our history. as tcos continue to exploit the border environment for their own financial gains, we must continue investing in all of these tools in the highest priority areas along the border. today, we have already begun upgrading old vehicle barriers to better impede illegal
cross-border activities like drug running. we have also prioritized high-traffic locations that lack border infrastructure for deployment of new barriers, the latest technology and the additional personnel. we stand ready to execute and look forward to working with congress on these priorities. my men and women on the front line are facing this threat every day. it is my honor to represent them and their efforts to make our country safer by bravely combatting cartels and other tco threats. when border patrol agents report to work they have no way of knowing what they may encounter. a family lost in the desert or a cartel rip crew armed with fully automatic weapons. the job is unpredictable and it is demanding and whether they are stopping criminals and narcotics or saving lives, the men and women of the border patrol are well trained and effective guardians of america's front lines. i thank you for your time, and i look forward to your questions.
>> thank you, chief. >> there is a vote on in the senate and so senator durbin's gone to go vote and i'm going to go vote and turn the gavel over to senator cruz who will preside and we'll be back shortly. mr. canerro? >> good afternoon, chairman cornyn. senator cruz. it is an honor to be here today to discuss mexican cartels and the extent of their efforts to manufacture, transport and illicit narcotics in the united states and our effort to combat this threat. i've had the pleasure of being a dea agent since 1991, when i reflect on the 27 years of experience the sophistication and the capacity of the mexican cartels worries me now more than ever. dangerous and highly sophisticated mexican transnational criminal organizations or cartels operating in both mexico and the united states have been and will continue to be the most significant source of illicit narcotics trafficked inside the
united states whether it's heroin and synthetic opioids and methamphetamine or cocaine, the mexican cartels are the primary source of illicit drugs on our streets. perhaps the most disturbing aspect of mexican cartels has been a confluence of three things, the synthetic drug threat and the epidemic of opioid abuse and the cartel's attempts to expand their profits by intentionally mixing fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances with heroin, counterfeit prescription drugs and other illicit drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine. this is done for one simple reason. greed. this is fueled by fentanyl which is cheap to make, hard to detect and dangerously potent. chinese or mexican nationals are increasingly operating in concert resulting in an alignment responsible for the proliferation of heroin, fentanyl and related synthetics coming across the southwest border. coupled with the fact that a
kilogram of fentanyl can be purchased for $5,000 from china and potential profits from the sale can exceed $1.5 million. the cartels are deliberately seizing on the thousands of individuals to generate profit. aside from the proliferation of heroin and synthetic opioids produced by mexican cartels, these same organizations continue to transport methamphetamine and cocaine across the southwest border at an alarming rate. we cannot allow to lose focus on cocane and methamphetamine. the cartels are responsin for transporting record amounts of methamphetamine entering the united states. recent increases in coca cultivation and production likely fore shadows an increase of importation abuse and overdose deaths in the united states from these substances, as well. dea anticipates that mexican cartels such as the sinaloa
cartel, and the juarez cartel, the los angels cartel and the belt ran-leo organization will continue to be the primary networks operating in one country to plan and execute their criminal enterprise. these mexican cartels do not observe boundaries or laws in mexico, the united states or any other country. as you know, in 2016, mexico extradited el chapo guzman to the united states and just recently his trial ensued in the district of new york. we've already heard one of el chapo's top lieutenants testify to the sinaloa cartel's lucrative and cruel and ruthless operation. the detail of his testimony further highlight the ability of the cartels to influence legitimate professionals such as accountants, attorney, notaries, bankers and real estate brokers who cross both illicit and elicit worlds and provide services to legitimate customers and criminals across the globe. this is why we partner with my colleagues at the table before
you today as well as with our state, local, tribal and international law enforcement partners especially mexico. let me also briefly mention my gratitude as well as all of that of the dea to the mexican law enforcement and military ask security counterparts with whom we are partnered and many times have made the ultimate sacrifice. our shared goal of protecting citizens from harm and keeping the destructive substances out of our societies is what unites us together in partnership. this leads me what dea is doing to counter the threat. we recognize this will take persistent efforts across a broad spectrum to include global partnerships. for decades we've maintained a worldwide presence to address the source of drugs and in this case we have a robust presence and critical partnership in mexico. in mexico, the dea continues to synchronize and expand capabilities to combat the growing epidemic. we have developed a bilateral strategy for coordinated investigations and training and
increased sharing of forensic information and the control of precursor chemicals. we participate in the north american drug dialogue along with federal government officials with mexico, canada and the united states that focuses on building the strategy to attack the production, trafficking and misuse of elicit narcotics in north america, defeating mexican cartels and the opioid epidemic will require a community effort at every level. state, local, federal and with our dedicated international partners such as mexico. dea will continue to aggressively pursue criminal trafficking and illicit drugs targeting the world's most prolific and dangerous drug traffickers is a dynamic and evolving mission and with it comes challenges. throughout our history, dea has aggressively produced the challenges and continued with results and we look forward to continue with you to identify the resources and authorities noes complete our mission. thank you for the opportunity to testify before your committee on this important issue and i look
forward to your questions. >> thank you, sir. let me say thank you to each of the witnesses. thank you for your service. each of you work on an incredible difficult and important job and we are grateful for the hard work you put in. mr. chester, let's talk about fentanyl for a minute. fentanyl is killing americans each and every day. can you tell this committee where it comes from and how it makes its way into the united states? >> yes, senator. and your absolutely correct. when we have seen really over the last two-plus years in the united states is the rise and the prevalence and the lethality in u.s. communities to the point that it has outpaced heroin and all other drugs in terms of mortality in the u.s. the fentanyl scene in the united states primarily is manufactured in china, and it is not only the
base fentanyl molecule itself, but there are, we have cbp has encountered up to 33 different analogs of the fentanyl molecule also produced in china and shipped into the united states. there are two primary routes. the first one is individuals who get on the internet, usually on the dark web cruising cryptocurrency and purchased it for themselves and for their own use or for distribution to a small number of known users and that generally comes into the country through the u.s. mail system or through express consignment carriers or commercial carriers. >> what quantity are we typically talking about? >> very, very small quantities, senator. you're talking about 600, 700, 800 grams and because of that and because of its potency it's purchased in a very low dollar amount. not only is it in a small package that's hard to detect it's in a dollar figure that doesn't raise a lot of suspicion and that's the primary vector,
and the second is through mexico where finished fentanyl is purchased in china sent to mexico and then either shipped as part of a poly drug load across the southwest board, mixed in and milled with heroin or inert matter like lactose south of the border and then brought up and sold as synthetic heroin or the third way what we are increasingly seeing is it's crushed into pills and served as fake prescription opioids and brought in large numbers of pills across the southwest border. so there are several different vectors for it to get into the united states. >> we can very clearly see the public health effects in the united states and fentanyl and its analogs will continue to be a substantial problem in our drug environment in america. >> how many deaths are we looking at on an annual basis from fentanyl? >> so the most recent data that we have for in 2017 was 28,400
deaths or about nine per day and that is what's termed by the centers for disease control and prevention as synthetic opioids other than methadone which is a category that's dominated by fentanyl and its analogs and that is a 47% increase from the previous year. >> and what's the role of the mexican drug cartels in bringing fentanyl into this country? >> principally their role is to purchase it from mexico -- or, i'm sorry, from china and to process it there in mexico and bring it into the united states through their own cartel distribution change and obviously through a face-to-face sale in the united states. one of the things that makes fentanyl so attractive for drug cartels is the low up-front price and obviously, the high profits on the far end and that's whether it is mixed into heroin and purchased by an intravenous drug user, by a
known drug user or whether it is sold as a fake pill, sometimes to an unwitting individual who believes they're getting oxycontin or percocet and they're getting fentanyl in a pill form. >> do we have an assessment of how much money the cartels are making from the drug trafficking? >> trafficking as a whole? >> take fentanyl or overall. >> overall, and i believe it was senator cornyn who quoted the price of about $64 billion today and that's -- 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 organizations in mexico. >> chief provote, thank you for your good work. i have gotten to know a great many men and women in your agency and i'm grateful for
their service. >> thank you. >> let me ask you from your perspective, what additional tools are needed to slow down or stop this flow of fentanyl and other illegal drugs in this country? >> well, thank you, senator. there are numerous things that we need. as you know, the border is very dynamic and there is no one thing that it just seems to be that -- 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 k-9 handlers as well. we utilize them quite a bit, and of course, i do need more barrier because it does impede and deny and it does prevent entries. at the ports of entry there was discussion earlier and my colleagues over there are expanding their non-intrusive technology which we also utilize at our checkpoints and that certainly assists us, as well, but it is a no one size fits all. it's a mixture of all of those
things. >> one of the tools you mentioned that you needed was more physical barriers, be it a wall or other forms of physical barriers. as you know, we are in the midst of vigorous debates right now in the senate. let me ask you, in your professional experience, what is the impact of a wall or physical barrier and -- and what are the benefits of it? >> personally and just to keep it on topic with cartels, when i was an agent in douglas, arizona, east of douglas one night there was a drive-through as we call them and we used to have numerous drive-throughs in the area. i was involved in the seizure over 490 pounds of cocaine. thankfully the drive shaft on the truck broke as the vehicle was trying to get back south away from us. we had no barrier at that time along the border in that area. >> once we put barrier in in that area those drive-throughs
stopped. that is just one example when it comes to particularly narcotics smuggling, but as you know, senator, the -- the barriers are needed for impedence and denial. technology provides a completely different capability for us and it provides situational awareness and we need that as well, but if we can't impede and deny when we're talking about a 2,000-mile border in very difficult terrain to work in, and then the situational awareness lets me know something's crossing, but it sure doesn't stop it from crossing. >> in terms of technology what have you all found is most effective, being a barrier, fixed-wing, rotary aircraft, what has thei greatest and positive impact to enable you to do your job. >> because of the diversity of the border we find a imixture o all those things and it truly depends on the area. when we're talking about quick vanishing times, having camera
technologies, in the remote areas, more detection capability is necessary for us. we have been expanding our tools and our 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. >> miss ayala, can you describe the extent of the violence perpetrated byplex can drug cartels both in the united states and in mexico? plex can cartels both in the united states and in mexico? mecan dru cartels both in the united states and in mexico?xcan drug cartels both in the united states and in mexico?ican drug cartels both in the united states and in mexico? >> 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 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 area and south of 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 with some murders and then later on what we saw mostly was the purchase of weapons to smuggle to mexico in order to engage in extortion and other violent action and torture on the mexican side. what we see also now is that the cartels are using ms-13 and other gang members for kidnapping and extortion and other violent crimes that fall under the rico statutes. >> excuse me? >> to what extent is that crossing north of the border into the united states? >> well, as far as when we're talking about the gang piece, to put in perspective, we have about 100,000 ms-13 gang members
in the northern triangle and more than half of them are in el salvador, 30,000 are in jail and we have approximately 10,000 gang members here. ms-13 gang members here in the united states and through operation community shield the last five or six years we've picked up over 8500 ms-13 members, associates and there are multitude quantity of drugs and weapons and other violent implements be it ammunition and so forth. >> thank you. >>. >> thank you, senator cruz, for covering that while we were voting. >> and we arranged for the protesters to occur while you were gone. [ laughter ] >> good timing. so let me ask each of you or anybody who has an answer, but not that long ago the united
states government decided that we needed to do something to help the government of colombia deal with the narco traffickers and cocaine in particular that were coming up into the united states dealing with coca eradication and to provide equipment and training for the government of colombia. i was in colombia about four months ago and while things aren't perfect, they are far, far better, and i think most people who paid attention would say that colombia was a success. nothing is 100% successful and the challenge -- many challenges still remain and president duque who was just recently elected i know made a commitment to more coca eradication than his predecessor had, but do we need a planned central america or planned colombia or something like that, mr. chester?
>> yes, sir. i can start off and other members can add if they'd like to. you're absolutely right on the success of playing colombia. i think playing colombia really combined two things. the one thing was the physical eradication of coca manually and aerially and that was incredibly important in going to the manifestation of the problem and it also built the capacity of the colombian military and the colombian resources to be able to deal with the problem on the ground. when we have in mexico is the merida initiative. and the merida initiative has been the primary vehicle and it is adminutestered by the department of state with its four pillars in order to build strong communities, build institutions and build capacity and go after transnational organized crime. since its inception almost ten years ago, the merida initiative has been $1.3 billion to the government of mexico and it's made a substantial difference in mexico's capabilities 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 their military forces and their training and capacity building for their police all of the way to things like prison reform and transitioning to the new criminal justice system including one of the programs that i mentioned in my opening statement are funded through the merida initiative and that is a very important component of what we're doing with mexico. it's not exactly analogous, but it follows the same model of being able to handle the physical problem on the ground and then build capacity of the forces themselves. any of the rest of you have a comment about that, chief? >> just to comment, sir. you're exactly rate. 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 and it is critical that we continue to expand our efforts in central american, as well. >> i would just echo what has been said. i think the bilateral relationships and partnerships that we are able to develop and really lead to a joint, focused integrated effort to address the threats and things like the merida initiative and others that really do bring a coalition together in order to build capacity as well as strengthen those relationships and partnerships so while you're working the investigation, on the one hand, you're increasing your prosecutorial capacity simultaneously, so it really does provide a mechanism in order to further strengthen the joint bilateral efforts from the prosecutorial perspective.
i share your support for the merida initiative and i hope we can do more amidst what is gloomy news in terms of how much geography that the cartels control and the level of violence that mexico that president lopez obrador would be one of his top priorities and we've actually seen more people die of violence in mexico since 2007 than have died in the wars in iraq and afghanistan combined. i remember what happened in 9/11 when 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 70,000 americans died from drug overdose, all of this flood of heroin and methamphetamine coming across the border just doesn't seem like -- it seems like we've become desensitized to the outrage that that represents and
the threat it represents to our national security. so i know senator feinstein, obviously, coming from a border state has talked to me about working on the central american plan. i know president trump under his administration had planned to try to support the triangle of countries in central america. i know we need to figure out something more than just sending money. we need to find out what works and that's the reason why i mentioned the plan in colombia. i know there is a lot of interest. on the bright side, amidst a pretty gloomy prospect in terms of central america and large parts of mexico. i was encouraged to see what the incoming administration and mexico, i was happy to be down there for the inauguration of president lopez abraddor and some were directly negotiating with the incoming administration on how to deal with the asylum
issue. mexico for the first time, to my knowledge, has begun offering work permits, offering asylum in mexico. of course, many of these individuals want to be reunited with their family to the united states and they're turning that down and saying i'm going to go to the united states, but the agreement to allow those claims to be processed while the applicants remain in mexico i think represents a major change in policy and perhaps will provide some level of deterrence to the efforts many that come from central america across mexico and the united states. do you have an opinion on that or chief provo, can you provide color to what i described? >> certainly our relationship with mexico right now has been an outstanding relationship and considering all that we are dealing with on our shared border, it is critical going forward that 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 they have, as well and have been great partners. >> given our history with mexico, they're a little 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 the characterization you and mr. chester have made that 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 so i'm actually encouraged by seeing this very modest step in terms of the claims for asylum that's coming from central america, and i am hopeful that with the new administration we can develop those sorts of relationships and develop programs that we can work on together and we certainly welcome any input, insights, advice you might give us in doing that. senator durbin?
>> thanks, mr. chairman. chief provo, how important is the export of firearms and drug money from the united states to the mexican cartels to their continued existence? >> so certainly, senator durbin, the money that you mentioned earlier that is going back into mexico and into the hands of the cartels is of great concern for us as well as the weapons. we do run operations along the border routinely. we work -- we do bilateral operations with our partners along the mexican border as well as outbound operations to do our best with the resources that we have to address the issue. >> let me be more specific. how frequently are vehicling traveling southbound across the border through ports of entry are checked for exported weapons. >> i would have to defer to my
partners for the exact number on that. >> would you defer to that and let me know what they say? >> is it a priority? >> it is a priority for b.p. >> have you witnessed weapons heading down to mexico? >> yes, i have, and my border patrol officers assist on outbound operations on numerous occasions. we've seized weapons and money going south. >> you may have heart sea towardels. >> we utilize those in the border patrol. >> pretty amazing. would you describe that. >> it is a non-intrusive technology to inspects vehicles and cargo at our checkpoints. >> it's like an x-ray or scanning device, as i understand it. >> yes, sir. >> non-intrusive. >> non-intrusive, sir. >> what has that helped? >> that has helped us in the
ports of entry in the checkpoints and the technology is one capability or one resource that we utilize in our tool kit to support our efforts as we do our best to address the issue of all of the narcotics coming across the border. >> are you troubled by the fact that fewer than one in five six are subject to that sort of scanning as they head north? >> i can't speak to the exact number, sir, that are scanned at our ports of entry. i would take that as a get back to my partners in the office of field operations and i do know that they continue to expand the amount of technology that they are deploying at the ports of entry and they continue to request more of that technology. >> my guess and you defer to your field people again, if they could tell us their numbers. we have 18% of vehicles searched by this non-intrusive scanning device, and a request from at least -- that was his highest
priority and that's why we included it in the bill. my guess is those vehicles headed southbound and even fewer are being scanned for weapons headed from the united states down to the mexican cartels and i would like you to be able to produce, if you can, information on sea portals being used for those exporting weapons and contraband from the united states to the cartels. >> i will take that as a get back. >> mr. knieram, am i pronouncing your name correctly? yes, sir. >> good. you had testimony here -- you said in your testimony, seizures offi of smuggled boat cash decreased from 437 million in 2016 to 193 million in 2017. that means the smuggled boat cache which we assume is somehow associated with drug trafficking decreased by 56%. you also say that the gross
amount of bulk cash seized has increased to 2010. to what do you attribute this decrease and is it possible that the cartels have found a more sophisticated way to transfer their laundered money? >> one thing i would like to highlight is the significant efforts that are being undertaken in order to investigate money laundering and the transfer of illicit proceeds. there are many different tactics and techniques that 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 boat currency that is being moved south. we also recognize that there are additional technologies and virtual currencies that are being implemented by some of the trafficking organizations in particular as it's -- >> the point i want to get to -- yes, sir. >> what i just described,
scanning these vehicles as they're coming into the united states, 18% are being scanned. scanning the vehicles that are headed south from the united states with weapon, 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 the narcotics and the strength of themselves has nothing to do with the wall. nothing to do with the wall. sign me up for more money to address the things i just described to you. >> don't sign me up for a $4 billion wall that was supposed to be paid for by mexico. >> if i can ask one more question. >> senator, i was wondering if i could address the next question, and while tcos continued to use all cash money, and outliezing beings and banking and other
financial fraud and money laundering and they're utilizing stored value cards and there's been a significant increase with cryptocurrency and we've more than doubled our seizure since last year and we've also seen a lot of chinese tcos that are obtaining financial contracts to launder narcotics proceeds from mexican tcos and they're employing traditional methods like money pickups through casinos, banks and wires and we are also seeing that's of concern for us and we're investigating chinese counterfeited do you means and they're being shipped in bull tok mexico and provided to tcos to create financial accounts or to register businesses which makes it more difficult to see true benefits and ownership. >> what you're telling me is the sophistication of the movement of this money goes way beyond bulk cash. >> absolutely. >> they're smart enough to know this isn't working very well.
>> absolutely. >> we have to be just as smart with the right people and the right technology. thank you for your willingness to say a word here. when i went to the facility, the cbp facility at o'hare airport. those are good people. they're doing the best they can. you wouldn't believe all of the junk that comes through the mail into the united states and some of it has to be carefully inspected because it contains fentanyl and the rest and we need a better system and a lot more people. that's not a wall. it's putting technology and personnel to effectively deal with the threats to the united states and i think fentanyl is one of the most dangerous threats. thanks, mr. chairman. >> thank you. chief, let me start with my last point that my friend and colleague senator durbin make, is there a place on the border that a barrier makes sense? >> yes, sir, there are.
>> congress passed on a bipartisan basis the secure fence act which authorized 700,000 of fencing and that passed on a broad bipartisan basis. has most of that been constructed so far? >> yes, sir. the vast majority of it has been. >> so in some places a physical barrier does make sense? >> yes, it does, and if i may? >> yes. >> in relation to technology and personnel are definitely necessary, as well, but one does not replace the other. we need the ability to -- to impede and deny the technology, helps us on the detection and of course, our men and women and the resources there support our efforts when it comes to having enough people to make the apprehension or make the seizure. >> i would liken it to the ring doorbell. the door bell is a great technology and the ability to be able to see somebody that comes
up to steal a package off your porch, but it doesn't prevent them from stealing the package from your porch and you need to impede and that is what the barrier brings and you need the law enforcement personnel 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 have some sympathy and certainly empathize with people who are experiencing 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 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 heroin and methamphetamine in the united states? >> the cartels own the plazas and run the areas along the entire border. they may not always be the ones that are moving them through. however, the alien smuggling organizations have to pay a fee to move people through those areas. so they work hand in hand with each other, and if i may just address the fact, senator, you mentioned it before the very dynamic situation and when it comes to the people. i've said this before and i'll say it again, our men and women do not check their humanity at the door. they have a very tough job to do, a very tough mission dealing with both a humanitarian and a law enforcement mission and i'm very proud of what they do. >> well, thank you for saying that. i think you speak for all of us,
but the point i want to make is the same transnational criminal organizations that are trafficking drugs, trafficking women and children for sex slavery are the same ones that moveded migrants across the border from central america? >> they certainly have an involvement with the migrants. >> it is their business model. >> it is, and as i stated 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 points, the same sort of technology that the commissioner talked about yesterday that you were discussing that can identify the movement of people, drugs and other contraband coming north if there was sufficient numbers of them and we had the infrastructure in place, and that can also scan vehicles heading south containing bull being cash and
weapons, is that correct? >> yes, there is a potential to use it in that, as well. >> but as i understand it, the priority has been on traffic coming north because we're talking about the drugs again and the other contraband and the illegal immigration and so there hasn't been deployed the sort of resources in terms of manpower and technology for traffic heading south. >> my colleagues, specifically at the ports of entry, my colleagues, as you both know have a very difficult mission in that they have a law enforcement mission, but they also have a mission to facilitate lawful travel and trade, and they focus their resources, of course, on inbound, however, they do deploy as much as they can to outbound operations, as well. >> but they have to have priorities given limited resources? >> yes, senator. >> and you've answered this in another hearing at another time and i want to reiterate this.
the caravans of migrants that are showing up at san ysidro br in tijuana and which are showing up every day in what i would term a mini caravan, tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and family units, do the cartels use them as a strategic diversion so that they can then tie up border patrol and other law enforcement authorities, and then use that gap to exploit importation of illegal drugs in the united states'? >> yes, senator, that is a tactic they have used over the years. certainly with the influx that we are having in regard to this humanitarian issue, they 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. the cartels and the tcos know that and use it to their advantage. >> ma'am, this is my final question. senator durbin is discussing how creative, and you were discussing how creative the cartels have gotten when it comes to money laundering and it is not just bulk cash coming across the southwestern border through casas, dee cambio and other entities -- is it possible for the cartels to wire money back to central and south america? because without identifying who is sending it -- in other words, are there other tools and authorities that our law enforcement personnel need in order to stop that? the reason i ask is because i know that tens of millions of
dollars of remittances are sent each year from the united states back to home countries of people who have come to the united states. and i just want to ask you whether that's a vulnerability in terms of creative money laundering or wiring money back to the home country. >> i think one of the i think biggest vulnerabilities as far as money laundering is concerned and correspondent banking and depositing money in the name of a bank account or a bank instead of the name of a person. trade based money laundering, as far as having the tools to work on commercial fraud and making that a priority. much of the money that's laundered is laundered through lenlt gnat trade. they have involved in cryptocurrency, as we talked about. and some of the ownership as far as corporations makes it difficult for us to ascertain
what assets are in a business and to be able to seize assets. i think building partners composite for financial investigative efforts and ability to engage in asset forfeiture would be -- i think would give us the biggest bang for our buck. >> thank you very much. senator durbin, do you have anything else for this panel? >> 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 will excuse the first panel. we will go vote and come back and take up the second panel. thank you. we will be in adjournment.
this senate judiciary subcommittee hearing on drug cartels and border security is taking a short recess. in the meantime, we will show you a portion of today's washington journal. >> joining us now from dallas texas to discuss the current relationship between the united states and saudi arabia, robert jordan, served as a former u.s.
ambassador to saudi arabia in the president george w. bush administration from 2001 to 2003. he is a of the the tower center for political studies. ambassador thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> how would you scope out the relationships between the united states and the kingdom these days? >> i would say it is probably at its lowest point since 9/11. it is a very serious situation that we find ourselves in, an al ally, perhaps, gone rogue. i think we are scrambling perhaps how to deal with this crown prince, how to rein him in, and what it means for the future of the relationship. but it is deeply troubled right now. >> the senate is planning votes concerning not only the war in yemen but the relationship, or at least interest kind of to address the relationship overall. what do you think that says about the appetite this government to say or at least make a statement about saudi arabia? >> i think it is encouraging
that the senate is taking up where the executive branch has failed. we are seeing now some leadership from the senate, particularly corker, graham, and some others. and i think it is very important to realize that we have three branches of government here. the executive branch has been relatively silent in foreign affairs and i think they are realizing that some elements in president trump's administration don't seem to be interested in the kinds of values that america that is has stood for throughout its history and they are now standing up to that. >> what's your perception as far as the president's current still support for saudi arabia? >> it is mystifying to me. he seems to think that there is simply a binary choice here. either you condemn and completely eliminate the relationship, or you stand solidly by this crown prince. there are many, many areas that constitute a middle ground here.
that's what diplomacy is about. diplomacy should be used here to modify the behavior, to condemn the murder, could condemn any kinds of rogue activity, which would include a senseless war in yemen, a blockade of qatar, kidnapping the prime minister of lebanon and so many other thing. this is a range of activity here that needs to be dealt with with the saudis and they need to understand and hopefully the adults in the room in saudi need to understand that this young crown prince is simply off the rails. >> if you want to ask this ambassador questions about the relationship between the united states and saudi arabia, you can call in or send your twee tweets @c-span wj. you were in saudi arabia at
september 11th. how would you characterize the relationships then to now? >> we reached a low point certainly after september 11th. i arrived in riyadh about a month after the attacks on 9/11. the question then was were the saudis friend or foe? were they behind the attacks of 9/11? i spent a lot of time dealing with that. including dealing with prince salman, now king salman. we had great difficulty getting their cooperation on counter-terrorism. we finally turned a corner with them and they became a solid ally within a few months after that. so i think, to compare it to today, we have to have tough diplomacy today as well. unfortunately, for two years we have not had an ambassador in riyadh. so we haven't had someone on the ground day to day in their face reminding them of what our alliance stands for and the values that we hold so
important, what they constitute. thankfully the president has now identified general john abazze to be nominated as bods. i know him well. i think he is a see pesche choice. we need him on the ground promptly. i hope the senate will confirm him promptly. >> if that should happen, what would be the direct line of statement that the ambassador should make to the saudi arabian government concerning our current relations? >> i think he needs to be quite vocal that the kind of conduct we have seen from this crown prince is not consistent with an alliance with the united states. i think we have many tools in our tool box to sanction this kind of activity. he certainly wouldn't unilaterally be able to implement them but he can certainly make it clear to the saudis that going forward we have an alliance that's important. the alliance is with saudi arabia and not personally with mbs. i think it is important to dole at many levels of the saudi government that can help
influence the conduct of the government going forward. >> before we take calls, can you briefly scope out how we ended up as an ally with saudi arabia, particularly in yemen. the alliance goes back to 1945 between the king and franklin roosevelt. we have had an arrange men for so many years that we would basically provide a security umbrella in he can change for uninterrupted flows of oil from the kingdom. we have felt that it is important to protect saudi arabia's territorial sbregity. the houthis conducted raids along the yemen/saudi border for years. they have been anned a very satisfactory of the saudis. and so we have supported efforts to resist the houthi take over of sanaa and other parts of
yemen. the iranians saw an opportunity to come in. and so our grand strategy of resisting any incursions by iran fit in well with saudi national resistance in resisting the houthis. >> again, ambassador robert jordan joining us. our first call from maryland, democrat's line. jeff you are on with your guest. go ahead. >> caller:. hi. thank a lot for c-span. i was hoping you would clarify what all the tension is between qatar and saudi arabia, and how that sort of complicates the efforts to sort of navigate foreign policy in the middle east and what the implications are for our connections to other arab countries in that region. >> good question. the saudis and the qataris have had significant animosity over the years. qatar has resisted the saudis as
being the 800 pound gorilla in the gulf. qatar has supported the muslim brotherhood, including the brotherhood's attempt to take down mubarak in egypt, the installation of morrisey, and then the resistance that the muslim brother had has demonstrated to the royal families both in saudi arabia and the uae. so qatar has been viewed as a destabilizing influence by the saudis and the emirates. they have supported al jazeera, a newspaper that's pro iranian and anti-saudi and a television station there as well. they have been refuge to figures in hezbollah and hamas. so the saudis had made demands over the years that qatar seize their support of these activities. qatar refused. and so the saudis instituted
this blockade, along with the uae, egypt, and bahrain. and so this is a feud that has now risen to a significant level, and probably one that the saudis and emirates would resist resolving over the near term. america has a significant interest in resolving this. our largest military base is in qatar. we need the qatari's to play a role in the gulf. and they should of the no be driven into the arms of iran right now, or turkey, as a consequence of this blockade. >> from las vegas, nevada, ron, on our republican line. >> caller: ready? >> you are on. go ahead. >> caller: yes, ambassador, my attitude is this. during the course of the last administration, the entire middle east became very chaotic and a lot of problems this developed over that period of
time. but it's my overall belief right now that the president is working very firmly to modify everything. and the way i look at it is that if we leave them alone, let him do his job, and he didn't have so much opposition, i believe he will get it done. and the saudis of course, i have some mixed feelings about the saudis because i believe there is a possibility that during the course of 9/11 that could have been an issue which they may have had a lot of responsibility for. i don't think that it has ever been proven. but more -- but the most important part, i think, that could happen right now is let the president do what he's attempting to do. and of course you mentioned a number of times what our values are. but those are our values. and the middle east is an
entirely different situation. their values have nothing to do with us. what we need to do is take a direct hit on how to solve these issues irrespective of what our values or their values. >> okay. caller. thank you. >> i think the answer depends on what it is you think the president is accomplishing with the saudis -- >> -- award, in 2015, the order of the aztec eagle, which is the highest award granted from mexico's president and foreign secretary. our second witnesses is roggic noriega. the ambassador is currently a visiting fellow at the american enterprise institute. prior to that he served as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs and is the ambassador to the organization of american states from 20001 to 2203. while at the oas he worked with
hemispheric leaders to advance human rights foster economic integration and promote piece and security throughout the western hemisphere. ambassador noriega has been involved in latin american policies since the 1980s. our third pammist today is professor selena reuluho. i will give it my best. currently an adjunct professor at george washington university. from 2002 to 206 she was at the u.s. secretary of state's office, was the coordinator for counter-terrorism in washington, d.c. the professor is a member of the council on foreign relations, the international institute for strategic studies, and women in international security. the you are toth witness is chief chris magnus. -- the fourth witness is chief
chris magnus of the tucson police department, a position he held since january of 2016. the chief has served in many law enforcement capacity including in lancing michigan, fargo, north dakota, and richmond, california. chief magnus is an exert for the u.s. department of justice. welcome, chief. our final witness is dr. andrew salee, president of the migration policy institute, a position he assumed in early 2017, after serving as executive vice president of the woodrow wilson international center for scholars. the doctor is a respected scholar and analyst of mexico and u.s./mexico relations and a frequent commentator in the media. he has written and edited a number of books and policy receipts on the u.s. mexico relationship and mexican and latin american politics.
>> that, all of you, for agreeing to be here with us today. ambassador, let me start with you, please. any opening statement you would care to make? red button, please. >> the red button. talk. there we go. >> thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, thank you and ranking member senator you are diddin for your initial comments. you made a lot of the essential observation i was going to make. i will try not to repeat them. you pointed out how both the u.s. and mexico's society suffer from this cross-border illegal trade that's going on, the importance of making this a high priority. we have made a lot of progress over the last ten years, but there is much more to do. mexico's new president is beginning his six-year term with
a large mandate, controlling both houses of congress, and wants to transform his country. he has made clear a number of times that he wants to find ways to cooperate with the united states. so both governments should build on what's been working so far while they explore new ways to make that cooperation better. we should definitely avoid what happened six years ago when there was about a year of freeze in the cooperation between the two governments during the last presidential transition. teams from both sides should get together, review very thoroughly what's going on right now, what makes sense to continue, and also try to identify new priorities especially that mesh with the public security strategy that amlo has put forward in recent weeks. up with thing we should try very hard to do is keep going after that business model of these drug groups. in 2017, the two governments
agreed to do that. but we didn't get to go forward with that program very effectively. we should try and do so now. we have to keep working on better interagency coordination between the two sides, and within each government at the same time. we should also, i think i very much agree with the comments of taking additional steps to manage the risks that are out there, including using this new technology that is available. and by using the merida program we can make it available on both sides of the border. so we are really looking at all the entry and exit points. and we can share that data and analyze it with new it software to be more effective in tracking what's going across our borders. we should also look seriously how we can address hemts of this new streaming. there are a number of parts of
this eight pillar approach that i think we can support and work with them in developing. all of this effort needs additional funding, including additional merida funding. i think that would be very well used. and i agree fully with the idea of taking amlo up on his offer to develop a regional approach to this program that deals with causes as well as effects and takes that long-term and a multi-layered approach to deal with the problems of migration and crime. congress has a violates role to play in this process and making sure this reinvigorated cooperation gets off to a good start and that we have sufficiently funded plans to take it forward. over the past ten years, bilateral cooperation has been under the umbrella of the, merida initiative between mexico and the united states.
the initiative helped build closer cooperation between law enforcement, justice, diplomatic, security, border and intelligence officials on both sides, and it greatly improved capacity through the assistance programs that went forward. but more progress is needed. but i think what's important to understand is that all the people working on this came to accept that dealing with these problems are a shared responsibility. that was not the case ten years ago. there was a lot of finger-pointing. right now, there is a great consensus that the way to really solve these problems is working together. we should make sure we can maintain that approach. as you and others noted, senator, the opioid crisis has pressed us to real how important this is. as i mentioned, in 2017, we got an agreement with the mexicans on a new set of intense efforts
to look at that whole value chain from production through financing at the very end and tried to cut it off at all angles. sadly, we were not able to take that forward. at least part of it was because there was a popular backlash in mexico against the criticisms of mexico and a number of harsh actions on the border. i hope we can now take this opportunity and build that cooperation. within mexico since 2014 as was mentioned criminal groups spread more widely. there are violent activities across mexico and they have diversified the crimes they are committing in mexico. very sadly, homicides reached a now record -- violent homicides, in 2017. and it locks like there is going to be another record set when all the data is in for this year. not surprisingly, then, a prime driver in electing the new
president was insecurity. and not surprisingly, one of the first plans he has nowe presentd is this eight-pillar approach. it is not exact overlap with our priorities, but there is a significant area where we can work together between the two governments. he has taken, if his eight pillars, a look at preventive as well as enforcement issues, looking at causes as well as effects. if you would like to, later i can talk a little bit about the eight pillars. i won't go through them all now. i will just mention that perhaps one of the most controversial parts of it is announcing the restructuring in public security -- he created a new public security ministry, which mexico did have before, but then he created a national guard, which will be a military service, or a militarized service under the secretary of defense. so there are a lot of questions about that that still need to be explored and debated in mexico.
at the same time, popular expectations are very high. they welcome a fresh approach. so we need to work with the mexican government and see how we can mesh trees objectives together. merida as you mentioned has been working the past ten years under its four main pillars. the pillars have been very flexible and they have allowed us to cover a right range of different programs and to evolve priorities to reflect changes in the governments on both sides of the border as we are working this through. in my written testimony, i go through some 19 areas where i think there are good programs underway that would sync very well with the new priorities put forward by the president. >> ambassador, let me ask -- we were asking people to keep to the five minutes opening. i am fascinated to hear what you have to say. we will follow up with some questions. and then we will proceed to
ambassador nar questioninga. >> he can to. story. >> thank you chairman and senator durbin for the opportunity to discuss what's at stake in the u.s. mexico relationship. mexican organized crime has grown as a threat in the last 20 years. worse yet, it is part of a dangerous, sophisticated global crime network, right on our doorstep. mexico's new president, amlo, won a clear mandate to find corruption. however his thoughts of subduing narco violence with an amnesty and anti-poverty programs are not reassuring. this matters because 90% of the cocaine and heroin entering the united states transit is mexico, sustaining a public health and criminal justice crisis that costs us $200 billion. the mexican people complain justifiably about u.s. demand for drugs, which sustains criminals who sew terror, death, and instability. we must face this threat as
partners because neither government with coexist with lawless groups that attack our people with impunity. mr. chairman, i have worked against this threat for about two decades. mostly in the u.s. congress, congressional staff. and i believe this crisis is worse than ever. in the supply, and the lethality of drugs, the depth, breadth and wealth of the networks that deliver them and the unwillingness in certain cases of governments to attack them effectively. a few examples. since 2013 the production of heroin in mexico has tripled. the supply of fentanyl, which is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, has increased dramatic. colombian coca cultivation has quadrupled and potential cocaine production out of that country tripled, reaching record highs. deadly gangs from central america, which are vertically integrated into every american
city are expanding their drug smuggling and distribution systems right to our border. making matters worse, mexican organized crime is part of a global criminal network with $2 trillion in annual income. that's the give lent of mexico's gdp. carrying that asystemet trickcal threat right to our doorstep. he have day this criminal network does whatever it takes to optimize the supply chain of illicit drugs to the market here in the united states. here's how we dropped the ball in the last ten years in my opinion. the anti-drug alliance in south america that was really the work of george herbert walker bush which he helped pull together has now fallen apart. we stood by as the last mexican president failed the devise a strategy against the narco traffickers. his improvised response over the last years left matters worse. leftist regimed hijacked their countries and switched sides in the war on drugs.
a narco state in venezuela looted at least $350 billion in oil revenue and profits today from narco trafficking and money laundering throughout the americas and in europe. venezuelan narcos use their millions to sew corruption and instability in the transit zones in central america, the caribbean, and mexico. each in colombia, where we invested $10 billion in aid and had trusted partners produced an explosion of cocaine, and armed smugglers that are thriving in venezuela under the broke of the regime. china and russia provide intelligence support, weapons, and banking ties that abet criminal regimes and profitable schemes. in this dangerous climate, we need mexico to do more. about you the new president's talk of fighting the drugs with an amnesty or social programs sounds like a recipe for surrender. here's what we can do about it. during the transition in mexico we have to lock in the mutual
beneficial economic and social security cooperation that exists today. the president of the united states should designate an ambassador to mexico whose judgment and loyalty he trusts to maintain a candid dialogue on sensitive issues. we should encourage mexico's president to fulfill his anti-corruption mandate by imposing the rule of law and overhauling the police and justice stop. congress should quickly improve the u.s. mexico canada indictment agreement. on the international front, we should work closely with the new government of brazil to restore a regional anti-drug alliance. we must increase asystem metrical measures to attack transnational organized crime threat. more investigators, more prosecutors, more intelligence and more legal authorities are needed to sanction and punish
drug king partnerships and choke off cash to their criminal operations. we should work with our neighbors could investigate, expose and counter activities by cuba, russia, abetting drug trafficking and other criminal activity in the americas. thank you for your attention. >> thank you. professor. >> thank you chairman and ranking member for the opportunity to appear before you today to testify on the threats posed by mexican tcos tos our national security and u.s. and mex can efforts to counter them. mexican cartels are engaged in a variety of i willicit activitie. they thrive in a culture of corruption and impunity in mexico and they use violence and the threat of violence to empower and enrich themselves.
they have also capitalized sadly on america's voracious appetite for drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines. the national opioid epidemic fueled by drugs coming from mexico is significantly impacting the public health economy and national security of the united states. in 2017 the national sturt strategy recognized transnational organized crime as a threat to u.s. interests both at home and aboard. it emphasizes a need to secure our borders and pursue transnational threats to their source. the u.s. and mexico enjoy one of the most extensive relationships in the world. it means working with our international partners. through the 2008 merida initiative the u.s. has helped to build the capacity of mexican authorities through more effective eradication, monitoring, border security,
extradition cases and anti-corruption programs. the military has been deployed in the streets of mexico, but the violence continues and has actually escalated. meks had a record number of 31,174 homicides in 2017, which represents a 27% increase compared to 2016. and we anticipate the year's end to actually reflect even higher numbers. mexican president amlo assumed office on december st and pledged to fight corruption and end the violence plaguing mexico. the new plan intends to reform mexican security services by creating a national guard to address crime and violence head on. it is considering granting amnesty to low level drug traffickers and legalizing marijuana and possibly poppy
cultivation. this is divergent from previous mexican government policies and from u.s. law enforce innent and counter-narcotics interests. it is too early to tell if and how bilateral cooperation on poppy eradication, enter diction operations, and the fight against cartels will continue under amlo. carding the central american migration crisis the u.s. and mexico are trying to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. in the last 24 hours, mexico publicized their plan to create a marble plan that would extend $3 billion over the next five years in order to compliment the assistance the u.s. and other countries are 79 greating to the northern triangle. we are waiting to hear more details of what that would consistent of to deal with the root causes of the migration. the two countries must work together to protect our since.
one area where u.s. and mexico share interests is in regard to fighting corruption and money laundering that empower cartels. amlo has a plan that estimates 20 to $30 billion a year could be recovered or seized. on this front the u.s. should emphasize the importance of anti-money laundering efforts not only to fight corruption but the cartels with the five recommendations. number one, exploit intelligence against the cartels. number two, aggressively pursue the top cartel financiers. these financiers are very, very difficult to replace. number three, encourage improved coordination among prosecutors, the financial intelligence unit, bank regulators and law enforcement agencies in order to achieve more money laundering convictions and deter criminal activity. number four, advocate for the swift passage of
non-convictionis abouted forfeiture before meks's congress as well as beneficial ownership disclosures. number five, provide training and technical assistance for agencies and provide better interagency with mexico and international with our counter-parts in information sharing. in conclusion, cartels pose threats to the public health prosperity and security of the u.s. and mexico. the two countries must identify common interests, build trust and collaborate across the security, counter-narcotics trade and governance portfolios and enhance foreign assistance programs underway to directly counter the cartels. thank you. i look forward to your questions. >> thanks professor. chief? >> chairman cornan. >> ring member durbin, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you. i am the police chief for tucson, arizona. i have been in policing 40
years. 20 as a chief. i have always made it a priority to work towards strengthening police/community ties. i would like to approach this discussion from a slightly different angle. working in a large diverse city located near the mexican border i understand the need for border security. i have seen how the transnational criminal organizations bringing drugs into the u.s. prey on immigrants to further their reach and increase their profits. there is obviously in simple solution for these problems. improving border security and achieving community safety is going to require cooperation and trust between all levels of law enforcement. but just as critically between immigrant communities and the local police. the tucson police department teams up with the feds to go after drug cartels, human and gun traffickers and money launderers. this cooperation is essential to combat these threats. at the same time grant funding from the federal government
servings as a critical resource to keep our communities safer. now, early whier this year, the tucson police department partnered with atf and hsi to arrest 5 wanted violent and sex offenders. we also participated in an operation that included hsi, and the dea to target a heroin trafficking ring. in these instances and many others, we have seen the benefit of partnering with each other. many of my colleagues and i believe border security solutions must be strategic to address serious threats. according to recent stats from the cbp more than 80% of hard drugs intercepted along the border are seized at ports of entry. directly federal resources into improving staffing and infrastructure around ports of entry would be far more effective in halting the movement of guns and drugs across the border than simply constructing new barriers between these ports.
tucson is in the sixth. >> laest county in the united states. our republican sheriff, who has the responsibility for policing 125 border miles, told lawmakers they would be better off giving a fraction of the billions it would take to build the ball to law enforcement. he said, i think it is kind of a medieval solution to a modern problem. many of my colleagues and i agree with him. demand for drugs in the u.s. drives trafficking, leading cartels to seek profits through victimizing the public on both sides of the border. we must work more diligently towards reducing the demand for drugs through the use of effective treatment programs. doing this will cut off the lifeblood of these criminal organizations that take advantage of those struggling with addiction. facing a growing number of opioid deaths in tucson, we launched a program to privatize drug treatment over incarceration. we now allow officers to use
discretion in diverting suspects caught with small amounts of narcotics into treatment instead of jail. suspects caught selling drugs or those with most felony warrants are obviously ineligible. this has broad public support and is helping us lower our jail population while at the same time getting addicts the treatment they need. i believe local police best serve our communities by leaving the enforcement of immigration laws to the federal government. immigration enforcement at the local level irresponsibly diverts very limited resources that we critically need to keep our community safe. now tucson takes pride in being welcoming to all. we are not a sanctuary city but we do work to maintain community confidence and trust in law enforcement. we want victims and witnesses, no matter their immigration status, to seek our help and cooperate with us to stop dangerous criminals. recently, policing has become harder in many of our
neighborhoods. the climate resulting from the current rhetoric and crackdown on immigrants undermines trust. and it poses majoring challenges to police officers. aggressive federal enforcement, including courthouse arrests, and other high-profile provisions terrify not only the undocumented, but their american-born family, friends, and coworkers. as a result, an already marginalized community is less inclined to turn to us, making it much harder to an prehend criminals. of course when crimes go unreported and unsolved, the cartels go unchecked and increase their power of current efforts to force local police to take on federal immigration enforcement responsibilities only worsen this dynamic. now the members of this committee have the ability to set a new standard in law enforcement, one that creates a
balanced approach to public safety, that not only preserves cooperation between local law enforcement and the feds but also between local police and immigrant communities. i encourage you to do so. working together, i have no doubt that we can curb drug demand, combat the cartels, and make your community safer. thank you very much. >> thank you chief. doctor? >> thank you chairman, thank you ranking member for the invitation to be here. it is a great honor to be here with you. i was asked to be the link between the international crime organi organization and migration, which might be complex. let me say that in term of the links that exist, transnational crime activity, the biggest link between organized crime and migration is the wave we have seen of crime is at the base of the violence people experience
in their daily lives. they are not necessarily being preyed on by large transactional drug of treeing organizations but the thugs get their resources and weapons and legitimacy from their connections to large transnational crime organizations. for the most part, migrant smuggling organizations are different from the transnational crime organizations. there are cases where some of the drug trafficking organizations moved into migrant smuggling. generally these are different lines of business. you have seen an increasing predator forms of migrant smuggling as a result of some of these relationships. these are utilitarian and variedin ares between migrant smugglers and tcos.
they also generally use different routes. all the major narcotics, high value cocaine, opioids, methamphetamines are crossing overwhelmingly at ports of entry. marijuana does cross between ports of entry. migrant smugglers usually focus between ports of entry. but marijuana is going down significantly between ports of entry. different smuggling routes. we have a strategic moment. i think this has been said by everyone on the panel with the inauguration of the new president in mexico. we were there for the inauguration. it is a chance to restart our bilateral agenda on organized crime and look at observations forring inning migration flows. we have heard -- mexico is going through a moment where they are erge inning with us in more ways than were true before. most mexicans that come to the united states come through legal
paths. as of november we heard this yesterday, as of november there were more guatemalans apprehended at the border than mexicans. mexico was initially an receiving country for migrants. because of that, they begin to have similar questions about their migration system the what we are asking. not the same but beginning to have similar sets of issues they have to think about in terms of their immigration policy. the new government has put four ideas of the table of things that they want to do. the first is enhancing their asylum system. the mexican asylum system only got 3,000 applications three years ago. this year they will have close to 30,000. ten time increase. completely overburdenened. sounds like our asylum system. this is monument. they say this is something they want to beat up. this is something we can work
with them on. it is to our advantage that more people apply for asylum in mexico and stay in mexico. secondly, they will take people from central america who want to work and put them in areas where there are labor shortages in mexico. it is a big untaking. it is one thing to say they want to do it, it is another thing to do it in way that doesn't put them into position where is they compete with mexican workers. this is an area where we can partner. it is something we have expertise this doing as well. it would create a magnet for people to stay in mexico. third they have talked about professionalizing and moderning the migration institute. border control and migration enforcement so they both respect human rights in the highest standards of integrity. and also channelling people into legal channels and having enforcement teeth. finally they have talked about investing in central america.
these are all things we should think about how we can partner with them. there are some opportunities for us as well to think about our asylum system. we have more than a border cries he is and asylum crisis when it comes to my igs great. my colleague, doris meisner who ran ins under democratic and republican administrations proposed a rule change that allow asylum officers to make the first decisions. we can be fair and timely in how we do this. we don't need to narrow asylum, we simply need to be timely in how we deal with it. let me just say quickly because i am over time there is a lot we can do with mexico in terms of asylum thinking about in-country processing in mexico, working with unhcr and the mexican government. tough to do, butible po. think about incountry processing in central america. we can they about going through the worst migrant smuglings who
abuse people. this is the moment not only to fix our asylum system but also to start discussions with our neighbors about how we do this together. thank you. >> thank you very much. a lot to work with based on the testimony we have heard so far. let me start with you, ambassador noriega. you have had experience working on the hill and around the u.s. government. others have as well. but i am trying to figure out, what's the best place to start coming up with a plan? again, i guess i am fixated on playing colombia, because it is the one successful model although we have a country of 125 million or so people in mexico and obviously countries that have a lot of problems, even bigger problems, in central, he ma. you about i talked to senator fine stipe about maybe some plan in central america. but my suggestion to her is let's not just make it just narrow there. let's make it regional.
but i would be interested in your comments, ambassador wayne in terms of how woe approach this. let me preface that by saying, until recently my perception was that mexico regarded illegal immigration into the united states as our problem, not their problem. in fact, they gave transit visas as long as people didn't stay in mexico. they could just come on through. same thing with drugs. they viewed that as our problem based on demand and not their problem. although i don't know how you view it that way when you into he the toll of violent deaths that are occurring there which as the professor said are continuing to increase. so could you all -- maybe start with ambassador noriega and ambassador wayne first talk about how should we conceptualize the framework so we are not just dealing with little one-off issues, how can we make this sort of a comprehensive plan?
should it emanate from the askedive branch or from the legislative branch. thank you very muchert. >>. i was working for senator realms when plan colombia was passed. but i started working on that under ben gilman, the chairman of the national relations committee from new york for whom i worked for four years and where i really dug in on these issues. he treated it as quite a priority. when i came over to the senate side, i was one of the people that everybody trusted in the room among the staff because i worked for both sides. and it was a hill initiative. it was a congressional initiative. and you had folks like dennis hastert, saader or gilman take the load on the house side. cover dell, senator dodd
participate inned, and senator helms as well. it was very much folks like the people sitting behind you who dug in on these issues and worked them for a long time and established good relationships with people who identified folks in colombia that we could work with. and we started sort of a tactical approach. and then the folks in the state department responded. pete romero took the ball and ran with this. and they helped the colombians come up with an answer to the question, how do we have a response? it was really both sides engaged. but it was congress really pushing and insisting that we go with real money. as one of the chairman at the time said, make no small plans. he challenged the state deputy to come back with an aggressive plan. and frankly, the congress increased the amounts, and
engaged. with central america, there is a plan that's on the table, really, and actually it has been implemented. it was conceived with the help of the international american development bank. and they put together a very comprehensive approach that the central american countries are then matching with their own resources. and that made -- that's ow there on the table. i would suggest that, as you look at this problem, it's the global threat, the organized crime which by the way drug trafficking only accounts for 40% of its $2.2 trillion income. really has us overwhelmed. and its actors, various actors helped disintegrate various institutions in central, he ma. ten years ago we passed the
initiative talking about these countries as potential partners. now they are basket cases against because their institutions and police forces were overwhelmed by narco traffickers. we have to use asymmetrical tools against those. it is not all about finding the cocaine and the marijuana and the heroin. we should find the lieutenant colonel with $200 million in his bank account and start asking questions. sort of those asymmetrical sanctions being used against venezuela in an aggressive way, and start to, kind of with these rifle shots pick off some of the king pins so that maybe people on the ground have a fighting chance. i talked too long. >> i was hoping you would make it more narrow. but then you made it global. i appreciate it. i understand what you are saying. >> excellent points.
>> ambassador wayne. >> of course, my career, 40 years, being an executive, what i have seen that worked very well is get in and really sit with the other governments and work nitty-gritty on the details. but it's been wonderful to have that conceptual support when there has been the case from congress to help push this along. and that's often been the case. sometimes of course it's been in the administration, sometimes in congress. but if you can get both talking on the conceptual agreement and then work through the specifics with a partner government or partner governments, that really does make a difference. and what we had -- the big change now is the arrival of this new government in mexico. while there are questions, as roger pointed out, there is an opening to try to find a way to work with us on these issues. and there's a being conceptual idea that the united states, even canada, central america, and mexico, can work together.
and we can tackle at the same time migration and crime and job creation in these places if we talk about it and work at it using a bunch of different tools. and we do have that range of tools. that's going to take a lot of hard, specific work, including with the interamerican development bank because they did develop a good plan for central america. but this is now different. and roger is exactly right that in some places organized crime is just too powerful and you have to target them. but you have to know each of the places, look at it, and use your tools in different ways. and if we can get this conceptual agreement, get support for it, funding for it, and get everybody committed i think over a number of years we could make a big difference on all these problems using a multi-layered approach. just like in migration, you have got to look at the root causes. you have to look at when they get to southern mexico what happens to them?
are there other options? how are they treated? are they being abused by the criminal groups going up? can we get rid of that? thus did we reduce the problem before it gets to our border? then do we make some of our own changes in asylum procedures and other things to be more effective at our border. it's a whole layered approach that we could take to these problems, but it takes a big commitment, and it takes intellectual authorship and support in congress as well as the administration. i think we have that opportunity, though. >> senator durbin. >> chief, i looked at your resume. lansing, michigan, fargo, north dakota, tucson, arizona, you've done quite a tour of this country. and now you're on a border city responsibility, and what i hear from you is what i hear from my superintendent, eddie johnson, up in chicago, about how important it is for effective police work to have the trust of
the community, and i couldn't agree with you more, that if we tried to put you into a federal role enforcing immigration, i don't think it's going to make it any easier. i think it's going to make it more complicated for you. have you had the cooperation of your hispanic community in tucson when it comes to dealing with drug issues that we've talked about? >> senator, we certainly have, and one of the biggest reasons for that is this focus on relational policing or really community policing where we understand that we have to have that relationship with the entire community. tucson is about 50% hispanic, and many of the residents of tucson are families who they are immigrants, and they have family, extended family, in some cases, who are undocumented, sometimes even living in the same household with them. these are all people that make up the fabric of our community,
and once we start, you know, tearing at that fabric in terms of creating a climate of fear where people are simply unwilling to talk to the police or even talk to their neighbors, sometimes not even willing to come out of the house because they're so afraid, all we do is we lower the level of safety for every resident of the city so i think the climate we set is incredibly important for safety and that means that we leave the civil immigration enforcement duties to our federal partners. we partner with them when appropriate on some of these larger challenges, like drug cartels, the human trafficking, some of the other things, but on a day-to-day level, we have to be able to do our own work. >> dr. seally, we talked a lot about the mexican cartels and i'm just blown away by the notion that their volume of
economic activity matches the gdp of mexico. puts it in stark perspective. we haven't talked about the structure and relationship with the drug gangs and those three countries that are forcing so many people toward our border, guatemala, el salvador, and honduras. what can you tell me about that? >> well, what we do know is -- is that there is in central america, you have both the drug gangs, the mexican transnational crime -- we call them mexican because a lot of the leadership is mexican but these are truly transnational organizations. as it became harder to operate in mexico, they moved more of their operations into guatemala and honduras. some of their operations were there already. and they also began teaming up with, you know, smaller groups, very agile groups, ms-13, the two salvadoran gangs, a lot of local groups. i mean, when you get into honduras and guatemala, you do have some presence of those
gangs but you have a lot of local level gangs that work for the cartels, that work for the large transnational crime groups, and those are the groups that are particularly dangerous to people and you see this in mexico as well, by the way. the largest crime groups often are less predatory. they make their money in drugs. the smaller groups are the ones that mix between servicing the large cartels, they make money there, they get weapons there, but that's not necessarily always a full-time occupation, and so they spend a lot of their time doing things like extortion, locally, kidnapping in mexico more than in central america. >> take a country like guatemala. to think that there are more guatemalans showing up at our border. >> it's incredible. >> than mexicans. that's relatively small country and there's a distance to be traveled and many of these are mothers with children who are making it up to our border. so, it just sounds like it's pure chaos and disorder in guatemala, and a lot of fear. i can't imagine that it's just economic opportunity driving
them. there has to be a climate down there that is fearful. >> i think there's a mixture of things. some people are leaving for economic reasons. there's some areas of drought and crop shortage. some people are leaving for mixed motives, that's economic but it's also the turbulence around them and the violence around them. and some people are leaving for really specific threats. i spent some time hanging out with four teenagers in the border on the mexican side of the border the other day who were all able to list very specific things and one young man brought up his facebook page as we sat there. this was at a youth shelter in tijuana and just scrolled through his facebook page showing me everyone who had been killed. i went to school with this person, this is the mother of one of my neighbors, this is just one after another -- i mean, completely monotone, by the way. he wasn't trying to shock me. he was simply making the point that, you know, this is kind of the way life is where he is, and he had received a very specific threat to his parents and simply
decided never to go home again. if he didn't join the gang and he said, i left, i went to a friend's house and left the next morning and never even told my parents i was leaving. that was the story of all four of them in one way or another. these are specific -- these were the specific gangs and local crime groups. other people you talk to, it's lands invasions, it's a lot of extortion payments that people at some point simply can't make the payment one month and they decide to leave. because they will be killed otherwise or their kids will be killed. >> this sounds to me like credible fear. >> there's a lot of that. i would not say that everyone is fleeing because of violence. i think there are economic motives, and we should try and begin to distinguish between people who need protection and people who, you know, we have a tendency to either say they're all gaming the system or these people are all, you know, people who need protection. there's a mixture in there. but i would say there's a large number of people who do need protection and we don't have to choose in our system. i mean, we don't actually have to choose between being fair to
people and having a deterrent. if we have a fair, effective, relatively exat tpedited asylum system, not as sclerotic as it is right now. >> the numbers on refugees and asylees have gone down dramatically under this administration. >> they have. >> even though we face this on our border. >> that's right. and we should be -- we could be thinking about the refugee program, how we use the refugee program also for the western hemisphere for people so they don't have to make the journey up to the border. >> well, and we also had that program which the administration discontinued. >> that's correct. >> where minors could go to the embassy in their native country and make application for asylum. >> that's right. the camp. >> see whether or not they were approved and it was eliminated. >> it was eliminated. i mean, that is a real opportunity to build on what we
learned from that, trying to -- it's not easy doing country processing. i think we should agree that it is -- these things require some experimentation but we have an experience doing this. it's something we could actually build on again. we have an experience that was somewhat successful in doing that, and we could also think with the mexican government how we do this in the south of mexico before people make the whole journey across. can we take some people through the refugee program once they're in mexico. the mexican government might have something to say about that but it's the kind of thing they're open to talking about if we are. >> thank you. >> professor, i think you were the one talking about the level of violence in mexico not getting better, getting worse. my understanding in one of my recent trips to mexico city is that essentially, if you commit a murder in mexico, you're almost guaranteed not to be prosecuted. they end up calling that impunity, i guess, is the sort of generic word, but is it true that the law enforcement and
judicial departments or branches of the mexican government are simply unable to bring people to any justice if they commit a murder in mexico? >> that's the problem that you have with impunity and corruption. actually, the average citizen has very little faith in the police as well as the judicial system, so first, you have very low levels of people who actually file reports and denounce is what they call it, let alone actually realize a conviction. and as you know, through the merida initiative, the u.s. has been helping the mexican government reform its judicial system, and then more importantly, change their prosecutorial method but the real problem too is that you have -- i think really when we talk about situation in central america as well as what the different factors are, there are three. there's corruption and impunity, which are in one category. the wealth that these illicit activities generate that also feeds into the corruption. and the third piece is the violence.
what you're seeing is actual convergence of these three factors in the northern triangle and to complement what andrew was talking about, you actually have people migrating for fear of persecution or that they'll -- because their family was extorted and their relative didn't pay, it actually goes across not just the person who owed the money but the whole family as well as lack of economic opportunity. both ambassador noriega and ambassador wayne referred to something called alliance of prosperity which is this plan to generate more importantly opportunities for job creation, investment in northern -- >> in central america. >> so we actually have a lot of the components. the bigger question is how do you get the political will through the three or -- corruption is a huge challenge in the northern triangle. you've actually just seen the brother of the sitting president of honduras arrested for narcotics trafficking. al the last government in guatemala, who many of them were trained and sponsored by the
u.s. are also in jail for corruption charges. so there's a bigger piece of governance which we haven't really talked about, but this bigger question of how do you get the local populations to trust the governments that we're entrusting in terms of foreign assistance and having the political will to fight the transnational criminal organizations, whether they be local gangs, who really do feed off of extortion, and use violence or the threat of violence to the larger movers of illicit trafficking, whether it be people or drugs. the other thing i wanted to call your attention was the fact that you have external actors who are involved now so i spend a lot of time looking at money laundering. the amount of money being handled by chinese tcos as well as chinese banks in order to circumvent sanctions as well as our kind of know your client regulations is a new conduit and i think you have seen too the rapprochement of the government of el salvador with the chinese regime is very troublesome and one of the things we're trying
to figure out, i think it's a very useful time right now to reassess how we be the partner of choice and continue to be the bff, the best friends forever, of central america as well as mexico at a very interesting juncture, particularly as we see these countries now looking for different ways that the chinese are using predatory lending, most favored nation type of trade agreements, with partners in the region that are actually trying to basically erode the influence that the u.s. has had through all the different portfolios, military, law enforcement, economic, and also the cultural ties that we have, and this is a really crucial point that we have to figure out how to double down on our investment, and it's not just about money. it's about the political will and the commitment and how to build those relationships with a new team under amlo in mexico because now they are really engaging. they are now understanding what it's like to be a recipient and deal with all of these migrants that are in their communities
without the actual experience that we've had in the u.s., and they don't have the level of ngos that we have and the charitable tradition that we have in the u.s. to handle and you see it every day with what's being streamed from tijuana and i think you were just down there. the physical capacity for them to handle these migrants is actually degrading there, security but also from a public health point of view, which is disturbing for everyone involved. >> couple of you have mentioned amlo's commitment to a national guard. i assume that this is just the latest iteration of the attempt to try to deal with the corruption problem at the local and the state level. i know over the years, they've tried to make -- federalize this, i mean, make it a national police, national law enforcement organization to deal with it that would be perhaps vetted and less susceptible to corruption. i assume that's the motivation
for that? is that correct, ambassador wayne? >> i think it is. as you know, for the last -- for this century, they have been struggling with the ability to really have a fully coordinated overall strategy that worked and have all the different parts of their government working together. federal, state, and local. they have not successfully done that under the last two presidents, so they came up with this idea of a national guard because the least corrupted, not uncorrupted, but the least corrupted were the defense department entities, the army and the navy. >> but i know there are a lot of ngos and others that object to the military basically doing police work, and i can understand that, but as you point out, they are the ones that are most effective and least subject to corruption. but i guess you still have the basic problem at the local and state level of what is it,
plato o plomo, silver or lead, and you can see the intimidation tactics that are used to undermine public authority and order in those countries. dr. selee, let me make sure i understood. are you saying that the migrant smugglers are not transnational criminal organizations or are you saying somehow they're separate or -- >> yeah, i just that they're separate from the -- the migrant smugglers tend to be different from the drug traffickers. >> so you don't agree with those who say that the cartels are essentially commodity agnostic? >> no. >> whatever will make them money. >> no. i think the drug traffickers, for the most part, i mean, the -- there have been attempts. the setas actually got into some
migrant smuggling. we know the tijuana cartel got in but when they were really on their heels and losing some of their drug business and the juarez cartel moved into migrant smuggling to supplement but for the most part to them, drugs is a big, successful business, and they get a lot more out of being able to charge the -- the right to cross without having to get into the complexities of running a different business venture so i don't think it's a moral question in any way. it's not that they wouldn't get into it. it's just a specialized business. they're slightly smaller groups. they're still larger. i mean, gone is the day when there are mom and pop smugglers, right, which used to -- i lived in the border on the mexican side in the 1990s. you still had the mom and pop smugglers, or usually, actually, i lived near a father and son smuggling team at one point. i mean, these -- that's gone. these are criminal enterprises now, but they are for the most
part separate today than the larger drug organizations. and one of the things that i think, if i can jump into the last question as well, i think you have seen some successes in parts of mexico where you do have better policing and better courts in some areas, and some cities are safer and you to have citizen vigilance of what government does and mexico's become a real patchwork. some places have gotten worse and some places have gotten better. there's a lot we can learn from the places that have gotten better in terms of local law enforcement. >> can you confirm that basically the cartels control all of the real estate that's contiguous to the u.s. border? i guess that's where they make you pay to cross. but my understanding, and this is kind of a chilling number, is that the cartels and the criminal organizations basically control more than a third of the country, even though it's 11th largest economy in the world, that doesn't really tell the
story when the mexican government and the state government, local government, can't even control large swaths of real estate in the country. >> it's interesting what "control" means because there was a time -- the setas started a business model where control meant really having a heavy handed control of lots of things moving around them. the contrasting model is the sinaloa cartel, which is all about trafficking drugs and buying off what you need of the state so if what you need is in a certain area you need the chief of police, with all due respect to my colleague here, but i mean, if what you need is your trafficking in sinaloa and you need the chief of police of a municipality, you go for the chief of police but you don't worry about other businesses. you don't go for the superintendent of schools. the setas got into doing more. they tried to control lots of things. it failed. the mexican government went after them and there are pieces of setas left but no big setas
organization anymore. for the most part, mexican organizations, the largest ones are about trafficking drugs. some of the smaller ones and in parts of the country they do try and exercise, if you go to parts of oaxaca, there are groups that try to control more than just drug trafficking. a third of the country probably has really active cartels but it means something different in a city like monterrey where you can live your life daily and never notice the cartels than if you live in a town where it would be hard to run a small business without paying a tax to the cartels. >> senator, if i could just jump in. >> please. >> when people refer to this controlling territory, they basically control it from one another. they divide up turf and if you want to challenge another cartel, you know, blood is expensive. and so they generally respect
the right to move material and -- within certain geographical areas. with respect to a couple things, the corruption issue, when president calderon, who i'm sure you had a good relationship with over the years, initially took this on, in retrospect, what he encountered was there was so much corruption at the state and local level where people not only defied the federal government when he was trying to move against certain targets, certain cases they were in bed with the narcos, the local -- state and local leaders and he would, you know, replace them and that sort of thing, but it's really hard to get traction with this kind of top-down approach. mexico needs a cultural change in terms of corruption.
and accountability and transparency, and it's extraordinarily complicated and time consuming process to -- but there has to be a certain change in expectations from the top down, and i think amlo could do that, quite frankly. he has a mandate to do precisely that, but it requires a criminal justice reform, penitentiary reform, professionalization of the police, only a handful of mexico's 31 states has the capacity to, you know, even a professional track for policing. so, there's a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done, but it really requires political will. amlo is kind of an outsider in certain respects, but the ultimate insider in others, but he's sort of a maverick so perhaps he can challenge the structural corruption that's existed in mexico for many, many years and which has blocked progress in terms of economic
advancement and now blocked, you know, simple application of the rule of law and the protection of citizens, and amlo, perhaps, can change that, transform that model. >> i agree that it looks like he's a unique political figure. he does seem to have a mandate to deal with corruption and the violence. whether he can actually do that or not, i don't know. and that's where i think we can try to find a way to share that challenge, because it affects them and us and central america too, and so we're trying to get our head around all of that and figure out how to take advantage of the moment and the opportunity this may provide. my impression of president lopez obrador's speech that he gave his his inaugural, as i understood it by translation, is that he raised expectations sky high and ordinarily, you try to
tamp down expectations and exceed those low expectations, in my experience, but he set expectations very high, so it's going to be interesting to see. we have a lot of skin in the game ourselves here in the united states in terms of how that turns out and we need to figure out a way to work with our mexican counterparts at the legislative and executive branch level and help them in all the ways you all have detailed. well, thank you for spending your time here and sharing your expertise with us. this hearing is now adjourned. what we will do, i will just add by way of footnote, there may be some additional written questions. i wouldn't expect a lot, but we'll go ahead and give everybody a chance if they have additional areas they want to inquire about and then we'll close out the record in about ten days, two weeks time. so thank you very much.
when the new congress takes office in january, it will have the youngest, most diverse freshman class in recent history. new congress, new leaders. watch it live on c-span. starting january 3rd. sunday night on q&a -- >> this american nazi party had 20,000 supporters who came to a rally at madison square garden and as that footage shows in the middle of new york, storm troopers giving the nazi salute with the swastika next to a picture of george washington. that rally was for george washington's birthday. there was a very active american fascist movement in the '20s and the '30s, earlier than people think, that it was associated with the phrase, america first. >> university of london literature professor sarah churchwell looks at the history of the terms, america first and the american dream. in her book "behold, america." sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a.
white house press secretary sarah sanders spoke at politico's annual women rule conference in washington, d.c., where she answered questions about her approach to press briefings and the impact of the job on her personal life. this is just under a half hour. >> hi, i'm a white house reporter for politico, and i'm thrilled to be here today with one of the most influential women in the trump white house. please welcome sarah huckabee sanders, the white house press secretary. thank you so much for joining us at women rule. i'm going to get right to the news of the day, but we're also going to discuss how sarah has put her personal