Wicker Gets Closer Look at Mexican Border Violence

Senator Participates in Foreign Relations Committee Field Hearing in El Paso, Texas

March 30, 2009

EL PASO, TEXAS – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today got a closer look at the escalating drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.  The senator joined other committee members at a field hearing in El Paso, Texas, where they heard from officials from both countries about the violence and discussed ways to help end it. 

 “I am glad the Foreign Relations Committee took this opportunity to get a closer look at the problem by holding this hearing,” Sen. Wicker said.  “Mexico’s escalating drug war is a serious situation America cannot ignore.  As we learned today, El Paso has been able to stay relatively safe.  But the level of violence just across the border is alarming in terms of its frequency as well as its proximity to the U.S.  Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican city south of El Paso, has been called by some the ‘ground zero’ in the ongoing Mexican drug war.”      

Wicker said the increased violence in Ciudad Juarez and other parts of Mexico represents a security threat to our country.  He said it is important that the U.S. continue working with Mexican authorities to ensure the violence is contained and ultimately stopped before it spreads across the border.    

“President Calderon should be credited for trying to eradicate these drug cartels, but there is more that needs to be done to ensure this violence does not spill over into the U.S.  Doing what we can to help the Mexicans stop this violence before it crosses our border is increasingly important for the security of our nation.” 

Since being elected in 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has taken significant action to crack down on drug cartels in his country.  While progress has been made, there has been a corresponding increase in drug-related violence in the border communities in the American southwest.  According to estimates provided by Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials, more than 7,000 people have been killed in Mexico as a result of the violence between drug cartels and Mexican military and law enforcement since January 2008.

Joining Wicker in El Paso were other members of the Foreign Relations Committee, including Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.  Also joining the Senate members was Rep. Sylvestre Reyes, D-Texas, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. 

Among those who testified at the hearing were senior officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the district attorney of El Paso County, and a former Ciudad Juárez police chief.