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February 27, 2012

US Vows to Continue War on Drugs

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the US was not losing its decades-long "war on drugs."

Napolitano defended Washington's anti-narcotics efforts Monday in Mexico City after a meeting with Mexican Interior Minister Alejandro Poire.

"With respect to, 'is the drug war a failure and are we going to change our strategy?' I would not agree with the premise that the drug war is a failure. I would say however that it is a continuing effort, to keep our peoples from becoming addicted to dangerous drugs," said Napolitano.

Napolitano also expressed confidence that notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who escaped from prison in 2001, would be recaptured eventually.  

"Let me just say, it took us ten years to find Osama Bin laden. We found him, 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 wrong-doers and those who do harm in both our countries, so that issue continues," added Napolitano.

Nearly 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown against the country's drug cartels.

During her visit to Mexico City, Napolitano and Poire announced the U.S. will begin flying undocumented Mexican immigrants directly back to their home states instead of leaving them at the border where they could be targeted by criminal gangs.  

Napolitano's visit to Mexico was the first stop on a five-nation tour of Central and Latin America.  She travels next to Guatemala, whose president, Otto Perez, has called for the legalization of narcotics as an alternative approach.

Napolitano will also travel to El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.