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Citing a recent report by the joint task force of the Pacific Council on International Policy and COMEXI, the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Bonner said Mexicos success depends on how effectively both nations manage their shared border.

He said:

• Mexico should strengthen its customs agency by converting it to a multifunctional agency capable of addressing security threats, such as cross-border smuggling of weapons and cash - a move the Mexican government has begun.

• Mexico should move toward restructuring its law enforcement institutions along the border to create a direct counterpart to CBP, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to unify border enforcement authorities.

• Mexico should establish a Mexican federal frontier police, dedicated to securing the areas between Mexicos ports of entry - much as the U.S. Border Patrol does for the United States.

“Organizational changes are not enough, however,” Mr. Bonner said. “The United States also needs to intensify its efforts to curtail the smuggling of firearms and cash into Mexico.”

He said some studies have shown that many of the weapons obtained by Mexican drug traffickers come from the U.S., and much of their funding comes from U.S. drug sales. He called for U.S. authorities to begin more aggressive investigations of U.S. gun sellers and to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons.

The federal assault weapons ban was passed on Sept. 13, 1994, during the Clinton administration and prohibited the sale to civilians of certain semi-automatic firearms, so-called assault weapons. The law expired on Sept. 13, 2004, and an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, to extend it for another 10 years was defeated 80-9.

At least three other efforts to pass new legislation banning the weapons have not been successful. In February, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. said the ban should be reinstated, but Mr. Obama has since said he would not push its reinstatement even though it “made sense.”

Mr. Bonner also said the U.S. should expand assistance beyond the Merida Initiative and focus on helping Mexico strengthen its law enforcement capacity at the federal and state levels, reducing its vulnerability to corruption or “bribe or bullet” intimidation by the cartels.

“The border is not just about security,” Mr. Bonner said. “We must also make the border more efficient for lawful travel and trade …. This goal is achievable - while actually improving security — by adding infrastructure and resources, modern detection technologies and intelligent risk-management strategies enabling us to facilitate low-risk trade and travel while more effectively identifying high-risk vehicles, cargo and travelers for additional screening.”

The joint Pacific Council on International Policy and COMEXI task force recommended, among other things, that both nations adequately staff ports of entry, saying staffing shortfalls should never contribute to bottlenecks.

It also said that both nations should expand existing ports of entry and build new ones, encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors to help accomplish this, and streamline the border-crossing approval processes.

“It is time to tackle these problems and improve our shared border. These are bold recommendations to be sure, but they are achievable,” he said. “And they will have profoundly positive benefits for both the United States and Mexico.”