Cocaine Continues to Pour Through U.S.-Mexican Border
Despite massive expansions of U.S. Customs operations at the Mexican
border and expenditures of hundreds of millions of dollars in drug-related
military drug interdiction costs, cocaine continues to pour through the
U.S.-Mexican border, according to evidence marshalled for a Public Broadcasting
Service (PBS) "Frontline" program titled "What Happened to
the Drug War?" (Joe Rosenbloom, "U.S. Losing Drug War on the Border,"
Dallas Morning News, 1/31/93).
Among the statistics cited by coproducer and reporter for the Frontline
program Joe Rosenbloom:
- Interdiction programs nationwide since 1988 have consumed $7 billion.
- 70 percent of U.S. cocaine enters along the 2,000-mile Mexican border.
- Seizures rose by less than supply increased; the 147 tons seized
nationally in 1992, a 36 percent increase, compared to an estimated
440 tons that got through undetected.
- Another 300 Customs inspectors will be added along the 28 border posts
in 1993, augmenting the current 1,700 agents and dog-handlers at considerable
cost to taxpayers.
- An Air Force network of nine radar balloons to spot airborne smugglers
has been plagued by weather damage and other problems, remaining grounded
60 percent of the time in 1992.
- A fleet of 18 high-speed Blackhawk Customs helicopters kept on constant
alert are often unable to reach drop points in time to catch smugglers.
- Defense Department anti-drug operations costing hundreds of millions
of dollars employing sophisticated surveillance airplanes and Navy ships
have resulted in few seizures; Pentagon documents show that in 1990 and
1991 military efforts resulted in 33 cocaine seizures totaling about 8,000 pounds --
1,700 pounds less than the New York branch of the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) seized during the same period.
- Radar malfunctions and engine breakdowns have resulted in the near
mothballing of a Customs flotilla on 46 speedboats designed to monitor
- Rene Magallanes, a bookkeeper for smugglers, testified that U.S. Customs
agents accepted bribes to allow huge loads of cocaine to pass the border;
chief DEA agent in El Paso, Raul Morales, concurred that "it was some
sort of police official, but to say it was one agency or another, I couldn't
- In an 18-month period, smugglers operating from Juarez, Mexico drove
900 carloads of cocaine totaling 250 tons across the U.S. border undetected --
about a third of the total estimated cocaine supply to the U.S. during
that period; The details became known when the smuggling scheme was unmasked
in 1989, and pointed to corruption by U.S. police officials.