Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division yesterday convened a meeting of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA) in El Paso, Texas, to bring together law enforcement leaders to discuss dismantling human smuggling and trafficking networks operating along the Southwest Border.
Assistant Attorney General Polite was joined by senior leadership from five U.S. Attorneys’ offices from the districts along the Southwest Border: U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas (who hosted the meeting), U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California, U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Savel for the District of Arizona, and U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez for the District of New Mexico. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary John K. Tien, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Executive Director Steve K. Francis, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller, also joined, as did other interagency members of JTFA.
Prior to the summit, senior leaders from the Justice Department and DHS components visited the Southwest Border in El Paso. The tour provided an important perspective on challenges presented by transnational criminal organizations involved in human smuggling and other crimes, which all impact border security efforts by land, through waterways, and by air.
“I am proud of the accomplishments of JTFA since its creation nearly two years ago,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. “We are better at dismantling human smuggling and trafficking networks operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras because we are a stronger, more unified law enforcement team with our counterparts in Mexico and Central America. I believe our efforts to work together to combat these crimes will continue to generate immediate results, while also building towards sustained success.”
During the meeting, Assistant Attorney General Polite expressed his appreciation for the broad and continued support of JTFA. In its first two years, this joint law enforcement effort has resulted in substantial and continued disruption through specific and general deterrence, collaborating on numerous high priority investigations and cases of significant organizations and their key leaders and facilitators. These measures have resulted in dozens of arrests, indictments, and convictions both in the United States and with foreign law enforcement partners, along with obtaining substantial jail sentences and asset forfeiture.
The discussion included ways to further advance JTFA’s mission to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking networks operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. JTFA members also discussed identifying ways to strengthen efforts to disrupt and dismantle those human smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse or exploit those being smuggled, pose national security risks, or have links to transnational organized crime.
Additionally, JTFA leadership identified enhancements made to increase the efficiencies of the task force model at the local and national levels and discussed ways to better foster interagency collaboration to target criminal organizations involved in smuggling and related crimes in and throughout the region.