|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
January 16, 1998
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) will tour the U.S.-Mexico border next week as part of a fact-finding mission to learn more about federal efforts to combat drug trafficking . "More than 80 percent of the heroin and cocaine entering the U.S. comes through the U.S.-Mexico border. We have a serious problem down there – a problem Congress has to tackle," said Traficant, a strong advocate of expanding the role of the U.S. military in the war on drugs.
Traficant was invited to tour the border by Operation Alliance, a coalition of Department of Defense, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies based in El Paso, Texas. On Friday, January 23rd, Operation Alliance officials will take Traficant on a tour the border in the El Paso area. The day before the tour, Traficant will address a meeting of Operation Alliance's Joint Command Group at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Since 1989, Operation Alliance has coordinated military support of drug law enforcement operations. It is charged with administering, coordinating and prioritizing all operations involving U.S. military support to civilian law enforcement agencies in their efforts to interdict illegal drugs along the border.
Last year, the House approved a Traficant-sponsored amendment to the defense bill authorizing the use of up to 10,000 troops to assist the Border Patrol and Customs Service. The amendment was dropped by the Senate. Last fall Traficant introduced a new bill authorizing the expanded use of U.S. troops along the border, but placing clear restrictions on their deployment. For example, the Traficant bill requires any soldier deployed along the border to receive specialized law enforcement training. The bill also requires the federal government to notify state and local officials anytime U.S. troops are deployed along border areas, and bars the deployment of any troops for law enforcement purposes unless they are accompanied by at least one federal law enforcement officer.
Earlier this week, Traficant sent a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary William S. Cohen protesting a recent Pentagon announcement that it intends to terminate armed military patrols along the border.
"Operation Alliance is living proof that, given the proper training, leadership and coordination, the military can make a positive and valuable contribution," said Traficant. "If we can send troops to Haiti to build homes and give dog vaccinations, we certainly can send troops to our borders to protect America from illegal drugs," added Traficant, who served as sheriff of Mahoning County, Ohio from 1981 to 1985.2009