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Latino Daily News

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Drug Legalization Debated at Congressional Hearing on U.S.-Mexico Ties

Drug Legalization Debated at Congressional Hearing on U.S.-Mexico Ties

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A hearing Tuesday of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the future of U.S. relations with Mexico included discussion of criminal violence south of the border and the pros and cons of legalizing currently illegal drugs.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asked senior State Department officials whether - instead of spending millions of dollars on suppressing the trafficking and consumption of dugs - it wouldn’t weaken the cartels more to remove the profits made by illegal drug sales.

But the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield, replied that he would not recommend any policy that increases the attainability of drugs that are now illegal.

Rohrabacher, however, said he had seen no evidence that legalizing drugs would increase the number of users.

During the nearly three-hour-long hearing, the State Department officials praised the cooperation with Mexico in the fight against drug traffickers and in promoting greater trade and economic integration.

Brownfield called Mexico’s arrest this year of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman one of the biggest blows against organized crime since the killing in 1993 of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

“Despite our strong cultural ties, our relationship with neighboring Mexico has never received the sustained attention from official Washington that it deserves,” the committee chair, California Republican Ed Royce, said at the start of the hearing.

“Of course,” he said, “the biggest threat to Mexico’s success is the ongoing threat of violence from drug cartels and criminal organizations. U.S. efforts with Mexico to tackle these transnational criminal organizations must be monitored and improved.”

Another member of the panel, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz), said that “there is much more to the relationship with Mexico than problems of security,” pointing out that one of every 24 U.S. jobs is linked to exports to Mexico.

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