Panel: Info-sharing key to counternarcotics efforts along border in Arizona
In counternarcotics efforts along the southwestern border in Arizona, successful information sharing hinges on a personal commitment from leaders, said Matthew Allen, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's special agent in charge for homeland security investigations in Phoenix, on May 23.
Allen spoke at a field hearing that the House Homeland Security subcommittee on border and maritime security held in Phoenix. He said the federal government can do a better job emphasizing information sharing when it develops its leaders and executives.
He said the government should encourage cross-pollination and cited his own experience embedding in the Drug Enforcement Administration for 14 months. Allen said he now understands far better how DEA works and how ICE can work with it.
Jay Nunamaker, Jr., the director of BORDERS at the University of Arizona, added that a commitment to information-sharing must also exist at all levels of an agency. He said personnel need to be convinced that it is in their self-interest to share information for the greater good. That, he noted, will require education.
Trust, culture and behavior are as important as technology in this endeavor, Nunamaker said, adding, "That's difficult for me to say because I'm a technologist."
As for technology, agencies should have a system to share information in real time and should integrate disparate databases, he said, though he noted that achieving that will be difficult. Currently, "no one does it well," he said.
Allen said that government agencies will also have to share some information with U.S. banks so they are aware of money-laundering trends. New banking regulations in Mexico may lead to more Mexican drug cartels placing money in U.S. financial institutions and then wiring it to Mexico.
- go to the hearing webpage (prepared testimonies and archived webcast available)