(CNSNews.com) - On Tuesday, as the nation learned about the murders of nine American women and children at the hands of Mexican drug cartels, the Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on threats to the homeland, including some that emanate from Mexico.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) noted that the apprehension of illegal immigrants crossing the Southwest Border has declined somewhat from earlier highs, but the drug flow has not slowed.
"We have seen it increase," David Glawe, the chief intelligence officer and under secretary at the Department of Homeland Security told Portman.
Just to give you the numbers from 2017 to 2019, so you know what we are dealing with on the narcotic flows, we have seen a 40-percent increase in cocaine from seizures at the Southwest border.
We have seen a 20-percent increase in fentanyl. We have seen a 30-percent increase in heroin, and to your point, we have seen a 20-percent increase in methamphetamine -- and that is in addition to the emergency on the border we had with the migrant flows...
So we have a crisis at the Southwest border and it is all based on moving people and goods illicitly across the border. And that's what it is about, cartels are about moving goods and people across the Southwest border.
Glawe said the drug seizure percentages "are probably low."
"That is what we are catching," he said. "So we have seen those increases in the last two years, and the cartels are a sophisticated business about moving supplies in the United States. They are as good as any major business," Glawe said, comparing them to a Fortune 500 company in terms of profits.
He also mentioned the cartels' "relationships with China," which is moving its fentanyl production to Mexico. "It is very sophisticated, very robust, and constantly changing and dynamic," Glawe said.
Portman said Americans' demand for the illicit drugs is also "key."
"We have done a lot of work on that, we will continue to on prevention and recovery programs, treatment -- but we have got to do something to deal with the flow," Portman said.
The senator said in the streets of Columbus, Ohio, crystal meth "is less expensive than marijuana and deadly, and so we would appreciate any input you have as to how we can do a better job to reduce that supply, at a minimum."
Glawe said reducing the supply requires a "sophisticated approach that goes just beyond law enforcement. It is partnership with our U.S. intelligence community partners, our Mexican intelligence community partners, the Mexican military as well as our military, and that partnership is robust and we have a very good relationship with our Mexico partners, but it is really upping the game and a strategy to impact these groups that is going to have to go city by city, state by state."
'Awash in meth'
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told Glawe that his state is "absolutely overwhelmed" with meth coming across the Southwest border. "I mean, there is not a community in my state -- urban, rural, north, south, east, west --that is not just a wash in meth.
"You pointed out that between, I think it was 2017 and 2019 that the southern border apprehension is up over 200 percent for meth," Hawley told Glawe. "Did I hear you say to Senator Portman that the meth apprehensions and other drug apprehensions have continued to increase even as border apprehensions of illegal individuals has decreased. Is that--is that right?"
"That is correct," Glawe said. "And again, this is a two-year snapshot, so it was cocaine, 20 percent (increase in seizures); fentanyl, 20 percent; heroin, 30 percent; and methamphetamine, 200 percent, and that's at the border. That's at the border where we are seizing that. That's in addition to the migration challenges we've had."
Glawe said the cartels "control what goes across and what does not go across. And it is all based on money of moving people and goods."
Hawley asked Glawe what needs to change to more effectively slow the flow of drugs into the United States.
Glawe repeated his earlier response about the U.S. law enforcement partnering with Mexican agencies and the Mexican military in some of Mexico's "lawless" areas.
"But that also has to be hand in glove with our demand," Glawe said. "The U.S. is a high demand for narcotics. So it's a-- it's a joint process, and it's in that realm of having that partnership with our Mexican counterparts in that space to identify the bad and fill it with the good."