Thursday, July 13, 2006

DEA report states that Minutemen reduced drug trafficking

KVOA:

The Minuteman Project formed for one purpose: to protect the border, and it has, according to an internal Drug Enforcement Agency report.

The report credits the border watch group with helping to cut down on drug trafficking.

This intelligence report obtained by News 4 says that the Minuteman Project had an impact on drug trafficking in Cochise County in 2005.

DEA officials say bulk loads of marijuana crossing the border dropped siginificantly.

Anthony Coulson, with DEA says, "When you have eyes on the border -- I think any law enforcment will admit this -- you have a great deterrent effect of keeping things away."

The report says that, during April and May 2005, several high-profile operations targeting illegal immigrant smugglng operations may have impacted drug smuggling operations and the usual flow of illegal drugs corss the Arizona and Mexico border.

A graph shows a 20% decrease between 2004 and 2005.

But the Minuteman Project isn't the only reason there was a reduction.

Mexican President Vicente Fox also sent in a significant amount of resources to the area.

Special Agent Coulson says, "Drug organizations didn't want to risk coming up through that area. Things just sat."

Loads of marijuana were warehoused in communities along the Mexican side of the border.

"They just kind of hunkered down, waiting til the Minuteman Project was over and there was a stand-down of the Mexican law enforcement and military presence on the nothern part of their border."

There was also an increased presence of Border Patrol agents during that time, so all that adds up to keeping drugs from coming across.

Minuteman spokesman Al Garza says that's been a mission from the beginning.

"The initial plan was to go after the drug cartels," Garza said. "It's not just about illegal immigration, we are obviously looking into the sealing of the border and we did address the issue of drugs."

He's appreciative that a government organziation would acknowledge the effectiveness of the Minuteman Project.

"We've stood tall, we've meant what we said. We weren't there because we were racists. Just look at the color of my skin. This is not what we're about. Our theme is border security. Been that way all along," Garza explained.

Next year's annual DEA report may give us an idea of what impact the National Guard may have on drug and human smuggling.

Flow of illegal drugs declines along Arizona border

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