Mexicans Say U.S. Drug Crackdown Feeds Violence

Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – A Mexican law enforcement agency is blaming recent violence along the border in large part to a U.S. crackdown on drug traffickers, prompting skepticism from American government agencies.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública) reported that in the past six months the value of cocaine in Mexico has escalated from $431 million to $811 million because fewer of the illegal shipments are making their way into the United States since Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

Obama administration anti-drug efforts have included sending an additional 400 Department of Homeland Security agents to the border, which included specialists from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The DEA already operated with about 1,000 specialists in combating cross-border drug trafficking, the Mexican agency reported.

As a result, more of the drugs are piling up in Mexico, making them more available and increasing the number of addicts. The number of Mexican cocaine addicts rose from around 260,000 in 2002 to more than 1.7 million now, according to Secretariat of Public Security figures.

Growing drug addiction is contributing to violence between rival drug gangs and to clashes with police, the Mexican law enforcement agency is reporting.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials have a slightly different explanation for the violence.

“I’m not going to comment on specifics of what they attribute the violence to,” said David Ausiello, DEA spokesman.

DEA officials say Mexican President Felipe Calderon‘s anti-drug policies are a more likely explanation for the violence.

“The cooperation we have seen with Mexico since President Calderon has come into office has been unprecedented,” Ausiello said. “His administration decided to take on the drug cartels and as a result you’re seeing a significant amount of drug arrests. That’s what happens when law enforcement comes in and cracks down. You’re going to see an increase in violence.”

Calderon became Mexico’s president on Dec. 1, 2006.

Recent Mexican police actions have included killing drug lord Arturo Beltrán Leyva on Dec. 17, 2009, and arresting suspected drug lord Eduardo Teodoro Garcia Simental on Jan. 13.

With more drugs in Mexico, the market has become bigger and more profitable for drug gangs, the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security reported. Officials from the agency recommend that the Mexican government anti-drug campaign include addiction treatment rather than relying only on law enforcement.

A contributing issue in the rise of drug availability and addicts in Mexico was the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which prompted the U.S. government to more closely monitor its southern border, according to the Secretariat of Public Security.

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