Napolitano blasts cartels after ICE agent killed in Mexico
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano minced few words when she took stock of the killing of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Mexico on Tuesday.
"Let me be clear: Any act of violence against our ICE personnel — or any DHS personnel — is an attack against all those who serve our nation and put their lives at risk for our safety," she said in a statement Tuesday.
Napolitano's announcement came just hours after the Associated Press reported that two agents driving in the state of San Luis Potosí were fired upon when they were stopped at a checkpoint. They were part of an ICE attaché unit in Mexico City, the AP added. The other agent was in stable condition after being shot in the leg and arm, according to Napolitano's statement.
"The full resources of our Department are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in this investigation. We remain committed in our broader support for Mexico's efforts to combat violence within its borders," she continued. The agents were traveling the highway from Mexico City to Monterrey, in the border state of Nuevo León.
At least two local media outlets in the Rio Grande Valley were reporting that one of the agents is from that area. The city of Monterrey has been home to an escalating turf war recently between the Gulf cartel and its former allies, Los Zetas, after enjoying years of relative tranquility.
The incident is likely to increase tension between the two nations following remarks last week by a top ranking U.S. military official that the Mexican government was fighting an insurgency there.
"There is a form of insurgency in Mexico with the drug cartels that's right on our border," Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal said last week during a speech in Utah, suggesting U.S. intervention could be needed to quell the violence. Mexico has witnessed approximately 35,000 deaths since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels after taking office in 2006. Westphal's comments prompted a stir among Mexican authorities.
Napolitano has also been under fire by some Republican lawmakers, including Gov. Jan Brewer and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who charge regularly that the federal government is not securing the country's border with Mexico. Napolitano and her colleagues, including Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin, hold their ground against the accusations and say the border is more secure then ever.
Napolitano's comments today come just two weeks after making a similar statement directed toward Mexico's drug gangs, in which she also touted cooperation between U.S. and Mexican authorities.
"I say to the cartels: Don't even think about bringing your violence and tactics across this border. You will be met by an overwhelming response," she said during a speech at the University of Texas at El Paso. "And we're going to continue to work with our partners in Mexico to dismantle and defeat you."
Included in the DHS's proposed $57 billion budget request announced this week are appropriations to maintain 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 21,186 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the nation's ports.