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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 11:02 GMT
US, Mexico strengthen gun checks
Mexican federal police in raid on drugs gang. File photo
Mexican police have been fighting heavily-armed drugs gangs
The US has said it will give Mexico access to an electronic database to trace weapons smuggled from the US to powerful drug gangs across the border.

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Mexican police who seized arms could use the system to notify the US who would then target the dealers.

Mexico has been struggling to deal with heavily-armed drug traffickers.

It has complained that its northern neighbour is not doing enough to stop the flow of illegal arms into Mexico.

Mr Mukasey also urged the US Congress not to be distracted by the presidential election and approve the proposed $1.4bn (712m) joint US-Mexican anti-drug plan, known as the Merida Initiative.

'Indispensable'

Speaking during his official visit to Mexico, Mr Mukasey said the e-Trace database would be installed at US consulates across Mexico to help local police track gun dealers back in the US.

I can certainly foresee a tightening up of the way gun dealers distribute guns
Michael Mukasey
US Attorney General

He said US officials would then be able to "target that dealer".

"Inevitably we'll find people who are not doing what they ought to do, and they'll be prosecuted," Mr Mukasey said.

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora welcomed the announcement, describing it as "indispensable that we establish common criteria to solve this issue".

Mr Mukasey also said the US authorities had hired more firearms agents to check the records of gun dealers along the border.

Tijuana clashes

Separately, Mr Mukasey revealed that Washington and Mexico had discussed recent incidents near Mexico's border city of Tijuana in which US border patrol agents fired tear gas into Mexican territory.

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The US says the agents acted to protect themselves against rocks being hurled at them from across the border, describing the clashes as drug-related.

"We're trying to deal with it. We've talked to the Mexicans about it, and they're trying to deal with it," Mr Mukasey said.

"What happens is that there is organised rock-throwing to divert border guards, who then become involved in whatever exchanges they're involved in, then you get a bunch of backpackers running across the border with backpacks full of marijuana," Mr Mukasey said.

SEE ALSO
Bush eyes Mexico drug fight funds
22 Oct 07 |  Americas
US-Mexico drugs blitz 'success'
04 Oct 07 |  Americas
US claims success in war on drugs
03 Oct 07 |  Americas
Life in jail for Mexico drugs man
18 Sep 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Mexico
01 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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