Clinton admits US fuels Mexico's drugs trade

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Seeking to soothe tensions with America's troubled southern neighbour, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, arrived in Mexico for an official visit yesterday acknowledging the United States has a lot do with the country's current struggle to contain violence spawned by the illicit trade in drugs.

The mea culpa, referring to the role of America both as the prime consumer of the drugs and the supplier of so much of the weaponry in the trafficking wars, is the first from so senior a US politician and will be seen as a sharp break from the attitude towards Mexico shown by the administration of former president George Bush.

"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade," Mrs Clinton said, beginning a visit to lay the ground for President Barack Obama to travel there in April. "Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."

The announcement came as soldiers detained one of Mexico's top drug traffickers, Hector Huerta Rios, who controlled the Monterrey operations of the Beltran Leyva cartel.