Mexican consul speaks out on border war

March 17, 2009 7:44:41 PM PDT
Sources in Washington say the Obama administration is planning to send more federal agents to the Mexican border. At least six border towns have been overwhelmed by violence; 7,000 people have been killed by the drug cartels in the past 15 months. Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed outrage over where the weapons for this war are coming from.

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A bloody war has been raging for weeks on the U.S.-Mexican border with cartels turning border towns like Tijuana and Juarez into their battlefields. The gangs have threatened and even assassinated police officers, prosecutors and politicians.

Senators worry that we are already in this fight, supplying weapons for the war while buying the cartel's drugs.

"It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico used to shoot judges, police officers, mayors, kidnap innocent people, and do terrible things, come from the United States," said Sen. Feinstein.

One report says 2,000 guns a day make their way south through border crossings, and that the cartels now operate in over 200 American cities today, up from 50 only two years ago.

Tuesday's hearing looked into ways the U.S. could help Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his besieged army and police.

ABC7 spoke to the San Francisco consul general of Mexico, Carlos Felix, about the situation. He said something has to be done about the flow of illegal guns and the American demand for drugs.

"As long as we have this high demand, of course it's very natural that the supply will come," said Felix. "Unfortunately at this point, we are in the middle of this situation."

Felix says Mexico's war on the drug cartels is working, and that the incredible numbers of murders are mostly between cartel members fighting over smaller territory.

Unfortunately, it's catching others in the crossfire.

"As the Mexican government actions are taking effect in disrupting drug routes, and the way they are operating, they are fighting each other in terms of controlling some part of the business," said Felix.

The consul general says the rest of the country is not a war zone.

"Last year, we had 22 million tourists visiting Mexico, and we had an increase of 6 percent compared to 2007," said Felix. "It reflects precisely, that despite these problems of violence, it's specifically among the drug cartel members. And this is not the whole society of Mexico involved in this situation."

Felix told ABC7 Mexico needs more help from the U.S. to win this battle. Tuesday's decision by President Obama to send troops to the border will certainly help, and there is also $300 million for counter-drug operations in Mexico in the recently passed spending bill.

Next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Mexico, meeting with President Calderon.

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