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White House unveils plan to combat drug trade at border

  • Story Highlights
  • Plan involves increased intelligence and enhanced technology
  • It aims to slow the flow of cash and illegal firearms into Mexico
  • Rising drug violence is among White House's top domestic concerns
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(CNN) -- The White House unveiled a strategy to combat rising drug crimes along the border Friday, vowing to curb the flow of narcotics and weapons that has been endangering more and more U.S. communities.

Pedestrians cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro gate in San Diego, California.

Pedestrians cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro gate in San Diego, California.

"The National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy we introduce today provides an effective way forward that will crack down on cartels and make our country safer," Attorney General Eric Holder vowed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the plan "calls for tougher inspections, more enforcement personnel and close coordination with our partners in Mexico as we work across federal, state and local governments. ... Together, we will continue to reduce the flow of illegal drugs across the Southwest border and ensure that those who ignore our laws are prosecuted."

The plan did not appear to contain any surprises. It focuses largely on increased intelligence, cooperation among law enforcement agencies and enhanced technology. A summary released by the White House also promises "targeted financial sanctions to disable drug trafficking organizations."

Rising drug violence in the United States is one of the administration's top domestic concerns.

Among the worst-hit cities in recent years is Phoenix, Arizona, where there's been an average of more than one reported kidnapping every day since 2007, virtually all linked to the drug trade. Home invasions have spiked as well.

As drug cartels have extended their reach in the United States, the violence has also been on the rise on the other side of the border.

More than 40 people, including two police officers, have been killed in shootings in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez since last weekend, authorities there said.

Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama's director of national drug control policy, will oversee the policy announced Friday.

"This new plan, combined with the dedicated efforts of the government of Mexico, creates a unique opportunity to make real headway on the drug threat," Kerlikowske said. "At the same time, we are renewing our commitment to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States, which will support this effort. The National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy will improve the safety of communities on the border and throughout our nation."

CNN's Terry Frieden contributed to this report.

All About MexicoU.S. Department of Homeland SecurityDrug Trafficking

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