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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
06/09/2008

ICE and Mexican officials announce plans to identify and disrupt trans-border weapons smuggling networks

Armas Cruzadas is a bi-lateral law enforcement and intelligence-sharing operation to thwart export of arms from U.S. into Mexico

HOUSTON - Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Juan Jose Bravo Moises, Director for Mexico Customs, announced today at the first ever Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) Conference, Operation Armas Cruzadas, a major effort to identify and disrupt trans-border weapons smuggling networks between the two countries' borders through the Homeland Security Information Network (HSN) virtual weapons task force.

The ICE-led effort, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is supported by Senator Charles Grassley, Congressman Henry Cuellar and Congressman Mark Souder, who all attended the opening of the BEST Conference today.

"Armas Cruzadas partners U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies to share information and intelligence in an effort to comprehensively attack the growing gun violence in Mexico," said Assistant Secretary Myers. "Faced with an explosive, high-caliber threat, we knew we needed an equally effective, high-caliber response to thwart the illegal export of weapons into Mexico."

U.S. and Mexican agencies will synchronize key law enforcement and intelligence elements to successfully accomplish Armas Cruzadas. Through coordinated operations based on developed intelligence of arms trafficking networks in North America, the operation aims to stop the illegal export of weapons from the U.S. and into the hands of drug cartel organizations inside Mexico. This effort will help strengthen interagency cooperation between U.S. and Mexican federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and promote the exchange of intelligence through multiple points of contact.

"The bilateral strategic plan between ICE and Mexico Customs has proven to be a success and the number of joint seizures speak for themselves," said Juan Jose Bravo Moises, Director General Mexican Customs Administration.

ICE is the leading U.S. investigative agency in this ongoing operation authorized to pursue arms export investigations. ATF, CBP and DEA are also involved as part of their participation within the established BEST teams strategically aligned along the U.S. and Mexico border. Mexican law enforcement officials are being trained this week at the Houston conference on how to retrieve and input information into the virtual task force database.