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MCALLEN, Texas – The United States should forget about policies such as taking out the kingpins in Mexican based drug cartels and offering more weapons to its southern neighbor.

Instead it should get to grips with the organized crime operating in the U.S. that connects to that operating in Mexico. And it should do something about the use and distribution of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

That is the message from Roberto Velasco Ãlvarez, charge d’affairs in Mexico’s Office of the Deputy Secretary for North America. 

Velasco took questions about national security during a webinar hosted by the Mexico Institute entitled “The Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations.” The moderator was Duncan Wood, a senior advisor to the Mexico Institute and the group’s vice president for strategy and new initiatives.

The one-hour conversation also focused on immigration and energy.

Duncan Wood, a senior advisor to the Mexico Institute and the group’s vice president for strategy and new initiatives, and Roberto Velasco Ãlvarez, charge d’affairs in Mexico’s Office of the Deputy Secretary for North America.

As far as national security is concerned, Velasco said Mexico has been looking for help from the United States for some time but the help being offered is misplaced.

“We have been talking about gun trafficking, which is a major problem in Mexico, mainly because of assault and automatic weapons, This is not an issue that will be solved only by putting some operation on the border or having some extra layers of security in the border crossings,” Velasco said.

“You actually need some changes in the relations with U.S. We understand they are extremely partisan and are a very difficult to process. But they are important nonetheless because the impact of these guns in Mexico is extremely gruesome. I do not need to tell you about this but they are really wreaking havoc in our country.”

Velasco acknowledged Mexico needs to do more itself to thwart organized crime.

“We, as a country, need to figure out how to detain the operations of these networks in our country. We have been trying to do that for sometime and we are still trying to do that every day and it is a very difficult task because it means risks to the security of many people and it means lost lives and a lot of really, really, hard work,” Velasco said.

Fighting organized crime is not easy and puts tremendous pressure on those working for the security forces and in law enforcement agencies, Velasco explained. He said it also puts pressure on the judiciary.

“But, that is something we need to figure out on our own because that is what we need as a country in order to build up our capacities and actually have a national law enforcement capacity and the conditions for having the life and the property of Mexicans be respected and respect to all of our laws.”

That said, the United States can do more to help, Velasco argued.

“What we also need the U.S. to do is figure out the networks and the capacities of these (criminal) organizations in the U.S. because from our perspective, evidently, there is another side of the equation where these organizations are distributing these drugs and these substances in the U.S. Naturally, a lot of those activities are the ones that provide these (Mexico based) organizations with money that is the fuel behind their activities.”

Velasco added that Mexico did not want to see strategies pursued that have failed in the past.

He said: “Actually attack the business model of organized crime between the two countries and not just focus on particular strategies that we have seen fail in the past, such as the kingpin strategy and many other things that we have seen that have not worked.”

Velasco said Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made clear the policies he feels will not work.

“The president has been clear that we don’t want cooperation for military equipment. We don’t want weapons.”

Editor’s Note: Click here to watch the full webinar. The discussion on national security starts around 28 minutes in.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Roberto Velasco Ãlvarez, charge d’affairs in Mexico’s Office of the Deputy Secretary for North America. (Photo credit: The Mexico Institute)

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