HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY NAPOLITANO SAYS THE DRUG WAR IN MEXICO "IS SOMETHING EVERY AMERICAN HAS A STAKE IN" -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Mexican A.G. Wants More Done to Stop the Flow of U.S. Arms to the Drug Gangs
Acknowledging that the violent drug cartels of Mexico are now operating in many U.S. cities, America's Homeland Security secretary says every American has a stake in Mexico's war against the murderous gangs. Janet Napolitano appears in Anderson Cooper's report on the violence that last year claimed over 6,000 lives to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 1 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Mexican drug gangs have been killing each other and fighting back against the government with unprecedented force. They've also increasingly turned to new sources of income like kidnapping. Elements of those gangs have been found in many American cities large and small, from Anchorage to Atlanta to New York. "Right," says Napolitano. "This issue in Mexico, this very brave battle the president of Mexico is fighting, is something every American has a stake in," she tells Cooper. "The stakes are very high for the safety of many, many citizens of Mexico and the stakes are high for the United States no doubt."
The Mexican government's crackdown on the cartels has resulted in a quasi war in which the rich drug gangs are fighting back with increasingly more sophisticated and powerful weapons. "Half of what we seize, 55 percent, are assault rifles...over 17,000 assault rifles, throughout the last two years," says Mexico's Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora. "Two thousand and 200 grenades, missile and rocket launchers, .50-cal sniper rifles," says Medina-Mora.
The vast majority of these guns -- 90 percent - are being purchased just over the border in the U.S. Medina-Mora wants this stopped. "The Second Amendment was never designed to arm criminal groups, especially not foreign criminal groups," says Medina-Mora. "We believe that much more needs to be done. We need a much more committed effort from the U.S.," he says.
When asked by Cooper whether she will ask Congress to reinstate the ban on assault rifles, Napolitano responds, "I haven't thought that far. What I have...worked on is...with Customs, ATF. What do we need to do by way of identifying who is putting these unlawful guns into the hands of the traffickers who are using them to murder people and what do we need to do to stop them?"
Efforts against the gangs on both sides are compromised by allegations of corruption among Mexican authorities. 60 MINUTES was able to visit and interview a jailed accused drug trafficker, Sandra Avila Beltran, who was born into a cartel family. "In Mexico, there is a lot of corruption....I don't think [Mexico can win the war]. You would have to wipe out the government to wipe out drug trafficking," she tells Cooper. She denies the charges against her.
Medina-Mora does not deny that the gangs have been successful at corrupting police and politicians. "[Cartels] have a tremendous economic power and a tremendous intimidation power that comes from cash and weapons," he says.