News / Americas

US Drug Czar Kerlikowske Supports Mexican Authorities

US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske
US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske

The top drug control official in the U.S., Gil Kerlikowske, is speaking out against increasing drug violence in Mexico and in support of Mexican President Felipe Calderon. In the most recent violence, 21 people died Thursday in a gun battle between rival gangs in Sonora, Mexico, just 20 kilometers from the U.S. border. In an exclusive interview, VOA's Carolyn Presutti spoke with Kerlikowske.

Every scene has familiar police markings - blood of the fallen, connections to drugs.  Fifteen dead in a gun battle in Taxco.
Fifty-five more at an abandoned silver mine near that same tourist town.

And every time Mexican President Felipe Calderon calls for it to stop.

"We are dealing with security for the whole country," said President Calderon. "Criminals don't discriminate. This is a moment of unity and decision."

Mr. Calderon can count on the Obama administration to back him.  Gil Kerlikowske is the top U.S. drug control official, commonly known as America's drug czar.  He has a long history in law enforcement.

"I'm very pleased that, one, President Calderone is very courageous, in his administration, in taking this issue on," said Gil Kerlikowske. "And as he says, this is a question of who is going to run that country.  Is it going to be criminals, criminal enterprises?  Or is it going to be the elected officials and the appointed officials of that democracy?"

Crime experts say the cartels are running Mexico.  Midway through Mr. Calderon's six year term, drug-related violence has claimed more than 23,000 lives.  And lately, the targets have been political.

A deputy state prosecutor was gunned down in Ciudad Juarez, along the border with Texas.

A gubernatorial candidate was ambushed in Tamaulipas.

"I think history throughout the world, when it comes to law enforcement taking on organized crime, always shows an increase or a spike in violence as you confront them," said Kerlikowske. "That's horrible for the people in Mexico."

Kerlikowske spent years as a police chief in American cities, but he favors treatment programs over jail time for drug uses. He also praises Colombian President Avaro Uribe for lowering his country's coca production, resulting in less cocaine passing through Mexico into the United States.

"For many years, we would point our finger, particularly at Mexico, and say 'Please stop sending your drugs across the border to us.' And Mexico would say, 'Well look, if you weren't consuming so many drugs, we wouldn't have the problems we are having.'  I think we're pretty far past that," he said.

With drug use high, Kerlikowske says U.S. scientists conduct 85 percent of the world's research on drug treatment. He says more countries should take advantage of free information to start their own treatment programs.  


Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Canadian Authorities Seek More Power to Thwart Terror Suspects

Canada's PM Harper he'll press for speedy OK to track terror suspects abroad, and to detain people in the country suspected of plotting attacks
More

Brazilians Set to Choose New President

President Dilma Rousseff and Senator Aecio Neves face each other in weekend runoff
More

FARC Rebel Gets 27 Years in US Prison for Hostage-Taking

Alexander Beltran Herrera responsible for kidnapping three Americans whose plane crash-landed in Colombia
More

Canadian Shooter's Mother ‘Mad’ at Son

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's mother, Susan told the Associated Press part of her 'wants to hate' her estranged son, who killed a soldier in Ottawa
More

Canadian Couple Accused of Spying in China Held in Near Isolation

Treatment of the couple, who are being held without charge at a remote facility in the border city of Dandong, has seriously strained China's ties with Canada
More

Mexico Governor Resigns After Student Disappearances

Students from a rural teachers training college went missing after a confrontation with police in the town of Iguala on September 26
More