Tue, Apr 14, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Weapons from US fuel drug war


Stopping the flow of money and weapons from the US into Mexico is critical to dealing with the violent drug cartels creating havoc on the border, the Mexican ambassador to the US said on Sunday.

Mexican officials believe that 90 percent of the weapons seized there can be traced to the US, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said.

“The key issue right now is how can the United States help to shut down those guns and shut down that bulk cash that is providing the drug syndicates in Mexico with the wherewithal to corrupt, to bribe, to kill,” Sarukhan said on CBS television’s Face the Nation.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a national crackdown on organized crime in 2006. Since then, violence among the drug cartels, their rivals and soldiers have led to nearly 9,000 deaths and crime that has spilled across the border into the US.

Although Sarukhan contended that the cartels’ use of assault weapons rose dramatically after the US ended its ban on the firearms in 2004, he stopped short of advocating that Congress reinstate the ban.

“What we will say is ... by reinstating the ban, that could have a profound impact on the number and the caliber of weapons going down to Mexico,” he said.

US President Barack Obama plans to visit Mexico this week before attending the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have visited Mexico recently as part of renewed efforts to work with their counterparts on anti-cartel strategies.

The Obama administration said it was taking several steps to provide more assistance to Mexico in its fight against drug violence, including providing more federal agents to try to stop gun smuggling.

Tightening border security has not had an impact on guns and drugs, Sarukhan said.

“We will be able to control our border if we can control illicit traffic in moving both directions, the drugs moving north, the weapons and the cash moving south,” he said.

“We will have to work together. And it behooves Mexico to ensure that this common border is secure, that we’re doing things on both sides of the border to jointly ensure that the border is secure, that the well-being of our citizens on both sides of the border is being protected,” he said.

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