The U.S. and Mexico are launching a new program to monitoring vehicles between borders of the two countries. They are also creating a cross-border group to develop strategies for stopping the smuggled guns and drugs, officials said Thursday.
As the Obama administration promises a crackdown on the illegal U.S. weapons trade that supplies the drug cartels, Mexico is acknowledging shortcomings on its side of the 2,000 miles border.
“More meetings are needed to develop plans to bring warring drug cartels under control along the border,” said Eduardo Medina-Mora , the Mexican Attorney General.
He said, “Today, passenger vehicles really enter without being inspected, Mexico checks only 10 percent of the 230,000 vehicles that cross the border each day, Mexico will check more closely on outgoing vehicles for drugs and money.”
Medina-Mora also said there had about 1,600 drug-related killings in Mexico in the first quarter of 2009, about 25 percent less than the last quarter of 2008. The government says violence has decreased in border cities like Ciudad Juarez after thousands of additional army troops were sent there earlier this year.
“We have to do more to reduce demand for drugs in addition to beefing up border inspections north of the border.”, said Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently reported that up to 95 percent of guns seized at scenes of drug violence in Mexico can be traced to U.S. commercial sources.
Between 2005 and 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized 831 weapons along the southwest border.
Until recently, the U.S. did not regularly inspect southbound vehicles, and the Mexicans didn't scan the license plates of cars coming into the country. That were the prime concerns, Mexican officials said.
The U.S. will use border surveillance technology to track vehicles crossing the border and flag those making frequent trips. Additional X-ray machines and drug sniffing dogs are being deployed at border crossings to help detect weapons shipments.