This testimony discusses U.S. efforts to combat illicit arms trafficking to Mexico, is based on a GAO report, GAO-09-709, that we are releasing today. In recent years, violence along the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated dramatically as the administration of President Felipe Calderon has sought to combat the growing power of Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO) and curb their ability to operate with impunity in certain areas of Mexico. As illicitly trafficked firearms have fueled the drug trafficking violence, Mexican officials have come to regard illicit firearms as the number one crime problem affecting the country's security. According to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment, Mexican DTOs represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States, controlling drug distribution in many U.S. cities, and gaining strength in markets they do not yet control. In particular, law enforcement reporting indicates Mexican DTOs maintain drug distribution networks or supply drugs to distributors in at least 230 U.S. cities. (3) challenges faced by U.S. agencies collaborating with Mexican authorities to combat the problem of illicit arms; and (4) the U.S. government's strategy for addressing the issue.
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