looked at each other like we were crazy — but 7,000 drug-related murders in Mexico. Violent drug trafficking organizations are threatening both the United States and Mexican communities.
And as drug czar the Chief will play a central role in developing and implementing a southwest border strategy — one that improves information sharing, harnesses the power of new technologies, strengthens federal, state and local law enforcement efforts against violent criminals, and increases the interdiction of both drugs coming into the United States and weapons and cash flowing out of the United States into Mexico. It’s a strategy that we need to bring in order to bring the situation under control, to protect our people, and to bring about the demise of the Mexican drug cartels.
And by the way, we’ve done this before. We did it in Cartagena — I mean, excuse me, not Cartagena, we did it in Colombia, in Medellin. We’ve done it before with the help. We’ve been involved in this. So I don’t want people throwing up their hands and saying, there’s nothing we can do about this. We can — with a coordinated and consistent effort.
The other challenges are just as tough. We know about the nexus between drug abuse and crime — and that poses the greatest need for help for those who are likely to enter the criminal justice system in the first place. That’s why the drug courts I spoke about are so important — as are prisoner reentry programs –- because these can serve as the light at the end of a tunnel, a very long, long, dark tunnel, for those who are stuck in the cycle of drug addiction and incarceration.
I know Chief Kelly understands that we — every year, every day, when prisoners’ times is up and we let them out, a significant portion walk out through that gate addicted to drugs — as they walk out into the community, they’re addicted to drugs.
We know we need to help keep kids away from drugs, as well, and that’s obviously not easy. They’re bombarded — kids are bombarded with messages in the media that present inaccurate information and glamorize the use of drugs. It only — that only makes the National Youth Drug-Anti Media [sic] campaign — something that you, Chief, will now lead as part of your organization, and which I was — believed needed to be created back in 1998 –- even more important.
We know the local solutions through local communities –- precisely the efforts we’re looking for with the Drug Free Communities Act –- are the only way to build a kind of support system that can help keep kids off of drugs. This is one kid at a time. This is local. You cannot mandate from Washington or anywhere else a policy that’s going to do that.
Chief, the challenges ahead of you are great. But the President and I have total confidence in your ability to handle them. Both the President and I believe that you will lead our nation’s efforts against illegal drugs with unshakable resolve and exceptional