40% of Federal Criminal Cases in 2013 Were in Districts on Mexican Border

July 10, 2014 - 5:45 PM

Cemetary near Mexico border

Dr. Lori Baker of Baylor University catalogs what is believed to be the remains of immigrants found in mass graves near the Mexican border in Texas. (AP Photo/Todd Yates)

(CNSNews.com) - Whether measured by the number of criminal cases filed by U.S. attorneys or the number of guilty verdicts they ultimately secured in cases in U.S. district courts, 40 percent of the federal crimes documented by the Justice Department in fiscal 2013 took place in the five U.S. court districts (out of the total of 94 U.S. court districts) that sit on the U.S.-Mexico border.

These five U.S. court districts contiguous with the Mexican border were also the five where the largest numbers of individuals were convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2013.

In the Western Texas district alone--which saw more federal crime than any other district in the country--more than twice as many federal criminals were convicted in fiscal 2013 as in all four U.S. court districts in New York state combined.

The Southern Texas district also saw more than twice as many people convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2013 as all four districts in New York combined.

Top Ten Court Districts for Cases Ending in Guilty Verdicts

In fiscal 2013, U.S. attorneys across the country filed 61,529 federal criminal cases in U.S. district courts, according the United States Attorneys’ Annual Report for the year.

Of these, 24,746—or 40.2 percent—were filed in the five U.S. court districts contiguous with the Mexican border. These include the districts of Southern California (4,848 cases), Arizona (3,538 cases), New Mexico (3,889 cases), Western Texas (6,341 cases) and Southern Texas (6,130 cases).

During the same fiscal year, federal district courts concluded 57,156 criminal cases with guilty verdicts. Of these, 23,414—or 40.9 percent--were in the five districts along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The percentage concentrated in districts contguous with the border is a little smaller when the measure used is the number of individual defendants who were found guilty of federal crimes—as opposed to the number of cases in which a guilty verdict was returned.

In fiscal 2013, according to the report, 75,718 individuals were convicted of federal crimes in district court. Of these, 26,831—or 35.4 percent—were convicted in the five districts contiguous with the Mexican border.

Western and Southern Texas

However, the five border districts did lead the country in the actual number of people convicted of federal crimes. The Western District of Texas led the nation with 7,140 people convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2013. Southern Texas was second with 6,808. Southern California was third with 5,166. New Mexico was fourth with 3,958. Arizona was fifth with 3,759.

In the Northern, Western, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York--which encompass all of New York State including New York City—a combined 3,294 individuals were convicted of federal crimes in fiscal 2013. However, the 3,294 individuals convicted of federal crimes across all of New York State was still less than half the 6,808 convicted in Southern Texas alone and 7,140 convicted in Western Texas alone.

The ten districts with the fewest federal criminal cases that ended with guilty verdicts in fiscal 2013 were the Northern Mariana Islands (27), the Virgin Islands (37), Guam (44), Eastern Oklahoma (77), Delaware (85), Northern Mississippi (127), Eastern Wisconsin (136), Rhode Island (140), Alaska (149), and New Hampshire (151).

According to the U.S. Attorneys’ Annual report, immigration was the single largest category of crimes in which U.S. attorneys filed criminal cases in 2013. During the year, 38.6 percent of all federal criminal cases filed were immigration cases, 21.8 percent were drug cases, 19.7 percent were violent crime cases, and 10.2 percent were white-collar crime cases. 0.8 percent were official corruption cases.

Among the 61,529 criminal cases filed during the year, were 23,744 filed for alleged immigration crimes, 13,383 filed for allaged drug offenses, 12,123 filed for alleged violent crimes, and 6,300 filed for alleged white-collar crimes.

It is not a new phenomenon for a large percentage of the federal criminal cases filed during a fiscal year to be concentrated in the five court districts on the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2000, for example, U.S. attorneys filed 52,887 criminal cases in federal district courts and 16,102 (or 30.4 percent of them) were in the five border districts. In 2005, U.S. attorneys filed 60,062 criminal cases and 19,542 (or 32.5 percent of them) were in the five border districts. In 2008, U.S. attorneys filed 63,042 criminal cases and 22,420 (or 35.6 percent of them) were in the five border districts.