Border Crisis

Border Crisis

Coverage of the border crossings of undocumented immigrants into the U.S.

Cross-Border Crime in the Crosshairs for California AG

Kamala Harris leads group of state, international officials during weekend summit to tackle immigration, human trafficking

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As a 14-year-old boy, “Jose” became a victim of human trafficking. He was abused and forced to sell drugs that were also used against him. His case comes to light as law officials from the U.S., Mexico and El Salvador met to discuss cross-border crime at a summit in Utah. John Cádiz Klemack reports from Park City, Utah, for the NBC4 News at 6 on Sunday, July 20, 2014. (Published Monday, Jul 21, 2014)

    Western states’ attorneys general convened in Park City, Utah over the weekend. At the head of the table: California's AG Kamala Harris.

    Harris said she called the special summit to meet with law enforcement officials across the US, Mexico and El Salvador. The summit was designed to tackle the issue of trans-national crime that crosses borders.

    Immigration, ID theft, money laundering, gang warfare, drug smuggling and human trafficking all took center-stage.

    Harris spoke about technology's role in crime and shared insight California police departments have been using to help stay ahead of the game against criminals.

    With recent immigration headlines pointing to Central American countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Harris quoted a United Nations study claiming 48% of unaccompanied children entering the United States from Latin America are threatened by transnational organizations. Harris said she was able to meet one-on-one with the AG from Mexico and El Salvador.

    "What this does is it improves relationships which will improve our ability to coordinate around a common purpose," Harris said about the summit.

    Human trafficking for labor, drugs and sex was a major focus as well. An analyst from Carnegie Melon showed examples of how ads for sexual favors peak around large sporting events, using the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans as an example.

    Harris said she worried many of the unaccompanied minors crossing the border could fall into the human trafficking trade.

    "When I see images of people surrounding a bus of women and children and chanting go home as though they're trying to take anything from anyone," Harris said, "They're literally trying to seek refuge."

    Mexico's attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, spoke one-on-one with NBC4 just after his conversations with Harris. He said the collaboration between governments is fundamental. Karam says money is Mexico's biggest issue with the drug cartels and just how much of it there is, most of which comes through in American dollars. He also joined Harris in her belief that in the issue of supply and demand, both need to be dealt with as a whole.

    But in the area of drugs, Harris and Karam differed. Karam insisted that drugs are being bought and sold on both sides of the border while Harris claimed 70% of all methamphetamine in the U.S. comes from Mexico by way of San Diego.

    "I'd like to see Mexico's law enforcement strengthened to do what it wants to do to stop the production of methamphetamine in its own country," she said, "because perhaps that will then reduce the meth entering our country and our state."

    The attorney general from El Salvador spoke a little more candid about the issues his country faces and how it affects California.

    "Today," he said, "justice has no borders."

    Luis Martinez said he's working hard to fix the perceived corruption in his government, even going to so far as to investigate his own president. But he added that times are tough in El Salvador, that society has become too angry and vengeful that it's led to the mass exodus of new generations of Salvadorans.

    Harris called the summit a success before heading back to Sacramento, but she added that there is still a lot of work to be done. 

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