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U.S. should focus on stemming gun flow, Mexico says

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080525/pl_nm/mexico_usa_dc;_ylt=AnPK8WIM83hAltYJYlAAbnOs0NUE U.S. should focus on stemming gun flow, Mexico says Sat May 24, 9:51
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24, 2008
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080525/pl_nm/mexico_usa_dc;_ylt=AnPK8WIM83hAltYJYlAAbnOs0NUE

      U.S. should focus on stemming gun flow, Mexico says

      Sat May 24, 9:51 PM ET

      MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The chief of Mexico's war on
      drug gangs said Washington should concentrate on
      halting the flow of arms to Mexican drug cartels
      rather than haggle over how much aid to give Mexico's
      anti-smuggling operation.

      Reacting to a vote by U.S. lawmakers to trim an aid
      package for the drug war, Mexico's deputy attorney
      general, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, said an
      alternative would be to keep the cash in the United
      States and use it to curb illegal arms trafficking
      across the border.

      "Some of us were talking, remarking that, well, this
      (sum of money) is all very well, but why don't we tell
      the Americans they could spend it on their (border
      security forces) to stop the flow of arms to Mexico,"
      Santiago Vasconcelos said in remarks on local radio
      distributed by his office on Saturday.

      Santiago Vasconcelos, the point man in Mexico's
      crackdown on drug smuggling gangs, said 97 percent of
      the weapons used by Mexican drug gangs came from the
      United States.

      He said Mexico would evaluate whether to accept any
      U.S. offer of funds and under what conditions.

      Mexico is spending $7 billion of its own money to fund
      its 18-month-old crackdown on the powerful and violent
      cartels that smuggle Colombian cocaine north to U.S.
      consumers.

      U.S. President George W. Bush had offered to add $1.4
      billion in three tranches to pay for surveillance
      equipment and speedy aircraft, but his opponents in
      Congress have haggled over the amount and asked that
      human rights conditions be attached.

      The U.S. House of Representatives this month cut the
      first tranche of the so-called Merida Initiative,
      named after the Mexican city where it was conceived,
      to $400 million from $500 million, and the Senate
      Appropriations Committee put forward a figure of $350
      million.

      Mexican President Felipe Calderon has made the war on
      drug cartels the centerpiece of his presidency,
      deploying some 25,000 troops and federal police across
      the country, but the operation has sparked
      considerable bloodshed.

      Turf wars between rival cartels and battles with the
      army have killed 1,380 people this year, nearly 50
      percent more than the same period last year, according
      to the attorney general's office.

      (Reporting by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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