HLS.Today – Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks at U.S. Department of Justice Press Conference. Secretary Mayorkas delivered the following remarks at a press conference announcing several fentanyl-related indictments in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
Early in 2022, undercover agents from Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, infiltrated several Chinese chemical companies that were selling precursor chemicals and Schedule 1 narcotics on the internet. The Chinese companies were making their sales in the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia.
The means of shipment varied; one company, for example, shipped the precursor chemicals and Schedule 1 narcotics via air cargo and UPS. Through their investigation, HSI agents learned that one company had shipped more than 500 kilograms of fentanyl precursors to Tucson, Arizona and Brownsville, Texas. By monitoring telephone numbers associated with the shipments and other investigative techniques, agents were able to identify the bitcoin wallets associated with the Chinese companies.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, working with our DEA partners, used advanced targeting data as part of Operation Artemis, a multi-agency surge effort, to interdict more than half a ton of precursor chemicals in warehouses in Los Angeles and Brownsville before the chemicals could be transported to the drug manufacturers in Mexico, and Arizona, California, and Texas. The precursor chemicals were found in mislabeled and otherwise disguised containers.
The indictments unsealed today communicate at least several important messages:
First and foremost, the incredible work of our federal law enforcement agents and officers. They work tirelessly at great personal risk, to save lives and to hold ruthless criminals accountable.
Second, the law enforcement work that is required to address the scourge of fentanyl requires an all-of-government response, across multiple agencies, and that is precisely what the Biden-Harris Administration is bringing to bear. All of our presence here today makes that powerfully clear.
Third, the scourge of fentanyl is of an international dimension. It certainly is not limited to the United States and Mexico. It spans the globe. Our law enforcement capabilities do as well.
Fourth, we are attacking every instrumentality and every aspect of the criminal organizations and individuals who deal in the death and destruction of fentanyl and other opioids. In addition to indictments against companies and individuals, we are seizing the drugs, money, and properties they use and seek to obtain.
Fifth, we are unrelenting in our pursuit of the transnational criminal organizations – the cartels – that are at the root of it all – most notably, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación. And, we will reach across the globe to the Chinese companies and their employees who make up part of the cartels’ illegal trafficking operations – and anywhere else where the criminal enterprises reside.
Sixth, the scourge of fentanyl is not abating. Basically, year-over-year it has grown in this country for more than five years, with over 47,000 fentanyl overdose deaths in 2017 and more than 82,000 in 2022.
Lastly, our work is unabating. In fiscal year 2022, CBP seized more than 14,000 pounds of fentanyl. In fiscal year 2023, CBP seized more than 27,000 pounds.
Thanks again to the incredibly heroic work of the law enforcement agents and officers, including the prosecutors on the front line. We, all of us here, all whom we represent, will not pause our work until we have held all perpetrators accountable.
Mayorkas’ announcement comes as migrant numbers in September broke new records. Woman dies after falling from U.S.-Mexico border wall near California port of entry. A woman was found dead Friday in a fall from the U.S.-Mexico border wall, authorities told FOX 5 San Diego.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is citing an “acute and immediate need” to waive dozens of federal laws to build a border wall in south Texas where illegal migration has surged.
It’s a sharp contrast to dismissals of the use of such barriers in the early days of the administration.
The agency posted an announcement on the U.S. Federal Register that outlines construction in Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, where the administration says there is “high illegal entry.” The agency says there have been over 245,000 migrant encounters in the sector this fiscal year.
Mayorkas says he is using his authority provided by Congress to waive 26 federal laws, including the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
“There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas pursuant to sections 102(a) and 102(b) of [the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996],” Mayorkas said.
The administration had put a halt to new border wall construction in early 2021, after Biden had promised as a presidential candidate that there would “not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.” The administration said wall construction under the Trump administration was “just one example of the prior administration’s misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly and humane way.”
However, the construction is funded by the fiscal year 2019 DHS appropriations bill, which specifically funded wall projects in the RGV Sector and which DHS is required to use for its appropriated purpose.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced plans for up to 20 miles of wall in the RGV Sector in June. The administration previously made moves to close gaps and replace gates and says such projects prioritize the completion of activities and projects to address life, safety and operational risks – including the safety of individuals, Border Patrol agents and migrants.
A CBP spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital the waiver is for barrier projects announced in June, and it will cover approximately 17 miles in Starr County. The spokesperson said the project is consistent with DHS’ plan to fulfill President Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, proclamation that “ended the diversion of funds for the border wall from military projects or other sources while calling for the expenditure of any funds Congress appropriated for barrier construction consistent with their appropriated purpose.”
“CBP remains committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources and will implement sound environmental practices as part of the project covered by this waiver,” the spokesperson said.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration is facing a fresh surge in illegal immigration, leading to record-high numbers at the southern border and intense political criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources told Fox News last week there were more than 260,000 encounters in September, which would be the highest monthly total on record.
Republicans have blamed the historic numbers on the Biden administration’s policies, including its rollback of Trump-era policies and its halt to border wall construction. The administration has also drawn criticism from Republicans for selling off border wall materials and for suing Texas over a border barrier it built in the Rio Grande.
NYC Mayor Adams visits border as city struggles with migrant crisisVideo
“President Trump is always right,” the Trump campaign said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “That’s why he built close to 500 miles of powerful new wall on the border, and it would have been finished by now. Instead, Crooked Joe Biden turned our country into one giant sanctuary for dangerous criminal aliens.”
The administration has said Congress needs to provide more funding and pass legislation to fix the “broken” system with which it says it is working.
Meanwhile, the administration is getting growing calls for more action from liberal states and cities that have been overwhelmed by the escalating numbers, including ways to limit illegal immigrants from entering.
HLS.Today sources DHS.gov Fox News