The U.S. has developed plans for a “surge” in crime fighters if the drug wars in Mexico should spread across the border, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.
Criminal activity in Mexico has killed more than 5,300 people in the past year, including members of warring drug cartels, law enforcement officials and bystanders, many of them slain close to the U.S. border.
Over the summer Chertoff called for plans to combat the violence. He told The New York Times that the Homeland Security Department drew up a contingency plan so that if there is a significant spillover of violence across the border, the U.S. has the capability to deal with it.
Officials at the department said the plan calls for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on trouble spots along the border. Military forces would be used if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were unable to control the violence.
Chertoff told The Times that he had advised Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has been nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be the next homeland security secretary, that “I put helping Mexico get control of its borders and its organized crime problems” at the top of the list of national security concerns.
The escalating drug war in Mexico has made America’s southern neighbor a more dangerous place than Iraq, according to Strategy Page, a military affairs Web site.
As Newsmax reported, about 26 people a day were dying from criminal and terrorist violence in Iraq in December, while in northern Mexico as many as 58 people have been killed in a single day.
Chertoff added: “I don’t want, God forbid, if there is ever a spillover of significance, to have denied the Border Patrol anything they need to protect the lives and safety of American citizens.”
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