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Arizona attorney: Law enforcement needs more resources to combat drug smugglers

Drug smugglers attempted to conceal marijuana packages throughout the vehicle, including within the trunk by CBP officers assigned to the Port of Douglas. /U.S. Customs and Border Protectio

PHOENIX — Police and prosecutors in Arizona need more resources to effectively bring down drug smugglers and criminals, according to one local official.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Monday that his office does not have the manpower it needs to win the war on drugs.

Montgomery said drug seizures at the border are rising but it is not making a dent in the cartels’ supply.

“The cartels are still getting enough drugs through to make it financially lucrative to continue to try to exploit Arizona’s border,” he said. “While we have seen the percentage and the size of seizures increase at Arizona ports of entry due to great work by Customs and Border Protection, there is still so much getting through.”

There are 15 prosecutors assigned to Montgomery’s drug enforcement bureau. He said all of them are currently overloaded with cases.

“We don’t have the luxury to turn away cases,” he said. “I have no arbitrary thresholds below which I won’t take cases because if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey created a border strike force comprised of state troopers who will help law enforcement agencies along the Mexican border respond to crimes.

The force is designed to work with state, local and federal agencies to stop “border-related crime,” a letter the governor sent to the Cochise County sheriff said. It is apparently still in the planning stage and a timeline for deployment or a price tag isn’t known.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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