(CNN) – The United States shares the blame for Mexican drug trafficking and the attendant violence that has killed thousands in the past year alone, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.
"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade," she said en route to Mexico City, according to pool reports. "Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians. So, yes, I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility."
Clinton arrived in the Mexican capital a day after the United States unveiled its latest plan to improve security along its long border with its southern neighbor.
She underscored that the United States has already appropriated $700 million in aid to Mexico and Congress wants to see how the administration is applying it before sending more.
"We are going to demonstrate that we are spending it in an accountable and effective manner that will assist the Mexicans" in law enforcement and justice, she said.
The United States needs to stop the flow of guns, body armor and night-vision goggles to the cartels, Clinton said.
"These criminals are outgunning the law enforcement officials," she said on her plane. "When you go into a gunfight or are trying to round up these bad guys and they have military-style equipment that is much better than yours, you start out at a disadvantage. Since we know the vast majority of that comes from our country, we are going to help stop it from getting there in the first
The Mexican army arrested a man Mexico calls a top drug cartel chief and four of his bodyguards, the government announced Wednesday. Hector Huerta Rios, also known as "La Burra" or "El Junior," was arrested Tuesday in the city of San Pedro Garza Garcia, outside Monterrey in Nuevo Leon state, a little more
than 100 miles from Mexico's border with the United States.
The Obama administration announced a crackdown on border violence and on the smuggling of cash and weapons into Mexico on Tuesday, a step that could
mark an end to a nasty blame game over where responsibility for the violence lies.
Clinton will visit a Mexican police base to show U.S. support for the nation's embattled police force. And she will travel to Monterrey, a thriving industrial town. She will meet with students, hold a town-hall meeting with
business leaders and visit a clean energy plant - all in an effort to prove that in every area, the U.S. partnership with Mexico is a critical one.
The Defense Department and the director of national intelligence have both warned about the national security threat an unstable Mexico poses to the
United States. Congress has seized on the issue, holding no fewer than eight hearings since coming back into session two months ago.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on violence along the U.S.-Mexican border Wednesday.
Some headlines have reduced Mexico to a narco-state on its way to becoming a failed state - a haracterization Mexico's President Felipe Calderon rejects.
Mexico is the United States' second-largest export market, after Canada, and its third-largest total trade partner. Hundreds of U.S. companies have factories in Mexico, and Mexico is a leading supplier of crude oil to the United States.
Clinton noted that many Americans have close ties and families in Mexico, adding that she herself honeymooned there.
Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder are due to visit Mexico soon, to be followed next month by President Barack Obama, before he attends the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.