U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the mayhem, which killed more than 5,300 people last year and long has been a major U.S. concern, reached a level last summer that convinced him of the need for border violence contingency plans.
Such a force, to be used if local agencies were overwhelmed, would include civilian and perhaps military law personnel using aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on border trouble spots, he told The New York Times.
Chertoff said he advised Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to succeed him, the Mexican border crime problem topped his national security concerns.
Aides to members of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the agency, said they had heard little about the plan but would welcome it.