Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard Signs One-Sided, Watered-Down Agreement With Mexico

By Ray Stern

Pacts signed recently by top law enforcers in Arizona and Mexico seem to be a good step in boosting the crime-fighting cooperation efforts of both countries.

After all, as the Tucson Citizen noted in an opinion column on Sunday, "people and drugs flow illegally from Mexico into the United States," while money and guns go the reverse route.

Interestingly, though -- neither the pact signed by state Attorney General Terry Goddard on July 29 in Seattle nor the pact he signed on Friday in Hermosillo, Mexico mention the biggest elephants in the room: smugglers of drugs or illegal immigrants.

Instead, Goddard and his Mexican counterparts agreed to help each other investigate and prosecute cases of "human trafficking, weapons trafficking, money laundering and Internet crimes against children." The term "human trafficking" doesn't refer to immigrant smuggling, but rather to cases of modern-day slavery.

The omission of drug trafficking from that list stands out because Goddard and the Mexican state attorney generals appeared to agree to cooperate on drug cases during a March summit meeting in Phoenix. A March press release by Goddard mentions drug trafficking prominently, but the actual agreements recently inked by the officials omit the phrase.

Guess drugs aren't a cross-border problem anymore. And neither is human smuggling, one would imagine, since Goddard's pacts don't mention it, either. Perhaps the officials feel that with drug corruption rife among Mexican law enforcement, and with the Mexican government itself encouraging illegal immigration to the United States, the two problems are so big and complex it's best to ignore them.

Arizona will do most of the heavy lifting in the new agreements, the signed documents make clear. The most glaring evidence of that fact: the pacts contain the phrase, "The Arizona General of Arizona pledges to..." with a long, bulleted list of things the state promises to do. But there is no corresponding section for the Mexican Attorney Generals, Rommel Moreno Manjarrez of Baja and Abel Murrieta Gutierrez of Sonora.

The pacts -- called "historic" by Goddard's office -- require Arizona to provide quite a bit of training to Mexican prosecutors, which will be funded by RICO seizures and out of the state treasury. Anne Hilby, Goddard's spokeswoman, on Monday could not provide the total cost associated with the pacts.

While the pacts detail what kind of training Arizona will be offering, they're less specific about what we're getting back. Supposedly, Mexico will begin prosecuting more Mexicans busted in the United States on low-level charges, giving prosecutors on this side of the border more time to deal with the bigger fish. In other words, we're giving the Mexican prosecutors the grunt work we don't want to do. But whether they'll actually do it is yet to be seen.

Hilby says the extra cooperation between Goddard and Mexican officials is already "bearing fruit."

She could give no examples.

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