Local Law Enforcement Joins Terry Goddard To Block Drug Cartels' Recruitment in Arizona

(Phoenix, Ariz. -- Oct. 28, 2010) After traveling the Arizona border with local law enforcement   officials, Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced new efforts to stop the Mexican drug cartels' active recruitment of American citizens, and especially teenagers, to join their ranks.

Goddard announced that racketeering (RICO) money will be used to fund anti-gang programs in Arizona's border communities. A key goal of these programs will be to prevent the cartels' recruitment of high school students and other young Americans. The Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office is receiving $50,000 for an anti-gang initiative with the Nogales Boys and Girls Club. The Yuma County Sheriff's Office is getting $25,000 for a similar program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Yuma and San Luis.

Investigations being done by his Office "had confirmed our worst fears" about the cartels' expanding operations in southern Arizona, Goddard said. In response, earlier this year he created the Border Crimes Enforcement Team with funds from the Attorney General’s $94 million settlement with Western Union. 

Goddard met Wednesday in Tucson with investigators from the Team, which is based there. Goddard said his investigators had uncovered plans to use violence to kidnap family members of a cartel associate living in Arizona to collect a drug debt. He said those plans were disrupted and no kidnappings occurred.

"The cartels' ruthless commitment to protect their high profits can be stopped only by an equally determined commitment to block the flow of drug money into Mexico where it is used to finance their criminal operations, "Goddard said. "As I have told members of Congress and the President, our border cannot be secure as long as the cartels are so deeply entrenched, so well-funded and operate so brazenly."

In letters to top federal officials earlier this year, Goddard called for "a major, multi-national law enforcement initiative aimed first and foremost at identifying cartel warlords by name and bringing them to justice by all means available."

Goddard added that the cartels are moving more drugs across portions of the border where the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction, which hampers state efforts to stop the smuggling of drugs and humans into Arizona.

For more information, contact Steve Wilson at (602) 542-8351.