Today Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) announced a key step in the fight against drug trafficking by successfully including funding increases for the Department of Defense’s counter-drug programs in the recently enacted government funding bill.
National Guard Counter-Drug Program
“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee I am committed to advocating for smart spending, including efforts to stem the flow of illegal drugs and keep our communities in South Texas and the border area safe,” Congressman Cuellar said. “I secured an increase in funding for our nation's counter-drug programs. The programmatic increase of $110 million for the National Guard Counter-Drug program will bring the program to a total of $192.9 million, of which the Texas National Guard will receive around $19.3 million.
“The National Guard Counter-Drug Program provides support to domestic law enforcement in the detection, interdiction, and disruption of illicit drug trafficking. The program provides a tremendous return on investment. In Fiscal Year 2014, the U.S. seized an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion in drugs, cash, and property and made 39.9 thousand arrests through the program.”
U.S. Southern Command Funding
In addition to funding for the National Guard, Congressman Cuellar supported an increase in funding for the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). SOUTHCOM will receive $25 million to augment existing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities to enhance drug interdiction efforts between federal agencies and between countries as part of the Department’s $716 million Counter-Narcotics Support program to stop the flow of drugs before they reach our nation’s borders.
Calling on the Department of Justice to make enforcing drug laws a priority
“Once drugs cross our border it costs billions in taxpayer dollars to track and investigate the supply, seize the narcotics and prosecute criminal cases,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Working with our partners in Mexico and Central America, we can slow the flow of illegal drugs at its source, resulting in savings in dollars and human lives. In addition to this, I included language calling on the Department of Justice to continue making the enforcement of our drug trafficking laws a priority in order to show that there are serious consequences for those entering the drug trade. According to former Attorney General Eric Holder the number of individuals charged with drug trafficking offenses declined by six percent between 2013 and 2014 – this equates to a reduction of 1,400 individuals. While this may sound like a positive statistic indicating that fewer individuals are entering the drug trade, which is not the case. The Attorney General has stated that the administration is shifting its focus to only prosecute those who commit the most serious offenses. While I’m encouraged that they are prosecuting serious criminals, it is my believe that anyone who violates our nation’s drug trafficking laws should be brought to justice and the administration must continue to carry out our nation’s laws and prosecute individuals who break the trafficking laws put on the books by our elected legislators.
Drug treatment and prevention efforts
“However, the issues with drug trafficking ultimately begin with the demand for the substances here at home. To that end, the government funding bill includes $4.6 billion to support substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts in order to educate members of the public about the risks and dangers of controlled substances and to assist those suffering with addiction. I would like to thank Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and Ranking Member Pete Visclosky of Indiana as well as Commerce, Justice, and Science Chairman John Culberson of Texas and Ranking Member Mike Honda of California for their assistance in inserting this language.”
Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. Previously, he served as a Texas State Representative and Texas Secretary of State.
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