The U.S. now is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Mexico to fight the expansion of drug-fueled violence and corruption that has claimed more than 5,000 lives south of the border this year, reports the Los Angeles Times. The bloodshed has spread to U.S. cities, even to the heartland. U.S. officials are realizing that their fight against powerful drug cartels responsible for the carnage has come down to this: Either walk away or support Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s strategy, even with the risk that intelligence, equipment, and training could end up in the hands of cartel bosses.
Both nations agree that the cartels have morphed into transnational crime syndicates that pose an urgent threat. Law enforcement agencies from the border to Maine acknowledge that the traffickers have brought a war once dismissed as a foreign affair to the doorstep of local communities. The trail of slayings, kidnappings and other crimes stretches through at least 195 U.S. cities. The rapidly escalating problem will probably present the Obama administration with hard choices on how to work with Mexico to combat the cartels and the gun-running, money-laundering and other illicit businesses that nourish them. The first tranche of U.S. aid was delayed until this month, and squabbling and other problems have held up delivery. A State Department official confirmed that Mexico would have to wait more than a year for at least two U.S. transport helicopters and a reconnaissance plane that it says it desperately needs. U.S. authorities remain deeply troubled that corruption in the top echelons of Calderon’s administration could undermine the effort.