Mass Graves in Mexico May Affect D.C. Debate

Mass Graves in Mexico May Affect D.C. Debate
Posted by FoM on December 07, 1999 at 11:41:01 PT
Associated Press
Source: Deseret News
The discovery of bodies of suspected drug-cartel victims on an arid Mexican ranch may have reverberations 2,000 miles away when Congress debates in March whether Mexico is a cooperating ally in the war on narcotics.
While U.S. officials are praising Mexico's cooperation in allowing the FBI to participate in the exhumations of as many as 100 victims, the grisly operation offers vivid evidence of the lawlessness in regions controlled by Mexico's drug kingpins."What we're really talking about is the most powerful organized crime systems in the world," said Thomas Constantine, who retired as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration earlier this year. "They create more damage in the United States than they ever have before."U.S. lawmakers, who have chafed at Mexico's inability to crack down on the drug cartels, will be called on in March to decide whether to certify Mexico and other drug-producing countries as cooperative allies. Decertification could lead to economic sanctions and loss of foreign aid.Certification of Mexico, which is the transit point for an estimated 70 percent of all illicit drugs smuggled into the United States, has been hotly debated on Capitol Hill in recent years. But it would take a two-thirds vote by Congress to overturn a presidential certification recommendation  and the Clinton administration has been a staunch ally of Mexico."If these events demonstrate an inability to bring to justice persons involved, clearly that would begin to develop as a negative," said Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga. He has led past decertification efforts but now favors alternate sanctions directed at drug chieftains, not their governments.Mexico must abandon its historic reluctance to extradite major drug kingpins, said Rep. Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, who has favored decertification. He also wants Mexico to increase its drug interdiction and anti-corruption efforts, and allow U.S. agents to carry weapons when they work in Mexico."We have the biggest open border on the face of the earth. Three hundred million people cross that border each year, and 80 to 100 million cars and trucks," White House director of drug policy Barry McCaffrey said. "We have no choice but to work with Mexico.Published: December 7, 1999Copyright  1999, Deseret News Publishing Corp. Related Articles:Cartel's Power Corrupts Efforts To Control Drugs - 12/06/99 Drugs Or Expect More Mass Graves - 12/06/99 Massacres Reflect Failure of US War On Drugs - 12/03/99 
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