U.S. Drug Czar Praises Mexico's Anti-Narcotics Efforts

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Gen. Barry McCaffrey, President Bill Clinton's top anti-drug official, reported Tuesday that Mexico had made progress in fighting narcotics traffickers and rooting out corruption in its law-enforcement agencies.

McCaffrey delivered his report to Congress six months after Clinton's administration made a controversial decision to certify Mexico as a trusted ally in the drug war. He said Tuesday that cocaine seizures had increased in Mexico and that cooperation between the two countries was paying off.

The general said Mexico's two main drug organizations, the Juarez and Gulf cartels, had been seriously damaged and had been in disarray since the death or arrest of their kingpins. But McCaffrey said drugs would continue to flow across the 2,000-mile- long border unless Congress backed proposals to deploy additional technology needed to find drugs in the millions of trucks and rail cars that cross the border each year. He said that U.S. law-enforcement agencies were deploying giant X-ray machines designed to look through Soviet ballistic missile shipping containers at 10 of the 39 ports of entry but that more were needed. Americans spend $49 billion a year on illegal drugs, and 60 percent of the narcotics come through Mexico by land, air or sea, he said. McCaffrey said the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration had trained specialized Mexican police officers who would join anti-drug units. "They are trying to pull through the eye of the needle the beginning of these police units that will not be vulnerable to corruption," he said. "We think they are serious about it," he added, referring to President Ernesto Zedillo's efforts to reform Mexico's police and judicial institutions to combat drug traffickers. …