Says $60 million in cash seized since Oct. 1
COLUMBUS, N.M. – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured the Columbus port of entry on Wednesday as part of a daylong trip along the U.S. border with Mexico.
In a brief stop at the small port, the former Arizona governor said beefing up security and technology at ports along the southern border is key to stopping the flow of drugs north and weapons and drug profits south.
“They (customs agents) have seized $60 million in cash so far this year this fiscal year,” Napolitano told reporters earlier in El Paso, Texas. “That’s the money that goes south to fuel the drug cartels; that’s their gasoline.”
Napolitano has said routine checks of cars headed south is now a priority.
After announcing the appointment of former U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin as the new “border czar,” Napolitano flew by helicopter from El Paso to Columbus about 85 miles to the west, where she toured the small port of entry that connects the area with Palomas, Mexico.
As she toured the port more than a dozen federal agents manned a checkpoint along N.M. 11, where a single lane leads into Palomas.
Officials set up a similar checkpoint at the international bridge in El Paso where Napolitano announced Bersin’s appointment.
Traffic into Mexico was backed up several hundreds yards there during the secretary’s visit.
The secretary went to Nogales on Wednesday, before heading to Mexico later this week.