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Meth flowing in from Mexico through border crossings, report says

California has emerged as the major gateway for methamphetamine into the country, with Mexican organized crime groups smuggling an estimated 70% of the U.S. supply through state border crossings, according to a report released Thursday by state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris.

The 98-page report on trends in transnational organized crime also cites maritime smuggling, money laundering and criminal alliances between Mexican drug cartels and Southern California gangs as growing public safety threats.

The report’s release comes at a time of severe law enforcement budget cuts at the state Dept. of Justice. In 2012, the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement was shuttered, dropping the number of state-led drug task forces from 55 in 2011 to 17 in 2013. More than 60 agents were laid off, according to state officials.

The report calls for more funding and for the passage of tougher laws, modeled on federal laws, that target organized crime groups. Harris is scheduled to travel to Mexico next week to meet with high-ranking law enforcement officials in an effort to improve cross-border cooperation. 

Federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration spearhead most anti-drug enforcement operations at the border, but state and local agencies have provided key support in recent years. 

One of the report’s major findings involves the surge of methamphetamine smuggling across the California-Mexico border. The amount seized at the San Diego ports of entry tripled from 2009 to 2012, to more than 6,000 kilos.

Harris is scheduled to release the report -- titled "Gangs beyond Borders: California and the fight against transnational organized crime" -- at a news conference in Los Angeles.

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Twitter: @lanow

richard.marosi@latimes.com

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