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Crime on the Southwest Border

The FBI partners with Mexican law enforcement and many federal, state, and local agencies on task forces targeting drugs, violent crime and public corruption on the border.


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[sounds of revolving metal gate turning]

Narrator: The U.S. border with Mexico extends nearly 2,000 miles. And it’s along this expansive stretch of territory that drug cartels and their street gang enforcers ply a dangerous and costly trade.

Drug trafficking. Human smuggling. Extortion. Murder. Corrupt public officials. All these crimes represent a multi-billion dollar industry and they pose a threat not only to communities on both sides of the border, but to our national security as well.

Perkins: What we do have on the U.S. side of the border are kidnappings, corruption issues, and the illegal drug trade that goes through. The cash that's flowing south, the weapons that are flowing south, and the drugs that are flowing north.

Narrator: To combat the drug trafficking organizations and other criminal elements on the border, the FBI partners with Mexican law enforcement and many federal, state, and local agencies on task forces targeting drugs, violent crime and public corruption. The stakes are high Just one corrupt border guard could potentially put the entire country at risk.

Kevin Perkins, assistant director, Criming Investigative Division: The problem we have with the corrupt border guards, someone who's at that border checkpoint, who can wave a truckload of whatever through-- that could be a truckload of narcotics, it could be a truckload of illegal aliens, it could be pieces to the next dirty bomb that comes into this country.

Narrator: The Bureau devotes significant resources to fighting crimes along the border. We have 12 border corruption task forces in the region staffed with apporximately 120 special agents. We have border liaison officers who work one-on-one with their law enforcement counterparts in Mexico. Our agents and analysts work on gang and violent crime squads gathering intelligence and building cases against drug traffickers and a range of other crimes that usually involve extreme violence.

Perkins: The thing that's most concerning to me is really the out-of-control violence that is on the Mexican side of the border that we're seeing … And it's not just 7,000 murders, it's the brutal violence, it's torture, it's the complete and utter disregard for human life all based upon the greed and the wealth that's coming from drug trafficking.

Keith Slotter, special agent in charge, San Diego: It's not just people being killed, it's people being killed, mutilated, and dehumanized in a very disturbing manner. There's a lot of people out there that their loved one just disappeared one day and they have no idea whatever happened ... That's the way they do business. Because they not only want to kill, they want to send a message every time they kill someone.

Narrator: The epicenter of the violence is Juarez, Mexico, located just across the border from El Paso. To stem the tide of violence associated with the cartels we work closely with EPIC, the El Paso Intelligence Center, a multi-agency operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

David Cuthbertson, special agent in charge, El Paso: We work with all our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to really have a no-tolerance for crime in El Paso as much as possible. We’re an active participant in EPIC and benefit from that every day.

Narrator: Despite the continuing violence, the head of our Criminal Investigative Division sees signs of hope on the Southwest border. Working with partners like the DEA and Customs & Border Protection, we’ve had many successes in shutting down drug pipelines and putting corrupt border guards in prison.

Perkins: I believe we're making a dent in it. We are putting a lot of resources down there, we're focusing these resources on what we believe to be the biggest targets, the most important targets. We work with our state and local partners and other federal partners to enforce the various laws that we’re charged with along that border.

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