Friday, April 24, 2009

Governor Urges Congress To Fund National Guard on Border.

On Thursday, Governor Bill Richardson joined several other border state governors urging congressional leaders to fully fund the National Guard's Counter-Drug Program in the upcoming Supplemental Budget Act and the Department of Defense’s FY10 budget.

The requested funding would increase New Mexico’s budget for the mission by about $5 million and allow for the deployment of 100 additional Guard personnel.

Richardson said:
The support our National Guard offers federal authorities along the border is critical to stemming the flow of drugs in and weapons out. As the violence associated with drug and weapons trafficking continues to intensify, it is clear that we need additional manpower.

Last May, we interviewed Lt. Governor Diane Denish after she toured the border in a Guard helicopter. Listen to our interview with her here.

Over the last year, New Mexico Guard personnel have assisted in the confiscation of more than 24,000 lbs. of marijuana and confiscation of 251 marijuana plants; more than 98 lbs. of methamphetamine and 41 lbs. of cocaine, the seizure of 150 weapons, the seizure of 69 vehicles, and the seizure of more than $740,000 in illegally transported U.S. currency.

Another critical aspect of the Counter-Drug Program is the “Stay on Track” anti-drug education program offered by the National Guard in nine middle schools across New Mexico . The requested funding would allow the Guard to expand the successful program to middle schools in the border towns of Deming, Lordsburg, Santa Teresa and Silver City.

In addition to assisting in searches of vehicles detained by federal officers, the 109 New Mexico National Guard Counter-Drug personnel conduct air surveillance operations with three helicopters, provide the eyes to monitor remote border cameras and assist in monitoring bypass routes around main highway Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints.

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