U.S. and Mexico agree to improve vehicle searches at border
By Eileen Sullivan
WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Mexico formalized an agreement Monday to work together to secure legal travel and trade across the countries' shared border.
The agreement is outlined in a letter of intent signed by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Mexico's Finance Minister Agustin Carstens.
It expands a 2007 agreement and formalizes plans announced earlier this year to search vehicles at border crossings for bulk weapons and cash being smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico where more than 10,800 people have been killed by drug violence since December 2006.
Napolitano said the cooperation will include sharing information such as data about stolen cars.
Officials have said many of the weapons used in cartel violence in Mexico have come from the U.S.
Both countries are responsible for what goes into Mexico from the U.S., Napolitano said Monday at a news conference. "Our view is that we can either point fingers at each other, or we can work together," she said.
Officials said the agreement will improve communication and strengthen coordination on border enforcement. For instance, the U.S. will train Mexican customs agents and dogs and use more technology along the border.
"The more we work together, the better the service and security we provide to our peoples and economies," Carstens said in a statement.
The agreement is part of the U.S.-Mexico effort to curb drug and weapons trafficking and crack down on smuggling cartels. Mexico has deployed more than 45,000 soldiers across the country to fight the heavily armed cartels.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press