- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says the Obama administration is flying drones over Mexico to help gather intelligence for the southern neighbor’s battle against drug traffickers.

The official said Wednesday that the flights of unmanned aerial vehicles are operated by the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the issue.

The flights expand the U.S. role in the drug war, in which Americans already have been training Mexican soldiers and police as well as cooperating on other intelligence. More than 35,000 casualties have been reported since President Felipe Calderon launched a stepped-up offensive against the cartels in late 2006.

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