Forth Worth Star-Telegram: Why securing Mexico matters

Jun 25, 2010

Why securing Mexico matters

In October 2009, U.S. federal authorities arrested 84 members of the Mexican drug gang La Familia in the Metroplex. La Familia has strategically used the Dallas -Fort Worth metropolitan area as a hub to distribute smuggled cocaine and methamphetamine to Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Chicago. The drug gang is one of the Mexican government's highest priorities in its battle against drug trafficking organizations. In a highly publicized incident last summer, members of La Familia launched a series of attacks against Mexican federal police officers and military members following the arrests of some of the cartel's high-level members, resulting in the brutal murder of 16 federal police officers.

The October arrests are a reminder that despite our location deep within Texas -- hundreds of miles away from a deteriorating border -- we are not immune from the violence that has accompanied an escalating drug war in Mexico. Ciudad Juarez is now considered by many to be the most dangerous city in the world and it is only a stone's throw from El Paso.

Mexican drug gangs have strong connections in Texas and use many of our communities -- rural and urban -- as transit points. Towns like Weatherford have seen new crimes that local law enforcement officials have never had to deal with. In late April, my office connected federal agencies with Wise and Parker county law enforcement at a roundtable to ensure police and fire departments are able cope with evolving threats and have the support they need to keep residents safe.

Congress is trying to help Mexico win the war on their side of the border so it does not come to ours. I applaud President Calderon for his brave efforts to take on the cartels and move his country forward.

Part of the U.S. commitment to Mexico -- through the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative -- is a combination of equipment, training, and support for judicial reforms in Mexico. From my committee positions I am able to help ensure equipment - such as Bell helicopters - are able to reach Mexican federal police and the Mexican military without delay.

Texas needs support from the Administration. I have endorsed Governor Rick Perry's call for 1,000 additional National Guardsmen to be situated along our border. I have also supported the request for our government to use a predator drone for surveillance. This month Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Texas will receive a drone. Our front-line status must be recognized.

Our communities have to remain vigilant. As Mayor in the 1990s, I helped confront a growing threat from gangs to curb crime in Fort Worth. In 2010, we are faced with a more sophisticated criminal. But that does not mean they are unstoppable. I will continue to work with local and state officials to ensure we continue to have the safe communities and high quality of life we all enjoy in North Texas.

-- Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Tx)

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