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Homeland security chief makes a border house call

April 1, 2009 |  3:27 pm

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is at the Otay Mesa border crossing near San Diego today to highlight the federal government’s efforts to help Mexico in its war against organized crime.

It’s Napolitano's first visit to the Southwest border since she announced last week that the federal government will be sending hundreds of agents to the border to help stem the southbound flow of weapons and drug money to Mexico.

Weapons bought in the U.S. are believed to be fueling much of the violence between drug cartels and the Mexican government. Federal authorities claim they can have an effect by intercepting southbound contraband at ports of entry including Otay Mesa.

But some experts have expressed doubt about the strategy, saying border inspectors have never been able to staunch the flow of drugs entering the country and would probably have limited success with outbound contraband.

Napolitano, who touts the plan as an important step toward preventing spillover of violence into the United States, will tour border operations before going to Mexico. She is scheduled to meet tomorrow with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and hold talks on arms trafficking with Mexican authorities.

It’s Napolitano’s first visit to the California-Mexico border since being appointed homeland security secretary.

Check out additional coverage of Mexico's drug war.

-- Richard Marosi