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Drug war non-issue in US elections: experts

Drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and their bloody consequences in Mexico are a non-issue in upcoming US legislative elections, politicians and experts on both sides of the border said Wednesday.

Mexican soldiers stand guard as marijuana, cocaine, heorine and other drugs are incinerated in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico in September 2010. Drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and their bloody consequences in Mexico are a non-issue in upcoming US legislative elections, politicians and experts on both sides of the border said.

"It's regrettable so little attention has been given to drug trafficking" during the campaigns for senators and congressmen in the United States, said Mexican Congress security commission chairman Gustavo Gonzalez.

"It's especially serious that the (US) election campaign overlooks outstanding matters like arms trafficking, drug consumption and money laundering, all of which are particularly harmful to their neighbors," he added, referring to Mexico.

Since Mexico's President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on drug-related crime in late 2006, more than 28,000 people have been killed in gangland bloodshed.

Mexico says the violence is fueled by weaponry purchased in the United States, where gun laws are relatively relaxed. Calderon has protested to both US President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush that the weapons are purchased with illegal drug money.

But despite the increasing spill of drug violence over the border from Mexico into the United States, campaigning ahead of November 2 elections has barely touched on the subject.

"In general, drug trafficking as an issue was absent," during the campaigns, said Eric Olson, Mexico department head at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Members of the Mexican Federal Police guard over 105 tonnes of marijuana on October 18 in the border town of Tijuana, Mexico, seized after a clash with drug traffickers. Despite the increasing spill of drug violence over the border from Mexico into the United States, campaigning ahead of November 2 elections has barely touched on the subject.

"Obviously, the problem draws attention in the border region and in local elections, but it's not a main issue in the overall election campaign," he added.

"The security issue is only raised to promote a discriminatory political agenda... that seeks to shut down the border and pursue illegal immigrants and make Mexico and its (Latin American) neighbors appear like failed states," said David Shirk, Wilson Center chief in San Diego, across from Tijuana, one of Mexico's most violent cities.

In next month's mid-term elections, California will hold a referendum on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, which US authorities said could greatly complicate their war on drugs.

Proponents argue the legalization of marijuana could throw a spanner in a very lucrative market for Mexican drug traffickers. On Monday, police and soldiers seized 134 tons of marijuana after a shootout with a drug trafficking gang in Tijuana.

The stash, destined chiefly for the United States was Mexico's biggest drug bust ever, and on Wednesday police began burning the marijuana, which it said had been brought to the border city possibly in airplanes by the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel.

In recent weeks, Obama has told Hispanic media that a greater US effort was needed to curb illegal drug consumption by Americans in order to undermine the power and influence of Mexican drug cartels.

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