EL PASO — A team of experts sent by the Mexico Institute in Washington, D.C. spent three days interviewing persons in Juarez to see if a lack of cross-border cooperation between U.S. and Mexican government agencies hinders efforts to quell the out-of-control consumption of illegal narcotics by Americans and the drug-cartel wars in Mexico.
Andrew Selee, director of the Institute and an adjunct professor of government at John Hopkins University said the drug violence goes beyond the normal definitions of terrorism. “Seeing how some of these murders have played out in recent years has made us pay close attention to the growing violence along the borderland.”
The group of 16 scholars spent three days in February interviewing various Juarez officials including the Aduana, military commanders, the different levels of law enforcement, and others to get a real sense of how to combat the organized crime that plagues the borderland. “We recognize that the problem [bilateral cooperation] is not just in one part of the borderland, but all across it,” Selee said.
The group has traveled to various drug violence hot spots such as Tijuana/San Diego, San Luis Potosi, and to El Paso/Juarez.
The Institute website says that it aims to develop and learn new ways to better the communication, cooperation, and understanding between the U.S. and Mexico. The Institute produces suggestions for public policy reforms, encourages debate of bilateral issues, and creates a place for original research methods to be utilized for this original problem.
This particular study [Strengthening U.S.-Mexico Cooperation to Address Organized Crime] aims at eight target problems that both countries must deal with like: reducing U.S. consumption, disrupting illegal financial flows, disrupting illegal arms flows, strengthening the Mexican judicial system, strengthening Mexican law enforcement agencies, reforming civil-military relations in Mexico, improving intelligence sharing by both countries, and improving law enforcement cooperation from both countries.
“Our ultimate aim is to put this research out there in hopes that the proper agencies and institutions on both sides of the border pick up on what we come up with,” Selee says. This research, mainly gathered through interviews of persons in the actual field of interest, should give certain agencies dealing with these issues a real perspective on battling organized crime on the border. The consumption of narcotics in the U.S. fuels the violent drug cartels that both American and Mexican governments are fighting hard to bring down.
Due to international jurisdiction laws, several American and Mexican agencies have always struggled to work together in the fight against trafficking illegal contraband, weapons, and humans. However, most concerning are the estimated $18 – $38 billion that are sent South to Mexico each year to continuously fund drug terrorism and organized crime. Without a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments, law enforcement agencies will find themselves incapable of combating the shameless drug cartels.
With so many law enforcement agencies affected by the drug trade and organized crime, the cooperation from agency to agency is crucial to solving crimes and successfully prosecuting criminals, he said.
Selee said he is optimistic and claims that, “now, more than ever, we see a growing willingness of everyone involved to cooperate and share intelligence.” Though places like Tijuana and San Diego have grown that relationship over many decades, the El Paso/Juarez border is only now finding it necessary to start inter-border reliance on each other, he said.