WASHINGTON – The Obama administration should provide additional resources to help Mexico as the two countries try to root out drug traffickers along their shared border, according to a senior Senate Republican.
Sen. Richard Lugar, the influential top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on Obama to consider using the U.S. military and intelligence community to provide more surveillance assets to help interdict drugs and weapons crossing the border to and from Mexico.
"Transnational drug trafficking organizations operating from Mexico represent the most immediate national security threat faced by the United States in the Western Hemisphere," he said in prepared remarks for a Mexican prosecutors conference on Sunday in Indiana, which were provided to Reuters.
"The United States should undertake a broad review of further steps the U.S. military and the intelligence community could take to help combat the Mexican cartels in association with the Mexican government," Lugar said, suggesting aviation, surveillance and other intelligence assets.
Lugar, from Indiana, is one of the Senate's most-respected voices on foreign policy.
The United States and Mexico have been trying to beef up border security to halt the flow of illegal weapons and drugs, but drug cartels have waged a fierce and violent battle to protect their operations and business.
More than 26,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a war against the cartels in 2006.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration began deploying more National Guard troops to patrol the border, and this month an unmanned surveillance aircraft began operating along the porous border that stretches nearly 2,000 miles.
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