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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    DEA seeks to increase its presence in Mexico

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4462535.html

    Jan. 11, 2007, 9:41AM
    DEA seeks to increase its presence in Mexico
    U.S. wants OK to place more agents in 3 cities with burgeoning drug trafficking


    By JAMES PINKERTON
    Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Rio Grande Valley Bureau

    HARLINGEN — With Mexico's new president launching another anti-drug crackdown, U.S. agents hope to expand their presence to three Mexican border cities where narcotics-trafficking runs rampant.

    High-level officials in Mexico City and Washington, D.C., said Wednesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration has asked the Mexican government to allow it to open offices in Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Nogales.

    The new border facilities likely would increase the number of American antidrug personnel in Mexico to nearly 100, U.S. officials said. Currently, 81 DEA staffers are posted in Mexico, where they work with Mexican police by sharing intelligence on trafficking gangs. The proposed offices would cost about $4.5 million a year and would be staffed by five to seven people each, said U.S. officials who asked not to be named because the Mexican government hasn't approved the plan.

    A senior Mexican official indicated that the request would be considered favorably. "This would enhance cooperation between both countries," said the official, who asked not to be identified because the issue is both undecided and a matter of national security.

    The official stressed that the activities of the U.S. agents in Mexico, even though they are not allowed to carry weapons or make arrests, continues to be "a very sensitive issue." Mexico already hosts the largest number of DEA offices of any foreign country.

    If the proposal is approved, the new border facilities would expand the DEA's Mexico offices from eight to 11. Sixty-two special agents, 19 intelligence specialists and two "diversion investigators" are assigned to work with Mexican law officers, DEA officials said.


    Calderon takes on cartels
    The DEA's plan comes as Mexican President Felipe Calderon wages a new campaign against the country's underworld cartels. Since taking office last month, Calderon has dispatched more than 10,000 troops and federal police to drug-trafficking hotspots in Michoacan state as well as the cities of Tijuana and Acapulco.

    ''The aim to work closely with the DEA makes eminent good sense," said Peter Ward, an expert on Mexico at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Calderon is planning a tough anti-crime effort that includes installing an extensive database and restructuring Mexican police agencies, Ward said, many of which are widely viewed as corrupted by the drug gangs. The DEA's expertise could help in that effort, he said.

    Calderon ordered more than 1,000 troops Wednesday into Acapulco and elsewhere in Guerrero state.

    The Mexican government is using troops in the crackdown until it can rebuild police agencies that "at all levels have been thoroughly corrupted," said Bruce Bagley, a Mexico security expert at the University of Miami.

    "The U.S. is leery of its cooperation with Mexico," Bagley said. "So putting DEA offices and agents along the border would make sense to control the spillover into the United States."

    While the DEA's planned expansion is viewed by some experts in the United States as a positive development, they expressed concern for the safety of agents posted to cities in which cartel gunmen operate with near impunity.

    In the past, DEA agents in Mexico have faced harassment and intimidation at the hands of drug gangs. One agent, Enrique ''Kiki" Camarena, was kidnapped, tortured and killed by traffickers near Guadalajara in 1985.

    Before his capture in 2003, suspected Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas brazenly threatened DEA agents on a Matamoros street before the Americans talked their way out of an armed standoff.

    "Security is a high priority," said Steve Robertson, a DEA spokesman in Washington. "It's a big concern, but we know the dangerous areas, and our agents assigned overseas know to be prudent and show good judgment about where to travel."
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  2. #2
    Senior Member nittygritty's Avatar
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    I cannot believe any agent would be willing to move into border cities like that where every day people are killed who are against the drug cartels, am I to understand they will not even have guns to protect themselves? What self-respecting agent in his right mind would sign on for this assignment?
    Build the dam fence post haste!

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