PUERTO PENASCO, Mexico Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday that the United States and Mexico were discussing joint programs to fight drug gangs and organized crime, twin problems that pose a "very serious threat" to the Mexican government.
Speaking before the 25th annual meeting of U.S. and Mexican border governors at this gulf of California resort, Chertoff did not give details on the programs.
"I have nothing but good things to say about the approach that President (Felipe) Calderon has taken to dealing with organized crime in Mexico, which is a very serious threat to the authority of the government and law enforcement in parts of Mexico," Chertoff said.
On Thursday, Calderon called on the United States to do more to stem the flow of weapons and drug money into Mexico, noting that the illegal weapon trade has resulted in the deaths of dozens of Mexican law enforcement officials.
Mexico has been rocked by a wave of drug-fueled executions and a series of gas-pipeline bombings claimed by leftist rebels.
"We have been working with the Mexican government to talk about some partnership activities we could undertake, working on both sides of the border to deal with this issue," he said.
At the meeting, governors from both sides of the border called for federal help in alleviating massive traffic jams at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the U.S. need to address security concerns should not mean long border bottlenecks.
Calderon called for new border crossings to relieve the strain.
Describing gridlock at border crossings, Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy said, "We have the biggest parking lots in the world, at all times of day, and moreover, it is creating a pollution problem.
"Unfortunately, we are not getting any response from the U.S. government."
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said the long border waits were part of the conference's discussions Friday.
"Our missing partner is the federal government, and that is where we need to put our efforts next," said Napolitano, a Democrat. "Our federal governments can no longer satisfy us simply by coming to a meeting and giving a speech. What we require is resources and dedication and priority setting that has yet to be seen."
The governors agreed to support the use of "tandem" inspection booths at crossings, where one booth located immediately behind another allows two vehicles to pass through at a time.
But U.S. officials were focused largely on security issues.
Napolitano said the meeting had focused on stopping the trade in methamphetamines and precursor chemicals, money laundering from drug and human trafficking, and the availability of prescription drugs in border communities. Many Mexican pharmacies sell medications without a prescription.
Chertoff also is expected to face questions over proposed routes for border fencing that environmentalists, farmers and others say will damage the region's environmental and economic landscape.
The U.S. government has announced proposed routes and designs for some of the 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers to be put in place by the end of 2008.