Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Mexico's drug cartels that any attempt to bring their violent tactics across the border would produce a powerful reaction.
"So today I say to the cartels: Don't even think about bringing your violence and tactics across this border," Napolitano told an audience at the University of Texas at El Paso. "You will be met by an overwhelming response. And we're going to continue to work with our partners in Mexico to dismantle and defeat you," she said.
According to a Reuters report, Napolitano also argued that while there are deep concerns about the violence by the cartels, those who describe the U.S.-Mexico border as overrun with violence and out of control were off the mark. "This statement -- often made only to score cheap political points -- is just plain wrong," she said.
The report says that more than 34,000 people in Mexico have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of army troops and federal police to crush cartels warring for lucrative trafficking routes to the United States after he took office in late 2006.
More than 15,000 people were killed in 2010 alone. El Paso recorded a handful of murders last year, while neighboring Ciudad Juarez in Mexico had 3,000, the report says.
"Let's stick with the facts and numbers when we talk about where we are at the southwest border," she said. "And we've matched the decreases in apprehensions (of illegal immigrants) with increases in seizures of cash, drugs, and weapons."
Napolitano said the administration had also strengthened its partnership with Mexico as well as state, local and tribal authorities on the nearly 2,000-mile-long border.