Congressman Ike Skelton got a first hand look at the drug violence on the U.S. border with Mexico last week.
Skelton, who is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, along with Chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee, Silvestre Reyes D-Texas and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman, D-Calif. took a trip to Mexico last week to visit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Mexico City.
Skelton told The Daily News yesterday the purpose of the trip was to discuss with Calderon the drug violence problems that exist near the border.
After meeting with President Calderon, the delegation placed a wreath at the Monument of the Boy Heroes, which commemorates the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847 during the Mexican-American War. On the return home from Mexico, the delegation stopped in El Paso, Texas, for meetings with U.S. law enforcement and other local officials.
El Paso, and border town Nogales, Ariz. have seen sharp spikes in violence in the last several months. Much of that violence has spread across the border. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced last week that officials from her department would be visiting with officials in Phoenix and Houston where drug related kidnappings have escalated.
Last week, President Barack Obama announced he was sending more resources to the Mexican government to battle the drug cartels. Skelton said he supports the president’s move.
“The intimidation they have against the police and other officials, it’s a real challenge,” Skelton said. “It’s already spilled over but I hope it doesn’t spill over any more than what it has.”
Skelton said Calderon expressed two main concerns that are feeding the violence, -guns coming into Mexico from the U.S. and the flow of cash that funds the cartels.
Skelton said it’s already against the law to smuggle weapons and more enforcement of the law needs to take place.
The U.S. recently has taken critism from Calderon’s administration saying that there would not be the level of violence that exists if the U.S.’s demand for drugs was not so high.
“It’s a multifaceted problem,” Skelton said. “We have to continue to crack down on illegal drug activity and do what we can to stop the demand.”
As much of half of the nation’s commercial traffic goes through Missouri depending on what statistics one looks at. Much of the commercial traffic involves the transportation of drugs. Skelton, who is a former prosecutor, said in Missouri we are doing our part to combat the problem.
“We’re doing a pretty good job from what I’ve seen,” he said. “We just need to encourage (police and prosecutors).”