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GAO: U.S. needs to stop guns flowing south

WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- The United States lacks a coordinated plan to staunch the flow of weapons across the border into Mexico, a government report says.

The Government Accountability Office report, to be released Thursday, offers the first federal assessment of the U.S-to-Mexico arms flow as well as searing conclusions about the issue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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"The U.S. government lacks a strategy to address arms trafficking to Mexico," the report said. "Individual U.S. agencies have undertaken a variety of activities and projects to combat arms trafficking to Mexico, but they are not part of a comprehensive U.S. government-wide strategy for addressing the problem."

Obama administration officials, while noting they won't comment on specifics of the report until it is released publicly, said they have taken steps to upgrade efforts to combat the U.S. gunrunning into Mexico, the Times said. As an example, the officials cited the administration's announcement of its Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy that includes a section on arms trafficking.

That strategy and other, similar efforts are still in their infancy and unlikely to produce significant improvements quickly, the GAO report said.

The report's authors also faulted the George W. Bush administration's $1.4-billion Merida Initiative because it didn't provide dedicated funding to address weapons trafficking.

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