Texas Republican Ted Poe on Friday strongly criticized the State Department’s response to the disappearance of U.S. citizen David Hartley, who was allegedly murdered by Mexican pirates.
Hartley’s case has been widely publicized in the national media and American officials are calling on Mexico to do more to recover the missing man’s body.
However, Poe told the Daily Caller Friday that the U.S. is not doing enough.
“The State Department has not asked that the Coast Guard help in the search of David Hartley,” he said. Hartley was allegedly shot and killed while riding on a Jetski with his wife on Lake Falcon, which spans the border between the U.S. and Mexico. A Mexican drug cartel, the Zetas, is said to control the lake.
The Mexican government has agreed to help in the search for David Hartley’s body, which has not yet been recovered, but Poe called that “a futile attempt,” pointing to the large number of drug-related murders in Mexico that go unsolved. “They’re not going to find the body of David Hartley, and they’re not going to hold anybody accountable.”
“That’s why the United States needs to be involved,” the lawmaker added.
Poe also asserted that the case showed that the U.S. was not in control of the border on Lake Falcon and demanded that the Coast Guard devote additional resources to the area.
“They have jurisdiction there, but they are not there because of lack of resources,” he told TheDC.
The Department of Homeland Security rejected assertions that it was dropping the ball.
“Over the past twenty months, this administration has dedicated unprecedented manpower, technology and infrastructure to the Southwest border,” said Matt Chandler, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “Additionally we have added personnel and assets from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the area to assist other federal, state, and local partners to keep our communities safe.”
He pointed out that there were other units operated by the DHS that played a role in security along the water border: the Border Patrol Marine Unit and the Customs Border Protection Office of Air and Marine. These two units have permanent offices in the area, he said.
Chandler noted that the U.S. has offered its assistance to Mexico but cautioned against undue censure of the Coast Guard.
“As a government entity, we cannot cross onto the Mexican side unless invited,” he told TheDC. “We’re talking about a sovereign country here. There are certain protocols that have to be followed.”
The State Department did not respond to requests for comment.