Call for More Weapons on Mexico Border
Southwestern Congress members and sheriffs want to fight Mexican cartels with military gear that's no longer needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Southwest border could soon resemble a war zone, if calls from two Texan members of Congress and several sheriffs in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are heeded. They've called on the US Department of Defense to send military equipment that's on its way back from Afghanistan and Iraq to local law enforcement agencies in the region. Democrat Henry Cuellar and Republican Ted Poe wrote a letter recently to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, citing the need for war gear due to an ongoing security threat from drug cartel operations, combined with budget shortfalls in local and state police departments. "With the drawdown of US troops and equipment in Iraq, and our role in Afghanistan winding down," they write, "it is to be expected that in the next few years there will be a significant amount of surplus equipment that will become available that could be extremely beneficial for border security operations." The idea of police departments receiving wartime gear isn't entirely new. California police picked up 163,344 new and used wartime items last year that are valued at over $26 million, while the Texas Department of Public Safety has more than a dozen state-of-the-art helicopters and is in the process of acquiring "interceptor" gunboats that reportedly have fully automatic machine guns, bulletproof shielding and night-vision capabilities.