By Maria Leon
TUCSON, ARIZONA – Law enforcement agencies in Arizona have reinforced their cooperation to try and halt crimes linked to the drug trafficking and the violence surrounding the trafficking of undocumented immigrants.
“The violence generated by the drug cartels has reached alarming levels on both sides of the border,” said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) during a meeting with more than 60 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies held on Tuesday in Tucson.
She said that drug-related violence has been the cause of 7,000 deaths in Mexico in the past 14 months and that the violence has overflowed into the United States into states hundreds of miles from the border and even into Canada.
The lawmaker said Arizona is already experiencing repercussions from the Mexican drug war, noting that Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of the United States, though most observers think those abductions are more likely related to migrant-smuggling than to the illegal drug trade.
According to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the activities of drug traffickers have had a tremendous impact on the crimes being committed in the region.
He gave as an example a case that occurred two years ago when an SUV transporting undocumented immigrants was riddled with bullets while they were crossing the border.
The city of Tucson has also reported a considerable increase in the number of home invasions, a crime “almost unheard of” in the city five years ago, municipal police department representative Roberto Villaseñor said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Despite that, he said, this type of violence only affects those who in some way are involved in trafficking in drugs or undocumented people.
Although the violence experienced so far in Arizona cannot compare with the mayhem south of the border, law enforcement bodies are trying to ensure that it does not increase to the point where it can no longer be controlled.
“Annually, we’re reporting about 44 percent of the seizures of marijuana along the border with Mexico and more than 40 percent of the total arrests of undocumented immigrants,” said the head of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, Robert Gilbert.
During the meeting, the law enforcement representatives reiterated the need for more economic resources for the police departments that operate along the border, which in the majority of cases are the first line of defense.
They also agreed to seek ways to resolve communication problems and find ways to engage in greater cooperation with one another.
Meanwhile, the attorney general of Arizona, Terry Goddard, reiterated his position that the cartels also must be confronted by halting their cashflow. EFE