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California Regional Partnership
Southwest Border HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1990
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:

San Diego and Imperial Counties.

    Contact: (619) 557-5880

Mission Statement:

To reduce drug trafficking, thereby reducing the impact of illicit drugs in this region and other areas of the country. To accomplish this mission, the CBAG will assist in the coordination of joint operational and supporting initiatives to deter, disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately eliminate the most significant Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO's), their supporting transportation and money laundering organizations. The CBAG will also emphasize efforts against methamphetamine manufacturing, precursor supply, and “club drug” abuse through innovative enforcement operations and demand reduction programs utilizing a multi-agency, joint concept of operations.

Threat Abstract:

The California Border Alliance Group's (CBAG) area of responsibility, San Diego and Imperial Counties, extends north 65 miles from the international border with Mexico to the Orange and Riverside County lines, from the Pacific Ocean on the west 140 miles east to the Arizona State line, and includes the seven Ports of Entry at San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Otay East, Tecate, Calexico West, Calexico East, and Andrade. The geographic location is truly unique: terrain that ranges from seaports and beaches to deserts, with forested mountains in between, yet home to the largest bi- national metropolis in the world.

Both San Diego and Imperial Counties have large Mexican cities directly to the south. Tijuana's population is officially reported as
1.5 million, but estimates run as high as 2 million; it is Mexico's third largest, and fastest-growing, city. Mexicali, which borders Imperial County, is the capital of Baja California Norte and has a population of close to 1 million. Although the 140-mile border facing the CBAG is only 7% of the entire U.S.-Mexican border, it is home to 60% of the entire US-Mexican Southwest Border population. The CBAG area of responsibility not only has five of the busiest U.S. land Ports of Entry to contend with, but also international airports and seaports. The threats range from land, sea, and airborne drug smuggling, distribution, production, and consumption of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, prescription drugs, and precursor chemicals, and from Major Drug Trafficking Organizations, international Narco-terrorism and money laundering to street gangs and drug abusers. It remains one of the most active transit areas for drugs and illegal aliens moving north and for monies traveling south, as well as a major domestic marijuana cultivation area.

During 2003, CBAG task forces and member agencies seized more than:

Marijuana 202,310 Kg
Marijuana eradicated 262,029 plants (260,00 Kg)
Cocaine 1,424 Kg
Cocaine (maritime) 48,181 Kg
Heroin 72.5 Kg
Methamphetamine 537.8 Kg
Arrests 5,015
Cash/assets $ 16.2 Million
Clan Labs 19

Additionally, CBAG initiatives participated in out-of-area seizures of over 48 Metric Tons of cocaine seized at sea, and another 113 Kg of heroin on controlled deliveries to destinations outside of the CBAG area.

Strategy Abstract:

To accomplish its mission, the CBAG coordinates 19 intelligence-driven, joint, multi-agency coordinated initiatives, which are organized into five mutually-supporting subsystems: Intelligence, Interdiction, Investigation, Prosecution, Demand Reduction, and Support Initiatives. Of note, two of those initiatives, the National Methamphetamine Chemical Initiative and the National Marijuana on Public Lands Initiative, coordinate nation-wide efforts against their respective targeted drug trafficking problems.

Each agency has its own strategies, requirements, and missions. The CBAG Executive Committee, through subcommittees, coordinates the integration and synchronization of efforts to reduce drug trafficking, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and improve the systematic sharing of intelligence.

The Executive Committee monitors the implementation of the strategy to ensure the joint efforts of the CBAG produce the desired impact. The Committee provides a coordination umbrella over networked joint task forces, the intelligence center, task forces not funded by CBAG, and single agency task forces and narcotics units within the CBAG. The Committee is formed of 16 Members/Officers, 8 Federal and 8 State/local. An Intelligence Subcommittee provides guidance and direction to the Intelligence Center (the San Diego/Imperial County Regional Narcotics Information Network - NIN) and develops intelligence policies for the approval of the Executive Committee. A Fiscal Subcommittee reviews and recommends budget and reprogramming requests for Executive Committee action and approval. The CBAG Director provides day-to-day coordination and programmatic and fiscal accountability critical to the CBAG. The Director is responsible for developing draft proposals of the Threat Assessment, Strategy, Initiatives, and Annual Report for submission to the CBAG Executive Committee. The Director is also responsible for the management of the CBAG Staff, which includes Budget, Program Analysis, Network Administration, Demand Reduction, and Training and Equipment Coordination.

Investigative Support Center:

The San Diego/Imperial County Regional Narcotic Information Network (NIN), the centerpiece of the CBAG's Intelligence Support subsystem, provides responsive deconfliction, pointer index, case support, intelligence fusion, and predictive analyses in cooperation and coordination with the California Southwest Border Intelligence Group, the Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Coordination Center Intelligence Division, and member agency intelligence units. The NIN is the CBAG region's intelligence “hub”, connected by on-line systems and cross-attached personnel to those intelligence nodes within the region, and with the other Southwest Border HIDTA ISC's and nationwide via the Western States Information Network and RISSNET. Interdiction operations and investigations are coordinated with the intelligence center to the greatest extent practicable, with exceptions for applicable grand jury secrecy, privacy of taxpayer information, Title III restrictions, and agency security requirements. The NIN Watch Center processed 9,383 narcotic enforcement actions taking place in San Diego and Imperial counties, resulting in 729 deconflictions (just under 8 percent.) Additionally, the Watch Center conducted 74,864 database inquiries which resulted in 25,058 system hits or sharing of information, or a “hit rate” of just over 33 percent.

Planning and implementation are ongoing for a comprehensive, co-located multi- agency Law Enforcement Coordinating Center, containing a joint Regional Intelligence Center (RIC) to radically improve the Intelligence process and the coordination of investigations and enforcement in San Diego and Imperial Counties. The concept is based on the collocation and commingling of the San Diego/Imperial County Narcotics Information Network (NIN), California Southwest Border Intelligence Group (ICE), San Diego Police, and San Diego Sheriff's Intelligence Units, and intelligence units from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, DEA, FBI, and California Anti- Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) into a true multi-agency Joint Intelligence Center, supported on-site by ARJIS (Automated Regional Justice Information System) and other appropriate entities. The homeland security-focused Regional Terrorist Threat Assessment Center (RTAC) will be integrated with an overall intelligence fusion center, with robust connectivity and coordination with, and between, the Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Coordination Center, the San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center, and other entities within the region. Approximately 500 agents, analysts, and support personnel will be located at this center.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Civil Air Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Communications Commission, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, United States Attorney's Office, United States Border Patrol, United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Coast Guard, United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Forest Service, United States Marshals Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Department of Defense-Joint Task Force North

State: California Department of Justice- Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, California Department of Justice-Western States Information Network, California Department of Corrections, California Highway Patrol, California National Guard

Local: Calipatria, Brawley, Calexico, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Centro, Escondido, and Holtville Police Departments, Imperial County District Attorney's Office, Imperial County Probation Department, Imperial County Sheriff's Office, Imperial, National City, Oceanside, and San Diego Police Departments, San Diego District Attorney's Office, San Diego County Sheriff's Department, San Diego County Probation Dept, San Diego Harbor Police Department, Westmoreland Police Department.

Other: San Diego County Prevention Coalition, National Institute of Justice- Border Research and Technology Center, San Diego County Board of Supervisors- Methamphetamine Strike Force

In Total: 784 Federal, State, and local personnel participate in CBAG HIDTA Initiatives.

Significant Achievements:

Cocaine seizures along the California border decreased again during 2003, while marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine seizures increased. However, 48 Metric Tons of cocaine were seized on the high seas that was destined to cross the Southwest Border through California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas and would almost certainly have resulted in higher border seizure rates had it not been seized at sea. The amount of cocaine seized in the Eastern Pacific through the cooperation of the Coast Guard, Federal Agencies, and CBAG initiatives seems to indicate at least two things: the EastPac-to- Mexico route for entry via the Southwest Border remains dominant, and enforcement successes in the Transit Zone directly affect seizures in the Arrival Zone. The San Diego Marine Task Force seized 6,220 Kg of cocaine in local cases tied directly to the Southern California coast. In addition to border seizures of marijuana, 262,029 plants (equivalent to over 260,000 Kilos) were seized in San Diego County – most of them in large remote operations run by Mexican DTOs.

The dismantlement of the Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO) continues with indictments, arrests, and extradition proceedings for the upper echelon and transportation and enforcement cells of that cartel, as well as unprecedented cooperative efforts between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement. Multiple intelligence sources tell us that the remaining cells of the Arellano-Felix Organization are having difficulty getting cocaine from the source countries, and have been forced to turn to other sources of income such as alien smuggling and kidnapping. Of course, a lack of drug income makes the AFO even more vulnerable to the pressures being exerted by the Zambada-Garcia organization, currently making a play for the Tijuana plaza. The push for complete dismantlement of the AFO, as well as pro- active investigations of associated DTOs and the Zambada-Garcia organization, continue unabated as a top priority for this HIDTA.

The continued decline in lab activity in San Diego and Imperial Counties, and increase of labs in Mexico, is compelling evidence of a successful long-term methamphetamine reduction strategy for this and other regions. Clandestine laboratories, mostly methamphetamine labs, continue to affect the CBAG region, but only 19 were seized in the CBAG area during 2003. 827 labs were seized in California, of which 132 were “super labs” capable of producing 10 pounds or more methamphetamine in a single cook (92% of the nation's total of 143 super labs.) Mexican lab seizures are highly significant: at least 47 labs were seized in the Tijuana and Mexicali areas in 2003, for a total of 119 reported over the past two years. While methamphetamine use continues to be a significant public safety and health problem in our region, our comprehensive approach to the methamphetamine issue may be having success. Once considered the “Methamphetamine Capital” of the US, a concerted and coordinated effort on the part of San Diego Law Enforcement, Public Health, Demand Reduction, Government officials, and corporate interests have essentially shut down the large-scale production, reduced emergency department mentions, and increased treatment admissions for methamphetamine.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005