The drug cartels in Mexico are operating on an “industrial scale,” according to an official at the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

“Mexican cartels have taken over fentanyl production,” Steven Cagen, an assistant director for countering transnational organized crime at Homeland Security Investigations, told a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

The Homeland Security subcommittee on border security and enforcement, chaired by Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., held the hearing, “Protecting the U.S. Homeland: Fighting the Flow of Fentanyl From the Southwest Border.” During the hearing, U.S. officials testified to the nation’s efforts to stop the flow of fentanyl coming across America’s southwest borders.   

“In 2022, [the Drug Enforcement Administration] seized more than 58 million fentanyl-laced pills and 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. That’s nearly 400 million deadly doses that didn’t reach American streets, and more than enough to kill everyone in the United States,” said George Papadopoulos, the principal deputy administrator at the DEA.

James Mandryck, deputy assistant commissioner at the Office of Intelligence for Customs and Border Protection, told Congress that in 2020, fentanyl production shifted from China to Mexico, creating new challenges and leading to an increase of the deadly drug entering the U.S.  

Shortly before the hearing began, Higgins and Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., the ranking member of the subcommittee, introduced the bipartisan Cooperation on Combating Human Smuggling and Trafficking Act.

Criminal cartels make billions by trafficking in human misery,” Higgins said in a statement announcing the bill. “This legislation will help enhance American partnership with selected law enforcement agencies in Mexico, Central America and South America. This legislation is a strategic maneuver in our war against the cartels.” 

Correa echoed Higgin’s comments, saying the bill “represents a real, bipartisan effort to not only begin to address the root causes of migration, but to save lives at home and abroad,” Correa said. “By expanding American partnership with authorities in Mexico, Central America, and South America—and supporting their efforts to investigate and prosecute human smugglers and traffickers targeting children and families—we will make meaningful strides towards disrupting human trafficking operations at their roots and keeping our nation’s border safe, secure, and humane.” 

Wednesday’s hearing launched the “second phase of the House Committee on Homeland Security’s full-scale oversight investigation into [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas’ dereliction of duty,” according to the committee.  

On June 14, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., announced an investigation into Mayorkas and his handling of U.S. border security.  

“As the secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas swore an oath to the Constitution and to faithfully discharge the duties of his office,” Green said, adding that “Mayorkas is the chief architect of the open-borders policies.”  

The investigation into the policies Mayorkas has implemented is part of the committee’s “congressional oversight duties and leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to get the facts,” Green added.  

Republican lawmakers and border experts contended that Mayorkas “has been derelict in his duty” at the committee’s first investigative hearing into the secretary in June. 

Joe Edlow, former acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services at DHS, also said during his testimony to Congress in June that the Biden administration has displayed a “dereliction of duty” to enforce border and immigration law, a sentiment echoed by Rodney Scott, former chief of the Border Patrol, in his testimony before the committee.   

Customs and Border Protection reports encountering more than 2 million illegal aliens on America’s borders since fiscal year 2023 began Oct. 1. By comparison, in all of fiscal year 2020, the agency said it encountered 646,822 illegal aliens.   

The investigation into Mayorkas comes as some GOP lawmakers have called for his impeachment, and more recently have called for the defunding of his salary.

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., told Fox News Digital that Congress should consider using the Holman Rule, which allows amendments to appropriations legislation, to defund Mayorkas’ salary.  

“Do your damn job or Congress will act,” Mace said. 

Higgins introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in June, about three months after Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., did the same.  

“The Founders intended that impeachment of a senior executive should require clear evidence of intentional, repeated unconstitutional or illegal actions that bring measurable injury to our republic,” Higgins said. “Secretary Mayorkas has long ago crossed that threshold. His arrogant disregard for the security and sanctity of the American people has been shocking to behold.”

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