[House Hearing, 109 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
OUTGUNNED AND OUTMANNED: LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT CONFRONTS VIOLENCE ALONG
THE SOUTHERN BORDER
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM,
AND HOMELAND SECURITY
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
MARCH 2, 2006
Serial No. 109-85
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
For Sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; (202) 512-1800
Fax: (202) 512-2250 Mail: Stop SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-0001
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
LAMAR SMITH, Texas RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
ELTON GALLEGLY, California JERROLD NADLER, New York
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California ZOE LOFGREN, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
CHRIS CANNON, Utah MAXINE WATERS, California
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
RIC KELLER, Florida ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DARRELL ISSA, California LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
MIKE PENCE, Indiana DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
STEVE KING, Iowa
TOM FEENEY, Florida
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
Philip G. Kiko, General Counsel-Chief of Staff
Perry H. Apelbaum, Minority Chief Counsel
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana, Chairman
STEVE KING, Iowa SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
LAMAR SMITH, Texas ZOE LOFGREN, California
ELTON GALLEGLY, California LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia MAXINE WATERS, California
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
DARRELL ISSA, California
George Fishman, Chief Counsel
Art Arthur, Counsel
Allison Beach, Counsel
Cindy Blackston, Professional Staff
Nolan Rappaport, Minority CounselF0486 deg.
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina, Chairman
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
TOM FEENEY, Florida MAXINE WATERS, California
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
RIC KELLER, Florida WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
Michael Volkov, Chief Counsel
Elizabeth Sokul, Special Counsel for Intelligence
and Homeland Security, Full Committee
Jason Cervenak, Full Committee Counsel
Bobby Vassar, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
MARCH 2, 2006
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress
from the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on
Immigration, Border Security, and Claims....................... 1
The Honorable Howard Coble, a Representative in Congress from the
State of North Carolina, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime,
Terrorism, and Homeland Security............................... 3
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress
from the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Immigration, Border Security, and Claims....................... 4
The Honorable Robert C. Scott, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Virginia, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security........................ 6
Sheriff Leo Samaniego, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, El Paso,
Oral Testimony................................................. 9
Prepared Statement............................................. 10
Sheriff Larry Dever, Cochise County Sheriff's Office, Bisbee,
Oral Testimony................................................. 14
Prepared Statement............................................. 15
Sheriff Todd Garrison, Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, Las
Cruces, New Mexico
Oral Testimony................................................. 16
Prepared Statement............................................. 18
Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, Jr., Zapata County Sheriff's Office,
Oral Testimony................................................. 19
Prepared Statement............................................. 21
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and Ranking
Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Elton Gallegly, a
Representative in Congress from the State of California........ 53
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Darrell Issa, a
Representative in Congress from the State of California........ 54
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Louie Gohmert, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas............. 54
Prepared Statement of Vivian Juan-Saunders, Chairwoman, Tohono
O'Odham Nation of Arizona...................................... 55
OUTGUNNED AND OUTMANNED: LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT CONFRONTS VIOLENCE ALONG
THE SOUTHERN BORDER
THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2006
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 12:04 p.m.,
in Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable John
Hostettler (Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border
Security, and Claims) presiding.
Mr. Hostettler. The Subcommittees will come to order.
Good afternoon. At the outset, I want to thank Chairman
Coble, Ranking Member Scott, and the Members of the
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security for
joining the Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
Subcommittee for this important hearing.
Today's four witnesses represent the three States that
together span most of the southern border with Mexico. Each
witness is an experienced sheriff and each is faced with the
growing difficulty of enforcing the law in communities that are
being subjected to a growing level of violent crime by illegal
aliens. Some of these illegal aliens are just moving through on
their way to richer pastures further into the interior of the
United States. Others are professional criminals who reside
south of the border and operate criminal enterprises that
exploit the weak security all along the southern borders of
these three States.
In the past year, there has been a growing threat from
military-type units providing armed escorts to criminal drug-
smuggling gangs across the border from Mexico. In the past 3
months, there have been at least two incidents where heavily
armed and uniformed units have appeared on the banks of the Rio
Grande River east of El Paso with the apparent goal of
intimidating U.S., local, and Federal law enforcement officials
from pursuing narcotics smugglers fleeing back home across the
border. In both instances, U.S. law enforcement had to back
away to protect their lives because they were outgunned and
outmanned. The good news is that no one was killed in these
incidents. The bad news is that no one in these criminal gangs
has been apprehended in Mexico, and they have learned from
experience that they can win the day by using intimidating
In the face of photographs taken by local sheriff's
deputies at the Hudspeth County incident on January 23rd, the
Mexican Government launched an investigation as to whether
there had been local Mexican military units involved in
providing the muscle. The Mexican Secretary of Defense released
a report on the investigation on February 3, which identified
the primary narcotics smugglers by name and stated that there
were no Mexican military units involved.
Chihuahua State has at least one battalion-strength unit
garrisoned near Juarez in the immediate vicinity of the Rio
Grande Valley. Military units regularly carry out field
maneuvers and training exercises throughout the State and,
especially, in-country along the border. Consequently, the
local citizenry are used to seeing men in uniform carrying
automatic weapons, riding in Humvees to and from field
exercises. So it is certainly within the realm of reason that
narcotics smugglers could use local thugs as armed escorts,
equip them to appear as soldiers, and transport them in
camouflaged Humvees so they would not look like bandits. That
is essentially what the Mexican Secretary of Defense reported,
stating that Jose Rodolfo Escajeda, identified in the photos
taken by the U.S. deputies, may own six Humvee automobiles.
I remain puzzled as to how a desperado can live in the
vicinity of Juarez with six Hummers, several equipped as patrol
cars, and not be immediately located and apprehended. Juarez
has a substantial municipal police force. There is an office of
the Mexican drug enforcement agency, an office of the Mexican
equivalent of the FBI known as the OFI. And, of course, I have
already noted that there is a sizable military presence in the
vicinity. Mexico allows the military to conduct police
operations, and President Fox used the military forces several
years ago to arrest crooked Mexican drug enforcement officials.
How could there have been no apprehensions in Mexico with so
many law enforcement organizations available?
Besides the obvious narcotics charges for which there is
clear photographic evidence, there should be substantial
weapons charges the Mexican authorities could use to prosecute
Mr. Escajeda. Mexico has among the most restrictive gun
ownership and registration laws in the Western Hemisphere. So
the presence of heavily armed men in support of smugglers from
south of the border means one of three things: One, Mexican law
enforcement is incapable of enforcing these gun laws or their
narcotics laws. Two, Mexican authorities have other priorities
than investigating, capturing, and prosecuting renegade border
smugglers. Or three, renegades from the Mexican army were in
fact moonlighting from their regular duties by guarding Mr.
Escajeda and his haul of marijuana and there are those in
authority in Mexico who do not want this revealed.
I want to introduce a few facts that shed further light on
this situation. There have been around 200 military incursions
by Mexican military units into the United States since 1996.
While many of these have been accidental, some of the
incursions appear to have been in support of narcotics and/or
human smuggling activities. Although the Mexican army is
required by law to remain at least 5 kilometers south of the
actual border, army units are located in the precise region
where narcotics and human smugglers stage their border crossing
activities. The low wages of Mexican soldiers make them
susceptible to being recruited to facilitate and even guard
contraband shipments. And the Mexican Government has
demonstrated that it is increasingly unable to protect its own
officials from assassinations and intimidation by border
How will we protect our law enforcement officials? That is
the basis for our hearing today.
At this time, I would like to yield to the Chairman of the
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Mr.
Coble, for an opening statement.
Mr. Coble. I thank the distinguished gentleman from
Indiana, Mr. Hostettler, his Ranking Member, the distinguished
lady from Texas, and our distinguished Ranking Member Mr.
Scott, I think, will be along. I appreciate, John, your
agreeing to convene today's hearing.
I am very concerned about the nexus between illegal
immigration, drugs, and crime along the United States-Mexico
border. It is impacting communities and law enforcement along
the southwest border and could very well pose threats to
At our previous joint hearing, Mr. Chairman, on this topic,
you will recall--which I had the privilege of chairing--we
received testimony from several Federal law enforcement
agencies having jurisdiction on the border. Today I am pleased
to learn that we will receive testimony from local law
enforcement who can provide another perspective on this
As a nation, it seems to me that we must embrace the fact
that in order to successfully confront and defeat this scourge
of violence, our Federal agencies must cooperate and coordinate
with their respective State and local partners. We are all
sensitive to the challenges facing local law enforcement, but
those along our southwest border are dealing with an
overwhelming situation. They are often confronted with a
criminal element that presents a far superior force. And when I
say ``superior force,'' I'm not suggesting a lack of dedication
or a lack of bravery on our side or on your side, because we
all know that our law enforcement people are second to none.
On the border, our locals are routinely, I am told, Mr.
Chairman, outmanned and outgunned. The ruthlessness and
brazenness of these cartels and their enforcement arms, such as
the Zetas and the MS-13, is appalling. I'm alarmed by the
stories of Americans being kidnapped and taken across the
border, indiscriminate and brutal killings where bodies are
disposed of in oil barrels, and what appear to be units of the
Mexican military aiding the drug cartels in some instances, I
am told. I daresay this is a dire situation that may threaten
our national security.
At our previous hearing, Mr. Chairman and Ms. Jackson Lee,
I noted, ``a very dangerous criminal element is at our doorstep
and knocking.'' Now, it's bad enough to have a dangerous
element imminently nearby. But when he's knocking on your door,
that has a way of making your coffee taste real bad in a hurry.
It now appears as if this criminal element is being joined by
units of the Mexican military to aid in these operations. Just
as we would not dispatch a sheriff's office to engage in a
foreign military campaign, neither should we expect our local
law enforcement to stand alone when confronting elements of the
Mexican military, if in fact this is the case.
I have been told that the Mexican Government is
investigating the incursion that took place on January 23rd
this year in Hudspeth County, and I hope they'll take this
investigation seriously and take steps to ensure that this type
of activity never happens again.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we may well be served by
requiring our own Government agencies to conduct independent
investigation to help corroborate the record and to get to the
bottom of what has become routine practice and institute
measures to prevent future occurrences. This is a concern of
national sovereignty and territorial integrity that should not
be delegated to another nation.
Sheriffs, I join the Chairman in expressing thanks to you
all for being here. I applaud your dedication and sacrifice to
protecting your counties and the Nation. And I welcome you and
look forward to the testimony, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Hostettler. At this time, the chair recognizes the
gentlelady from Texas, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee
on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, Ms. Jackson Lee,
for an opening statement.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me
thank the Chairman of the Crime Subcommittee and my Ranking
Member, Mr. Scott, for your indulgence and cooperation,
collaboration on this hearing.
Let me also acknowledge the number of witnesses from Texas
and let me take a moment of personal privilege to say how proud
I am that out the pressing forward of this lonely journey, that
in the effort to speak not only for the southern border in
Texas, that you're speaking for America. Let me thank the
Sheriffs Association as well and the leadership there.
Let me acknowledge that although Secretary Chertoff was
down with other Members of Congress, whom you met first, let it
be known that others of us have walked along the border a way
long time ago, along the El Paso border down in the area where
you are, the New Mexico border, and seen some of the stress
that was perpetrated. And we obviously believe that this is an
important step forward that you're making.
Let me also acknowledge my fellow Texas Members as well
as--I knew that Mr. Cuellar was here in the room; I'm not sure
if he still is. But we have been focused on this issue and we
are delighted with your presence.
Let me also say, as we are going off to vote, I am headed
off to the Gulf region. I'm hoping that I'll be able to return.
We are taking a bipartisan delegation down to Mississippi,
Alabama, and Louisiana in a few minutes.
But this challenge that we have before us is really to
address the two concepts of this hearing, outgunned and
outmanned--but not without integrity and determination.
According to the Border Patrol statistics from fiscal year 2001
through the end of fiscal year 2005, there have been 144
documented incursions into the United States. The Border
Patrol's definition of an incursion is an unauthorized crossing
of the international border by individuals who are or appear to
be Mexican Government personnel, whether intentional or not.
So this is not, if you will, a myth. A well-publicized
incident occurred last month in Hudspeth County, Texas. On
January 23, 2006, deputy sheriffs from Hudspeth County
encountered three vehicles thought to be carrying marijuana in
the vicinity of the border with Mexico. They pursued the
vehicles to the Rio Grande River, where one of them got stuck
in the river. As they approached the river, they observed a
military-style Humvee with a machine gun and what the deputies
believed to be Mexican soldiers armed with military weapons. A
second Humvee arrived and uniformed men were observed getting
out and taking positions east and west along the Mexican side
of the river, hiding behind heavy, thick brush. Then 10 to 15
men dressed in civilian clothes appeared.
Let me just by way of summary say that--Mr. Chairman, I'm
going to ask that my entire statement be put in the record.
Mr. Hostettler. Without objection.
Ms. Jackson Lee. And I am going to try and summarize it.
This incident, as I said, was an example of already 144
responding. I think it should be noted that those of you who
are here who are sheriffs have said, in meetings that I've been
in, that you've worked extensively without Border Patrol agents
and would like and hope that we will have a collaborative
effort. I hope this hearing--of which I'm very proud to have
instigated after we met and I promised you that we would have a
meeting and should have a meeting in Judiciary, and let me
thank all of my colleagues for consenting to such--will be a
collaboration between homeland security, the issues of
immigration, the issues of drug smuggling, the issues of gun
running, the issues of money laundering, and the issues of
violence. That's what you've been contending with.
We need all energies of the United States Congress on the
Senate side, Judiciary Committee that you had a hearing
before--Judiciary, Homeland Security, to converge on these
issues and begin to respond and build up the necessities.
Now, let me just note that the Government of Mexico has
deployed more than 300 Mexican State Police officers to target
criminal organizations, human smugglers, and transnational
gangs along the border in order to support a cooperative effort
to reduce violence along the border. I will be meeting with
them to determine the effect of that utilization. And until we
determine the effect, we want to hear from you, we want to work
with you, and we're very, very pleased that you're here this
Thank you very much. I yield back my time.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
According to Border Patrol statistics, from FY 2001 through the end
of FY 2005, there have been 144 documented incursions into the United
States. The Border Patrol's definition of ``an incursion'' is an
unauthorized crossing of the international border by individuals who
are, or appear to be, Mexican government personnel, whether intentional
A well-publicized incident occurred last month in Hudspeth County,
Texas. On January 23, 2006, Deputy Sheriffs from Hudspeth County
encountered 3 vehicles thought to be carrying marihuana in the vicinity
of the border with Mexico. They pursued the vehicles to the Rio Grande
River where one them got stuck in the river. As they approached the
river, they observed a military-style hummvee with a machine gun and
what the deputies believed to be Mexican soldiers armed with military
weapons. A second hummvee arrived and uniformed men were observed
getting out and taking positions east and west along the Mexican side
of the river, hiding behind heavy thick brush. Then 10 to 15 men
dressed in civilian clothes appeared. Some of these men were armed with
automatic long rifles. The contraband was loaded on another pick up
truck on the Mexican side and then the vehicles drove off.
According to the Mexican government, the uniforms, insignia,
armament, and vehicles that appeared on a video of this incident do not
correspond to those utilized by the Armed Forces of Mexico. The Mexican
government also determined that the people involved were criminals
linked to the Rodolfo Escajeda drug-trafficking organization.
In any case, the potential for high-level violence along the border
is increasing at an alarming rate. It has reached the point where
Border Patrol agents and Deputy Sheriffs are shot at on a routine
basis, and they are encountering traffickers who appear to have
military training and are armed with automatic pistols, rifles, machine
guns, grenades, grenade launchers, and other military type equipment.
It is apparent that local Deputy Sheriffs are not equipped for combat
with such heavily armed opponents and that they do not have the
manpower for such confrontations in any event. In addition to its own
work along the border, the Border Patrol participates in joint programs
with the Mexican government. For instance, the Border Patrol has a
liaison program to share information on terrorist threats and special
interest aliens with their counterparts in the Government of Mexico.
The Border Patrol is working with the Government of Mexico to pursue
the Operation Against Smugglers Initiative on Safety and Security
(OASISS). This is a bilateral alien smuggler prosecutions program that
includes efforts to identify and prosecute violent human smugglers and
save the lives of migrants who are put at risk by smuggling
I also want to note that the Government of Mexico has deployed more
than 300 Mexican state police officers to target criminal
organizations, human smugglers, and transnational gangs along the
border in order to support a cooperative effort to reduce violence
along the border.
Nevertheless, the Administration has not done enough to secure the
border. The Border Patrol needs more agents and more resources. My
Rapid Response Border Protection Act, H.R. 4044, would meet these needs
by providing critical resources and support for the men and women who
enforce our immigration, customs, and other laws.
This would include adding 15,000 Border Patrol agents over the next
5 years, increasing the number of agents from 11,000 to 26,000. It
would require the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) to respond rapidly to border crises by deploying up to 1,000
additional Border Patrol agents to a State when a border security
emergency is declared by the governor. It would add 100,000 more
detention beds to ensure that those who are apprehended entering the
United States unlawfully are sent home instead of being released into
our communities. And, it would provide critical equipment and
infrastructure improvements, including additional helicopters, power
boats, police-type vehicles, portable computers, reliable radio
communications, hand-held GPS devices, body armor, and night-vision
We will not have a secure border until we provide the Border Patrol
with the equipment and resources it needs.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank the gentlelady.
The chair now recognizes the distinguished gentleman from
Virginia, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Crime,
Terrorism, Homeland Security, for purposes of an opening
statement. Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you and Mr. Coble
and Ranking Member Jackson Lee for holding this joint oversight
hearing titled ``Outgunned and Outmanned: Local Law Enforcement
Confronts Violence Along the Southern Border.'' This is the
second in our series of joint Subcommittee hearings on violence
and other law enforcement challenges along our southwest
border, and it is evident from the title of the hearing that
we're reviewing another serious aspect of this problem.
At our last hearing we heard shocking reports of
sensational crime and violence at the southwest border near
Laredo, Texas, including attacks on law enforcement personnel,
kidnappings of both Mexican and American citizens, drug and
human smuggling for drug cartels, and international gangs and
more. Today we'll hear about numerous incidents of incursions
into the United States by heavily armed groups dressed in
military-style uniforms in support of illegal activities. Some
reports have indicated that these are Mexican military
personnel, though both Mexican and United States officials have
said that this is not the case. Whoever they are, the
implications are serious for the safety of our local as well as
Federal law enforcement officials.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the testimony of our
witnesses regarding what they're experiencing and what needs to
be done by Congress to help get a handle on these disturbing
developments along our southwest border.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back the balance of my
Mr. Hostettler. I thank the gentleman from Virginia.
The chair now recognizes the distinguished gentleman from
Texas, the former Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims, for purposes of an opening
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have time for
an opening statement, as we know, or we will miss this next
vote. But I just had to personally welcome, with the indulgence
of the other Members, the two Texas sheriffs who are here and
say to them how much I appreciate their making this effort and
their testimony--which unfortunately won't be able to begin
now, I think, for a few minutes. But we appreciate the effort
and I welcome you all as far as that goes. It's a credit to the
Chairman, his having a hearing on this subject, and it's a
credit to you all that you're taking such an interest in such
an important issue.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank the gentleman.
Gentleman, members of the witness panel, we will recess for
a short period of time in order to vote in the House of
Representatives. Thank you for your indulgence. I apologize for
the break in the action, but we look forward to hearing from
Mr. Hostettler. The Subcommittees will come to order.
At this point I would like to introduce members of our
witness panel. Leo Samaniego has served as Sheriff of El Paso
County in Texas since he was first elected in 1984. Prior to
his election as sheriff, Sheriff Samaniego served in the El
Paso Police Department for 28 years. He is a 1972 graduate of
the FBI National Academy and he serves as a member of the Texas
Crime Prevention Association, American Legion Post 74, and is
chairman of the El Paso Area Community Justice Council. Sheriff
Samaniego has been the recipient of numerous awards, including
the League of Women Voters Bravo Award and the City of El Paso
Larry Dever has been the sheriff of Cochise County in
Arizona since being elected to that position in 1996. He is a
20-year veteran of the department who previously served as
chief of field operations under Sheriff Jimmy Judd and then as
head of support services under his predecessor, Sheriff John
Pintek. He has appeared on CNN and his quotes have appeared
many times in national media, as Cochise County has the largest
traffic of illegal aliens of any county along the entire
southern border, based on apprehensions by the Border Patrol
and other indicators.
Todd Garrison was appointed by the Dona Ana County
Commissioners in 2005 as the sheriff of Dona Ana County.
Sheriff Garrison began his law enforcement career in 1985 with
the Las Cruces Police Department, where he worked until
September 1999. In 1999, he left the Las Cruces Police
Department and began working for the New Mexico Motor
Transportation Department as a Highway Patrol officer. In 2000,
he became a patrol sergeant with the department, supervising
officers in five area counties. In addition to serving as
sheriff of Dona Ana County, Sheriff Garrison is currently a
member of the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Board and is the
vice chair on the Metro Narcotics Board.
In 1994, Sigifredo Gonzalez--is that right, Sheriff?
Sheriff Gonzalez. Yes.
Mr. Hostettler [continuing]. Was appointed and then elected
sheriff--It's like Hostettler; it's just--you have to work on
it.--elected sheriff of Zapata County, Texas. He has since been
reelected in 1996, 2000, 2004. Sheriff Gonzalez began his
career in law enforcement 29 years ago as a deputy sheriff in
Zapata County, at the age of 20. In 1981, Sheriff Gonzalez
served with the Zapata County Attorney's Office, becoming the
first investigator for that office in the history of Zapata
County. In addition to serving as sheriff of Zapata County,
Sigifredo Gonzalez serves as the chairman of the newly formed
Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition and as the chairman of the
Public Protection Advisory Committee of the South Texas
Gentlemen, thank you for being here. In keeping with policy
of the Committee, we swear in witnesses. If you will please
rise and raise your right hand.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you very much. You may be seated. Let
the record reflect that each answered in the affirmative.
Gentlemen, we have a lighting system here and a time limit
for opening statements. Without objection, your written
statements will be made a part of the record. We're somewhat
lenient, especially with our witnesses, on that 5 minutes, but
if you can hold your testimony to as close to 5 minutes as
possible, we would appreciate it. We will try to hold our
questions to as close to 5 minutes as possible.
Thank you very much. Sheriff Samaniego, you are welcome to
STATEMENT OF SHERIFF SAMANIEGO, EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S
OFFICE, EL PASO, TEXAS
Sheriff Samaniego. Chairman Hostettler, Chairman Coble,
Ranking Members Jackson Lee and Scott, and Members of the
Subcommittees, on behalf of the Texas Border Sheriff's
Coalition, I want to thank you for allowing me to testify today
before these two Committees on the violence along the U.S.-
Mexican border and the impact it has on local law enforcement.
Failure to stop drug and alien traffic on the border will
affect every State and city in our county. The very routes,
methods of concealment, and human resources used by these
traffickers are also a threat to our Nation's security.
On November 2, 2005, Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff was quoted in the El Paso Times saying we are not in
control of our border. And I'd like to--the Border Patrol does
an outstanding job. But they don't have the manpower necessary
to handle what I call a planned, well organized invasion of
undocumented aliens and the increase in drug trafficking. I'll
give you a few examples of what we have been finding just in
the last few days.
Last Friday, my deputies stopped a speeding Ford Bronco and
found 11 undocumented aliens stuffed into the back portion of
it. During an investigation and with the assistance of the
Border Patrol, they rounded up a total of 232 aliens in a
matter of a few hours at various hotels, motels, and private
A few days before, deputies stopped a tractor trailer rig
for speeding. The driver had an outstanding warrant, and he was
arrested. A drug canine unit was called and the dog alerted on
a box found inside that contained 68 pounds of cocaine.
A few days before that, deputies found five undocumented
aliens hiding in a house, one in possession of cocaine and
marijuana and a loaded handgun with 34 extra rounds of
In order for the Nation to understand the southwest border,
sometimes you have to take bold steps and identify the truth.
The truth is Mexico is a neighbor to the south with some
practices very few in Government wish to recognize. The term
``madrina,'' which means bridesmaid or godmother, is associated
with individuals who are not official Government employees, but
they have been given the authority by a police agency or
individual officer to act on their behalf; in other words, to
do the dirty work. Madrinas draw no salary, get no benefits,
but they have the authority to act as officials of whatever
agency they have been appointed by. They make their money from
bribes, offering protection in kidnappings and even executions.
If implications arise, they are considered expendable because
the Mexican Government doesn't officially recognize them, but
by turning a blind eye, allows this system to exist.
I'd like to talk a little bit about what's happening on the
other side of the border. It's important that we know what's
going on not only on the U.S. side, but the Mexican side. And I
will refer to an incident that happened in Hudspeth County the
last week of November, involving a dump truck that crossed the
border loaded with bundles of marijuana. They managed to make
it all the way to the Interstate, where they were spotted and a
chase began. The individual made a U-turn, managed to find an
exit, and made a bee-line for the border. He made it, but the
truck got stuck right in the middle. The driver jumped out,
took off running. U.S. officials were able to unload 95 large
bundles of marijuana before the driver reappeared, this time
with a Caterpillar and a bunch of individuals dressed in black
BDUs and armed with AK-47s.
The truck was pulled back to Mexico with half of the load
still in it. Mexican authorities were notified, but there was
no response. A few days later, Mexico did send a group of AFI
agents. AFI is a combination of DEA-, FBI-type of organization
that was formed in 2002. It is financed by the United States
and trained by the United States. On December 7, at about 7:30
p.m., in Tornillo, near Fabens in El Paso County, 16 AFI agents
ran into some elements of the 20th Infantry Regiment out of
Juarez and a shootout broke out. Two AFI agents were wounded. A
military commander was detained by the PGR, which is the
Attorney General's Office. There is no further information as
to what happened to anybody. There are rumors that a second
encounter took place and a soldier was killed by AFI agents,
but I have not been able to verify that information.
On the 23rd of January, 2006, everyone has mentioned that
incident, the three SUVs that crossed into the U.S. loaded with
marijuana. They were spotted, they retreated to the border. One
got stuck, one made it across. The other one had a blowout and
the officers recovered the drug. The officers took photos and a
video. The Mexican Government released the name of 11
individuals that were identified as drug traffickers, but the
Government denied that the army took part. They're trying to
say that 11 individuals was the total number of personnel on
the Mexican side, and this is not a fact.
In closing, I would like to close by describing how the
Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition has organized to share
information. We have developed an operation to help one another
deal with the Federal Government's failure to take control of
the border. Operation Linebacker is a program designed by
locals, by the 16 sheriffs on the border to solve our problems.
Extra patrols already operate under this plan, thanks to
Governor Rick Perry, who has stated on numerous occasions,
``Although the border security is a Federal responsibility, we
have no choice but to take aggressive steps at the State and
local level to secure our borders and protect Texans.''
Operation Linebacker is making life more difficult for those
trying to smuggle drugs, weapons, and people into Texas.
It is imperative that we increase security along our
southern border. It is a matter of public safety. Without
border security you don't have, or you won't have, national or
Thank you very much. I will be happy to answer any
questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Sheriff Samaniego follows:]
Prepared Statement of Leo Samaniego
Chairman Hostettler and Coble, Ranking Members Jackson-Lee and
Scott, and Members of the Subcommittees, I would like to thank you for
the opportunity to testify today on the violence along the southern
border and its impact on Local law enforcement. As I have stated
previously in other hearings, my only regret is that the hearing wasn't
held on the border, where the rubber meets the road in border violence,
drug and human trafficking, incursions and national security.
I realize that our nation's homeland security is our number one
priority. Establishing that priority does not diminish the continuing
problems we have with the recent front page headline grabbing problems
border incursions, drug/human trafficking and violence. In many ways,
all of these issues go hand in hand. The very routes, methods of
concealment, and human resources used by illicit organizations for drug
trafficking and alien smuggling are also a threat to our nation's
security. On this border, counter-narcotics and national security
efforts tap into the same law enforcement resources.
My hometown of El Paso, Texas, unfortunately is one of the leading
gateway cities for the transshipment of narcotics. I want to emphasize
that the drugs flowing across this border, are, by and large, not
staying here. Drug trafficking is not a local problem, it is a national
problem, and requires the attention of our Federal government. While
there is a drug abuse problem in El Paso, the demand does not compare
to the high demand for drugs in the rest of the nation. The problem for
El Paso is the transshipment of drugs through the region, and the
illegal activities associated with it. Drug traffickers do not stop for
long once they have entered El Paso. They continue with their shipments
on to cities throughout the country. The failure to stop drug smuggling
here today could mean 1,000 kilograms of marijuana will end up on the
streets of Evansville, Indiana, Greensboro, North Carolina, Houston,
Texas, Richmond, Virginia or tomorrow - you name the city, and state.
To illustrate my point as I was preparing to leave Texas for
Washington D.C. the El Paso County Sheriff's Office was completing its
field investigation into a traffic stop in the far west end of the
county. The traffic stop was for speeding . . . big deal. However, in
the vehicle were eleven (11) undocumented immigrants. The traffic stop
led to a house in the county with fifteen (15) more undocumented
immigrants and then a motel with thirty-nine (39) more undocumented
immigrants, and a hotel in Downtown El Paso with 126 more and then a
couple of more motels with 38 more undocumented immigrants.
In the middle of this simple traffic stop our agency was informed
that many of those brought into the country illegally across the river
in an isolated area east of the county, had not eaten for more than
three days. One woman made an outcry that she had not seen her 7 year-
old child or husband because they became separated in the desert.
This resulted in our agency activating a massive law enforcement
effort to locate the missing child and husband. As I testify today we
are just finishing all of the paperwork in reference to this simple
traffic case which resulted in the discovery of almost 229 undocumented
immigrants. The missing child case appears to have a happy ending;
however our agency protocol forces us to await some additional
paperwork before we officially close this case. This traffic stop has
resulted in our agency passing along some information to our Criminal
Enterprise unit which is charged with investigating the type of
Everyone believes violence is associated with the sound of a gun.
I'm here to tell you this is not the only sound you'll hear. Violence
along the border also includes the loud gasp of farmers and ranchers
who find dead bodies in the desert from the illegal entry, bodies
recovered in the river on the U.S. side from individual victims who
have been killed by smugglers or river bandits.
The violence also translates into the screeching sound of tires
traveling at a high rate of speed as drivers who literally crossed into
the United States over a dry river bed attempt to elude law enforcement
with a vehicle loaded with narcotics.
One such incident occurred on Wednesday, December 14, 2005.
Deputies in Hudspeth County and Border Patrol Agents working in
Hudspeth County identified a pick-up truck suspected of engaging in
narcotics trafficking. Based on physical evidence; the vehicle crossed
a low water point in the Rio Grande in Hudspeth County, Texas. The
vehicle illegally crossed into the United States from Mexico.
Border Patrol Agents and Hudspeth County deputies spotted the 1992
Ford (Black and Grey) extended cab 4X4. The driver of the vehicle
failed to pull over and eventually crossed into El Paso County. El Paso
County Sheriff's Deputies were notified of the fleeing vehicle.
The driver traveling west on Interstate 10 exited the highway at
the Tornillo exit and headed south toward the river. El Paso County
Sheriff's Deputies (Drug Interdiction Unit) spotted the vehicle and
attempted to pull the driver over.
The driver traveling south on Feed Penn (Approximately 55 mph in a
residential area & School Zone) thought he was crossing the river near
the intersection of Chamizo. In reality the driver was crossing the
Franklin Canal when his truck got stuck. He was not injured as a result
of driving into the canal. The driver exited the vehicle. Deputies
caught him in a foot pursuit.
The driver is identified as Ricardo Roman Padilla (26 years old)
from Guadalupe, Chihuahua, Mexico. Padilla is charged with possession
of marijuana (over 50 pounds under 2,000 pounds). This is a second-
degree felony. His bond is $75,000.00.
This is an incursion that demonstrates how porous the Texas/Mexico
Border is. Imagine if this chase had occurred about 20 minutes early
when school children would have been walking home from school along
Feed Penn Rd.
He was caught because Governor Rick Perry provided the Texas Border
Sheriff's Coalition grant money that allows us to increase patrols in
the hot spots. This grant pays officers overtime to work these danger
zones. This is a program we call ``Operation Linebacker.''
national law enforcement effort
The enforcement efforts in other major cities are being increased
because we are not stopping the drugs here. Efforts to secure our
border against narco-terrorism have not curbed the use of the Southwest
border as the most significant gateway of drugs being smuggled into the
United States. Federal resources have been expanded in cities to our
north to combat drug use and distribution, yet most of the drugs have
originated from this border.
If illicit organizations can bring in tons of narcotics through
this region and work a distribution network that spans the entire
country, then they can bring in the resources for terrorism as well. If
illegal aliens can be smuggled through here in truck loads (and they
are) then terrorist organizations can also covertly smuggle the people
to carry out their plans. On the Southwest Border, the same
organizations involved in smuggling drugs have also been found to
smuggle illegal aliens. Their motive is profit, regardless of the
negative impact on our country. Smuggling terrorists, weapons, or
weapons components would not be a far reach for these established
There are two issues that plague this area. First, the Federal
government is expecting local agencies to assist with addressing the
national drug problem, and now with increased national security
efforts, but at the same time has been reducing law enforcement
resources, such as federal law enforcement grants and prison
reimbursement funds (SCAAP). Secondly, the Federal government is
expecting more of its Federal agencies on the Southwest Border without
providing adequate resources.
understanding border security from the field.
While the city of El Paso is a safe community, the nation's third
safest; approximately 3,000 automobiles a year are stolen in El Paso
and taken to Mexico. Literally a stone's throw away, the City of
Juarez, Mexico has been plagued with over 500 drug related homicides in
the last ten years. Many of those were gang-style executions, and in
addition there were approximately 200 unsolved murders of young women.
I have been accused of having an agenda in terms of my testimony.
My agenda is simple: ``Border Security, National Security, and Homeland
Security.'' If one of these elements is missing the other two don't
In order for the nation to understand the southern border sometimes
you have to take bold steps and identify the truth. The truth is
Mexico, our neighbor to the south, continues with some corrupt legal
practices very few in that government wish to recognize. In fact, some
in our own government have turned a blind eye to this reality.
One such phenomena of corruption is the ``Madrina'' - a reality
I've seen through my own eyes as a law enforcement professional along
the border for almost 50 years this month. The term ``Madrina'' is
associated with individuals who are not official government employees,
but they have been given authority by ``Funcionarios'' recognized
government employees. The ``Madrinas'' draw no salary and get no
benefits, yet they are allowed to act as officials of whatever agency
they have been appointed by. In some cases they'll wear a uniform,
sometimes carry an official Identification, and will be authorized to
use equipment (weapons & vehicles). The identification in the United
States is generally marked ``Honorary.'' In Mexico that I.D. represents
the ability to carry out the full force of whatever agency that has
issued the card.
Many of the ``Madrinas'' are paid through ``Mordida''--a bribe, or
percentage of the take. Some ``Madrinas'' give a large percentage of
what they collect to those who have afforded them the identification to
operate. It is my experience in dealing with them, they admit to no
payroll, no benefits, no records kept. If a complication arises they
are expendable, because the Mexican government officially doesn't
recognize them, but by turning a blind eye allows this practice to
exist. ``Madrinas'' are unaccountable middle men who can negotiate with
the drug cartels on behalf of whoever has appointed them and wants his
or her government agency to thrive under this practice.
No records, no photos, no phone calls, no witnesses can ever be
found to connect a Madrina with a government official or a high ranking
criminal member. When one is found they generally are found dead. I
know they exist because of my own experience as a street cop. I have
narcotics officers tell me that the practice and traditions of the
``Madrinas'' is still alive.
I would like to close by describing how the Texas Border Sheriff's
Coalition has organized to share information. We have developed an
operation to help one another deal with the federal government's
policies that doesn't allow federal law enforcement to control the
border. Operation Linebacker is a program designed by locals to solve
Extra patrols already operate under this plan thanks in large part
to Texas Governor Rick Perry who has stated on numerous occasions,
``Although border security is a federal responsibility, we have no
choice but to take aggressive steps at the state and local level to
secure our borders and protect Texans.''
In October 2005 Governor Perry released a comprehensive, six-point
border security plan that featured Operation Linebacker. Again this
program was designed by the Coalition to increase local law enforcement
presence along the Texas-Mexico border, particularly between legal
points of entry.
Operation Linebacker is making life more difficult for those trying
to smuggle drugs, weapons and people into Texas. It is imperative that
we increase security along our southern border, it is a matter of a
public safety. With out border security you won't have national
security or homeland security.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to testify.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office continues to make every effort
possible, working with our fellow law enforcement agencies, Federal,
state and local, to address the concerns of the community of El Paso
and the American people. I would be happy to answer any questions you
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you, Sheriff.
Without objection, the gentlelady from Texas will be
recognized for some parting comments as she is getting ready to
leave for a particular CODEL.
Ms. Jackson Lee. As I indicated, there are a group of us
headed to the Gulf region and, as I understand, the departure
time is scheduled for just about now.
Mr. Chairman, again, and the Chairman of the Subcommittee
on Crime and my Ranking Member, I want to thank you for this
hearing. I hope that we will likewise follow it up with Federal
personnel that are also engaged on the issues of violence at
the border. I want to note the presence of Mr. Bonner, who
addresses the questions of the Border Patrol agents. And I want
the sheriffs to know that because of the work that you've done
and the efforts that you've made, you have me supporting more
Federal funds for the extra burden that you are now carrying,
as it relates to violence. Your testimony here is crucial.
These are part of the building blocks of our work.
And, Mr. Chairman, I know that we in the House have
finished our immigration work, but it's not completed. And I
hope that we'll have the opportunity, when the omnibus bill
comes back from the Senate, or a bill comes back from the
Senate, that our Committee can be instrumental in working on
additional resources for the border that would include those
resources that I spoke about in my Rapid Response Border
Protection Act that has been filed before this Committee, and
as well the resources that these sheriffs would need. Because
it is a collaborative effort. That's what I've spoken to--it's
collaboration, not a singular effort. And this, I think, will
help steer away the civilian efforts by focusing on the law
So let me thank you and sit for a few more minutes. But as
I depart, I'm not disrespecting your testimony. Duty calls. And
I thank you very much for your presence.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank the gentlelady.
The chair now recognizes Sheriff Dever for his opening
STATEMENT OF SHERIFF DEVER, COCHISE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE,
Sheriff Dever. Chairman Hostettler, Chairman Coble, Ranking
Member Jackson Lee, Ranking Member Scott, Members of the
Committee, thank you for inviting us here.
I will dovetail onto some of the comments of my colleague
from Texas. Arizona's been facing dealing with drug smuggling
for as long as I've been in the law enforcement business, about
30 years. Most particularly, we've seen violence increase. You
know, 20 to 25 years ago, we would--working along the fence, we
would actually interdict smugglers carrying loads of marijuana
across the border, right on the fence, and they would just give
up. Some would drop their contraband and turn and flee, but
many of them would just surrender at the spot.
Then we saw an increase in the number of people attempting
to flee law enforcement. Up till just recently and, really,
with the advent of the cocaine trade in the late 1980's and
moving to our area through the Mexican smuggling cartels, to
one of more severe resistance where today the anticipated
response to an interdiction is a firefight. These smugglers are
moving with advance guards, advance surveillance. They know
that they're under surveillance of the smuggling cartel, and so
if they don't make a valiant effort to protect their cargo,
their lives are in jeopardy. Many of them are executed when
This has added significantly to the risk not only of local
citizens but specifically the interdicting law enforcement
officers. Where firefights aren't the norm, high-speed
vehicular chases are, traveling through congested public
roadways and through populated residential areas.
Most of the vehicles being driven are stolen, so a crime
has already been committed and the person driving the vehicle
is aware that he's in jeopardy whether he has contraband, be it
narcotics or illegal aliens, or not.
The people-smuggling culture is one marked by little if any
value for human life. Smugglers are interested in one thing,
and that's profit. They demonstrate very little regard, if any,
for the human beings who are in their care. We've gone so far
we're discovering along some of the people-smuggling trails
occasion where there would be a tree or a bush or something
that was decorated with women's underwear. And we'd just begin
to ask, what does this mean? We discovered that those are rape
trees. They're a monument and a signal to everybody along the
line of what the consequences will be for failing to cooperate
with the coyote.
It's estimated by one study that over 80 percent of aliens
being smuggled are victims of crimes before they even cross the
border. Those atrocities very often continue into the stash
houses until they finally reach their destination.
I think it's important, and I know from your comments that
you do recognize that we're not here alone. You have a sheriff
from New Mexico, several sheriffs from Texas, myself from
Arizona. I sit on two committees, one with the National
Sheriffs Association, who has just constituted a standing
subcommittee in its Legislative Affairs Committee on
immigration law and review. The Western States Sheriffs
Association is doing the same; I'm on that committee as well.
And so I represent over 3,000 sheriffs throughout the Nation as
I sit here, as well as our own interests, the people of Cochise
County. Four or 5 years ago, you really couldn't get anybody in
the criminal justice system, except those on the border, to
talk about illegal immigration, and now it is the number one
topic in every criminal justice administration meeting, and
particularly law enforcement meeting, I attend.
Lastly, I would just close with this, and that is it's
important that you understand that while you plan Federal
strategies and programs to deal with this, sheriffs are
suffering the consequences of the slowness of that to occur and
the failure of success to happen. Every Federal strategy has a
local consequence. Every plan that is implemented and every
initiative that is launched has a local consequence. And so I
would encourage that local authorities be involved in those
early planning stages so we're not blind-sided and we're not
caught unaware of what might be the consequence of those
Thank you again for inviting us here. I, too, stand
prepared to answer any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Sheriff Dever follows:]
Prepared Statement of Larry A. Dever
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me
to share with you today a local perspective of the current situation
along the southern Arizona border. I come to you as a lifetime southern
Arizona resident with a thirty-year law enforcement career working in
I begin quoting a former Chief of the Tucson Sector of the Border
Patrol. ``Within the last year, we've been mandated by Congress to gain
control of that border. And we're going to do that along the Southern
border, whether it's narcotics, illegal aliens, terrorists, criminals
or whatever.'' (Chief Jerald Jondall, as quoted in The Arizona Sheriff
magazine, Autumn 1987.)
That was the year we first organized the Border Alliance Group
narcotics task force in Cochise County to jointly combat the burgeoning
cocaine smuggling business that had developed in the area. At that time
there were no DEA agents in Cochise County, no FBI, only four Customs
Office of Enforcement agents and maybe a total of 100 border patrol
agents. Today, they are all there, along with over a thousand Border
Patrol agents. Yet in spite of the tremendous increase in the law
enforcement presence, or as some suggest, because of it, violence
associated with narcotics and people smuggling activities has markedly
Twenty to twenty-five years ago, we would intercept smugglers right
on the border fence. Most would simply abandon their cargo and flee on
foot back south. It wasn't unusual to have some just give up. Today,
the expected response to an attempted interdiction is a fight.
Smugglers are armed with high capacity assault weapons and with orders
to protect their cargo at all costs. They operate under the watchful
eye of scouts equipped with sophisticated observation and
communications equipment. Failure to make safe delivery is not
acceptable and many who do fail are executed. The stakes are extremely
High speed chases on congested public highways and through
populated residential areas are common. Most of the vehicles they are
driving are stolen. Just recently two local residents were killed and
several others seriously injured when a ruthless smuggler driving a
stolen truck at reckless speeds crashed head on into a group of
vehicles sitting at a stop light.
The people smuggling culture is one marked by little if any value
of life or respect for persons or property. One study estimates that
over 80% of people being smuggled into this country become the victims
of criminal activity before they ever cross the border.
Smuggling routes are often marked with ``rape trees''--women's
under garments hung on tree limbs where a raped occurred, warning
everyone of the consequences of failing to cooperate with the coyotes
who prey on them. Running gun battles with fleeing felons occur much
too frequently placing law enforcement officers and the public alike at
great risk. Gang activity and its associated violence are on the rise
as these groups become more competitive in the lucrative people
smuggling trade. Just last week one of my deputies, the supervisor of
the narcotics task force was the victim of a drive-by shooting at his
home. Thankfully, no one was injured.
The law enforcement effort and the communities along the border
desperately need your attention. You should be aware that in our area,
almost ten percent of the illegal aliens that are apprehended have
criminal records in this country. When we are unsuccessful in catching
them there, these predators find their way to communities all over the
nation where they threaten the safety and welfare of local populations.
When planning strategies for improved enforcement efforts and
providing adequate resources, it is important to remember that every
federal initiative has a local consequence. It is critical that local
authorities be involved in the early stages of the planning process to
assure that these consequences are clearly understood and considered.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to address you, and would
gladly answer any of your questions.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you, Sheriff Dever.
STATEMENT OF SHERIFF GARRISON, DONA ANA COUNTY SHERIFF'S
OFFICE, LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO
Sheriff Garrison. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee,
thank you today for inviting me to share with you my
perspective of the situation along the southern border, the
Land of Enchantment, my home State, New Mexico.
My name is Todd Garrison and I'm the current sheriff of
Dona Ana County, Las Cruces, New Mexico. I'm a lifelong
resident of Dona Ana County. My family tree includes three
generations of farmers. I've been involved in law enforcement
New Mexico has three counties which border Mexico--Dona
Ana, Luna, and Hidalgo counties--which cover approximately 186
miles of border. Grant and Otero counties are also right there
within a few miles. Dona Ana borders Texas and Mexico and
covers close to 4,000 square miles and 42 miles of border. The
population in this county is approximately 2,000 people. Luna
County covers almost 3,000 square miles and has 58 miles of
border with Mexico. The population is approximately 30,000.
Hidalgo County is 3,500 square miles and approximately 86 miles
of border with Mexico. The population is approximately 5,500
people. New Mexico is a land of wide open spaces. We have a lot
of room to move around. It's also wide open for opportunities
My message today is very clear. I support the Border
Patrol. In county law enforcement we have learned the value of
cooperation due to unique challenges and minimal resources. I
don't want to do the Border Patrol's job. However, when someone
calls 911, a sheriff's deputy would be the one responding to
that call. The 911 calls don't get transferred to the
Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.
One case in point on the problems of rural enforcement
along the southern border is an incident which is still under
investigation as I testify here today. One of my constituents
was recently the victim of a brutal rape more than 20 miles
from the border. Investigation has resulted in the apprehension
of an illegal immigrant who broke into this elderly woman's
home in Hatch, New Mexico, and raped her. At the time, he was
drunk and had been using cocaine. There were two individuals
that had witnessed this horrific crime. Several days later, one
of my officers unknowingly pulled these people over and,
realizing that they were illegal immigrants, notified Border
Patrol and they were then transported away from the country.
That causes a problem with our criminal case. We've been
working with Border Patrol to get that situation taken care of.
But it kind of puts us in a Catch 22 situation.
In southern New Mexico, we've seen an increase in smuggling
operatives using juveniles to work as traffickers. Children as
young as 13 in my community have already formed an alliance
with criminal enterprises that is destroying the rural
lifestyle. It's not uncommon for a teenager to master the
lifestyle of the human smuggler by the time the junior or
senior prom shows up on the school calendar. The bigger picture
is destroying the landscape of Dona Ana County, and some of
these young human traffickers grow up to become drug dealers.
If the U.S. Attorney would redirect a policy that allows this
criminal enterprise to exist, we would be able to send a clear
message to the community that trafficking is against the law.
Human and drug trafficking is a serious problem. For
example, it is not uncommon to be told by a U.S. Attorney that
a juvenile with less than six undocumented aliens or less than
100 pounds of drugs in their vehicle will not be prosecuted
because the case does not meet the Federal threshold for this
area. Consequently, the young trafficker is off the hook,
allowed to continue as one of the untouchables. And that's what
they're referred to where they go to school, is ``the
untouchables.'' Our DA's office handled 498 drug cases linked
to the Southwest Border Prosecutors Initiative in 2005. These
were the cases that were declined by the Federal prosecutors.
The back door of New Mexico is home to a distinctive road
barrier that separates two nations, America and Mexico.
Therefore, I see the same thing that Sheriff Arvin West of
Hudspeth County, Texas, sees. It's not uncommon for what we in
law enforcement call a load vehicle piled high with marijuana
to cross the desert unnoticed. And some of the load falls off
of the vehicles and is recovered by police officers in the
desert or near State roads. What does get across the vast
desert area eventually makes its way to Tucson, Arizona;
Albuquerque; Denver, Colorado, and across the United States.
The picture of border security along the southern border is
not what you think. Serious problems currently exist. These
problems occur daily and fall directly under my jurisdiction.
The taxpayers of Dona Ana, Hidalgo, and Luna counties
ultimately pay the price. I agree with my colleagues from
Texas, enough is enough; and I encourage you to look at
Operation Linebacker. This concept is designed by locals to fix
local problems. The problems are really a Federal issue, but
New Mexico sheriffs are the ones answering the 911 calls.
Thank you for this time, and I stand here for questions
[The prepared statement of Sheriff Garrison follows:]
Prepared Statement of Todd Garrison
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thanks for inviting me to
share with you today my perspective of the situation along the southern
border of the Land of Enchantment, my home state--New Mexico. My name
is Todd Garrison and I am the current Sheriff of Dona Ana County (Las
Cruces), New Mexico.
I'm a life long resident of Dona Ana County and my family tree
includes three generations of farmers. I have been involved in law
enforcement since 1985.
New Mexico has three counties which border Mexico: Dona Ana, Luna
and Hidalgo, which covers approximately 186 miles of border. Dona Ana
borders Texas and Mexico, covers 3,087 square miles and 42 miles of
border with Mexico. The population in this county is approximately
Luna County covers 2,965 square miles and 58 miles of border with
Mexico. The population is approximately 30,000.
Hidalgo County is 3,446 square miles and 86 miles of border with
Mexico. The population is approximately 5,500.
New Mexico is a land of wide open spaces and wide open
opportunities for crime. My message today is very clear, I support the
Border Patrol. In county law enforcement we have learned the value of
cooperation due to the unique challenges and minimal resources. I don't
want to do the Border Patrol's job, however when someone calls 911 a
Sheriff's Deputy responding to the call. The 911 calls don't get
transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C.
One case in point of the problems of rural law enforcement along
the southern border is an incident still under investigation as I
testify. One of my constituents was recently the victim of a brutal
rape more than 20 miles from the border. The investigation has resulted
in the apprehension of an illegal immigrant who broke into this elderly
woman's home in Hatch, New Mexico and raped her. There were two
individuals that witnessed this horrific crime. However, these two
witnesses are also illegal immigrants. They were apprehended by the
Border Patrol for an immigration violation, and now this legal hurdle
places my case in a distinctive position of a Catch 22.
In southern New Mexico, we have seen an increase in smuggling
operatives using juveniles to work as traffickers. Children as young as
13 years old in my community have already formed an alliance with a
criminal enterprise that is destroying a simple rural lifestyle. It is
not uncommon for a teenager to master the lifestyle of a human smuggler
by the time the Junior-Senior prom shows up on the school calendar.
The bigger picture is destroying the landscape of Dona Ana County.
Some of these young human traffickers grow up to become drug smugglers.
If the U.S. Attorney would redirect a policy that allows this criminal
enterprise to exist, we would be able to send a clear message to the
community that trafficking is against the law.
Human and drug trafficking is a serious problem. For example, it is
not uncommon to be told by a U.S. Attorney that a juvenile with only
six undocumented immigrants in his/her vehicle will not be prosecuted
because this case doesn't meet a federal threshold for this area.
Consequently the young trafficker is off the hook and allowed to
continue as one of the untouchables.
The backdoor of New Mexico is home to a distinctive road barrier
that separates two nations; America and Mexico. Therefore I see the
same thing Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth County, Texas sees. It is not
uncommon for what we in law enforcement call a load vehicle piled high
with marijuana cross through the desert unnoticed and some of the loads
fall off the vehicles and are recovered by my deputies in the desert or
near a state road. What did get across the vast desert area eventually
makes its way to Tucson, Arizona, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Denver,
The picture of border security along the southern border is not
what you think. Serious problems currently exist. These problems occur
daily and fall directly under my jurisdiction. The tax payers of Dona
Ana, Hidalgo and Luna counties ultimately pay the price. I agree with
my colleagues from Texas, enough is enough. I encourage you to look at
Operation Linebacker. This concept was designed by locals to fix local
problems. The problems are really a federal issue, but New Mexico
Sheriffs are the ones answering the 911 calls.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you, Sheriff Garrison.
STATEMENT OF SHERIFF GONZALEZ, ZAPATA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE,
Sheriff Gonzalez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Hostettler, Chairman Coble, Mr. Scott, Ms. Waters,
Mr. Keller, and Mr. King, thank you very much for the
opportunity to be here today and testify before you to discuss
how we local law enforcement officers are confronting violence
along the southwest border and how we are very much outgunned
With all due respect, I have submitted my written testimony
with some attachments to it, so I will be referring to those
attachments at times.
Out of frustration with our Government's inability to
protect the border with Mexico, on May 4, 2005, 16 Texas
sheriffs of counties that border the Republic of Mexico formed
the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition. In this coalition, we
believe that southwest border of our Nation is a front door to
this country and that many persons have entered our country
with intentions of harming us. We continue to believe that
terrorists have expressed an interest and a desire to exploit
the existing vulnerabilities of our border security to enter
and to attack the United States of America.
We are sincere when we tell you that we are not blaming the
agents of the United States Border Patrol or ICE or any other
Federal agency, but rather we criticize some of the policies
that they have to adhere to. The member sheriffs of our
coalition total almost 460 years of experience, including 101
years as sheriffs. Sixteen sheriffs are responsible for 39,764
square miles and over 1,276 miles of wide-open, porous, and
unprotected border with Mexico. It is obvious that more
manpower is needed, since some of the sheriffs on the border
have only six or less deputy sheriffs to protect their
counties, not including protection of the border.
Last month, a task force in Laredo, Texas, confiscated
improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and other items used to
make explosive devices. We feel that it is the intention of the
cartels to use these weapons against us at the appropriate
I make reference to Attachment No. 3 in my written
testimony. The cartels operating in Mexico and the United
States have demonstrated that the weapons they possess can and
will be used in protecting their loads of humans or narcotics.
One informant very familiar with the operations of these
cartels has mentioned to us that the weapons that we use in law
enforcement are water guns compared to the weapons that these
cartels use and that we will soon be confronted with. These
cartels are known to frequently cross into the United States,
and they possess automatic weapons, hand grenades, and grenade
launchers. They are also experts in wiretapping, explosives,
counter-surveillance, lock-picking, and GPS technology. We must
remember these cartels, or some of these cartels, were trained
by our Federal Government.
In Brooks County, Texas, in south Texas, a high-ranking
member of the Mara Salvatrucha was apprehended. This MS-13
member is believed to have been responsible for the killing of
close to or more than 30 people in his native country in a bus
explosion. It is very possible these cartels may have already
formed a nexus with members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist
organizations. We continue to believe that terrorist cells are
already in our back yards.
I again make reference to Attachment No. 4 in my written
testimony. Recently a jacket was found in Jim Hogg County, in
south Texas also. Patches indicated several words on them,
including on the bottom of one patch ``martyr,'' ``way to
eternal life,'' or ``way to eternity,'' with pictures of
airplanes flying into towers. A statement was issued by a high-
ranking member of the Department of Homeland Security stating
that the patches were not from al--Qaeda, but rather were from
countries where al-Qaeda was known to operate.
On March 3 of 2005, several officers assigned to do
surveillance along the riverbank encountered approximately 20
to 25 persons dressed in battle-dress uniforms, commonly known
as BDUs. The individuals were very clean-cut. They appeared to
be in very good physical condition. They were carrying duffel
bags, backpacks, and what these officers promised and what they
saw through night-vision goggles--borrowed night-vision
goggles--were automatic weapons slung on the shoulders of these
individuals coming in from Mexico. In my town, Zapata, Texas,
residents are always reporting individuals wearing BDUs,
backpacks, and possessing weapons getting off boats. This is in
the middle of the town of Zapata. Residents that call us
describe them as soldiers.
In Attachment No. 7 of my written testimony, I make
reference to a memorandum of January 9th of this year. A USDA
inspector encountered 17 individuals in Zapata County that had
just been crossed over into the United States. Three of these
individuals had in their possession assault-type longarms. The
inspector noticed that these individuals were not from Mexico,
based on their accent, but rather from another country. These
individuals threatened to kill the inspector. The inspector had
his issued gun and badge under his coat, where it was not seen
by these intruders. He felt, as his weapon and badge were not
seen, this is probably what saved his life.
More and more we are seeing armed individuals entering our
country. We feel that it is a matter of time before a shootout
will occur. In the unfortunate event of a shootout, Federal,
State, and local officers along the southwest border are not
adequately armed. Compared to the ruthless and brazen and open
behavior of the cartels we face, we are most certainly
Our coalition, the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, is
very concerned with the very unique problems along our border.
Border Patrol is doing the best job that they can possibly do
with the resources that are available to them. Immediate help
is needed for them and for us sheriffs on the southwest border.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee has introduced the Rapid Response
Border Protection Act of 2005. This piece of legislation will
assist in enhancing border patrol of personnel along the
border. The United States gives Mexico millions of dollars a
year to combat drug trafficking. This money could be used to
help us secure our border. The Texas Border Sheriff's
Coalition, with the assistance of Texas Governor Rick Perry,
has implemented Operation Linebacker, a second line of defense
in the protection of our country, the United States Border
Patrol being the first line of defense.
Members of the Committee, the problems along the border are
Federal problems. Governor Perry could not wait for a peace
officer to get killed along the border. In the only 2 months
since we started this operation, this operation has already
proven to be successful. Federal law enforcement funds can be
better used in programs like Operation Linebacker. The problems
along the border will continue unless our Federal Government
intervenes and intervenes soon. We feel that the southwest
border has been neglected.
It has been suggested that our coalition is only interested
in trying to take money from our Federal Government--just to
get money from our Federal Government. I can assure you this is
not the case. It is not our intention to take over Border
Patrol duties. Sheriffs along the southwest border are not
involved in immigration enforcement. Our only interest, as I am
sure it's a mutual interest, is the protection of the United
States of America.
I want to express my most sincere appreciation for allowing
us the opportunity to appear before you, and I thank you for
the work that you do for our country. Chairmen Hostettler and
Coble, this concludes my testimony. I will be pleased to answer
any questions that Committee Members may have.
[The prepared statement of Sheriff Gonzalez follows:]
Prepared Statement of Sigifredo Gonzalez, Jr.
Chairmen Hostettler and Coble, Ranking Members Jackson-Lee and
Scott, and Members of the Subcommittees, it is an honor and a privilege
to be invited to appear before these subcommittees to discuss how we,
local law enforcement officers, are confronting violence along the
southern border and how we are outgunned and outmanned.
I would like to briefly discuss how the Texas Border Sheriff's
Coalition was formed. On April 18th, 2005, I sent out letters to my 15
colleagues whose counties border the Republic of Mexico. In my letter
to them I invited them to a meeting to discuss unique problems that we
face along the border. This was done out of frustration in what I felt
was the inadequacy of our federal government to protect our border in
preventing a potential terrorist from entering our country. I felt that
as a citizen of this great country, our almost 2,000 miles of border
was very porous, that many people whose intentions were unknown were
coming into our country to perhaps commit acts in our own country
similar to or worse than what happened on September 11, 2001, where
over 3,000 innocent persons lost their lives. All of us expressed the
same frustration since we had mentioned this many times to federal and
state legislators. We felt that perhaps speaking as one voice we would
On May 4th, 2005, we met in Laredo, Texas. As a result we formed
the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition. The first and foremost priority
of our coalition is protecting all residents of this country against a
terrorist act without regard to race, sex, or ethnic origin. We
continue to believe that many persons have entered our country with
intentions of harming us. We continue to believe that terrorists have
expressed an interest and a desire to exploit the existing
vulnerabilities in our border security to enter or attack the United
States. We are sincere when we tell you that we are not blaming the
agents of the United States Border Patrol, ICE, or any other federal
agency, but, rather, we criticize the policies that they have to adhere
I do want to make you aware that the experience of the member
sheriffs of this coalition total almost 460 years including 101 years
of experience as sheriffs. The longest serving sheriff of this
coalition is El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego with 22 years. I have
attached the list of member sheriffs of the coalition with their years
of experience and have marked it as Attachment #1.
I have been asked to briefly relate to you some of the problems
that we have encountered along the border, specifically the violence
along the border and how we are confronting it, in particular, how we
are outgunned and outmanned. Most of the sheriffs that have encountered
these problems that I will present are present to answer any questions
you may have as they relate to their counties. The sixteen sheriffs,
whose counties border the Republic of Mexico employ under 700 patrol
officers, are responsible for 39,764 square miles, and 1,276 miles of
wide open, porous, and unprotected border with Mexico.
We were used to seeing many persons enter the country illegally;
however, recently, many of these persons are no longer entering the
country to look for legitimate employment. We are now seeing that many
of these persons are members of ruthless and violent gangs. All of us
are concerned that the border with Mexico is being used as the front
door to this country. Many of the illegal immigrants from countries of
special interest are apprehended along the southwest border. I have
attached two lists documenting the apprehensions along the northern
border and the southwest border and have marked them as Attachment #2.
Through intelligence information we have also learned that several
murders in Laredo, Webb County, Texas, have been orchestrated by
members of drug cartels operating in both countries. These drug cartel
enforcers cross the Rio Grande River, illegally, commit their murders
in the United States, then go back to Mexico, again, via the Rio Grande
River. They are very well armed and are very accurate in what their
assignment is. We have all seen in the media the reports of the murders
in Nuevo Laredo, 30 so far in the first 53 days of 2006. Some of the
deaths in Laredo, Texas, are also attributed to these cartels. Last
month, a Task Force in Laredo confiscated IEDs and other items used to
make explosive devices. We feel that it is the intention of these
cartels to use these weapons against us at the appropriate time.
Border Patrol agents and deputy sheriffs are shot at from Mexico on
a routine basis. In January, there was a sniper in Mexico shooting at
agents that were working along the banks of the river in the area of
the cities of Rio Bravo/El Cenizo, which are located south of Laredo.
This continued, sporadically, for three days. Agents reported seeing
several individuals wearing military style uniforms on a hill on the
Mexican side one of them was using what was believed to be a high
powered rifle with scope. This sniper was arrested last week and is now
in United States custody.
On January 23, 2006, in Hudspeth County, Texas, state officers and
deputy sheriffs pursued three vehicles laden with marihuana. These
vehicles fled back into Mexico by driving across the Rio Grande River.
One of them got stuck in the mud. When officers reached the levee of
the Rio Grande River, they encountered what officers described as a
Mexican Humvee equipped with a machine gun and what officers believe to
be Mexican soldiers, fully armed with automatic weapons, waiting for
these vehicles to cross back into Mexico. These officers on the United
States side possessed no automatic weapons.
Several days after this incident, three men drove across the Rio
Grande River and drove to the home of one of the deputies of Hudspeth
County. They told the deputy's wife to tell her husband to stay away
from the river or else. They then drove back to Mexico via the Rio
Grande River. This was a direct threat against a law enforcement
officer by known drug thugs from Mexico.
The cartels operating in Mexico and the United States have
demonstrated that the weapons they posses can and will be used in
protecting their caches. One informant familiar with the operations of
this cartel mentioned to us that the weapons we use are water guns
compared to what we will have to come up against if we ever have to.
These cartels, known to frequently cross into the United States,
possess and use automatic weapons, grenades, and grenade launchers.
They are also experts in explosives, wiretapping, counter-surveillance,
lock-picking, and GPS technology. They are able to monitor our office,
home, and cellular phone conversations. The original members of this
cartel were trained in the United States by our own government. I have
attached photographs showing some of the weapons that these cartels
possess. The photos have been marked as Attachment #3.
The Rio Grande Valley, Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties, have
continuous problems with pseudo-cops coming from Mexico to extort and
kidnap citizens in these counties. This area is the fastest growing
area in the nation. They have seen their share of terrorist activity as
it relates to the migration of many members of ruthless gangs that come
into this country for reasons other than legitimate employment.
Sometime last year, a woman was taken off an airplane at the McAllen,
Texas, airport. She had come in from Mexico, through the river, as her
clothing was still wet, and had a passport from it is my understanding,
Africa. She was from a special interest country and had come in to
Mexico using a passport from a friendly country to avoid detection. Who
knows what her intentions were. Thanks to an officer at the airport she
was taken off the plane.
During this same time period, a high-ranking member of the Mara
Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was apprehended in the Brooks County area, also
in south Texas. He had entered the country illegally. This MS-13 member
is believed to have been responsible for the killing of close to 30
persons, or more, in a bus explosion in his native country. These
people, as many others, find it very easy to come into our country
through a very porous, wide-open, and unprotected border.
We recently received information that the cartels immediately
across our border are planning on killing as many police officers as
possible on the United States side. This is being planned for the
purpose of attempting to ``scare us'' away from the border. They have
the money, equipment, and stamina to do it. They are determined to save
their ``load''. It is very possible, these cartels may form a nexus
with members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The
Department of Homeland Security recently issued Officer Alerts warning
their agents of the potential threats. We, the local officers, learned
about it through the news media.
Local, state, and federal officers have found many items along the
banks of the Rio Grande River that indicate possible ties to terrorist
organizations or members of military units of Mexico. Currency and
clothing are common finds. Recently, a jacket with patches was found in
Jim Hogg County, Texas, by agents of U. S. Border Patrol. The patches
on the jacket show an Arabic military badge with one depicting an
airplane flying over a building and heading towards a tower, and
another showing an image of a lion's head with wings and a parachute
emanating from the animal (lion). It is believed from an undisclosed
document that Department of Homeland Security translators concluded
that the patches read ``defense center'', ``minister of defense'', or
``defense headquarters''. The bottom of one patch read ``martyr'',
``way to eternal life'' or ``way to immortality''. I have attached
copies of these patches and have marked them as Attachment #4.
On January 28th, 2006, USBP Chief David Aguilar was asked by a
reporter from KGNS television station in Laredo, Texas, what the
outcome of the investigation of the jacket was. Chief Aguilar responded
that the patches were not from Al Qaeda but from countries Al Qaeda was
know to operate.
On February 2nd of this year, one of my deputies discovered an 18''
duffle bag approximately 8 miles North of Zapata by the highway right
of way. This duffel bag had ``Armada de Mexico'' embroidered on the
bag. Inside the bag were several items that are commonly used by
persons that are knowledgeable in bodybuilding, in staying in good
physical shape, and used to physical exertion. A bus ticket with an
origin of Veracruz, Mexico was also found inside the bag. Although I am
not insinuating that the person carrying this bag was a member or
former member of the Mexican Navy, but there is a naval academy in
Veracruz. I have attached photographs of the duffle bag and marked it
as Attachment #5. The copy of the bus ticket found inside the duffel
bag is also attached and marked as Attachment #6.
Employees of our offices have also seen incursions into this
country of persons dressed in battle dress uniforms (BDUs), carrying
what officers believe to be automatic weapons, very clean cut, and in
very good physical condition. On March 3rd, 2005, several officers
assigned to do surveillance by the Rio Grande River by the Zapata/Webb
County line observed approximately 20-25 persons dressed as indicated
above walking on a gravel road, coming from the area of the riverbanks,
marching in a cadence. The deputy observed these individuals through
his borrowed night vision goggles. These individuals were carrying
large duffle bags and walking two abreast. They also had backpacks.
In the town site of Zapata, residents are always reporting
individuals getting off boats. These individuals also wear BDUs,
backpacks, and possess weapons. The residents describe them as
On January 9th, 2006, a USDA Tick Inspector encountered 17
individuals in Zapata County that had just been crossed into the United
States. Three of these individuals had in their possession assault type
long arms. The Inspector noticed that these individuals were not from
Mexico but from another country since they spoke Spanish with an accent
that is not common in Mexico. These individuals threatened to kill the
Inspector. The Inspector had his issued gun and badge under his coat
where it was not seen by these persons. He felt that this probably
saved his life. I have attached a copy of a DHS Officer Safety Alert
dated January 20, 2006 and have marked it as Attachment #7.
We have recently learned that a certain cartel has put out a threat
against law enforcement officials, specifically all DPS Troopers in Rio
Grande City, TX. This threat was made in response to the shooting of a
23-year-old by a DPS Trooper on January 14, 2006. It is believed that
the deceased may have been a member or associate of this cartel.
Information also indicates that this cartel will be expanding their
operations to the Maverick and Val Verde Counties in the very near
future. These counties will see a surge in violence, kidnappings, and
extortions just as we have seen in border counties in the southern part
More and more we are seeing armed individuals entering our country
through our counties. We feel that it is a matter of time before a
shootout will occur. During the Hudspeth County incident officers
pulled out cameras instead of weapons. It the unfortunate event of a
shootout, federal, state, and local officers along the southwest border
are not adequately armed. Compared to the ruthless and brazen and open
behavior of the cartels we face, we are most certainly outmanned. In
most counties, deputies ride alone while patrolling. Jeff Davis County
has only a sheriff and three deputies to patrol the 2,267 square miles
of that county. Brewster County, the largest county in Texas with 6,193
miles, has only 6 deputy sheriffs to patrol the county. In the event of
a shootout, many casualties will likely occur. Federal, state, and
local officers all along the southwest border of the United States are
outgunned and outmanned.
The Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition is very concerned of the very
unique problems along our border. Border Patrol is doing the best they
can with the resources that are available to them. Immediate help is
needed for them and for Texas border sheriffs and for the protection of
our country. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee has introduced HR 4044,
the Rapid Response Border Protection Act of 2005. This piece of
legislation will assist in enhancing border patrol personnel along the
border. Ranking Member Jackson-Lee is concerned with the problems along
the southwest border, just as every member of this committee is.
Congressman John A. Culberson has also introduced HR 4360, the
Border Law Enforcement Act of 2005. This piece of legislation also
covers all of the problems that we, as sheriffs, are encountering along
the border. Congressman Culberson consulted with us in writing this
We, the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, have implemented
Operation Linebacker, a second line of defense in the protection of our
country. The United States Border Patrol being the first line of
defense. The problems along the border are federal problems. Our
governor, the Honorable Rick Perry, could not wait for a peace officer
to get killed along the border. He, just as we, is very much concerned.
He has appropriated $6 million as seed money for us to start the
operation. Just last month Governor Perry granted our Coalition an
additional $3.8 million. The problems along the border will continue
unless our federal government intervenes soon. Must we wait until an
officer gets killed or until after another terrorist act?
I want to express my most sincere appreciation for allowing us the
opportunity to appear before you and thank you for the work you do for
our country, the United States of America.
Chairmen Coble and Hostettler, this concludes my statement. I will
be pleased to answer any questions that you or Members of the Committee
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you, Sheriff Gonzalez.
We will now turn to questions. This is a question for all
of you. The Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
Subcommittee has jurisdiction, obviously, over immigration
policy. One of the significant issues that will be addressed in
this Congress is the issue of the expansion of employment
opportunities for individuals who are currently in the country
illegally, known as a guest worker program, temporary worker
program, or the like.
While many who support such a program do not wish for it to
be characterized as amnesty, my first question is, as a result
of the amnesty--after the amnesty in 1986, did the problems
along the border intensify or were they reduced? Have things
gotten better since 1986 or worse as a result--I guess I should
say after the passage of the amnesty?
Sheriff Samaniego. If I may. Anytime you give a group of
illegal, undocumented aliens that are already here amnesty or
even anything that sounds close to amnesty, you're sending the
message to the next 12 million that are going to come in after
them. You cannot have--you know, let them come in--they know
that if they stay here long enough, they get a job and they're
good people, that they're going to be given amnesty and they'll
be able to stay here. But it sends the message to the rest of
the world you can do the same thing because the same thing is
going to happen to you.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you.
Sheriff Dever. Mr. Chairman, if I may. It was interesting,
you mentioned 1986. This is a copy of Arizona Sheriffs
magazine, a quote in here from the chief of the Border Patrol
at the time this was published in Tucson. The title of the
document is ``Gaining Control of the Border: The Chief's
Toughest Assignment.'' And I quote:
Within the last year, we've been mandated by Congress to
gain control of that border. And we're going to do that along
the southern border, whether it's narcotics, illegal aliens,
terrorists, criminals, or whatever.
That's dated autumn of 1987, which I think, given that and
our statements here today, may be a strong indicator of the
answer to your question, sir.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you.
Sheriff Garrison. In answer to your question, sir, I
believe there are a lot more documented aliens in our area now.
There are still a lot of undocumented aliens that continue to
come. We're an agricultural community in that area, and, you
know, they do keep coming over. What concerns me is the
criminals who are coming in. That has definitely increased.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you.
Sheriff Gonzalez. Chairman Hostettler, from what we've seen
in our area since the passage of the amnesty legislation, we're
seeing more and more immigrants coming in. We're no longer
seeing the people that would come in to look for employment.
But more and more we're seeing people that are coming in, in
our opinion, to commit some type of illegal acts. People are
more brazen now. There's more boldness, more openness. They're
not afraid of being deported, they're not afraid of being
caught. And these are the problems we're seeing since amnesty.
For example, in Maverick County and Val Verde County,
they're having major problems with the OTMs. The sheriffs there
are very concerned as to what is coming into the country in
regard to sicknesses. How many rapists have come into the
country? How many child abusers? How many murderers, robbers,
burglars, thieves are coming into the country? No one's
checking on these people.
So you could say since maybe about 3 years, 4 years ago, we
have seen a tremendous increase, and it just seems that
somebody is sending out invitations to come into the country.
That's the perception we have.
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you.
Sheriff Garrison, you made an interesting point. You talked
about a Catch 22. You had a specific incident that you related.
A heinous crime had taken place, the rape of an elderly woman
by an individual that, you found out later, was illegally in
the country, had associates, and that whenever those
individuals were stopped and you found out that they were in
the country illegally and that they were involved in this
crime, you contacted, as you should have, the Federal
authorities and these individuals were removed from the
country. Is that correct?
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir.
Mr. Hostettler. And the Catch 22 was that you had a crime
perpetrated upon your constituents, on individuals you were
sworn to protect, and you would rather have been able to
prosecute that crime and the criminal and you needed the
witnesses, and all the parties that you needed to prosecute the
crime were removed from the country. Is that what you meant by
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir. In this particular situation,
the two people who were stopped a few days later were turned
over to the Border Patrol and were taken back. Now we're having
to work out some kind of arrangements to try to bring them back
so that they can testify, and it just has caused problems in
On occasion, we have domestic violence issues that come up.
And if it's an illegal alien, they are afraid to call law
enforcement because they fear they might get deported. So it
Mr. Hostettler. Thank you. My time has expired.
The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized, the
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland
Mr. Coble. Mr. Chairman, I have two students visiting with
me and the photographer's out front to take a picture. So I
will yield and then I'll pick it up when I come back.
Mr. Hostettler. Very good.
The chair recognizes the gentleman from--Oh. I will come
back this direction. We will not yield, what we'll do is turn
to the Ranking Member, Mr. Scott, for 5 minutes.
Mr. Scott. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, since we're introducing
people in the audience, I'd like to introduce Cassandra
Chandler, who's a Norfolk FBI Agent In Charge, sitting in the
Mr. Hostettler. Very good. Thank you for your service.
Mr. Scott. Sheriff Dever, you mentioned one of your
deputies was a victim of a drive-by shooting at his home. Did
you ascertain whether or not this was associated with his
official duties, or a random act of violence?
Sheriff Dever. We haven't been able to determine that, no.
Mr. Scott. A lot of the situations that have been addressed
have been situations where people are trying to get drugs
across the border and hundreds of pounds of marijuana, cocaine.
How much is the value of marijuana or cocaine--how much does
the value increase when it crosses the border?
Sheriff Samaniego. The farther you get away from the
border, it just keeps multiplying. By the time you get to
Chicago or some of the northern cities, it's probably worth
five times more than what it is in El Paso. You can go to
Mexico and buy it for almost nothing. The problem is getting it
across, and then that's when the value increases.
Mr. Scott. A briefcase full--how much is a briefcase full
of cocaine worth?
Sheriff Samaniego. The 68 pounds that we confiscated last
week was worth $510,000, street value in El Paso. If you
managed to get that to Chicago, Minneapolis, North Carolina,
wherever, it would probably be worth a million, a million and a
half, sir. Probably more than that.
Mr. Scott. And so this kind of creates a problem. If people
know they can make that much money just by getting it across,
you have an economic incentive to try as many times--even if
you catch half the people trying, it's worth it for them to try
to pay people to keep trying.
Is there any real likelihood that we'll be able to seal the
border from people trying to get drugs across the border with
that kind of economic incentive?
Sheriff Samaniego. In 1960, when I was working narcotics--a
long time ago--I had a Mexican drug enforcement agent tell me,
As long as you have a dollar on the U.S. side and I have what
you want, we are going to get it there to you.
Mr. Scott. Are the civilian organizations helping with
border patrol, are they helpful or counterproductive?
Sheriff Dever. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Scott, Cochise County was
the breeding ground, I guess, for the Minuteman Project, which
is one of the activities you probably are talking about. In
terms of having an immediate impact during the 30 days that
they launched their major operation on the flow of illegal
immigrants through the area, there probably was not--there was
a significant impact in the specific areas that they were
watching. But that's true of the Border Patrol as well and true
of sheriff's deputies as well--where we are, there is no crime;
where we're not, there's a lot of it.
And so, yes, there was an effect there. The most
significant effect of that, the Minuteman Project, really was
to capture the attention of the Nation in terms of focusing on
the problem. And since then, the dialogue has really expanded
regarding this issue. So in that way, to me, it was beneficial.
Sheriff Garrison. I would like to add to that, too, Mr.
Scott. Also, when Arizona began their Minuteman Project, it
pushed everybody east into New Mexico and our problems doubled.
I mean, we had a lot more problems there. So that was one of
the effects that we felt from Arizona having started that
Mr. Scott. So it was helpful where they were, but
counterproductive where you were?
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir. Without going across the whole
line, it did just that.
Sheriff Gonzalez. Mr. Scott, we have not--in Texas it's a
bit different than Arizona, as we all know. Well, Texas is
different in many things, but one of them is that all that land
along the riverbank is privately owned. We have had some of
these volunteer groups contact with sheriffs along the border.
In one particular case, this particular group told the sheriff
that they were not too much interested because they were not
getting a lot of publicity.
In the south Texas area, in one place where they were at,
there were some problems. They were trying to stop people--
families, U.S. citizens--with longarms and pickup trucks, and
these people were afraid.
Mr. Scott. I yield back.
Mr. Hostettler. The chair recognizes the gentleman from
North Carolina, Mr. Coble, at this time.
Mr. Coble. Thank you.
Mr. Hostettler. I will have to leave the proceedings. I
want to thank you myself, gentlemen, for your testimony and
your service to our country because you are in fact aiding our
country and our security.
I will yield now and ask the gentleman from North Carolina
if he will assume the chair.
Mr. Coble [presiding]. I thank the Chairman. And sheriffs,
I thank you all for being here as well.
Sheriff Dever, you mentioned in your testimony that one of
your narcotics task force supervisors was a victim of a drive-
by shooting. Do incidents such as that cause you to believe
that violence against law enforcement personnel will become
more frequent, thereby indicating that communities along the
border are at risk of becoming as violent as some of their
Sheriff Dever. Chairman Coble, while you were out of the
room Mr. Scott asked a question relative to that, too, and
asked whether or not we were able to verify if that shooting
was associated with the narcotics trade. We have not. However,
the location of his residence is such that a random shooting
would be highly unlikely. But as far as physical evidence for
specific verification, it's not there.
We receive, sir, on a routine, regular basis, intelligence,
notices from Federal agencies and State agencies, information
on many of the cartels who have put out hits on specific law
enforcement officers or for any law enforcement officer. We
take those all very seriously. The frequency of those
notifications has increased dramatically over the last few----
Mr. Coble. Thank you.
Sheriff from El Paso.
Sheriff Samaniego. Yes, sir.
Mr. Coble. In your testimony you mention that oftentimes
drugs are transshipped--once they come to El Paso, then they
are disseminated here, there, and yonder. And you mention
Greensboro, North Carolina, which is located in my district.
And having said that, Sheriff--and Mr. Scott may have touched
on this in my absence--describe the level of cooperation that
you all receive from your Federal partners in intercepting and
stopping these drug shipments.
Sheriff Samaniego. El Paso County is famous for having
probably the biggest group of Federal, State, county, city
officers that get along quite well. We believe in working as a
team. And I don't remember ever having any problems with any
agency. I have officers assigned to nine different task forces,
with FBI and DEA, ICE, U.S. Marshals, everybody. And we get
along fine. Can we improve? Yes.
Mr. Coble. Of course, we could all improve.
Sheriff Samaniego. Yes.
Mr. Coble. Sheriff Gonzalez, you may or may not know this--
or give me the approximate figure of the number of deputy
sheriffs who have been injured by cross-border sniper fire. And
is it your belief that this is simply another form of
intimidation of law enforcement, or are there more sinister
reasons or motives behind these actions?
Sheriff Gonzalez. Chairman Coble, as far as I know no
deputy sheriffs have been injured. As far as I know. However,
threats, yes. There was an incident immediately after the
Hudspeth County incident where three individuals drove in from
Mexico, across the Rio Grande River, went to a deputy sheriff's
home, threatened his wife by telling her that if her husband
would go back--or rather, that they not go back to the area, or
There's been many, many threats. I understand we are on a
list of targets by cartel members. So there are many threats
Mr. Coble. Sheriff Garrison, do you have any input on this,
or any opinion?
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir, I would like to--I was speaking
with Sheriff Hall of Hidalgo County just a couple of days ago,
and he had advised me that in the recent past, a month or so
ago, that over the last month he's had two of his officers that
had attempted to make a traffic stop, routine traffic stop, in
their area, and unknown to them the vehicles were carrying a
load of narcotics. The suspects turned their cars around and
immediately headed toward the border in a high-speed chase,
running through school districts, school zones where kids were
outside. One of the officers did make a traffic stop and got
the vehicle stopped for a few minutes, and I guess the suspect
then took off and turned around and tried to come back and run
over the officer. The officer was able to get out of the way,
and he then ran the car and then proceeded across the border.
That's happened twice in the last month.
Mr. Coble. Thank you, sir.
Well, gentlemen, it is my belief--Mr. Scott and I have
talked about this many times on our Subcommittee--that this is
a situation that turning a blind eye to it or a deaf ear to it
serves no good purpose, because it ain't going away. It's got
to be resolved. And I commend you all for what you all do
And Mr. Chairman, I've got to go to another meeting as
well, but I'm going to try to come back. But if I don't get
back, thank you all for being here.
Mr. Keller. (Presiding.) Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield
to the gentlelady from California.
Ms. Waters. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members.
I came today to basically say thank you to the sheriffs and
local law enforcement who are confronted with this huge and
what appears to be intractable problem. I commend you for your
courage. And I wonder why we keep having these hearings,
because all of these Members here, on both sides of the aisle,
know what's going on on these borders. I'm from California. I
know what's going on.
The fact of the matter is Mr. Chertoff at Homeland Security
is not doing his job. The President of the United States has
turned a blind eye. Members on the opposite side of the aisle,
many of them know what's going on, they would like to do
something about it, but most of them don't have the courage to
confront the President of the United States about this issue.
So you linger with this problem. Our country is at risk. Our
borders are not protected. The homeland is not secure. And
there's no commitment by this Government to do it.
And so with all that you do and all that you say in coming
here today, it's not going to help any until, you know, the
President decides to do something, till Mr. Chertoff stops
making excuses about what he knows or does not understand about
the border crossings. You have told him about these incursions.
He's denying them. And that's your homeland security chief.
So I thank you for being here, but until the President and
the people in charge of this country decide that they want to
do something about it, absolutely nothing is going to happen.
They're going to send you back with your limited resources,
with you trying to do the work that the Federal Government
should be doing. And people are going to say nice things to you
when you come here, but you're going to be left on your own.
And I challenge my colleagues on the opposite side of the
aisle, and the President, and Chertoff, to step up to the table
and respond. The facts are undeniable. We all know what's going
on. As a matter of fact, again, I thank you for being here, but
if I were you, I wouldn't waste my time any more coming back
here. You've told them over and over again. Either they're
going to do something or the American people are going to turn
us all out of office.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Keller. Well, thank you. This time I'm going to yield
myself 5 minutes to ask you some questions.
I'm going to direct my questions to the issue of the
Mexican military assisting the drug cartels. I strongly condemn
the Mexican Government for allowing the Mexican soldiers to
help drug cartels smuggle drugs into the United States. If
Mexico cannot control its own military, then it makes no sense
for the U.S. Government to give the country of Mexico $63
million a year in foreign aid that could be used to attack
Border Patrol agents and local sheriff's deputies.
There have been 231 instances of illegal incursions by the
Mexican military or law enforcement since 1996. One of these
instances was described in detail by Sheriff Samaniego on
January 23, 2006, in Hudspeth County, Texas. Now, in that
particular case, we had a sheriff's deputy who was actually
involved in that incident come testify before Congress last
month. Sheriff's Deputy Lagaretta testified that he saw Mexican
soldiers wearing Mexican military fatigues, wearing Mexican
military caps, driving Mexican military Humvees, and they were
heavily armed with Mexican military machine guns. He said under
oath that he had no doubt they were Mexican military soldiers,
and he believed it was the cartel buying off the military.
I have studied this incident and many others, and the
country of Mexico has in each case offered three defenses.
First, didn't happen; never happened. Second defense, they must
have been stolen uniforms that the drug cartel was wearing; it
couldn't have been the Mexican military. And third, every
organization has a few bad apples, we'll look into it and get
back with you.
Let me ask you--let's start with Sheriff Gonzalez--what is
your opinion of the situation of the Mexican military assisting
drug cartels? Is this a case of stolen uniforms? Have you ever
heard of it happening in your county? What's your opinion about
Sheriff Gonzalez. Mr. Keller, this has happened in our
county several times. Like I mentioned earlier, the incursion
of 20, 25 individuals wearing uniforms. The calls from our
residents, people tell us of soldiers getting off of boats,
carrying weapons. As far as my interpretation of it, Mr.
Keller, if I have a report that a person is stopping vehicles
at 2 o'clock in the morning and is wearing a Zapata County
Sheriff's Office uniform, and I don't know of no deputy sheriff
doing that, my duty to my citizens and to my constituents would
be to investigate and see who it is that is impersonating one
of my officers. And from my opinion, sir, and the Mexican
military, if it's not Mexican military, and it's stolen
uniforms or stolen Humvees or whatever the case may be, it's my
opinion that the Mexican Government should investigate to see
who it is that's pretending to be military and why it is
they're giving them a bad name. I would immediately cause that
Mr. Keller. Sheriff Garrison, do you think this is a case
of a few bad apples being bought off by the drug cartel, or is
it stolen uniforms? What's your opinion of this situation?
Sheriff Garrison. Sir, in New Mexico, it was two and a
half, 3 years ago--I'm not quite sure of the dates--I know just
right around Santa Teresa, New Mexico, there was an incident
that occurred with the military and our Border Patrol. And
there were actually shots fired at that time. The Mexican
military believed that our Border Patrol agents were on the
Mexican side of the border, actually chased them around over on
the United States side.
Mr. Keller. You think it's a real problem, it's not
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir, it is a real problem. Yes, sir.
Mr. Keller. Sheriff Dever, do you have any comments on this
Mexican military assisting drug cartel issue?
Sheriff Dever. My personal experience is that I have never
witnessed an incursion by the Mexican military. We've dealt
with them right on the fence. I was curious a little earlier, I
heard something I'd never heard before and that is that the
Mexican military is, by rule, precluded from coming within 5
kilometers of the fence. I'd like to investigate that; I've
never heard it. If that's the case, we've had--Mexico has
experienced many violations of that, because we have dialogue
with them at certain places.
Certainly, any of their explanations are possible. I
believe that in fact there are units in the Mexican military
that are supporting drug smuggling. I have a lot of information
to sustain or support that idea.
Mr. Keller. And Sheriff Samaniego?
Sheriff Samaniego. Sir, I have no doubt in my mind that in
the Hudspeth incident of January the 23rd, that the Mexican
army was indeed involved. I've been doing a lot of research and
I found that between 1996 and 2000 over 150 Mexican officers,
army officers, were accused of working for the cartels,
including three generals, one of them General Rebollo, who was
the drug czar of Mexico. So, you know, it's not something that
we just invented. It's been going on. And the Mexican army has
been given almost exclusive responsibility for drug
interdiction on the Mexican border because of the corrupt law
enforcement agencies that had that responsibility before.
Mr. Keller. Thank you, Sheriffs. At this time I yield to
the gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank the
sheriffs for testimony here and those of you who are here in
support also of the witnesses that are here today. And I want
to mark a measure of disagreement with the gentlelady from
California in that I think your presence here matters. I would
ask you that, when there's a forum, do keep coming back because
sooner or later the President will hear this message. We are
sending a message to him today. And it's the responsibility of
the Commander in Chief to control our borders. You can't be a
nation if you don't have a border. You can't call it a border
if you don't control the border.
There is a series of things that I'm thinking about as I
listen to this testimony, and many of my questions have been
answered. But there's been a report that I've received that
says that there are predominantly four major kinds of illegal
drugs that come across the border--methamphetamines, cocaine,
heroin, and marijuana. Have you noticed--and I'll just ask
general questions of whoever might want to answer it--have you
noticed an increase in the amount of cocaine coming across the
border in proportion to that of methamphetamines? Have you seen
that there is Colombian illegal drugs coming in as part of
this, and is there evidence that the Colombian drug cartel has
now linked up with the Mexican drug cartel and that's pouring
across our southern border as a network?
Sheriff Samaniego. It's my understanding that the Mexican
cartels, they used to help the Colombian cartels. And they
finally got wise and they decided, well, you know, why can't we
do it instead of being paid small amounts to help them? Seventy
percent of the cocaine comes from Colombia through Mexico into
the United States. Most of the heroin that comes into the U.S.
is from Mexico, but the cocaine, the majority of it comes in
from Colombia, sir.
Mr. King. Thank you. And that, I think, answers it. Unless
there's some addition to that, I won't ask each of you to
answer, but you surely have an opportunity.
Sheriff Dever. Mr. King, I'd just add that we're seeing a
really significant increase in methamphetamine crossing into
the United States, coming out of superlabs in Mexico. And as
pervasive as that addiction is throughout our country, I think
it's of grave concern to all of us.
Sheriff Gonzalez. Very briefly, Mr. King, we have seen an
increase of methamphetamine, and the southern part of Texas is
seeing a tremendous increase in Chinese heroin coming in also.
Zapata County, we're also seeing a big increase of heroin
coming into the country also.
Mr. King. Thank you. Does anyone have an idea or have you
seen numbers as to how many dollars worth of illegal drugs come
across our southern border in a year?
Sheriff Samaniego. Well, it's in the billions. I've heard
different amounts, up to $300 billion a year. That's how much
the industry is worth. And we're the consumers here in the
United States. That's another problem that probably we need to
Mr. King. Thank you. And the reason--I mean, there are
certainly obvious reasons why I ask that question, but I'm
thinking about $30 billion-plus that gets wired down there from
illegal workers in the United States, how many billion dollars
go to pay for the drugs, what this really means to the Mexican
Government, for example, and how hard it's going to be to fight
this battle when they have a powerful economic incentive to be
pushing illegal drugs here, pushing people here, because
they're being paid in tens and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Have you seen any evidence--and I'll say the Secretary of
Homeland Security has said that they will eliminate the catch-
and-release program. Has anyone seen any evidence that he has
been successful in that endeavor?
Sheriff Dever. Well--and I don't know how they would
measure success. Most of the OTM--when we encounter a group of
illegals and we turn them over to Border Patrol, they're
removed from our sight and we really aren't fully aware of what
happens. Mexicans, supposedly, are VR'd, voluntarily returned,
immediately to Mexico and the OTMs transferred somewhere for a
detention hearing. But we see the same people, be they
Salvadoran, Honduran, Guatemalan, Mexican return day after day
Mr. King. I would put out there was some testimony received
in last year that stated there were 1,159,000 illegals stopped
at our southern border last year. Excuse me--yeah, 1,159,000
stopped; perhaps there could have been out of 3 to 4 million
that crossed. Sixteen hundred and forth adjudicated for
deportation, a lot of them promised to go back.
If I could add one quick question, Mr. Chairman, and that
is that--I'm supportive of your initiative, but I want to ask
this question. That is, is there merit to having some military
position closely enough to the border that they can deploy in
the case of border conflict, or at least have surveillance in
the air so we can get pictures of Mexican military maneuvers
and get some solid evidence to be able to address this?
Sheriff Dever. If I may, very quickly, and my colleagues.
It's been interesting. I've been a proponent for a long time of
having National Guard troops deployed on the border for that
very purposes, for purposes of observation, communication, and
support. Just recently, our Governor made a sea change and, I
know, just this last week talked to Secretary Rumsfeld about
deploying National Guard, which is a 180-degree change from the
position she previously occupied. So there is a role for the
military to play on the border in something other than a law
Sheriff Samaniego. It's such a vast area. I don't know
where--you would have to have them all over the place in order
to respond, so I don't believe that's a good project to work
on. And we had Marines stationed around El Paso, Hudspeth
County, observation posts, and a young sheepherder got killed.
I don't know if you remember that. And then they pulled
everybody out. Recently they had the Stryker units operating in
New Mexico around Santa Teresa, close to El Paso. And they were
very effective, but they were miles away, just observing.
Frankly, I believe this is a problem for the Border Patrol
and law enforcement to take care of. That's our job. Armies are
trained to kill, to go to war. We receive different training.
Our job is to maintain the peace.
Mr. Keller. Thank you. The time for Mr. King has expired,
but we will come back to you, Mr. King, on the second round to
I yield to the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I don't think the remarks from the gentlelady from
California ought to be misinterpreted. We appreciate your
testimony; we just question whether or not those that need to
hear it are hearing it. You can't say it too often.
Sheriff Samaniego, on the question of whether or not the
Mexican military was involved, do we have specific evidence
that a specific individual known to be in the military was
caught in illegal activities on our side of the border?
Sheriff Samaniego. I'm not aware of that, sir.
Mr. Scott. Because there's some question as to whether the
uniforms are stolen. We don't want to make accusations for
which there is no evidence. If the----
Sheriff Samaniego. The reason I mentioned the madrinas--and
I understand that the army also uses madrinas. I have no
evidence to present to you, just what I've heard. And these
people, they can pass as an army or as a group of police
officers, and then if they're found out, the Government
abandons them totally--you know, we don't know them, we don't
know anything about them, they stole the uniforms, whatever.
Mr. Scott. This is the Judiciary Committee, not
international relations, so we don't want to provoke any more
than we have to.
If someone is apprehended, having illegally crossed the
border, you're trying to coordinate Federal, State, and local
officials, who should be responsible for the person--Federal,
State, or local?
Sheriff Samaniego. When we encounter an illegal alien on
the U.S. side--and we don't go knocking on doors, you know,
through our investigation if they're involved in a crime, and
we learn that they're illegally here, we call the Border Patrol
or we transport them to the Border Patrol center and they
Mr. Scott. What should happen at that point? I mean, it's
very expensive to lock people up. You're talking 15,000 to
50,000 a year to lock somebody up. Is that somebody that ought
to--should your county pay for that?
Sheriff Samaniego. Well, we do pay to some degree because
we do house quite a few criminal illegal aliens. And the SCAAP
funding has almost disappeared, which--you know, it gives the
county back a little bit of what they spend keeping people in
jail, taking them to the hospital, prosecution, court costs, et
cetera. And that's another area that we have a beef with the
Federal Government, because we're not being reimbursed.
Mr. Scott. And is this a local function, a State function,
or a Federal function? And whoever's function it is ought to
pay for it. Whose function is it to control the border? Should
that come out of your county budget?
Sheriff Samaniego. I don't believe so. If someone violated
the law by coming into this country illegally, and then they
commit a crime, why should the State or the county have to pay
the cost when the initial crime was a Federal violation?
Mr. Scott. Let me ask you one final question. You
indicated, Sheriff, that if there's dollar on this side of the
border, somebody is going to come across to get it. What--I
guess if you look at why people cross the border, some for drug
trade, some to get jobs, what can we do to reduce the reason
people would want to cross the border?
Sheriff Samaniego. I heard the gentleman from the Border
Patrol, Mr. Bonner, yesterday testified, and he says you have
to eliminate the jobs that are available. As long as there are
jobs here, they're going to come looking for them. If there are
no jobs, or the sanctions are so severe that the people that
own the businesses are not going to hire them, then that may
slow down the invasion--that I call it.
Mr. Scott. Are there criminal activities other than drugs
involved that would cause people to want to cross the border?
Other than drugs?
Sheriff Samaniego. In El Paso, they recruit young kids,
they've tried females, they've tried elderly to drive loads
across the ports of entry.
Mr. Scott. That's for drugs?
Sheriff Samaniego. Drugs, yes, sir.
Mr. Scott. Other than drugs are there criminal--we
understand why they would want to cross with drugs, because
there's so much money involved in that. Are there other crimes
that are involved, other than drug crimes, that would cause
people to want to cross the border?
Sheriff Samaniego. Yes, sir. Most people think that the
power of the cartel ends at the border. I'm here to tell you
that it doesn't end there. They have elaborate smuggling
transportation and delivery systems here in the United States.
Mr. Scott. What are they smuggling other than drugs?
Sheriff Samaniego. Well, we believe that the same
organizations are now smuggling the illegal aliens----
Mr. Keller. Mr. Scott's time has expired. Sheriff, I'll let
you finish your sentence.
Sheriff Samaniego. I'm finished, thank you.
Mr. Keller. Mr. Scott, I'm sure we'll be able to come back
to you to finish up with any other questions.
Mr. Scott. I'm finished. Thank you.
Mr. Keller. Okay. I'll yield myself 5 minutes at this
point. I want to now switch to a topic of OTMs, criminal
examples of other than Mexicans committing crimes. Last year,
our Border Patrol agents arrested 155,000 illegal aliens from
countries other than Mexico attempting to cross over. They
included illegal immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan. Our
CIA Director has testified that this is a very serious national
security problem. I recently spent a week on the Mexican-
California border and I have personally spoken with Border
Patrol agents who have apprehended suspects on the terrorist
watch lists. And on the day I was there, two illegals from
Pakistan were captured.
So let me begin with Sheriff Gonzalez and ask you if you
can provide me any examples of criminal OTMs apprehended in
Zapata County or nearby.
Sheriff Gonzalez. Mr. Keller, there are so many of them
nowadays. Just right before coming over here, there were 20
Guatemalans apprehended and two Mexicans apprehended. This is
on a daily basis. We are seeing in Zapata County people from
Uganda, people from Afghanistan, people from many countries
that have entered through Zapata County. We are seeing also, we
have seen people all across--my testimony, one of the heads of
the Mara Salvatruchas in Brooks County, jackets found in Jim
Hogg County. In Maverick County, over 127,500 OTMs were caught
last year in the Del Rio, Texas area. It's something where
we're seeing people from all over the place coming into the
We're not saying--again, and I want to clarify that, Mr.
Keller--we're not trying to say we want to be immigration
officers. What we're trying to say is it concerns us to know
who is coming into the country. We have people--and no
reflection on anybody with tattoos, but you have people with
tattoos all across their chest, you know, advertising what
gangs they're with, not hiding those tattoos anymore. You know,
people with Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia, you know, the
Salvatruchas, Pistolleros, Latinos--it's everywhere, and it's
all over South Texas.
Mr. Keller. Well, let me ask you about--you mentioned even
people from Afghanistan coming through your portion of Texas,
Zapata County. When you make that detention, how do you
determine if that person is on the terrorist watch list. Is
running it through the NCIC computer system enough, or is there
a separate approach? How do you go about that?
Sheriff Gonzalez. What we do in Zapata, sir, is that
anybody that we think may be in the country illegally, we refer
them to Border Patrol. What Border Patrol does later on, we
don't know, sir. We practice--we have the practice of not
asking people what their nationality is or their citizenship is
because we're not allowed to ask, by law. So we try not to
violate people's rights. So we refer them immediately to Border
Patrol. Border Patrol makes that determination as to what
they're going to do with them.
Mr. Keller. So you don't know for sure if they're on that
terrorist watch list because you turn those folks over to the
Sheriff Gonzalez. We don't--no, sir. Although we have a
very good working relationship with Border Patrol, like I
mentioned earlier, and the ICE and just about every Federal
agency, there are many, many times where you transfer a
prisoner to a Federal agency and you never, ever hear back as
to what that may have happened.
Mr. Keller. So how do you know that some folks you arrested
or stopped were from Afghanistan?
Sheriff Gonzalez. Well, not in Zapata. Afghanistan, I was
talking about the border area. But in Zapata, some Ugandans
that we found out through agents, through the actual patrol
officers, because it's--the higher the level of, I guess of
command, it seems to be a little bit less information that
you're able to obtain. But we have a good working relationship
with the agents.
Mr. Keller. Sheriff Garrison, do you have anything you want
to add to the situation with OTMs? Have you seen examples--any
particularly bad characters?
Sheriff Garrison. This last year we did have a murder in
our county and it was committed by a Guatemalan, person from
Guatemala. He did take a lady out into the desert and left her
dead body out there pinned to the ground with cement stakes.
And that did occur just recently.
Mr. Keller. Sheriff Dever, do you have anything to add to
Sheriff Dever. You know, we just don't break those out in
terms of nationality other than if they're illegal alien or not
illegal alien. But their country of origin generally isn't a
factor in terms of our tracking data.
Mr. Keller. Okay. How about you, Sheriff?
Sheriff Samaniego. I'm not aware of any in our county. Most
of the OTMs were in Eagle Pass and Del Rio area. That's where
they were being released. El Paso County had a few, probably
the least of any place in Texas.
Mr. Keller. Okay. At this time, I yield to the gentleman
from South Carolina. Mr. Inglis, any questions?
Mr. Inglis. No.
Mr. Keller. Here to listen?
Let me yield to the gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I did have a series of
questions I didn't quite get to, and I want to first ask the
question--we did pass legislation here in the House to build
700 miles of fence--not 2,000 but 700. And I just would like to
ask for the record if we could do that in a fashion that was
engineeringly sound, with good forethought and connection with
a lot of support in entry and exit stations.
Does that make your job easier? Does it accomplish part of
Sheriff Dever. I believe that building--building fence in
certain areas makes a lot of sense. Building it along the
entire 2,200 miles does not because, A, building a fence is not
a deterrent unless you have somebody to monitor the fence, the
ability to do that either electronically or--even
electronically you have to have somebody able to respond to a
It's important to understand that you cannot sustain a
smuggling operation without infrastructure on both sides of the
area, the corridor, within reasonable distance. And just to go
out in the middle of nowhere in the desert and start smuggling
people or narcotics isn't a likely scenario from the south
side. There has to be, you know, something there to support it
and sustain the effort.
And so if the fence is build around, you know, whatever the
reasonable distance is in those areas where the infrastructure
exists primarily or initially, that makes sense to me.
Mr. King. Thank you.
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir, I'd like to respond. In New
Mexico, we have a lot of area that has no fence or anything. We
have markers on certain hills that are a mile apart. Many of
the ranchers who put up fences walk out the next day, after
spending thousands of dollars to put those fences up, walk out
and find them missing and having been taken over to the Mexican
border to be used as fence over there.
I do believe that it would be good to have some kind of a
marker, some kind of a line there. A vehicle barrier would
work, would accomplish a lot of good.
Mr. King. Thank you, sir.
Sheriff Gonzalez. Yes, Mr. King, there are some areas along
the border that a fence would be useful. In most parts of
Texas, it would be very hard. You have areas like Brewster
County, Maverick County, you have areas like Val Verde County
where a fence would practically be almost impossible to build
because of the canyons and things like this.
Also, what worries us about a fence is the maintenance of
the fence. Like Sheriff Garrison, who will respond whenever
somebody needs to respond to it when there is really nobody
available to respond if something happens to this fence.
We have also seen in the areas along the border the
shootings from Mexico at cameras. They are really non-working
cameras that Border Patrol has up there, but my understanding
is that there would be stadium lights along fences. I am
certain that there will be many people shooting at these
lights, and, again, the expense and the maintenance of the
lights and things like this.
Mr. King. Thank you. Sheriff Garrison, did I hear you
testify that you don't inquire as to the citizenship of
individuals that you stop?
Sheriff Garrison. When we respond to a crime, we respond to
the crime, and we react to whatever we come into contact with.
We don't ask anyone for their citizenship or anything like that
to initially respond. If we are on patrol or something like
that and we feel that we have run across some undocumented
aliens, then we do report it to Border Patrol.
Mr. King. I just wanted to clarify that. All of you have
confidence that you have the authority to ask, inquire as to
the citizenship of anyone that you might want to stop unless
you are representing a sanctuary policy county.
Sheriff Garrison. Yes, sir.
Mr. King. I just want to make sure that was clearly in the
And then we have heard testimony in the past about the jobs
magnet, and you have spoken to that, about how that is going to
pull people in. Does anyone have any comments on birthright
citizenship as being an incentive that you might see as part of
it? Sheriff Dever?
Sheriff Dever. I will just say for my part, it's easy,
tempting to get caught up in those arguments. Frankly, sir, our
focus and primary interest and area of influence is the law
enforcement arena, and that's really where we try to
concentrate our energies because that's something we can do
something about. I think we all have opinions about
socioeconomic programs, but I think it's our common belief that
none of those can be successful and dialogue and discussion
about them aren't very meaningful if we cannot control our
Mr. King. Are you saying traffic, more out-of-proportion
traffic in pregnant females that might be part of that
Sheriff Dever. We see a lot of women and children where we
never did before, extended families to include pregnant women.
Mr. King. Thank you. My time is up. I'd yield back. Thank
Mr. Keller. I thank the gentleman from Iowa.
I'd like to focus on just two areas: one, the lack of
prosecution of some folks, and then, two, I want to ask if you
were king for a day, what you would do to solve this problem.
When I went to the California-Mexican border, one of the
most frustrating things for some of the rank-and-file Border
Patrol agents is they see the same exact alien smugglers over
and over and over and over and over, and they can understand
with some sympathy why they see the same regular Mexicans
trying to cross over because of catch-and-release, but they
couldn't understand why the U.S. Attorney wouldn't prosecute
these habitual alien smugglers.
What's the solution to this issue? Is it more money for
more prosecutors? Or is it making this a higher priority? Or
what do you think we should do about this lack of prosecution
of these folks who make their living by doing alien smuggling?
Sheriff Garrison. Just recently, sir, I had a meeting with
our district attorney and with the U.S. Attorney's Office,
representation of the U.S. Attorney's Office, and we brought
this up. The U.S. Attorney's Office just spoke of how many
cases they had and how they were unable to take on so many
more, so they had to set thresholds.
My problem is when they set a threshold, all it does is the
people who say they'll get charged when they have six or more
aliens, they'll start hauling five. I mean, and that's what
Mr. Keller. I'm told that I need to let you go to catch a
plane. If anyone has anything you definitely have to say to get
this off your chest, I'd be happy to----
Sheriff Samaniego. We would love to stay here all day, but
if we stay any longer, we're not going to go home tonight.
Mr. Keller. Okay. Well, thank you all so much for being
here. Your testimony has been very helpful and informative.
[Whereupon, at 2:15 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Darrell Issa, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I greatly appreciate your holding this
important hearing. For decades we have worked towards solutions to stem
the flow of narcotics and illegal immigration across our southern
border. It is infuriating when the Mexican government works against us
rather than with us in this effort. It is timely to examine the issue
of Mexican government-aided violence along the southern border.
Corruption within the Mexican government and its failed economic
system has already been evidenced by the fact that one out of ten
people born in Mexico living legally or illegally in the United States.
However, Congress has allocated billions in taxpayer funds to aid
Mexico over the years to help to improve the lives of the average
Mexican citizen. For example, in 2005 the United States donated
$13,392,000 through the Economic Support Fund, and $39,680,000 directly
to Mexico to improve narcotics control. One would hope that this
generosity would encourage the Mexican government, federal and state,
to support efforts to control immigration into the United States and
the flow of narcotics.
Unfortunately, the events of January 23, 2006 and others
demonstrate that our efforts are seemingly wasted. It comes as little
surprise that the same government that did little to deter Mexican
nationals from entering the United States to steal Suburbans in the
1980's and 1990's for use by Mexican federal agents would be complacent
in preventing its military from aiding the drug and human trafficking
business. When the Mexican military crossed into U.S. territory on
January 23rd, we witnessed yet another example of corruption within the
Mexican government. Mexico must act to cease this criminal conduct. If
Mexico cannot uphold its end of the bargain, why should we continue to
aid our hapless neighbor?
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Louie Gohmert, a Representative in
Congress from the State of Texas
First of all, let me thank the Chairman and Ranking Members of both
subcommittees for holding this extremely important hearing. Also, I
would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank the Texas
Border County Sheriffs who have already been to Capitol Hill in an
effort to educate members about the dire situation on our southern
border. We appreciate them taking time out of their WAR to be with us
No more serious of an issue could exist before this Congress, this
Nation--than the WAR that is being waged on our southern border. While
most of the country knows that we are actively fighting the War on
Terrorism--only a small fraction of the American public is aware of the
battle our local law enforcement officers are waging on our border with
Earlier this month, I was able to participate in a meeting with
several Texas Border County Sheriffs and their reports about the lack
of border security funds, personnel detention facilities, and equipment
were very grim to say the least. The sheer length of the border between
Texas and Mexico make it difficult to police. Unfortunately, the party
responsible for policing an international border is the Federal
government, not local law enforcement who are doing the best they can
to keep our citizens safe.
After listening to the sheriffs and hearing the truth about the
situation along our border with Mexico, my first reaction was that the
Judiciary Committee also needed to be educated on this issue.
Immediately I spoke with Chairman Hostettler about scheduling a hearing
and would like to thank him for recognizing the importance of having
this hearing and the expedience with which it came to fruition.
On February 8th of this year I wrote Senate Judiciary Chairman
Arlen Specter asking him to immediately schedule H.R. 4437, the Border
Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005
for markup in the Judiciary Committee. The sheriffs, and a majority of
the members in the House, would like to see the entire bill become law
but if the bill contains too many contentious provisions which may
jeopardize swift passage of the bill in committee, I would ask that
Section 607 be stripped out of the bill and passed as a stand-alone
measure. This section is absolutely critical to securing the border and
ensuring the safety of all American Citizens. This problem will not go
away and again, it is the Federal government's job to tackle the
problem of border security--or at least give local law enforcement the
tools they need to continue defending the border. I believe Section
607, if signed into law, will be an important first step towards
securing our border.
Again, thank you all for coming before the subcommittees today to
testify. We all appreciate your efforts to protect your constituents
and all American citizens from a terrorist attack that will come
through the southern border if the Federal government continues to do
nothing to seal up our porous borders.
Thank you again Chairman Hostettler and Chairman Coble for holding
Prepared Statement of Vivian Juan-Saunders, Chairwoman,
Tohono O'Odham Nation of Arizona
This statement is submitted by the Tohono O'odham Nation to apprise
the Subcommittee of the Nation's unique border security challenges that
derive from the 75-mile stretch of international border that the Tohono
O'odham Reservation shares with Mexico, and to assist the Subcommittee
in developing addressing local law enforcement problems with violence
along the southern border. Before addressing the specifics of these
issues, my statement will provide general background about the Nation
and the historical background that created our current border security
The Tohono O'odham Nation (``Nation'') is a federally recognized
Indian Tribe in South Central Arizona with over 28,000 enrolled tribal
members. The Tohono O'odham Reservation consists of four non-contiguous
parcels totaling more than 2.8 million acres in the Sonoran Desert, and
is the second largest Indian Reservation in the United States. The
largest community, Sells, is the Nation's capital.
As a federally recognized Indian Tribe, the Nation possesses
sovereign governmental authority over its members and territory.
Accordingly, the Nation provides governmental services to one of the
largest Indian populations in America and is responsible for managing
one of the largest Indian reservations in the America. Moreover, the
Nation spends approximately $7 million annually from tribal revenues to
meet the United States' border security responsibilities. The 75-mile
southern border of our Reservation is the longest shared international
border of any Indian Tribe in the United States and has created an
unprecedented homeland security crisis for America.
Prior to European contact, the aboriginal lands of the O'odham
extended east to the San Pedro River, West to the Colorado River, South
to the Gulf of California, and North to the Gila River. In 1848 the
United States and Mexico negotiated the terms of the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, which among other things, established the southern
boundary of the United States. The Treaty placed the aboriginal lands
of the O'odham in Mexico. In 1854 through the Gadsden Purchase, the
United States and Mexico further defined the southern boundary by
placing the boundary at its present location cutting into the heart of
our aboriginal territory. The establishment of the boundary displaced
the O'odham on both sides of the international border bisecting O'odham
lands thereby separating the Nation's people from relations, cultural
sites and ceremonies, and ultimately blocking access to much needed
health care, housing, and transportation. Not surprisingly, neither the
United States nor Mexico consulted with the O'odham during the Treaty
negotiations in 1848 and 1854. Respect for the sovereign status of the
O'odham was simply ignored.
The lack of consultation or input from the O'odham continued
throughout the generations leaving the Nation with a modern-day border
security crisis that has caused shocking devastation of the Nation's
lands and resources. The genesis of this crisis stems principally from
the development and implementation of the U.S. government's border
policy in the last decade. Again, without the benefit of consulting
with the Nation, federal border security policy was developed focusing
on closing down what were considered to be key points of entry along
the U.S. southern border. This policy was implemented by extensively
increasing manpower and resources at ports of entry and located at
popular entry points such as San Diego (CA), Yuma (AZ), and El Paso
(TX). Rather than preventing illegal immigration into America, this
policy created a funnel effect causing the flow of undocumented
immigrants, drug traffickers, and other illegal activity to shift to
other less regulated spots on the border.
Due to the lack of border security resources and attention to the
Nation, illegal immigration through the Reservation has become a prime
avenue of choice for undocumented immigrants and drug trafficking
activities traveling into the United States. This has created urgent
challenges to protect against possible terrorists coming through a very
vulnerable location on our Reservation and has resulted in an increase
in crimes, gangs and violence. Although the Nation has neither the
sufficient manpower nor the resources to adequately address this
crisis, it continues to be the first line of defense in protecting
America's homeland security interests in this highly volatile and
iii. border security crisis and border violence on the tohono o'odham
The modern day consequences of the border security crisis facing
the Nation are indeed devastating to our members, our lands, our
culture and precious resources. While immigrant and drug trafficking
have decreased on other parts of the southern border of the United
States, levels have sky rocketed on the Nation causing a flood of
crime, violence, chaos and environmental destruction on our
Currently, it has been conservatively estimated that over 1,500
immigrants illegally cross daily into the United States via our
Reservation. A Border Patrol spokesman recently reported that the
Nation is in the ``busiest corridor of illegal immigration in the
[America].'' Tribal members live in fear for the safety of their
families and their properties. Often times, homes are broken into by
those desperate for food, water and shelter. Indeed, the statistics on
border violence and crime are staggering:
In 2004 alone, 27,130 undocumented immigrants were
detained and arrested crossing the border on the Nation's
Since October 2003, approximately 180,000 pounds of
narcotics have been seized.
When combining federal and Tribal law enforcement
efforts, more than 300,000 pounds of illegal narcotics were
seized on the Nation's lands in 2004.
In 2004, TOPD officers responded to over 6,000 calls
for assistance with undocumented immigrant apprehensions;
Border Protection estimates over 111,000 individual
apprehensions on the Nation's lands in 2004.
Illegal narcotics seizures more than doubled in the
last 4 years to over 70,000 lbs. in 2004.
Narcotics seizures on the Reservation have included
marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.
In January 2006 and February 2006 alone, the Nation
seized approximately 9,900 pounds of illegal drugs with an
estimated street value worth $7.3 million.
In 2005, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) apprehended
122,319 undocumented aliens (UDA), of which 7,383 were criminal aliens.
A significant number of these UDAs are involved in human and or drug
smuggling and an alarming number of the Nation's members have been
either coerced and or voluntarily participate in this criminal
activity. The social impact of these crimes has resulted in gang and
domestic violence, burglaries, dysfunctional families, seven suicides
in a one year period, and an increase in social disorder placing
enormous demands on the resources of the Nation.
Recent activities along the border clearly demonstrate an increase
in drug smuggling and reported sightings of what appears to be a
Mexican military at the southern edge of the border and attacks against
drug ``back packers'' have increased. On February 6, 2006, a Tohono
O'odham Nation Tribal Police responded to a village approximately 28
miles north of the International Border where a Mexican National
Individual had been murdered execution style with a gunshot to his head
and several shots to his torso. The murder was witnessed by the
victim's brother who had fled on foot and called for help at a nearby
residence. The location of the incident occurred within yards of a home
where children and elders were at and later discovered to be a high
narcotics traffic area. Further investigation was conducted by Tohono
O'odham Nation Tribal Police, USCBP and the FBI. The victim and at
least five other Mexican Nationals were believed to be marijuana
backpackers, the suspect shooter was believed to be a Mexican National
and attempting to steal the narcotics from the backpackers. As of
today, the suspect and accomplice have not been located.
Other problems of violence and of national concern have also
occurred recently on the Reservation. On February 10, 2006 a husband
and wife tribal members were out gathering wood for cooking in the
desert near their village when they were approached by an individual
Mexican national male asking for food and water. The individual then
pulled a handgun out of his waistband and pointed it at both victims
stating he was taking their 1981 ford pick up truck and was going to
leave it in Mexico. The two Tribal members were left stranded out in
the desert for a period of time until they walked back to the village
and reported the incident to Tribal Police.
On February 24, 2006, the Tohono O'odham Nation Tribal Police
assisted USCBP agents at the home of a tribal member in the village of
Sells, the capital of the TON. Subsequently, an Iraqi national was
removed from that same home after it was discovered that the individual
had lived at the home undetected for several months. The individual was
apprehended by Customs and Border Protection agents. This incident
further emphasizes our need to have an effective intelligence component
for our operations.
Recent intelligence sharing of information between the Nation and
USCBP has revealed that they are starting to see an increase of border-
related activity. Such activity includes an increase in the amount of
undocumented alien foot traffic, narcotics smuggling and vehicular
traffic, abandoned vehicles, and stolen vehicle recoveries within the
Tohono O'odham Nation. all of which directly impact the every day lives
of the Tohono O'odham Nation. The increase in problems have forced the
Tohono O'odham Police Department (TOPD), a seventy-one (71) member
police force, to address the unrelenting and increased traffic of
undocumented immigrants and drug traffickers who cross our border into
America and related problems they create.
iv. addressing border violence through increased security
TOPD provides primary border security law enforcement services in
addition to public safety within the Nation itself. There are at least
160 known illegal crossing sites along the Nation's 75-mile shared
border with Mexico, in 36 locations, and there are no barriers at all.
Thus, TOPD Officers travel in excess of 200 miles per shift or a yearly
total of 48,000 miles. On average, each TOPD officer spends 60% of his
or her time working on border related issues, decreasing the amount of
time spent on public safety and threatening not only our members but
threatening the safety of the United States as well.
Daily confrontations with UDAs require the Nation's Police Officers
to possess weaponry and protective equipment to ensure the safety of
their own lives as well as the safety of the tribal community. TOPD is
the first in line to confront these individuals, which often include
criminals and possible terrorists. In addition to apprehending UDAs,
TOPD officers investigate crimes committed by UDAs, including homicides
and unattended deaths. In 2005 alone, TOPD investigated 62 deaths.
In an effort to combat the increase of border security issues and
border violence, TOPD has increased efforts and expended scarce
resources to reduce crime on the Nation to improve the quality of life
for its residents and visitors. The Nation has sustained a loss of
millions of dollars annually to needed manpower, increased public
safety, health care, sanitation, theft and destruction of our property
and lands from the relentless flow of illegal immigration. Equally
devastating is the adverse impact on our cultural resources and
traditions as our Tribal elders no longer gather ceremonial plants in
the desert for fear of their safety. For example:
In 2003, sixty-nine people died on the Reservation
crossing the border, leaving the Nation to pay for the burial
and related costs. The Nation pays for autopsy costs at
$1,400.00 per body out of tribal police funds.
The Nation loses approximately $2 million annually
from its allocation of Indian Health Care funding due to
emergency health care treatment of undocumented immigrants
taken to our health clinic.
The Nation is forced to address the 6 tons of trash a
day that is littered on the Nation's Reservation by fleeing
undocumented immigrants. This predicament has caused serious
environmental problems and contributes to the 113 open pit
dumps on the Nation's Reservation that need to be cleaned up.
Homeland Security is clearly a federal responsibility. However, TOP
has stretched its resources to the limit. To date, the Nation has spent
more than $10 million dollars in tribal resources on Homeland Security
issues and now spends over $3 million annually, over half the TOPD
budget, in direct response to border related incidents. Despite the
Nation's position on the front line of this crisis, we do not receive
any funding from the federal government.
v. increased border security costs are impacting other programs
within the nation
Many other areas on the Nation, such as our limited heath care
clinic and ambulance services, have been similarly negatively affected
by the increased homeland security expenses. Overall, it is estimated
that the Nation expends an additional $4 million of its tribal
resources annually on services related to border issues for a total of
$7 million. Part of the expenditure relates to health care and
environmental clean up services. When the Nation pays for federal
responsibilities, we are unable to address much needed education,
health care, housing, roads, infrastructure issues, to name a few.
Below are a couple of key examples.
In 2003, the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sells
Service Unit spent $500,000.00 on emergency health care
services to undocumented immigrants, for example, for those at
risk of dying from dehydration. These funds are not reimbursed
to IHS and result in the inability of certain tribal members to
receive health care services that are allocated for their
The Nation spends millions of dollars a year to pay
for the 6 tons of trash per day left by undocumented immigrants
and the Nation is faced with cleaning up the 113 open pit dumps
on the Reservation.
758 homes on the Reservation (20% of all homes on the
Reservation) are without potable water and 1,393 (38% of all
homes) are without a sewer or water system. Many of the
residents at these homes use either hand-dug or agricultural
wells for drinking water and are exposed to contaminants such
as fecal coliform, arsenic and fluoride in excess of the
federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards. The total need to
construct suitable drinking water and waste water systems for
these homes is estimated at $24.4 million.
The Nation has been forced to deal with homeland security and
border issues because we must protect our lands and tribal members. The
Nation's efforts are complemented by the USCBP, which has increased its
presence on our lands. However, this is not without concern over
reports that USCBP is harassing tribal members, creating unnecessary
roads, and slow in the implementation of their duties to reach the
level of trust required in developing a partnership with the Nation.
TOPD is also assisted by Tribal Rangers, whose primary duties are
to monitor the undeveloped areas of the Nation. Because the Rangers
often confront UDAs, it has become necessary to enhance the Rangers'
ability to formally assist TOPD Officers. This will enable TOPD
Officers to handle other growing problems of human and drug smuggling
and the accompanying crimes, gangs and youth violence. However, the
Nation needs support for equipment and training to assist in the
development or enhancement of the Tribal Ranger program. By supporting
this program, Tribal Rangers will be able to provide more manpower
resources to law enforcement and strengthen services to the community
and surrounding areas.
vi. the tohono o'odham nation needs funding to address border violence
and border security needs.
We are thankful for the support from the Border Patrol and the
Tribal Ranger program. However, the financial need is overwhelming and
for the most part, the Nation has not received any significant federal
funding to address our law enforcement/border security activities,
notwithstanding 9-11. Therefore, the Nation respectfully assistance
from the Committee to ensure that the Nation is consulted and an active
partner in the development and implementation of federal border
security initiatives headed up by the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS). The Nation also seeks the Committee's support in securing
legislative reform to authorize the direct funding of funding and other
resources to support our efforts in providing homeland and border
security for America.
Under the DHS organic legislation, Indian Nations are not eligible
to obtain direct funding for homeland security purposes. This barrier
is particularly unfair to the Nation given our unique circumstances in
protecting the 75-mile international border with Mexico on our
Reservation and the increase in crime and violence as a result of the
border issues. The lack of consultation and lack of access to direct
funding has strained the Nation's Government-to-Government relationship
with the United States placing us in a difficult and untenable position
of having to react to policy decisions as opposed to proactively
working together in a unified fashion with the proper respect accorded
to the Nation's sovereign stat
As explained above, the Nation is spending approximately $3 million
annually to directly address these border security related needs and an
additional $4 million related to the border security crisis. Our police
department has stretched its resources beyond to provide border
security, our health care dollars are siphoned to pay for emergency
health care for undocumented immigrants, and our lands are littered
with tons of garbage daily creating disastrous environmental and public
health damage. The Nation has an identified a compelling and urgent
need for more funds to assist us in meeting these challenges.
Therefore, the Nation respectfully requests the Committee's support and
assistance in securing funding in the FY 2007 Homeland Security
In addition, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS)
currently has a significant backlog of cases from the Nation, which
ultimately impacts the Nation and TOPD. The Nation submitted 58 cases
to DPS in January 2006, of which 34 cases have been completed
(analyzed, tested and processed) and returned back to TOPD. In February
2006, the Nation submitted 54 cases to DPS and 32 were completed.
However, that leaves 43 back logged cases. The total number of TOPD
cases and related evidence submitted to DPS is significant in
comparison to other Indian Country Law Enforcement Agencies as well as
Federal counterparts and TOPD is second only to the Navajo Nation in
submitting cases to DPS. The Nation is concerned that the backlog will
negatively impact TOPD efforts to address crime. In addition, the
Nation believes that DPS should be communicating directly with Indian
Country Chiefs of Police and Tribal Officials on this matter rather
than BIA Law Enforcement. TOPD has a very well established evidence
management system administered by a full time Evidence Technician and
is currently identifying funding to add additional staff to support
Funding will assist the Nation with our current efforts and allow
us to enhance our training, planning, equipment and related border
security efforts to keep people safe from the violence that often
breaks out as a result of border crossings.
In closing, on behalf of the Tohono O'odham Nation, I appreciate
the opportunity to present this statement to the Committee and
respectfully request the Committee's favorable consideration of the
Nation's requests. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to
contact me at (520) 383-2028, or your staff can contact our legal
counsel in Washington D.C., Shenan Atcitty at (202) 457-7128. Thank