Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally Leads Hearing on Cartel Threat

February 16, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today chaired a Homeland Security Committee hearing looking at the threat posed by cartels. The hearing featured testimony from security officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security, including Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief Paul Beeson.

“Smuggling drugs and people is a billion dollar business and the individuals in charge have one goal in mind: make as much money as possible delivering illicit narcotics and people across the border and into the United States,” Rep. McSally, who is the Chairwoman of the Border and Maritime Security subcommittee, said during the hearing. “As we increase our focus this Congress on securing the border, we have to be clear-eyed about the dangerous and sophisticated threat that we face from our adversaries on the other side.”

Watch her full opening statement below

In one exchange with Chief Beeson, Rep. McSally described a barrier breech she had seen in which cartel members, with the aid of spotters, used welding equipment to create a gate in the border fence that could be used repeatedly without getting noticed by agents.

“Do you think this level of sophistication is the new normal for cartel operations? Are there additional tools or authorities we need to give you in order to detect and interdict these types of operations so they don’t go on for years before they are detected?” she asked.

“They are very sophisticated in their approach,” Chief Beeson responded. “They have the benefit of time. They have plenty of time to wait and seek the right opportunity to engage in their illegal opportunity. They use scouting networks. They utilize encrypted communications.”

Chief Beeson went on to discuss improving situational awareness while continuing collaboration with local law enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations units, and intelligence gatherers.

Watch the exchange HERE.

Watch Rep. McSally’s other rounds of questioning HERE and HERE.

Today’s hearing was the first hearing Rep. McSally chaired in the 115th Congress as the Chairwoman of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee. Last Congress, Rep. McSally chaired seven subcommittee hearings, including a field hearing in Sahuarita, that examined issues such as border effectiveness measurements, manning and infrastructure needs, the threat of visa overstays, and Border Patrol’s “defense-in-depth” strategy.