Defence ministers turn guns on international drug cartels
By Jeff Davis, Postmedia News March 28, 2012
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Canada, the United States and Mexico resolved Tuesday to boost efforts to curb the drug war that has claimed the lives of 150,000 Mexicans in the first trilateral meeting of North American defence ministers.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay held two days of security co-operation talks in Ottawa with U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, Mexican Secretary of Defence Gen. Guillermo Galvan and Mexican Secretary of the Navy Adm. Mariano Saynez Mendoza.
MacKay said the war with Mexico-based drug cartels has become a major concern for Canada.
"If it's a problem for Mexico, it's a problem for Canada," he said. "We have over a million Canadian citizens that go to Mexico annually, and a number of citizens who make their second home in Mexico."
Galvan gave a detailed briefing on the drug war ravaging his country, which Panetta said is now generating "tremendous violence."
"The number the Mexican officials mentioned is 150,000 who have died because of the violence, largely among these cartels in Mexico," Panetta said.
Mexico is facing a "colossally huge" threat from the drugs cartels, Galvan told reporters. The cartels are fighting primarily for control of the smuggling routes used to move their product north to lucrative markets in the U.S. and Canada, Panetta said.
Money and guns from the U.S. and Canada are fuelling the fire, he said.
The corrupting influence of the cartels is such that civil law enforcement agencies can no longer be trusted, Galvan said.
The three countries will increase intelligence exchanges and security co-operation to confront the cartels, MacKay said.
"Quite frankly, these cartels don't recognize borders, they don't recognize nationalities," he said.
Canada and the U.S. have held bilateral defence meetings for decades, but this marked the first time Mexico has been included in a regular forum.
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