"There is corruption within our government"
When talking about drug trafficking, corruption is usually the word that comes up to describe one of the cancers which allow the increase in organised crime ... in Latin America that is. It is not what you would expect to hear from US anti-drugs tsar, John Walters. He told the BBC the problem also exists north of the Rio Bravo (Grande).
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From BBC News
"Corruption exists within our government and it´s a very painful thing for any constitutional government to have to face. But when it comes to combating organised crime and drug trafficking, you are sure to come across corruption," Walters admits.
Following his response, the BBC reminded him that the US Anti-Drugs National Intelligence Centre had announced that 195 US cities were affected by drug trafficking. Does this mean there is a high level of corruption?
Walters responds immediately: "With this amount of drugs around it´s common for local authorities to get involved in corruption." But he went on to clarify that though there may be drugs in these cities, it cannot automatically be assumed there is corruption.
Mexican cartels in the US?
The anti-drugs tsar also recognises that organised crime in the country is on the increase but this is a result of the expansion of the Mexican cartels and not a problem of local crime.
"The Mexican drug trafficking cartels have their base in Mexico - considering where their hierarchy is based - but more and more they are using people their contacts to bring the drugs into the principal US cities."
They also take advantage of the freedom of movement. They infiltrate communities where they are easily accepted and "end up being part of the structure of society".
And though he insists that Mexican president, Felipe Calderón has the full backing of the US to win this "war", Walters gives a little more detail to support his opinion that it is the Mexican cartels which are operating on US territory.
"We are currently investigating transnational criminals managing groups of traffickers, not only in Mexico, but also on our territory, who are using family members and others linked to their organisation. The use both sides of the border to carry out their illicit dealings."
The anti-drugs tsar goes on to say they are fighting drug trafficking on two fronts.
First, by combating drug consumption in the internal market and second, helping governments - particularly in Latin America - combat organised crime.
"Anyone can understand that nobody wants to live in a community governed by mafias and whose prosperity they owe to US traffickers´ money."
"We try to remind people here that even (so called) soft drugs like marijuana, give organised crime and bands of assassins, the source for their financing."
Walters also assures that the international community is giving its support to Mexico, and that the US back 100% the efforts of Felipe Calderón. He says aid for the Mexican government is given in the form of economic resources as well as the "pooling of intelligence".
"The sharks feed off each other"
Referring to the number of deaths caused by drug trafficking in the last few months, Walters shares the view of the Mexican government that this war is destabilising the cartels and causing them not only to fight against the Mexican authorities but also amongst themselves, in order to gain control of power.
"That they fight among themselves is not unusual when an offence is launched against organised crime," Walters points out, "the sharks start to feed off each other. It´s a terrible situation and an extremely dangerous one."
Walters praises the efforts of Calderón, because "he is trying to regain control of the country". He also revealed that the US promised US$450 million to back the Mexican government´s operations.
And he concluded: "These groups constitute a very serious threat and they are capable of committing any act of violence in order to preserve their "business", the only way to win this war is to continue piling on the pressure."