A Line in the Sand:
Confronting the Threat at
the Southwest Border
PREPARED BY THE MAJORITY STAFF OF THE
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Chairman
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND FINDINGS
The Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Homeland Security issues this
interim report summarizing its findings regarding the criminal activity and violence
taking place along the Southwest border of the United States between Texas and Mexico.
The Texas-Mexico border region has been experiencing an alarming rise in the level of
criminal cartel activity, including drug and human smuggling, which has placed
significant additional burdens on Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
This interim report will examine the roots of the criminal enterprise and its effects on the
local populations, what steps are being taken or should be taken to counter the threat, and
the significance of these issues for the overall homeland security of the United States.
The United States border with Mexico extends nearly 2,000 miles along the southern
borders of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In most areas, the border is
located in remote and sparsely populated areas of vast desert and rugged mountain
U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico
The border’s vast length and varied terrain poses significant challenges to U.S. law
enforcement efforts to control the entry of individuals and goods into the United States.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) is the federal agency with primary responsibility to detect and prevent
illegal entry into the United States. As of the date of this report, approximately 11,000
CBP agents patrol the nearly 6,000 miles of international border the United States shares
with its neighbors Mexico and Canada.
In addition to Federal agents, State and local law enforcement also patrol the border
areas. In remote areas along the border,