Mexico Drugs Into US Said Increasing

Mexico Drugs Into US Said Increasing
Posted by FoM on June 30, 2000 at 15:27:22 PT
By Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press Writer
Source: Star Tribune
 Mexican drug smugglers are getting as bold and efficient as their Colombian counterparts, and stepped up U.S. efforts to catch them have caused a logjam in federal courtrooms, law enforcement and judicial officials say. Nearly half the illegal cocaine in the United States comes through Mexico, and the country' s southern neighbor is America' s predominant foreign source of marijuana, Special Agent Joseph Keefe of the Drug Enforcement Administration told a House Government Reform subcommittee. 
With heroin, Mexican crime syndicates dominate the West Coast market, hold a substantial share of sales in the Midwest and are actively pursuing markets on the East Coast, he said. " Today, no country in the world poses a more immediate drug threat to the United States, " said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the criminal justice subcommittee' s chairman. And complicating matters, said Luis Barker of the Border Patrol, the days of just catching criminals driving drugs over the borders in trucks and cars are over. " For the first time, we are seeing consistent patterns of narcotic smuggling in southern New Mexico via backpacking and horseback in outlying areas of New Mexico, " said Barker, chief agent in the El Paso sector of Texas and New Mexico. " Drug couriers commonly use storm drainage tunnels, which consist of an entire network of underground entranceways into the United States." Barker noted the Border Patrol seized more than 1 million pounds of marijuana, cocaine and heroin last year, a 35 percent increase over the year before. At the same time, U.S. Customs agents in California seized 192 tons of marijuana, 5 tons of cocaine, 1, 164 pounds of methamphetamine and 226 pounds of heroin and arrested more than 4, 000 drug smugglers, the service' s Edward Logan said. Those include seizures at the border, at ports and at airports. American officials have stepped up enforcement at the border, and clogged courts have resulted, said U.S. District Judge W. Royal Furgeson, presiding judge of the Pecos division in Western District of Texas. He said in 1995 he saw only 45 criminal narcotics cases filed in his courts. In 1999, there were 386, and already in the first five months of 2000, there have been more than 250 filed -- a pace for 600 this year, he said. " We are really under tremendous stress handling these cases coming into our courts, " Furgeson said. Mica said Mexico needs to increase enforcement, noting reports that said the number of Mexican seizures of cocaine had dropped while coca production has increased. " Despite some reports that progress has been made against drug trafficking in Mexico, I am not convinced that Mexico has done enough to stem the rising tide of drug exportation across the border to our country, " Mica said. On the Net: House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources: Washington (AP)Published Friday, June 30, 2000 Copyright 2000 Associated Press. Related Articles: Reimagining Latin American Democracy Ties a Mass Grave to Abduction and Cocaine Of Death 
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