- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - A top Homeland Security official told a House panel Thursday that Mexican drug cartels are the biggest organized crime threat to the United States.

Since 2008, about 7,000 people have been killed in the Mexican drug wars, and violence is spilling into some U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Phoenix and Birmingham, Ala.

Homeland Security official Roger Rufe said a department plan to respond to escalating violence on the southwest border includes deploying military personnel and equipment to the region if homeland security agencies become overwhelmed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Congressional subcommittees are looking into U.S. policies dealing with violence on the U.S.-Mexico border.



One House panel is holding a hearing Thursday on what the Homeland Security Department can do to secure the Southwest border and prevent Mexican drug cartel violence from spilling over into the United States.

Another is looking into whether U.S. policies on money, guns and drugs are contributing to the violence. There were three similar House hearings Tuesday on border security and the Mexican drug wars.

Since 2008, about 7,000 people have been killed in the Mexican drug wars, and violence is spilling into some U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Phoenix and Birmingham, Ala.

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