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02/03/2010

ICE meets with Mexican officials, Valley law enforcement to discuss border issues

This is the first such meeting held in the United States between the partners

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hosted a one-day South Texas-Tamaulipas (Mexico) cross border summit at the University of Texas in Brownsville. This is the first such meeting held in the United States.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Assistant Secretary for ICE Alonzo Pena led the meeting by renewing ICE's commitment to address the cross border crimes that affect our bilateral public safety. In an effort to keep safe our shared border communities, law enforcement needs to continue to communicate, cooperate, and share information between agencies and our nations. The goal of this summit is to gauge what has worked well so far, and what can be improved.

"Today's criminal organizations respect no borders and know no boundaries," said Pena. "If we're going to successfully continue to address this challenge, we must work together to harness all the resources, expertise and legal authorities at our disposal."

Law enforcement agencies at the summit also discussed minimizing the international boundaries when it comes to pursing and apprehending criminals. Crimes such as kidnapping, assaults, homicides, burglaries are all crimes that impact public safety. The intent is to assist law enforcement agencies on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in their efforts to make communities safer. The unified message law enforcement wants to send is that criminals who try to hide from their crimes in either country will be found and brought to justice.

ICE has fostered communication and cooperation with our federal, state, local and Mexican law enforcement partners along the border for years. Since 2005, the changing dynamics between the two governments have redefined our working relationships. Increased communication and cooperation amongst law enforcement at all these levels will allow us to make a significant improvements in public safety.

Since DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced in March that her department was intensifying efforts to combat cross border violence and weapons trafficking, ICE moved quickly to respond. ICE has deployed additional agents to its Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST) along the southwest border and in Mexico. ICE has also established a Vetted Arms Trafficking Unit in Mexico City to target transnational smuggling and firearms trafficking organizations in Mexico.

The South Texas-Tamaulipas cross border summit is scheduled to end Wednesday night.