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“Biden-Mayorkas Policies are Responsible”: Former Texas DPS, DEA Witnesses & Experts Testify on Catastrophic Consequences of Cartel Control of Southwest Border

July 20, 2023

Committee continued second phase of investigation highlighting Secretary Mayorkas’ loss of operational control

WASHINGTON, D.C. —This week, the House Committee on Homeland Security, led by Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN), held a hearing to examine how the policies of President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have empowered cartels in Mexico to seize unprecedented control of the Southwest border. This hearing is part of the second phase of the oversight investigation into Secretary Mayorkas’ actions and policies, which have threatened our national security and the safety of every American. Witness testimony was provided by Jaeson Jones, a former Captain of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism at the Texas Department of Public Safety, Jessica Vaughan, the Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, Derek Maltz, a former Special Agent in Charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Vanda Felbab-Brown, PhD, the Director of the Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors at the Brookings Institution.

In the hearing, Members received confirmation that President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas’ reckless open-border policies, such as ending ‘Remain in Mexico,’ refusing to finish the border barrier system, implementing mass catch and release, and failing to properly vet Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) or their sponsors, have facilitated the business model of Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) operating at the Southwest border and increasingly throughout American communities. This Committee has heard firsthand testimony from law enforcement and insight from the frontlines of the border crisis confirming that Mexican cartels now control the Southwest border—yet Secretary Mayorkas has admitted ignorance of the tactics used to take advantage of his own border policies. The Biden administration’s failure to secure our sovereign border has enabled these criminal organizations to expand their arsenal and bring in record profits through drug smuggling and human trafficking. In many cases, American and migrant lives are the price paid.

WATCH: Chairman Green Details Cartel Strategy at the Southwest Border

 In his opening line of questioning, Chairman Green discussed cartel strategy and highlighted how cartels are successful in smuggling migrants and drugs into the U.S.:

“The cartels have essentially taken over. A lot of the drug networks inside many of the United States cities. If you look at some headlines just in the past few weeks about San Francisco alone, they basically have seized control, and are coordinating with the gangs to seize control, of the drug trade in San Francisco. They’ve essentially taken over all the criminal networks, much like a mafia. The Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has admitted to the Senate that the cartels’ strategy was to flood the Border Patrol and by tying up Border Patrol, because Border Patrol now is doing basically a catch-and-release system, then the drug cartels will slip people around the other side. Can you tell us how this policy of the open border and this strategy of the cartels have combined to allow them to basically take over crime in the cities?”

Mr. Jones answered:

“They utilize a network known as the ‘halcon’ network.‘Halcons’ are scouts, they’re lookouts. They check on and off just like law enforcement. Anywhere from eight-hour shifts, 10-hour shifts, 12-hour shifts. I’ve seen them in South Texas as far as 30 miles into the United States. I have seen them in Arizona as far as 70 miles. They leverage two-way handheld encrypted radios, sometimes encrypted apps, and they communicate back to what is known as ‘central.’ So what happens is you have these lookouts everywhere. And when what they call the ‘gate’ is open, the gate meaning a bend in the river or bend at your border, when there is no law enforcement, they surge with whatever commodity it is that they want to push. So, when you’re talking, based on the policies, [about] all of these migrants that have come from all over the world, what is happening is the cartel by design will push hundreds of people as you have seen on every news station over the last few years. And the media focuses on that. That causes the surge of local state and federal law enforcement to that location, and they do that by design because it opens up the other gates. Now if they’re going to move a commodity directly linked to a cartel boss, they’ll shut down more gates to ensure that commodity makes it in. And what they do is they contract directly with U.S.-based street gangs and what we call tier one gangs. Those are gangs which impact multiple regions in our country. They work directly with the cartels. Today it is very important to understand your U.S.-based street gangs are working side-by-side, contracting with the cartels. […] So, when you wonder today why you are being overrun with drugs, it is because the tier one gangs, and U.S.-based street gangs are contracting and working directly with these cartels.”

Chairman Green continued:

“How have the open-border policies, the basic catch-and-release and this stimulation of a massive wave of migration by having an open border, facilitated this process?”

Mr. Jones concluded:

“Historically your cartels, Mexican cartels, we call them drug cartels because that’s what they were. Today, they are in over 54 countries around the world. This is not a U.S.-Mexico problem ladies and gentlemen. Cartel Jalisco New Generation, we know, is in 48. This will not stop. And now they’ve transitioned into the final version of human trafficking known as debt bondage, and I am holding it in my hands. This is how emboldened they’ve become. So, I can’t stress to you [enough] that you have to take extreme action to go after these cartels and to truly create relationships with Mexico and the rest of the world in what we call a unified command and treat them as the dark networks that they are.”

WATCH: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman McCaul Slams the Biden Admin for Rescinding Remain in Mexico

 Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Member, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), asked the panel of witnesses how President Biden’s rescission of  ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Secretary Mayorkas’ failure to re-enter the successful agreement has empowered criminal cartels to push record amounts of fentanyl and illegal aliens across the Southwest border:

“I can’t think, from a Communist China standpoint, a better foreign policy than introducing poison through Mexico into the United States, killing Americans and making money off it. […] It’s killed 70,000 young people. 20,000 pounds of fentanyl seized—enough to kill 4.6 billion people. […] I remember going down after Mayorkas rescinded ‘Remain in Mexico.’ And I talked to the Border Patrol Chief, and it was chaos. And I said, ‘what do you attribute this to?’ Is there any cause and effect between what you’re seeing now and the policy change of this administration? And he said, Congressman, there’s no question there’s a direct cause and effect between the rescission of ‘Remain in Mexico’ and what we’re seeing today. […]  I was the U.S. Attorney at the Western District of Texas, at the Texas border. I was the chairman of this Committee. We were getting this under control. We were controlling political asylum because the cartels manipulate political asylum claims. And when ‘Remain in Mexico’ went into place they couldn’t manipulate it anymore. You know why? Because they couldn’t get into the United States. Their claims were adjudicated with them in Mexico, and therefore catch-and-release was ended finally. The very first bill I introduced in Congress 20 years ago. And here we are today—it’s alive and well, and this Secretary is responsible in my judgment. The rising crime, and the women going into sex trafficking, the unvetted homes that these kids go to and the men go to MS-13. There is a criminal enterprise now, not just in Mexico, and Latin America, but right here in the United States, and it was created by this administration’s policies. So, my question to the three of you [is] do you believe that the actions of this Secretary by rescinding ‘Remain in Mexico,’ a policy that was effectively working—that has created this criminal enterprise—do you believe that this Secretary is responsible for the criminal enterprise as a result of these policies being rescinded?”

WATCH: Bishop Questions Witnesses on Dangers of Human Trafficking Across the Southwest Border

Mr. Jones answered:

“Yes, I do. And that is validated by not only the data from the United States Customs and Border Protection that validates the numbers that crossed into our country as a result of the exemptions created under Title 42, which Secretary Mayorkas is the architect behind. In addition, the overdose deaths in this country due to the sheer impact on mothers and fathers and families across this country. The data validates it.”

Chairman McCaul continued:

“The district court said [Mayorkas] must reimplement ‘Remain in Mexico.’ The Secretary did not comply with that order. He failed to comply with that order.”

Ms. Vaughan answered:

“I do believe that the Biden-Mayorkas policies are responsible. They’re a disaster. They’re what’s responsible for the situation that we have today. No amount of money that is funneled to these agencies is going to help the situation until the officers and agents are allowed to do their job. The policies at this point are more important than the money.”

Mr. Maltz answered, referencing the record number of lives lost to illicit fentanyl smuggled across the Southwest border:

“I say it starts at the top with the President and it comes down. […] So the results are just dead children, and families going to funerals. That’s what it comes down to.”

WATCH: Gimenez Slams the Biden Administration’s Policy Crisis at the Southwest Border

Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) received confirmation from a witness that this administration has created not just a humanitarian crisis, but a policy crisis:

“[Cartels] are killing 70,000 Americans every single year [with fentanyl], and they’re right across the border. So my question to you, Mr. Jones, is this: do you believe that the Biden administration policies have strengthened the Mexican cartels?”

Mr. Jones answered:

“Yes, sir. I know they have.”

Subcommittee Chairman Gimenez continued:

“We can fund $10 billion and can put CBP agents locked [arm] in arm 2,000 miles [along] the border, and unless we change the policy nothing changes. Is that correct?”

Mr. Jones answered:

“It is absolutely correct. This is an authority issue. This is not a money issue any longer. We as law men do not have the authorities we have needed to go after these cartels. That is the problem, and I don’t believe in going to war with the cartels. They are dark networks, Congressman. The way we win against them is giving us the authority for full spectrum operations, leveraging our full U.S. intelligence agencies [and] law enforcement.”

WATCH: D’Esposito on the Biden Border Numbers: “Like Celebrating a Category Three Hurricane Instead of a Category Four Hurricane”

Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology Chairman Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) slammed those calling the hearing a ‘waste of time’ and pushed back on the Biden administration’s victory lap regarding encounters at the Southwest border:

“So, the name of this hearing: Biden and Mayorkas’ Open Border: Advancing Cartel Crime in America. I’ve heard this described as a sham. I’ve heard it described as theater. I’ve heard it described as a complete waste of time. It’s beyond explanation. People are dying and crimes are being committed. How is that a sham? How is that theater? How is any of that a waste of time?”


“I’ve heard this also mentioned that we should be thankful that the numbers have fallen to such a low level. They’re not low. There are still thousands upon thousands of people coming to this country illegally, and thousands upon thousands more that we don’t even know about. Quite frankly, it’s like celebrating a category three hurricane instead of a category four hurricane. It’s absurd. I want to focus on the law enforcement for a second. Mr. Jones, what are some of the main consequences for local law enforcement of increased cartel activity in their jurisdictions?”

Mr. Jones answered:

“They’re completely overrun on the Southwest border. If you go to Arizona right now and you sit back with Sheriff Mark Lamb, let me tell you, I’ve embedded with his law enforcement agency. You realize that one out of every ten traffic stops that man is making [and] his personnel are pursuits 70 miles into the country on Interstate-10. These agencies are overrun. The Texas Department of Public Safety has spent $9 billion from the state legislature to try to support operations between the ports of entry because we are overrun with crime.”

WATCH: Rep. Laurel Lee Calls Out the Biden Administration For Improper Migrant Vetting at the Border

Rep. Laurel Lee (R-FL) highlighted the dangers posed to UACs and U.S. sponsors alike due to the Biden administration’s improper vetting:

“We’ve seen numerous incidents of children who are actually put into placements in homes that proved to be unsafe.”

Ms. Vaughan answered:

“Absolutely, yes, there are a number of instances where for example, girls have been placed with older men in what is clearly in an exploitative situation. There are kids who have been turned over to labor traffickers. There are kids who get turned over to gang members. There are kids who get placed into domestic servitude and other forms of abuse. It’s really quite horrific.”

Rep. Lee continued:

“I know we have also seen cases—and this happened even in my own state—the children themselves aren’t screened. That can pose a danger or an inappropriate circumstance for a host family.”


“You also mentioned that roughly a quarter of the trafficking victims were children, would you tell us a little bit more about that and the patterns that you see that are affecting young people and children that are coming to this country?”

Ms. Vaughan concluded:

“What happens is the smugglers often convince the parents of these kids that they’re going to have a better life in the United States. So, pay us a down payment on the smuggling fee now and the child will make enough money or be able to go to school or some other tale to get the parents to release the kid. When they get to the United States are often released to a sponsor who turns out to be a trafficker or put directly into trafficking situations. They sometimes are forced into labor trafficking, sometimes it’s commercial sex. Sometimes it’s domestic servitude, but the child is isolated from their family members [and] in the complete control of people who have custody of them. There’s no monitoring of the situation by the federal government that put them in this situation. There is very little opportunity for seeing what’s going on in some of these workplaces.”