Mexico drug violence prompts U.S. border crackdown

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The United States will  send more agents and high-tech gear to its southern border to  crack down on smuggling of illegal drugs, guns and money by  Mexican gangs whose bloody wars threaten security on both sides  of the frontier, U.S. officials said.

The strategy aims to fight the growing power and violence  of Mexican cartels, which ship billions of dollars worth of  drugs into the United States and bring back weapons and cash.
The plan redirects more than $200 million to add more than  500 federal agents to border posts and the Mexican interior.

It will intensify inspections of southbound traffic, with  100 percent inspections of rail lines, mobile X-ray units for  cars, and advanced license-plate readers to identify smugglers.  It also aims to improve the tracing of guns used in Mexican  crimes back to U.S. dealers.

“What we want to do is to better secure the border area  against further violence and make it a safe and secure area  where the rule of law is upheld and enforced,” said Homeland  Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who unveiled the plan at  the White House.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves today for  talks in Mexico on border, economic and climate-change issues.

“We are going to continue to monitor the situation, and if  the steps that we’ve taken do not get the job done, then we  will do more,” President Barack Obama said in a nationally  televised news conference.

Turf wars between the cartels and battles with law  enforcement killed more than 6,000 people in Mexico last year.  The traffickers spread fear in much of Mexico and have  heightened Washington’s concerns about the stability of Mexican  President Felipe Calderon’s government and the violence  spilling into the United States.

Calderon has made controlling the violence his top priority  and sent 45,000 troops across the country to fight the gangs.

The U.S. plan adds to $700 million already appropriated by  Congress to help Mexican law enforcement and military.

Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa called the plan  consistent with both governments’ determination “to stamp out  the trafficking of weapons, illegal chemicals and cash from the  United States to Mexico.”

After Clinton’s trip, Napolitano, Attorney General Eric  Holder and Obama are all planning to visit Mexico next month.

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