Mexico police seize anti-aircraft weapon near US border

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 14 2009 11:07 PM | Updated as of Apr 15 2009 07:07 AM

MEXICO CITY - Police seized an anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on a van and other heavy weapons at a house in northern Mexico near the US border, an official said Tuesday.

The haul came two days before a visit to Mexico by US President Barack Obama in which Mexico's violent drug cartels and their mainly US-bought weapons were set to top the agenda.

The machine gun seized in Sonora state, bordering Arizona in the United States, could fire 800 shots per minute up to 1,500 meters away, said Rodolfo Cruz, from the federal public security ministry, at a news conference.

Police also found a grenade launcher, five shotguns, a hand grenade, and scores of magazines and cartridges.

A suspected female caretaker was also detained, Cruz said.

Some 7,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since the start of 2008, amid a military crackdown on warring drug cartels launched by President Felipe Calderon more than two years ago.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month in Mexico promised financing for Blackhawk helicopters and an acceleration of efforts to deliver other hardware to tackle the drug cartels under the three-year, 1.4-billion-dollar Merida Initiative.

With violence increasingly spilling over into the United States, the White House has also unveiled a tough new strategy seeking to stop the flow of weapons and money south of the border.