While the Southwest border hosts robust legal commercial activity, the border also is the
site of violent criminal enterprises. These enterprises are carried out by organized
criminal syndicates and include the smuggling of drugs, humans, weapons, and cash
across the U.S.-Mexico border.
During 2005, Border Patrol apprehended approximately 1.2 million illegal aliens; of
those 165,000 were from countries other than Mexico. Of the non-Mexican aliens,
approximately 650 were from special interest countries. Special interest countries are
those ?designated by the intelligence community as countries that could export
individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism.?
The triple threat of drug smuggling, illegal and unknown crossers, and rising violence are
the reality facing communities. While many illegal aliens cross the border searching for
employment, not all illegal aliens are crossing into the United States to find work. Law
enforcement has stated that some individuals come across the border because they have
been forced to leave their home countries due to their criminal activity. These dangerous
criminals are fleeing the law in other countries and seeking refuge in the United States.
Mexican drug cartels operating along the Southwest border are more sophisticated and
dangerous than any other organized criminal enterprise. The Mexican cartels, and the
smuggling rings and gangs they leverage, wield substantial control over the routes into
the United States and pose substantial challenges to U.S. law enforcement to secure the
Southwest border. The cartels operate along the border with military grade weapons,
technology and intelligence and their own respective paramilitary enforcers.
In addition to the criminal activities and violence of the cartels on our Southwest border,
there is an ever-present threat of terrorist infiltration over the Southwest border. Data
indicates that there are hundreds of illegal aliens apprehended entering the United States
each year who are from countries known to support and sponsor terrorism.
U.S. military and intelligence officials believe that Venezuela is emerging as a
potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. The Venezuelan
government is issuing identity documents that could subsequently be used to
obtain a U.S. visa and enter the country.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that the Mexican drug syndicates
operating today along our Nation?s Southwest border are far more sophisticated and
dangerous than any of the other organized criminal groups in America?s law enforcement
history. Indeed, these powerful drug cartels, and the human smuggling networks and
gangs they leverage, have immense control over the routes into the United States and
continue to pose formidable challenges to our efforts to secure the Southwest border.
The violence on the Southwest border encountered by U.S. Border Patrol and local law
enforcement is increasing at an alarming rate. From 2004 to 2005, violent incidents
against Border Patrol agents on the Southwest border have increased 108%. During FY
2006, there have been 746 violent incidents against Border Patrol agents, including 435
incidents of rock assaults, 173 physical assaults, 46 vehicle assaults, and 43 firearm
assaults. In January 2006, the Department of Homeland Security sent a confidential
memo to Border Patrol agents warning that they could be the targets of assassins hired by
According to El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego, drug cartels operating along the
southwestern U.S. border are a ?country unto themselves? with intelligence capabilities,
weaponry and communications equipment that challenges the Border Patrol and local law
enforcement. Sheriff Samaniego advises his deputies to ?back off? when they see well
armed individuals from cartels and other criminal organizations.
Zapata County, Texas Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez reports having been told by a number
of informants familiar with drug cartel operations that local law enforcement is armed
with woefully inadequate weaponry when compared with the automatic assault weapons
used by the drug cartels. And in Hidalgo County, Sheriff Luca Trevino reports that in
the summer of 2006, two of his deputy sheriffs came under attack as 300 to 400 rounds
were fired from automatic weapons originating on the Mexican side of the river.
Webb County, Texas Sheriff Rick Flores indicated that he is disturbed by the level of
resources the cartels and criminal organizations possess and utilize against local law
enforcement noting that the cartels utilize rocket propelled grenades?automatic assault
weapons, and ?level four? body armor and Kevlar helmets similar to what the U.S.
military uses. Some local officials are taking steps to protect their officers from these
weapons. The Sheriff for Hidalgo County, Texas Sheriff has prohibited the deputies in
his department from patrolling along the banks of the Rio Grande River because of the
threat of violence from the cartels.
The criminal organizations are indeed extremely advanced, well-equipped, and highly
adaptable to enforcement measures marshaled against them. In January 2006, ICE
agents, along with ATF agents and Laredo Police Department officers seized an
enormous cache of weapons in Laredo, Texas. Authorities confiscated two completed
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) materials for making thirty-three more, military
style grenades, twenty-six grenade triggers, large quantities of AK-47s and AR-15 assault
rifles, 1,280 pounds of ammunition, silencers, machine gun assembly kits, 300 primers,
bulletproof vests, police scanners, sniper scopes, narcotics and cash. These seizures
clearly illustrate the level of violence along the border, especially in Nuevo Laredo and
The Violent Crimes Institute conducted a 12 month in-depth study of illegal immigrants
who committed sex crimes and murders for the time period of January 1999 through
April 2006. This study makes it clear that the U.S. faces a dangerous threat from sexual
predators that cross the U.S. borders illegally.
The Institute analyzed 1,500 cases in depth, including serial rapes, serial murders, sexual
homicides, and child molestation committed by illegal immigrants. Police reports, public
records, interviews with police, and media accounts were all included. Offenders were
located in thirty-six states, with the most of the offenders were located in States with the
highest numbers of illegal immigrants. California was ranked first, followed by Texas,
Arizona, New Jersey, New York, and Florida.
The number of aliens other than Mexican (?OTMs?) illegally crossing the border has
grown at an alarming rate over the past several years. Based on U.S. Border Patrol
statistics there were 30,147 OTMs apprehended in FY2003, 44,614 in FY2004, 165,178
in FY2005, and 108,025 in FY2006. Most of them were apprehended along the U.S.
The sheer increase of OTMs coming across the border makes it more difficult for Border
Patrol agents to readily identify and process each, thereby increasing the chances that a
potential terrorist could slip through the system. Moreover, there is no concrete
mechanism for determining how many OTMs evade apprehensions and successfully enter
the country illegally.
Items have been found by law enforcement officials along the banks of the Rio Grande
River and inland that indicate possible ties to a terrorist organization or member of
military units of Mexico. A jacket with patches from countries where al Qa?ida is
known to operate was found in Jim Hogg County, Texas by the 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. The bottom of one patch
read ?martyr,? ?way to eternal life? or ?way to immortality.?
Members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, have already entered to
the United States across our Southwest border.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller has confirmed in testimony
?that there are individuals from countries with known al-Qa?ida connections who are
changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and obtaining false
Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic
Islamic radical groups that support Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamiya Al Gamat are all
active in Latin America.