According to the New York Times, an unnamed U.S. official confirmed on March 16 that the Obama administration is flying unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) over Mexico in the battle against drug trafficking. It was claimed that the drones are being flown by the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security and are used to gather intelligence for Mexican soldiers and police.
The Mexican government has also confirmed that it has authorized the U.S. to fly the drones to collect information. The Mexican presidential office released a statement declaring that the drones were requested for “specific occasions and events” and under the supervision of their government according to an article by Mary Beth Sheridan for the Washington Post. Initial reports concerning the drones being utilized in Mexico came from the New York Times last month; however, flights had originally been kept secret to avoid possible backlash from the public and politicians. The Mexican government also stated that the U.S. drone assistance was used in border operations, and when flying in Mexico’s airspace, the mission-specific tasks were under the control of Mexican authorities.
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against the drug cartels in late 2006, over 35,000 people have been killed according to the Washington Post article.