U.S. efforts to help Mexico battle powerful organized crime networks are falling short, and a sharp spike in violence south of the border poses a growing threat to U.S. citizens, experts told officials from three federal agencies yesterday on Capitol Hill, the Washington Post reports. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who said his state is the principal U.S. gateway for drugs and human smuggling from Mexico, called the Mexican cartels the principal criminal threat for the 21st century. He criticized Washington’s response as disjointed and called for more intelligence-sharing and better coordination. “We are not winning the battle,” Goddard told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and drugs. Lawmakers joined Goddard in calling for a stronger federal response, including heightened efforts to stanch the illicit stream of thousands of American guns and billions of dollars in cash annually flowing southward across the border.
Alarm over the rising drug-related violence in northern Mexico — where more than 1,000 people have been slain since the beginning of the year — was not shared by officials at the hearing from three agencies responsible for helping the Mexican government: the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of the Department of Homeland Security. The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration is preparing to send more federal agents as reinforcements. ATF is sending 37 agents to the region, while ICE may reassign 90 officers to the border area, AP said.