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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Texas lawmaker outlines intensifying border problem-a conduit for terrorism


WASHINGTON A report today points to drug cartels as the root problem needing to be addressed to secure the U-S/Mexico border from terrorism.

The report was released by Texas Congressman Mike McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on investigations.It follows the slate of hearings House Republicans held this summer as part of an effort to stymie a sweeping immigration reform bill passed by the Senate.House bills focused instead on enforcement, and a bill to build 700 miles of fencing passed Congress last month.Drug-related violence in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across from Laredo, Texas, has captured the national spotlight in a deadly turf war between rival gangs.The report said the illegal drug industry is becoming a conduit for terrorism activity in Latin America. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Lawmaker outlines intensifying border problems

SUZANNE GAMBOA Associated Press

A report issued by a Texas congressman Monday points to drug cartels as the root problem needing to be addressed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border from terrorism.

The report was released by Rep. Mike McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on investigations. It follows the slate of hearings House Republicans held this summer as part of their effort to stymie a sweeping immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. House bills focused instead on enforcement, and a bill to build 700 miles of fencing passed Congress last month.

"There's a reactionary part to securing the border," said McCaul, R-Texas. "This is a look at a second piece, the root of what's happening down there. The head of the snake is the cartels. They need to be eradicated. That's going to take a lot of things, (including) information sharing with Mexico and Latin America."

Drug-related violence in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across from Laredo, Texas, captured the national spotlight as a turf war between rival drug gangs fighting over lucrative smuggling routes to the United States erupted. The arrests and slayings of high-level drug kingpins have added to the violent battle for power that continues.

McCaul's report said the cartels operate with military grade weapons, technology and intelligence and "their own paramilitary enforcers." The report is based on testimony by law enforcement officials in congressional hearings, news media reports and the committee's interviews with law enforcement.

Smugglers of human beings coordinate with drug cartels, paying a fee to use their safe smuggling routes into the U.S., and the cartels may be trying to move into the human smuggling trade, according to the report.

The cartels also use street and prison gangs in the U.S. as distribution networks, while gang members operate as "surrogates" and "enforcers" for cartels.

The report said the illegal drug industry is becoming a conduit for terrorism activity in Latin America, with groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamiya Al Gamat active in Latin America. The groups generate funding through money laundering, drug trafficking, arms deals and other activities, according to the report.

"While threats to our nation from international terrorism are well known, the threats spawned by narcoterrorism are lesser known, but reach deeply into this country," the report said.


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