Federal Efforts To Stem the Flow of Drugs Across the U.S. Mexican Border

Gao ID: 105730 April 19, 1978

In the past few years, law enforcement efforts along the United States-Mexico border have grown because of the increasing transit of illicit drugs and undocumented aliens. Although the percentage of heroin entering the United States from Mexico has declined in the last two years, due mainly to the cooperative campaign to eradicate opium poppy cultivation, Mexico is still considered the major source of heroin reaching this country. While it is not possible to measure the deterrent effect of the current level of border law enforcement, the available supply of drugs and the number of illegal aliens attest to the fact that it has not been a serious impediment to illegal entry. The substantial federal investment in enforcement at the southwest border is achieving only a limited impact on the drug and alien problem. Border forces intercept only a small quantity of the estimated heroin and cocain entering the United States from Mexico. Most seizures are of marihuana, and border apprehensions seldom involve high-level traffickers. Among the problems affecting border law enforcement are: shortage of inspectors, limited detection devices, and overlapping roles for the law enforcement agencies. Joint operations between federal agencies have not been effective. Control of the border requires a comprehensive, coordinated effort by all segments of the border law enforcement community.

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