WASHINGTON - Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton testified before Congress today on Southwest border security, saying "our efforts to dismantle cross-border criminal organizations are producing results."
In his update before the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Morton outlined ICE's commitment to ensuring that U.S. borders are secure and to curbing the bilateral flow of contraband including guns, money, and drugs.
To that end, ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) combined have seized $85 million in illicit cash along the Southwest border - a 22 percent increase over the same period during the previous year. Together, they also seized more than 1,400 firearms and more than 1.6 million kilograms of drugs - increases of 22 and 14 percent respectively over the same period last year.
In addition to moving additional manpower and infrastructure to the Southwest border, ICE has strengthened information sharing and integration with state and local law enforcement agencies as well as with Mexican authorities. ICE has doubled the personnel assigned to the ICE-led Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST), bringing together federal, state, local and Mexican authorities to crack down on crime, and has tripled the number of ICE intelligence analysts along the Southwest border.
"ICE is fully committed to the effort's primary focus of conducting intelligence-driven border enforcement operations to disrupt and dismantle violent cross-border criminal organizations negatively impacting the lives of the people on both sides of our shared border," Morton said.
Morton also discussed new ICE-initiated programs to address the escalating violence around Ciudad Juárez. These include the temporary suspension of removing Mexican nationals with criminal records through Ciudad Juárez and increased collaboration between Mexico's Tactical-Operative Intelligence Unit and the ICE BEST teams to address narcotics smuggling, weapons violations, money laundering and human smuggling and trafficking in the El Paso-Juárez area.