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TRAC: Federal prosecutors along U.S. Southwest border overwhelmed by soaring drug cases

April 20, 2010

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According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), federal prosecutors along the United States’ border with Mexico—many already strained by the rise in their immigration caseloads—are facing a new challenge: how to handle a sharp jump in drug cases. The extent of this problem can be seen in U.S. Justice Department data analyzed by TRAC showing that during the first four months of fiscal year (FY) 2010, drug cases in this region had surged by almost a third (30 percent) from what they were just 16 months ago and were up by 7 percent over levels at the end of FY 2009.

This sharp regional increase is in stark contrast with the national pattern where drug prosecutions for the rest of the country have been steadily declining for a number of years, with the first four months of FY 2010 down by 17 percent since FY 2008 and down 12 percent from last year.

TRAC is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University. The purpose of TRAC is to provide the American people—and institutions of oversight such as Congress, news organizations, public interest groups, businesses, scholars and lawyers—with comprehensive information about staffing, spending and enforcement activities of the federal government. 

The drug enforcement surge in the Southwest varied among the five federal districts, with Arizona showing the sharpest growth and the prosecution rate in California South (San Diego) actually declining.

For this latest data, visit

In addition to the most recent figures on drug prosecutions, TRAC continues to provide additional free reports on a wide range of current enforcement trends at, with information on prosecutions and  convictions so far in FY 2010 in the areas of immigration, drugs, white collar crime, official corruption and more, including reports on the enforcement activities of selected government agencies such as the IRS, FBI, DHS and DEA.

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