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ABA Journal
June 1, 2019

Drug crimes prosecutions could be taking a back seat as the DOJ focuses on unlawful entry
By Lorelei Laird


Johnny Sutton, who was the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas from 2001 to 2009, says zero tolerance was business as usual in that district because itís the home of Operation Streamline, an attempt under former President George W. Bush to prosecute every border-crosser. That effort started in Del Rio, Texas, and was widespread in the late 2000s but shrank to just parts of Texas and Arizona by 2014, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security. There are, however, signs that the situation may have changed. Syracuse Universityís Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a project that compiles data on federal agencies from Freedom of Information Act requests, published a report April 2 with data suggesting that zero tolerance prosecutions are falling while CBP arrests are rising. Across all five border districts, TRAC found that only about 38% of CBP arrests resulted in prosecutions in February of 2019, down from 50% in October of 2018. The largest declines were in the Southern District of California and the Southern District of Texas. Prosecutions tend to drop around the holidays, but they didnít pick back up with other offenses in January, says Jami Ferrara, who is a San Diego-based solo practitioner and serves as a panel representative for the Southern District of Californiaís Criminal Justice Act panel.


Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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