By ABE LEVY
Associated Press Writer
SAN ANTONIO- Law enforcement from the United States and Mexico have formed a partnership aimed at quelling drug-related violence on the border.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Mexican counterpart Daniel Cabeza de Vaca stood side by side Thursday to announce the security plan.
The Violent Crime Impact Team will target the most violent members of warring drug cartels. Armed with high-powered weapons, the warring cartels have been blamed for more than 140 murders this year alone in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
The new partnership will double the current presence of federal law enforcement in Laredo and the border, Gonzales said.
There are 22 anti-violence teams operating nationwide. The Laredo chapter is the first to meld law enforcement agencies from outside the United States.
"In order to have an effective relationship with Mexico, there has to be a level of trust," Gonzales said. "That's why operations like this are very important."
The plan calls for police agencies to keep working as they have, and within their geographical boundaries, but also to increase information sharing and be ready to offer support when asked.
Anti-violence teams typically operate for six months and are led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Other federal agencies involved include the U.S. Marshals Service; FBI; and Drug Enforcement Administration.
Both attorneys general said new cooperation would include sharing technology for securing ports of entry, locking down prisons and the ability of inmates to send messages to the outside world, and engaging in joint training exercises.
"This helps us target specific offenders, the worst of the worst, and take them off the streets," said Donnie Carter, special agent in charge of the Houston AFT office overseeing the Laredo team.