The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on border violence yesterday at Phoenix city hall. Members of the committee -- senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain were joined by Senator Jon Kyl to hear what state and local officials had to say with problems at the border.
We're going to focus this morning on very real consequences for communities along the Mexican border associated with activities of the Mexican drug cartels and their nightmarish violence. The cartels have gone to war with each other and with the Mexican government. The Mexican drug cartels are now the number one organized crime threat in the United States. Displacing the Mafia.
Their operations are made up of at least four criminal enterprises and I've got a rudimentary drawing that shows them in drawing style. Drugs and human beings smuggled north and I'd like to show you one item. These are stored value cards. I don't mean to demean Costco, but these cards which we think of as gift certificates have been used to move hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars across the border. There is no crime to take a million dollars in a card like this and take it across the border. That single regulatory change has been pending for years and I would submit the time is long past that it has to be implemented.
Due to the insecure border and high demand for illegal drugs in the United States, the drug cartels' activities are impacting the security of the United States and particularly Border States like Arizona. I'm sad to say that the city of Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of the United States and second only to Mexico City for the most kidnappings in any city in the world.
Many of the kidnapping victims, as you've heard, are being brought into Phoenix by smugglers known as coyotes and each paying in excess of $1,500 each to be brought into the country. Once here, they take them to drop houses where dozens of smuggled people are kept. Their shoes and clothes often taken so they can't escape. They're beaten and tortured while the loved ones listen on the telephone in horror.
Ned Norris Jr.:
The nation is in the midst of this crisis and our way of life and culture and traditions are changing every day. The cartels developing formal relationships with nation members to drive vehicles loaded with hundreds of pounds of drugs and/or cars loaded with illegal migrants to designated locations off the nation. What they do is a simple process of offering $700 to $5,000 depending on the type of load to a tribal member to either drive the load or store the drugs at their home or a shed.
Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel:
Whether merited or not, the perception alone in Nogales has greatly reduced the amount of business and tourist visitors.
Particularly in the rural areas. We're in the southeast corner of Arizona, properties are continually burglarized and the fences are cut and damaged and water sources destroyed and contaminated.
We want a secure border but we've got to have immigration reform. There's a big difference between the pictures that you saw -- 50 people who've committed the crime of trying to come into this country to work and provide for their families and the people who are running guns, smuggling their human cargo and smuggling narcotics.
Mr. Chairman, I believe fully if we secure our border, all of the other issues that we're facing in regards to drug trafficking, kidnapping, border spillover, guns going south to the border, if we could get the resources to secure our border, then these other problems would go away.