U.S. Fears Narcotraffickers May Be Too Much!

U.S. Fears Narcotraffickers May Be Too Much!
Posted by FoM on February 11, 1999 at 06:58:31 PT

WASHINGTON Even the most determined effort by the Mexican government may not be able to curb U.S.-bound illicit narcotics, given the vast resources available to the drug cartels, the State Department says. 
The drug issue will be under increasing scrutiny as President Clinton prepares a visit to Mexico this weekend and the State Department issues a report card on Mexico's counter-drug performance before the month's end. A finding that Mexico has not been "fully cooperative" with U.S. law enforcement efforts could lead to U.S. economic sanctions. The review also involves about 30 other countries that produce drugs or through which drugs transit. Both the State Department and a visiting delegation of Mexican officials responded vigorously Wednesday to a Washington Post report suggesting that the Mexican counter-narcotics performance over the past year has been "dismal." The Post said seizures of cocaine, heroin and marijuana are down, new money laundering laws have yielded no convictions, and no major Mexican-born kingpin has ever been extradited to the United States. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the challenge for Mexico in overcoming the drug chieftains may be more than Mexico can handle. "There is a difference between cooperation and success," Rubin said. "We all need to bear in mind that there is the sheer magnitude of the drug trafficking problem that both Mexico and the United States are confronting together," Rubin said. "While we're both devoting huge resources to combating the problem, the traffickers have billions of dollars at their disposal and are entirely unprincipled as they ply their elicit trade." Rubin also praised the "courageous leadership" of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who, he said, is "strongly committed" to countering what Mexicans see as their No. 1 security threat. The spokesman's comments appeared to foreshadow an administration decision to "certify" Mexico as fully cooperative with U.S. law enforcement efforts. Many in Congress are expected to challenge any such finding. Rubin spoke as a delegation of senior Mexican officials, led by Interior Minister Francisco Labistida, was visiting the State Department and other U.S. agencies. At a news conference, the Mexicans staunchly defended Mexico's performance. They said year-to-year ups-and-downs should not obscure the increasingly intense effort Mexico has made to curb narco-trafficking. To the extent seizures have gone down, it could reflect a decision by Colombian drug kingpins to choose routes other than Mexico for U.S.-bound drugs because of increased vigilance in Mexico, they said. Another deterrent to the Colombians may have been the widespread fires and flooding that afflicted Mexico in 1998, they added. They also noted that Mexico has earmarked about $400 million to combat the drug kingpins over three years. The program includes the acquisition of planes, high-speed boats and X-ray equipment. 
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