Janet Napolitano insists Mexico drug war not a failure
- 28 February 2012
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has defended Washington's policy in the war against drugs.
Ms Napolitano said the US would continue to give assistance to Latin American countries combating the producers and traffickers of narcotics.
She said the US would persevere in the search for Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted drug dealer.
She compared that search to the eventually successful 10-year hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
At a joint news conference with Mexican Interior Minister Alejandro Poire, Ms Napolitano was asked why Guzman, the leader of one of the most powerful Mexican drug cartels, was still at large.
"It took us 10 years to find Osama Bin Laden and we found him," she answered.
"And you know what happened there; I'm not suggesting the same thing would happen with Guzman but I am suggesting that we are persistent when it comes to wrongdoers and those who do harm in both of our countries," she said.
Guzman's Sinaloa cartel, which is often described as the most powerful drug trafficking organisation in the Western Hemisphere, ships huge quantities of cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.
He was arrested and sent to prison in 1993, but escaped in 2001.
The US has offered a $5m reward for information leading to his capture.
Ms Napolitano denied the drug war of the US and Mexico was a failure but rather "a continuing effort to keep our peoples from becoming addicted to dangerous drugs".
Ms Napolitano is on a five-day regional tour to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.