US Global Hawk Drones Fly High Above Mexico in Drug War Effort

U.S. Sends Drones to Fight Mexican Drug Trade

Ginger Thompson & Mark Mazzetti | NYTimes

The U.S.-made RQ-4 Global Hawk spy plane looks like an upside-down double-decker bus with wings, flies slowly, offers zero leg room — and is one of the most coveted pieces of military technology in the world. Photo:

WASHINGTON — Stepping up its involvement in Mexico’s drug war, the Obama administration has begun sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence that helps locate major traffickers and follow their networks, according to American and Mexican officials.

The Pentagon began flying high-altitude, unarmed drones over Mexican skies last month, American military officials said, in hopes of collecting information to turn over to Mexican law enforcement agencies. Other administration officials said a Homeland Security drone helped Mexican authorities find several suspects linked to the Feb. 15 killing of Jaime Zapata, a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Immigration agent.

President Obama and his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderón, formally agreed to continue the surveillance flights during a White House meeting on March 3. The American assistance has been kept secret because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty, the officials said.

Before the outbreak of drug violence in Mexico that has left more than 34,000 dead in the past four years, such an agreement would have been all but unthinkable, they said.

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