The U.S. Senate has approved a $550-million package to help combat growing drug violence in Mexico and the U.S. border region, AFP reported April 1.
The legislation would allocate $260 million to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to hire and train 1,600 officers and 400 canine teams to reinforce border inspections. Funds will also be used to hire 350 full-time Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators who will run firearms-trafficking and money-laundering investigations.
Bill co-sponsor Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that Mexican drug cartels present an “unprecedented security threat” to the U.S.
The bill also calls for allocation of $50 million to the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency to bring in 150 investigators and 50 inspectors to prevent firearms trafficking at the Mexican border. “The US government has invested significant resources to prevent drugs from entering the United States. But, until recently, it has focused only limited resources on the supply of money and weapons going south to fuel the drug war,” said bill co-sponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Other funds are slated to facilitate better communication between border patrol and immigration authorities.