Laredo, Texas — Beefed-up vehicle inspections, more drug-sniffing dogs and improved surveillance should help curb the flow of guns and drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday.
Speaking at a border crossing facility near the Rio Grande River, Napolitano said strategies outlined in meetings with Mexican officials this week will put the squeeze on warring drug cartels.
The two governments agreed to “operate almost like a vice from the north and from Mexico . . . to take out the large cartels which have plagued our area for far, far too long,” said Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona.
Earlier Friday, Napolitano and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with Mexico President Felipe Calderon and members of his Cabinet, wrapping up a series of meetings on drug violence in the two countries.
Among the strategies under consideration are:
l Changes to extradition laws in both countries to ensure that offenders get the greatest punishment possible.
l How to better coordinate efforts by the Mexican navy and the U.S. Coast Guard to intercept offshore smugglers.
l Sharing surveillance data to better identify motor vehicles and railroad cars that might be smuggling drugs, weapons or bulk quantities of currency.
l Allowing top Mexican law enforcement officials to work alongside U.S. authorities investigating stateside activities of the drug cartels.
Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said the U.S. agreed to begin training drug- and gun-sniffing dogs to work with Mexican handlers.
At present, canine units are credited with detecting about 60 percent of the cash, guns and drugs intercepted along the southwestern U.S. border.