Obama, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen Meet Over Mexico’s Drug War

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U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed Saturday by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who returned from a six-day trip to Latin America with news of beheadings and intimidation by Mexican drug cartels. Admiral Mullen said the United States could help with equipment and intelligence techniques.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said Washington may help train Mexican forces and provide intelligence and other resources in the drug fight.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence already in 2009. In 2008, the toll doubled from 2007 to 6,290.

Violent competition among Mexican drug and smuggling cartels is spilling across the border, as cities in Arizona report increases in such crimes as home invasions. Phoenix, Arizona has been labeled as having the second-highest kidnapping rate in the world. More than 700 people were arrested as part of a crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating inside the United States, according to an announcement by the Justice Department last month.

U.S. military, police and emergency support services are preparing for responses to the possibility of a mass of exodus of Mexican citizens, who may attempt to escape violence in Mexico.

High profile individuals, such as factory owners, doctors, newspaper publishers who have businesses on both sides of the border have ordered customization of vehicles with bulletproof glass, armor plates, electrified door handles and smoke screen to counter fear of killings, kidnappings and carjackings by drug dealers.

To counter the violence, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has ordered about 7,500 soldiers and 1,700 federal officers into Ciudad Juarez, a major stop for drugs smuggled into the U.S. Mexican troops are taking command over all the police precinct stations in Juarez, conducting neighborhood patrols, gathering intelligence gathering and working to uncover illegal activity.

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