In addition to efforts to learn more about the people crossing the border, the Obama administration has called for increased scrutiny for cargo. The new plan calls for expanded K9 units to examine both vehicles and cargo shipments and for additional communication with the Mexican government to identify shipments that are more likely to contain contraband. ABC News reported in April that Mexican cartels were smuggling drugs into the U.S. using hidden compartments in tractor trailers and that fewer than 5 percent of the trucks were inspected at the border.
The plan also seeks additional personnel to be sent to the region, including the possibility of "deploying additional intelligence analysts from headquarters-type roles into frontline operational organizations," as part of an increased emphasis on linking intelligence collection efforts to on-the-ground concerns. An increase in the number of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents operating in Mexico and on the southwest border is also planned.
The new strategy dictates increased military-to-military communication between the two countries in a bid to slow the transfer of weapons to drug gangs. ABC News reported in April that U.S. gun stores and gun shows are the source of more than 90 percent of the weapons being used by Mexico's drug cartels.
The effort fits into the Obama administration's wide-ranging effort to reduce both the demand and supply of drugs inside the United States. This includes the previous $63.9 million in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriation Act designated for use in reducing the number of drug addicts in the U.S.
Ben Buchanan is a 2009 Summer intern with the Brian Ross Unit. He is a student at Georgetown University.