Thank you, Jim.
Under the president's leadership and together with the State
Department and DHS, the Department of Justice stands ready to take the
fight to the Mexican drug cartels.
We're all concerned about the increased levels of violence in
Mexico. And we very much admire the courage and resolution of our
Mexican counterparts, who are bravely confronting these cartels in
their own backyard. And we're resolved to do everything we can to
work together, with them, to destroy these criminal organizations.
For more than a quarter century, U.S. law enforcement agencies
have recognized that the best way to fight the most sophisticated
criminal enterprises is through intelligence-based investigation, to
target the greatest threats.
Under the leadership of the Justice Department, the command and
control of La Cosa Nostra, which was once the most powerful organized
crime group operating, in the United States, has been effectively
dismantled, with many of its most senior leaders behind bars.
Built on this same approach and together with our Mexican
counterparts, the department's Mexican cartel strategy confronts those
cartels as criminal organizations rather than simply responding to
individual acts of violence.
That strategy is carried out by prosecutor-led, intelligence-
based task forces that bring together all DOJ and DHS and other
relevant law enforcement agencies, to disrupt and dismantle the drug
cartels through investigation, prosecution, extradition of their
leaders and the seizure and forfeiture of their assets.
As we've found with other large criminal groups, if you take
their money and lock up their leaders, you can loosen their grips on
the vast organizations that are used to carry out their criminal
Attorney General Holder and I are committed to taking advantage
of all department resources and those of associated agencies to target
the Mexican cartels. We will investigate and prosecute the criminals
who smuggle drugs, into the United States, and distribute and sell
them in our cities and towns. We will also investigate and prosecute
those who smuggle guns, bulk cash and contraband from the United
States to Mexico.
Just last month, the attorney general announced the arrest of
more than 750 individuals, on narcotics-related charges, under
Operation Xcellerator, a multi-agency, multi-national effort that
targeted the Mexican drug trafficking organization known as the
Through Operation Xcellerator, prosecutors and federal law
enforcement agencies, led by DEA, delivered a significant blow to the
Sinaloa Cartel by seizing $59 million, hundreds of firearms and more
than 12,000 kilograms of cocaine and 12,000 pounds of methamphetamine.
A similarly sweeping DOJ-led initiative against the Gulf Cartel,
announced in September 2008, called Project Reckoning, produced
similarly dramatic results.
The president has directed us to take action to fight these
cartels. And Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new and
aggressive steps, as part of the administration's comprehensive plan.
Those steps include the following.
DOJ's Drug Enforcement Administration, which already has the
largest U.S. drug enforcement presence in Mexico, with 11 offices in
that country, is placing 16 new DEA positions in southwest border
field operations, specifically to target Mexican trafficking and
The DEA is also deploying four new mobile enforcement teams to
specifically target Mexican methamphetamine trafficking, both along
the border and in U.S. cities impacted by the cartels.
DOJ's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is
increasing its efforts by adding 37 new employees in three new
offices, using $10 million in Recovery Act funds, and redeploying 100
personnel to the southwest border in the next 45 days, to fortify its
Project Gunrunner, which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking
between the United States and Mexico.
ATF is doubling its presence in Mexico itself, from five to nine
personnel working with the Mexicans, specifically to facilitate gun-
tracing activity, which targets the illegal weapons and their sources
in the United States.
DOJ's Office of Justice Programs is investing $30 million in
stimulus funding to help state and local governments and law
enforcement combat narcotics activity, along the southwest border and
in high-intensity drug trafficking areas.
Additionally the state and local law enforcement in those areas
can apply for cops and Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, a total of 3
billion of which were provided in the stimulus package.
DOJ's Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force program or OCDETF is
adding personnel to its strike force capacity, along the southwest
border. And the FBI is stepping up its efforts in the region, by
creating a southwest intelligence group, focusing its activities --
increasing its focus on public corruption, kidnappings and extortion
related to the cartels' activities.
As the department did in dismantling La Cosa Nostra, these new
resources will build on the framework already in place to disrupt and
dismantle the Mexican drug cartels.
Let's take a couple questions.
Madame Secretary, first for you, can you tell us, does this
effort suggest a shift in the thrust of the agency's mission, from
preventing terrorism to preventing the spread of organized crime?
And then for you, deputy secretary, if you could tell us,
statements by the Mexican president suggest that Mexico is a bit
miffed right now about some of the statements that have been made,
about Mexico, by this administration.
Is there a new commitment that Secretary Clinton is taking with her
when she goes to Mexico tomorrow? Thank you.
Yes; no. Our department is always engaged in
the fight on terrorism. This department was stood up in the wake of
9/11. It is a central tenet of our department, and those efforts are
ongoing -- and, if anything, stronger now than perhaps before.
But our department has a very broad mission, and we have to be
able to multitask. And as we multitask, one of the things that has
happened -- one of the changes in the threat environment has been what
is going on in Mexico. So we need to make changes in order to deal
with that particular threat.
And again, it's twofold. One is, we want to help our colleagues
in Mexico. But it does have an impact on safety and security within
the United States. So it's not only consistent with the Department of
Homeland Security's mission, but it is one of the ongoing threats to
safety and security today. But to return to the beginning of your
question, the answer is, absolutely not. And we will always be
embarked on that fight.
I think the secretary's trip is part of this
broader effort by the administration, really, from the beginning, to
demonstrate that we really see this as a critical partnership and one
that requires as much high-level attention as any bilateral
relationship that we have.
The president already developed his own ties with President
Calderon, and the fact that he will be making an early visit himself
to Mexico before the Summit of the Americas really represents the
importance that we attach to it.
The secretary, I think, really wants to stress that while we have
a critical set of issues that we need to deal with, in terms of law
enforcement, counter-narcotics, guns and the like, and the violence
problem, that we really value Mexico, (partnered ?) across the board
and the leadership that President Calderon has shown in being --
courageously taking on this challenge, which is vital to the well-
being of his own country but also across the board in showing
leadership in so many different areas.
And Mexico is stepping out not just in the hemisphere but
globally to play a big role in the G-20. It's showing great
leadership on the climate-change agenda, one of the first of the
recently emerged developing countries to take a major commitment to
reduce greenhouse gases.
So I think we want to give a very strong signal. And her visit,
I think, will emphasize the fact that we really appreciate this
remarkable leadership we're seeing from Mexico and the importance of
this partnership that we've been building.
I think a lot of people along the border, particularly in
Texas, who were hoping for a large influx of personnel are going to
look at the announcements today as pretty modest and incremental. How
do you assure those folks who were looking for hundreds or even
thousands of troops or border personnel that this is really going to
protect Americans and their security?
Well, first of all, it is a very robust
movement of personnel.
DHS alone, it's 350 specifically dedicated to cartel, in addition to
what we already had moved there. So it is a very robust movement.
Secondly, empowering state and local law enforcement, and helping
them with their resources by moving millions and millions of dollars
to them along the border, is a very robust move. So when I say we're
moving $59 million of Stonegarden money, that's money that will
immediately become usable by local police departments, sheriffs'
departments and the like along the border.
And the third is, this is -- the border itself has a number of
assets already located there -- thousands, actually, located along the
border. So there's already a very, very heavy federal presence. We
add to it; we target; we dedicate. And then, as I said earlier, I
anticipate that there will be more announcements, as we work with
Mexico and work through this drug cartel issue. So if anything, this
is really the first wave of things that will be happening.
And we're already seeing, I think, some changes along the border.
For example, the communities, the border towns themselves, some of
them are actually reporting a decrease in violent crime. The issue
is, obviously, can that be sustained over time, and what needs to
happen over time for that to continue. So this is going to be an
ongoing piece of very, very significant work.
Can I follow up on that?
Can you explain, the $700 million interdiction, it's
additional to the Merida Initiative also ready?
That 700 million (dollars) is -- is the existing
appropriations for the Merida Initiative. As you know, we've
committed a total of 1.4 billion (dollars) over three years, and so
we'll be looking forward to additional funding in the FY 2010 budget
So the five helicopters are the helicopters already
Correct. Those are already approved.
And Secretary Napolitano, the Secretary Gomez Mont that you
saw last week, after the meeting with you he gives the press
conference to the Mexico media and told that he found doubt on the
U.S. government intent of sharing intelligence with the Mexicans
because the -- the corruption at the high levels of government in
Mexico. Is that true? Can you explain why you have doubts in that?
Have doubts? Is that what you said?
Doubts of giving information, intelligence information, to
the Mexican authorities, because you have the problem of -- in Mexico,
has the problem of drug corruption at the high levels of the
Sure. It has been a problem in Mexico. And --
Why do you say you have doubts on shared information with
-- and that's why the meeting with the minister
of the Interior, the attorney general of Mexico that I've had over the
last two weeks have been so important, because we need to be able to
share information and we want to share it, and we want to make sure
that it doesn't get into the hands of the cartels. And historically,
that ha been a problem with respect to intelligence sharing in Mexico.
I think we all recognize that. But I also think we have in place some
tools to deal with that. And one of the initiatives under Merida is
to recruit law enforcement personnel in Mexico. And that in and of
itself will be an anti-corruption measure.
I have a question here. Mexico has always complained that
part of the reason they have this huge drug trafficking problem is
because of U.S. consumption of drugs here. So I was wondering if your
plan, you know, encompasses some sort of plan to fight against
consumption here. And on the other hand, restrictionist groups in the
U.S. have said that this is all the more reason why the border wall
needs to be completed. Can you tell us what's going on with the
completion of the wall along the border? Thanks.
Yeah. With respect to demand, yes, that is
part and parcel and needs to be. This is a supply issue and it's a
demand issue. In the stimulus package there was approximately $70
million for drug courts, which have been very effective in reducing
recidivism among drug offenders. I look forward to working with the
new head of the National Drug Control Office to see what else can be
done to increase our demand reduction programs. But that obviously
has to be a part.
In terms of the wall itself, we are going to complete the
sections that had already been begun and for which there already were
appropriations. To the extent we request any other sections, it will
be part and parcel of a system that includes technology and manpower.
But if you've ever worked on these cartel cases, as I have as a
prosecutor, you know that a wall is not the best way to spend our
dollars to prevent these drugs from coming into the United States and
to be able to apprehend and prosecute the smugglers themselves.
Madame Secretary? You said that this is all that is taking
place right now. So we are to understand that the plans that you
detailed previously, that personnel, that new personnel is already
there in place or they will be moving into their positions --
It's both. It's both. Some have already
started. Some are in the process of moving. Obviously, you know,
you've got to get agents and they've got to actually physically move
to the border and all the rest. So some of it is under way. Some are
already there. For example, I mentioned the screening of rail going
southbound along those eight rail lines. That has already begun. But
the additional a hundred border patrols agents that are only going to
focus on southbound interdictions, that's under way. So it's both.
And by when do you hope to have everything in place?
I think it's going to be ongoing, but the
things I've mentioned today are all things that will be completed
within, at the longest, 90 days.
But Madame Secretary, do you really have an assessment of
what are the reasons if the Mexican government fails in this struggle
against drug smugglers?
I believe that the Mexican government will not
fail. And I believe that our role is to assist in this battle,
because we have our own security interests in its success. But yes,
one of the things we do at the department is to plan for even the most
And we have those plans. But even to say it, I think, overestimates
Can I follow on that? Can I follow on that please?
Yes. Madame Secretary, on the issue of arms, part of the
problem -- the question basically is do you -- how successful to you
expect to be in this effort to tramp down on the trafficking about --
going into Mexico, when part of this problem is, you know, all these
gun shops along the border? I mean, do you expect to go against the
people who sell these arms, which is part of the problem? I mean,
maybe you can be successful to stopping arms, but if you don't do
anything to, you know, do something on the source of this illegal
business, how can you expect to have a real impact on this issue?
Several things: One is, first of all, you've
got to interdict the arms. You've got to stop them from going into
Mexico. That's why we're increasing the southbound inspections.
That's why we're moving the technology to the border to help with
screening going into the border. We're coordinating with Mexico
because they can do more by way of southbound screening on their side
of the border.
But then the Department of Justice, moving their agents down
there, as David said, and increasing tracing, that will help us
identify who are -- who is putting those arms into the arms, those
guns into the arms of the traffickers moving south.
And out of that, there can reasonably be seen more prosecution of
actual arms dealers who are intentionally and knowingly putting arms
into the hands of the smugglers.
So that is part of the reason why Department of Justice is such
an essential part of this initiative on Mexico.
Madame Secretary, what are the most compelling arguments
you've heard for and against sending National Guard troops to the
border? And what does Governor Perry need to tell you to convince you
to do what he is asking?
Well, the questions for Governor Perry are very
logistical, in my view. Why 1,000? Where was that -- where did that
number come from? Where in Texas? Texas has a huge border with
Mexico. And what does he anticipate the Guard doing? And those are
the kinds of things that I think then I will transmit to the secretary
of Defense and the president in the ongoing decision about Guard,
yes/no, and, if so, how many and where.
Thank you, guys.