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Border governors discuss data sharing

Susana Martinez was the only US governor to attend

Governors along the U.S.-Mexico border agreed on Thursday to study the possibility of shared databases to exchange suspect DNA and other biometric data in order to curb the flow of guns and drugs between the two countries.

The agreement was announced at the end of an annual conference of regional leaders from both sides of the border, which this year failed to attract many chief executives.

New Mexico’s Republican governor Susana Martinez was the only U.S. governor who attended, along with three governors (out of six invited) from the Mexican side.  Texas governor and US presidential candidate Rick Perry did not attend, nor did his state sign the final agreement.

Drug-related violence has skyrocketed along the border in the last few years, as the Mexican government, with U.S. backing, confronts powerful cartels smuggling narcotics, illegal immigrants and weapons across the 2,000-mile long zone.

“The hope is that every convicted criminal (deported from the United States) will return with biometric information that follows him back into Mexico,” said Baja California governor Jose Osuna.  That data could then be used by Mexican authorities to fight crime, he said.

As Mexican President Felipe Calderon points out, voracious U.S. drug consumers are partly responsible for the violence, which has killed more than 42,000 people in Mexico during his five years in office.

Calderon has also complained about the flow of U.S. guns across the border, including high-powered assault weapons used in the drug battles that are becoming a daily occurrence.

The Governors at the meeting called on U.S. officials to better track weapon sales and expressed support for President Barack Obama’s efforts to stem the flow of guns.

Nearly three decades old, the annual conference is designed to soothe tensions along the busy dividing line.  Last year, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer canceled after her Mexican counterparts protested that state’s tough immigration laws. This year she declined again at the last minute, claiming she had to attend to “pressing state government business”.