(CNSNews.com) - Some Mexican drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) are involved in smuggling potential terrorists across the southwestern border, according to the Government Accountability Office.
“Aliens from countries of special interest to the United States such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan (known as special-interest aliens) also illegally enter the United States through the [southwest border] region,” Richard Stana, the GAO homeland security and justice issues director, said in a report on alien smuggling issued July 22.
“These [drug trafficking] organizations collect fees from alien smuggling organizations for the use of specific smuggling routes, and available reporting indicates that some Mexican drug trafficking organizations specialize in smuggling special-interest aliens into the United States,” he added.
Stana told CNSNews.com that the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center’s (NDIC) 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment and “other reports” corroborate his comments, although he did not elaborate on what other reports he was referring to.
When asked to provide evidence of any recent cases involving Mexican DTOs bringing in individuals from countries of special interest, Stana said, “(I) haven't seen any specifics that are not ‘law enforcement sensitive.’”
According to the 2008 NDIC: “Hundreds of undocumented aliens from special-interest countries illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border annually.”
The drug-threat assessment echoed Stana, saying, “Mexican DTOs specialize in smuggling special-interest aliens into the United States.”
According to the GAO report, alien smugglers are more likely now than in past years to use violence against U.S. law enforcement officers as they bring groups of aliens across the southwest border.”
“Assaults, kidnappings, and hostage situations attributed to this conflict are increasing, particularly in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona,” the report said. “Communities across the country are at risk since among those individuals illegally crossing the border are criminal aliens and gang members who pose public safety concerns for communities throughout the country.”
At a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism where Stana presented his report, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), the panel’s ranking member, suggested that the U.S. treat Mexican drug traffickers and human smugglers operating along the southwest border as “enemy combatants.”
“I would submit that we need to be thinking a bit about some of these folks who are coming here with guns and everything else as enemy combatants,” she said. “They should not be afforded necessarily all of the constitutional rights that American citizens have.”
On July 1, in a speech at American University in Washington, D.C., President Obama said, “Even as we are committed to doing what’s necessary to secure our borders, even without passage of the new law, there are those who argue that we should not move forward with any other elements of reform until we have fully sealed our borders.”
Obama added: “But our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won’t work. Our borders will not be secure as long as our limited resources are devoted to not only stopping gangs and potential terrorists, but also the hundreds of thousands who attempt to cross each year simply to find work.”
The president later said: the southern border "is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years."