As part of his two-day visit to Los Angeles, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the disbursement of more than $8.7 million in federal funds -- primarily to San Diego County and Chula Vista -- to fight crime and drug trafficking along the Southwest border.
Holder told reporters in downtown Los Angeles the Recovery Act funds will be used to "help our state and local partners in California build the infrastructure and hire the professionals that we need to confront the cartels."
The federal government's "state and local partners in local law enforcement play a critical role, a critical role, in our efforts to confront the cartels," Holder said.
San Diego County will receive nearly $5 million in funds, which it plans to use to create a team of 16 uniformed officers to patrol the border for drug-smuggling and criminal activity and to fund a deputy district attorney who will be designated to prosecute those apprehended, officials said.
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San Diego County sheriff's Cmdr. Michael McNally said the money "will be very helpful for us."
Chula Vista will receive just more than $2.8 million, which will be used to gather intelligence connected to cross-border violence.
San Mateo County will receive just more than $800,000 to develop an automated intelligence management system to track wholesale distribution from Mexican drug trafficking organizations out of the San Francisco area.
"In the coming days, we will announce additional awards -- 20 in all, totaling nearly $30 million -- all focused on supporting local law enforcement agencies in California and four other states," Holder said.
The attorney general said he met earlier in the day with federal law enforcement officials from California and Arizona to discuss "the challenges we face as we confront the Mexican cartels and cross-border drug trafficking on the Southwest border."
"We talked candidly about what's working -- and what we can do better --as we fight and seek to defeat the Mexican drug cartels and the scourge of associated drug-related violence," Holder said. "This task will not be easy. The Mexican cartels are sophisticated criminal enterprises with billion-dollar budgets. But today's roundtable discussion confirms my confidence that we have the tools and capacity to defeat them."
Timothy Landrum, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles field office, noted that "no other country in the world currently has a greater impact on the drug situation in the United States than does Mexico."
"Most of the cocaine, foreign-source marijuana, methamphetamine and Mexican-source heroin available in the United States is smuggled into this country from Mexico across the Southwest border," Landrum said, noting that an appetite in the United States for the illegal drugs "sends billions of dollars and stockpiles of weapons back to Mexico."