Lawmakers debate drug war intervention

April 1, 2011 at 2:06 PM

WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers debated Thursday whether military involvement is necessary in fighting the Mexican drug war against cartels and for expanding border security.

Lawmakers on the House Homeland Security subcommittee were privately shown videotapes of Gulf and Los Zetas cartel members carrying out attacks against military and law enforcement, the San Antonio Express-News reported Thursday.

One video showed cartel members using grenade launchers and assault rifles with military precision to take over a roadside checkpoint in Camargo.

Both House and Senate chambers are crafting bills for border security next year and expanding the three-year, $1.4 billion Merida Initiative designed to help the Mexican military battle the cartels.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations, filed a bill to criminalize cartels as terrorist organizations.

"It is time for the United States to take decisive steps to end a rampant war that is just south of our border. The solution goes well beyond securing our borders," McCaul said.

Drug-related violence has risen in Mexico significantly since Mexican President Felipe Calderón launched his crackdown on the cartels in 2006.

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