Mr. Speaker, as a former prosecutor and long-time judge in Texas, I'm concerned about, of course, drugs and corruption, especially on the international border between the United States and Mexico. I have great sympathy and compassion for the Mexicans living just south of the border, especially those that have had the problem of dealing with the drug cartels. It's an epidemic that occurs on our southern border with Mexico.
According to the DEA, 500 people were murdered in Nuevo Laredo recently. Most of those cases were never solved, and many of those individuals were peace officers. There have been 400 kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo; 41 of them were Americans, and none of them, not one of those cases, have ever been solved. And we understand now that behind most of those crimes of violence of murder and kidnappings are the drug cartels. What you might be surprised, Mr. Speaker, to find out is that many of those people involved in the drug cartels are former individuals in the Mexican military that were trained in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security has reported that in the last 10 years also, there have been 250 documented cases of incursions by suspected Mexican military units into the United States. Most of them in Texas, California, and Arizona. Recently, I have been in a place called Neely Pass in Hudspeth County where the Mexican military was photographed coming into the United States.
In order to gain control of access corridors into the United States, drug cartels are hiring hit men from the elite Mexican military force, and this group is known as the Zetas. The Zetas are military deserters that are trained in the United States at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, as an elite force of anti-drug commandos. But unfortunately, after they were trained by Americans, they went over to the dark side. They were sent by the Mexican government to the U.S.-Mexico border to combat drug trafficking, but they switched sides, deserted the Mexican military, and worked for the drug cartels. Officials suspect that there are more than 200 Zetas, including former Mexican police officers.
And the problem isn't just at the border, either. The Zetas operate in the United States. Authorities have believed that the drug cartels and the Zetas are responsible for murders in the United States.
And there's a second group. The second group is called the Kaibiles. The Kaibiles were a special operations force in the Guatemalan military. Like the Zetas, many of them received training in the United States in counter-insurgency operations. And like the Zetas, many of them deserted the special forces and began to help the drug cartels.
Mr. Speaker, I have here a photograph taken by sheriff's deputies on the Texas-Mexico border, and this is a group of the Kaibiles. You notice they are all in uniform; they all have hoods on them. You notice the first person in the front is carrying an AK-47, and they're bringing cocaine into the United States in backpacks, and this is what has happened to these individuals that were trained in the United States and switched sides.
Now, the reason I bring all of this up, Mr. Speaker, is there is an initiative called the Meridia Initiative where the United States government is proposing to send $1.5 billion in training and equipment south of the American border into Mexico to help combat drug trafficking. While this may sound well and good, unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that we cannot trust the local officials on the Mexican side of the border because of the high rate of corruption because of these individuals that continue to switch sides. And it would be very unfortunate indeed if we sent equipment to the northern portion of Mexico, south of the American border, turned over this military equipment to the Mexican military to have it used against us as shown in this photograph.
It would be better money spent in training to send this $1.5 billion to the southern border to the second front where there is a war going on but keep it on the American side. Let the local officials, the State officials, let the sheriffs along the border use this equipment. Many of them don't even have enough equipment. As one of them has told me, they're outmanned and they're outgunned by the drug cartels.
So keep that equipment, keep that training on the American side of the border. Support the American cause before we turn this equipment and turn this training capability to the other side. And it's a sad fact of life that we can't trust sending money, equipment, and training south of the United States border because of the corruption that occurs in northern Mexico.
So I would hope that Congress, when this initiative comes up, that we have lively debate about this $1.5 billion; and before we send it all south of the border, that we rethink that and maybe spend part of that money, half of that money or most of that money, on the American side and let the border sheriffs of Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego use that equipment to fight the drug cartels, fight the crime on the American side of the border. I think that would be better money spent, American taxpayer money spent.
And that's just the way it is.
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