In an effort to plug a hole in U.S.-Mexico drug enforcement, the U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security will give designated immigration agents expanded powers to pursue drug investigations, reports the Los Angeles Times. A key goal is to end long-standing turf battles between the Justice Department’s Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement that many critics believe have hampered investigations.
The agreement will allow an unlimited number of ICE agents to be cross-designated as DEA agents, giving them the authority to investigate suspected drug smugglers at the border and internationally — a prerogative that in the past has been jealously guarded by the DEA. Both departments pledged greater information sharing and better coordination of activities. “Moving past old disputes and ensuring cooperation between all levels of our departments has been one of our top priorities since taking office,” Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. The announcement did not satisfy Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has complained for years about the turf battles between the two agencies