Federal and state law-enforcement officials told a congressional panel in Arizona yesterday that efforts to combat drug trafficking from Mexico to the United States must include reducing the demand for illegal drugs in this country, not just more enforcement, the Arizona Republic report. The officials cited examples in which increased collaboration between law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Mexico, especially when it comes to sharing intelligence, has been effective in combating international drug organizations that use Arizona as a major corridor to smuggle marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin into the U.S..
“When I first started, I thought I was going to arrest my way out of the problem,” said Elizabeth Kempshall, a former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Arizona office who is now executive director of the Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federal program that coordinates drug-control efforts among local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies. Matthew Allen, agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Phoenix, said, “You might find this surprising coming from someone in law enforcement,” but addressing the demand for illegal drugs in the U.S. is as important as cracking down on drug-smuggling organizations. “It wouldn’t get produced and it wouldn’t come here if we didn’t use it,” Allen said.