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Homeland Security

20 October 2005

U.S., Mexico Boost Efforts To Stop Drug Violence on Mutual Border

United States focusing on apprehending arms traffickers in Laredo, Texas

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States and Mexico have intensified efforts to stop violence fueled by the illegal drug trade on their mutual border.

In an October 19 statement, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said that, in an effort to defuse the violence, the United States will send a "Violent Crime Impact Team" to Laredo, Texas, that would increase the U.S. law enforcement presence in that border city.  In particular, the embassy said, the crime team will focus U.S. law enforcement resources on identifying and apprehending traffickers in illegal arms in the Laredo area.

Laredo will become one of 22 cities across the United States with such crime teams, which are led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).  The ATF said the crime teams use "cutting-edge" technologies to investigate firearms-related and other violent crimes.

The decision to send the team to Laredo came as a result of an October 13 meeting in San Antonio between U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Mexican Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca. (See related article.)

The U.S. Embassy quoted Gonzales and ATF Director Carl Truscott as saying that the United States is "committed" to combating the flow of illegal firearms into Mexico, and "we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Mexican colleagues" to defeat the criminal gangs "who are seeking to destroy our institutions and undermine our way of life by trafficking in illegal firearms."

Truscott was in Mexico City October 19 to assess how the United States can help Mexico stem the traffic in illegal weapons across the two countries' common border.

An armed battle July 28 between criminal drug gangs in the U.S.-Mexico border region, and continued violence along that border, caused the United States to close temporarily its consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on August 1.  The closing of the consulate followed the U.S. State Department's extension of its previous warnings on travel to Mexico, citing increased violence on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The consulate reopened August 8, with the State Department explaining that consular operations resumed because the Mexican government had taken "swift and decisive action" to improve security in the immediate area surrounding the consulate.

Tony Garza, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said July 26 that more than 100 violent deaths had occurred on the Mexican border since June.  Garza said 18 policemen in the Mexican state of Nuevo Laredo had been killed in 2005, as of that date -- including eight in July alone.  (See related article.)

For more information on U.S. policy, see Mexico.

A consular information sheet providing up-to-date information on conditions affecting travelers in Mexico is available on the State Department Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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