March 16, 2011
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States has begun sending unarmed drones deep into Mexico to gather intelligence about powerful drug cartels in order to assist local authorities, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper said US President Barack Obama and his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon formally agreed to the high-altitude missions in a meeting on March 3 but have kept it secret because of possible political and legal constraints.
It cited unnamed US officials as saying that the drones gathered vital information leading to Mexico’s arrest of several suspects in last month’s killing of US immigration and customs agent Jaime Zapata, 32.
Such a program would suggest rising concerns about the Mexican government’s ability to bring the cartels to heel through a massive military crackdown launched by Calderon in 2006.