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Mexico's plea to Obama: Curb drug use

With an internal war on narco-gangs, Mexico needs the US to reduce its drug addiction.

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For two years, Mexican President Felipe Calderón has waged war on powerful and violent drug cartels, deploying 20,000 troops and the full might of the state. Nearly 6,000 lives have been lost – more than all US casualties in Iraq. With no end in sight, Mr. Calderón now says he can't win if the US doesn't do more to curb its drug addiction.

He's not alone in this plea to deal with America's culpability.

The US ambassador to that country, Tony Garza, said recently that drug violence in Mexico would not be so high "were the United States not the largest consumer of illicit drugs and the main suppliers of weapons to the cartels."

Americans also need to worry about a spill-over of this war across the border and the reach of the cartels into dozens of US cities. The cartels sell $13.8 billion a year worth of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin to US users.

Under President Bush, the response to Mexico's war has largely been one of helping beef up law enforcement, which was sorely needed. In June, Congress passed a three-year, $1.4 billion aid program called the Mérida Initiative to assist both Mexico and Central American nations with fighting drug gangs. Dozens of Mexican narcotic kingpins are now being extradited to the US for trial – where they are less likely to escape, run their operations from prison, or further corrupt law officers.

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