U.S. sending team to combat violent crime along Mexican border

Mexico late Wednesday reacted coolly to a U.S. announcement it was dispatching federal agents to Texas to combat violence along the Mexican border, saying it will watch closely for human rights violations. In a statement released shortly before midnight, the Foreign Relations Department said the government of President Vicente Fox "takes any threat to its national security or the region of North America with the greatest seriousness" and for that reason has sought to work closely with U.S. authorities on making the border region safer.

Specifically addressing the U.S. decision to send agents to the Texas-Mexico border, the department said it would "remain vigilant that the human rights of our co-nationals are respected," apparently referring to Mexican migrants crossing the border legally or illegally.

The statement mistaken referred to the deployment of agents by "the government of Texas." It was actually announced Wednesday at the Justice Department in Washington by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales said the issue would be the focus of his meeting in San Antonio on Thursday with his Mexican counterpart, Daniel Cabeza de Vaca.

The Violent Crime Impact Team will go to the border city of Laredo. Such teams previously have been sent to about 20 U.S. cities that are struggling with violent crime problems despite a dropping U.S. crime rate.

The teams typically include agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; FBI; and Drug Enforcement Administration. A Justice Department prosecutor handles cases of those charged, reports the AP. I.L.

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