Wednesday, March 23, 2011

US unarmed drones track drug gangs in Mexico -- how long before they're armed?

The US has been sending unarmed drones over Mexico since February to gather intelligence on major drug cartels, the New York Times reports.

Useful information has already been turned over to Mexican authorities, US officials told the paper.

The missions had been kept secret because of Mexican legal restraints and sensitivities over sovereignty.

Mexico's northern border areas have seen much of the violence that has left more than 34,000 dead since late 2006.

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration began sending high-altitude, unarmed drones over Mexican territory in February, aiming to collect information to turn over to Mexican law enforcement agencies.

The paper quotes both American and Mexican officials as saying that Mexico had asked the US to use its drones to track suspects' movements.

Unnamed US officials said drones had gathered intelligence that led to the arrest in Mexico of several suspects in connection with the murder of a US immigration agent, Jaime Zapata. (read more)