August 2, 2005

Mexico vows tighter border security after U.S. move

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico promised to tighten security
on its U.S. border on Tuesday after Washington closed a
consulate in the lawless city of Nuevo Laredo because police
have failed to curb spiraling violence.

President Vicente Fox's spokesman said tougher measures
would soon be taken in the fight against warring drug cartels
along the border.

"Yesterday there was a Cabinet-level security meeting and
the president gave instructions to radicalize the operation and
raise its efficiency," said spokesman Ruben Aguilar.

He gave no details, except to rule out a curfew in Nuevo
Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas.

Still, Aguilar reiterated Mexico's objection to the closing
of the U.S. Consulate, saying it was an extreme measure.

More than 100 people have been killed this year in Nuevo
Laredo. Most of the deaths were linked to the drug trade,
including 18 police officers.

U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza last week ordered the consulate
temporarily closed after rival drug gangs clashed with
bazookas, hand grenades and automatic weapons in a battle that
raged for 20 minutes. He said he would only reopen it if the
security situation improved.

The State Department has repeatedly warned Americans not to
travel to Nuevo Laredo.

Mexico launched a security program along the border in June
after gunmen killed the city's new police chief hours after he
was sworn in.

Authorities suspended the entire local police force for
possible links to the drug trade and army troops and federal
police took over the city, a trade hub.

But the violence continued unabated. In the latest killing,
on Monday, an unidentified man was found dead with a single
shot to the back of the neck.