Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama administration names US-Mexican 'border czar;' says it will crack down on drug cartels

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, announced this week that former Justice Department official Alan Bersin will lead the Obama administration’s efforts to crack down on drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Bersin, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego, already served as the "border czar" to then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. He also served as California's education secretary and as superintendent of schools in San Diego.

The Obama administration also announced it was placing three Mexican drug gangs -- the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana -- onto a list of significant foreign narcotics traffickers targeted for special sanctions. The move allows the U.S. government to freeze any cartel assets in U.S. jurisdiction and bars Americans from dealing with funds linked to the groups and their operatives.

The two announcements preceeded Obama’s first trip to Latin American, with a stop in Mexico before the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

Napolitano said Bersin, who begins work immediately, will have the title of assistant secretary for international affairs and special representative for border affairs.

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