A law enforcement solution to security on the Southern border

A law enforcement solution to security on the Southern border
© Getty Images

President Donald Trump has enumerated several law enforcement problems located at our Southern border as the standoff continues between the political parties with regard to American taxpayer funding for a wall. This standoff has resulted in a government shutdown of historic duration and discussion of extreme measures such as a potential National Emergency proclamation.

If the issues described by President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE are truly law enforcement oriented, then a law enforcement solution should be contemplated.

President Trump focused on narcotics trafficking and human trafficking as the main issues, characterized in general as ‘border security’ in his various public announcements. He also addressed violent gang members, namely those from MS-13 who immigrate illegally to wreak their violence on legal U.S. residents.

So it is reasonable to conclude that crime prevention is the main issue that must be addressed and for which solutions must be funded.


No reference has been made in most media to the existence of two federal pots of money dedicated to funding legitimate law enforcement needs for investigative technology and equipment — specifically, the U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund and the U.S. Treasury Asset Forfeiture Fund. Both are funded from seizures and forfeitures: assets that federal law enforcement agencies have taken because they are deemed the fruits of illicit activities carried out by criminals and criminal organizations — such as the Sinaloa Cartel run by Joachim Guzman Chapo, white-collar frauds run by people such as Bernie Madoff, and large scale corporate frauds.

Billions of dollars reside in each of the two referenced asset forfeiture funds.

These monies are available to be shared by law enforcement agencies for legitimate law enforcement investigative needs. In the instant case, DEA would likely be justified in requesting funding from the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund for modern scanning equipment and technology to be directed at the millions of vehicles that cross into the U.S. from ports of entry along the Mexican border. No one really disputes that the bulk of the Narcotics entering the U.S. from Mexico is secreted in vehicular ‘traps’ — secret compartments containing packets of heroin, Fentanyl, barbiturates, methamphetamine, cocaine, etc. Proceeds from the sale of these illicit narcotics throughout the U.S. are then transported back to Mexico via similar trapped-out vehicles.

Current investigative resources are insufficient to examine the millions of vehicles that cross the border every year for drugs, contraband, and currency. Current agency budgets do not allow for expensive scanning equipment that might allow inspection of more vehicles for drugs. One solution could be for the U.S. DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund to pay for the equipment needed.

The money sitting in these funds are not tax-related. There is no need for a federal law enforcement agency such as the DEA to obtain congressional approval to apply for the funding. Of course, additional personnel needed to operate the equipment would require additional agency funding for staffing. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden to meet House Dems before Europe trip: report On The Money — Will the billionaire tax survive Joe Manchin? Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Democrats prepare to grill oil execs MORE and Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck Schumer535 'presidents' with veto power: Why budget deal remains elusive The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on Pricing methane and carbon emissions will help US meet the climate moment MORE have indicated that such funding would be available under their plan.

One element that also should appeal to the president is that much of the money available in the DOJ Asset Forfeiture fund comes from what law enforcement has already seized from Mexican drug cartels. So, in a way, the money would be coming from Mexican sources.

With regard to human trafficking and illegal immigrant gang members crossing over our borders, ICE and CBP are tasked with combatting those crimes, and each could request from the Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture (TEOAF) funding for investigative equipment and technology — including cameras, infra-red tech, heat-seeking sensors, radar, computers, night scopes, airplanes, SUVs, Jeeps, ATVs, vessels, motorbikes and any type of conveyance imaginable, all of which could be linked up to create a virtual wall or ‘smart wall’ referenced by Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas), the congressman with purview over the longest stretch of our border with Mexico.


Again, the millions of dollars this equipment would cost would not come from any tax-supported accounts but would instead come from money seized from criminals and criminal organizations.

Training for all of this equipment could also be financed from the asset forfeiture fund. Additional manpower, however, would be necessary to operate a modern-day virtual wall. Funding for additional manpower has been agreed to in a bi-partisan fashion.

Federal law enforcement can fund a ‘virtual wall’ or ‘smart wall’ at minimal cost that is sourced substantially from Mexican criminals.

Both sides should agree to initiate such a solution and then measure its effectiveness in reducing the crimes that have created the border security issues the president references — before we invest large sums of taxpayer-funded monies on controversial measures with unknown results.

Martin J. Sheil is a retired supervisory agent for IRS Criminal Investigation with 30 years experience, including service as coordinator of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the Gulf Coast Region, Branch Chief for the North Texas District (Dallas), Special Agent in Charge for the South Texas District (San Antonio) and as Director of IRS CI Asset Forfeiture in Washington, D.C.