Justice Department Deputy Attorney General David Ogden spoke before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to address the issue of violence involving Mexican drug cartels at the Southwestern US border.

The explosion of violence along the Southwest border is being caused by a limited number of large, sophisticated and vicious criminal organizations, not by individual drug traffickers acting in isolation, Ogden said.

Indeed, the department's National Drug Intelligence Center has identified the Mexican drug trafficking organizations as the greatest organized crime threat facing the United States today.

In order to combat the growing violence, Ogden said the department's strategy employs extensive and coordinated intelligence capabilities.

The department pools information generated by our law enforcement agencies and federal, state and local government partners, and then uses the product systematically to direct operations in the United States and assist the efforts of the Mexican authorities to attack the cartels and the corruption that facilitates their operations.

He further stated that the department focuses its efforts on investigation, extradition, prosecution, and punishment of key cartel leaders.

Attorney General (Eric) Holder and I, Ogden continued, are committed to taking advantage of all available department resources to target, disrupt, and dismantle the Mexican cartels.

Ogden then noted that the department pursues investigations and prosecutions related to the smuggling of guns, cash, and contraband for drug-making facilities from the United States into Mexico.

The department, he added, uses traditional law enforcement approaches to address spillover effects of cartel violence in the United States.

These effects include the widespread distribution of drugs on our streets and in our neighborhoods, battles between members of rival cartels on American soil, and violence directed against US citizens and government interests.

Finally, the department, according to Ogden, prosecutes criminals responsible for the smuggling, kidnapping and violence in federal court.

In concluding his statement, Ogden said, In order to attack the full spectrum of the drug cartels' operations - drug trafficking, kidnapping, bribery, extortion, money laundering and smuggling of profits, and trafficking and use of dangerous weapons - we must employ the full spectrum of our law enforcement agencies' resources, expertise, and statutory authorities.

By continuing to work together, building on what we have done well so far and developing new ideas to refresh our strategies, we can rise to the current challenge.

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