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De la Madrid Assailed on Drug Problem : U.S. Irate Over Mexico's Responses to Trafficking, Senators Say

August 25, 1986|DON IRWIN | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Reagan Administration officials wasted an opportunity if they failed to press for improved Mexican cooperation with U.S. drug-control programs during Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid's recent visit to Washington, two U.S. senators said Sunday.

"We may have missed a tremendous opportunity" to bring pressure to bear in closed-door meetings with De la Madrid because he came to Washington "to arrange between $6 billion and $8 billion in new loans" from U.S. banks and the U.S.-aided International Monetary Fund, said Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.).

"If we did not insist that they (Mexico) clean up their act, their corruption and their drug involvement with high government officials, including governors in their states, we made a bad, bad mistake," DeConcini added.

Sen. Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.), appearing with DeConcini on ABC television's "This Week With David Brinkley," indicated that she had put the issue squarely to the Mexican president when he held a closed meeting with senators on Aug. 13.

"I told him unless they cooperate 100%--let us have hot pursuit (of drug dealers who flee to Mexico), unless they sign extradition papers, like the country of Colombia has done--we're going to force them to be good citizens," said Hawkins.

Hawkins, a candidate for a second term, denounced the Mexican government for failure to prosecute those responsible for the murder of Enrique S. Camarena, the Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed last year in Mexico. She said she told De la Madrid that "I was dissatisfied with his performance and that the public's fed up."

Wants Vigorous Protest

Peter B. Bensinger, a former DEA director, appearing on the same program, said that the United States should protest vigorously to any country where U.S. agents are subject to abuse. He recommended continued efforts to develop Mexican security resources while "we as a country continue to keep our presence in Mexico very strongly felt."

Carlton Turner, director of the White House Office of Drug Abuse Policy, told questioners on the program that President Reagan has yet to make final decisions on the categories of U.S. government employees subject to testing for drugs under programs now being developed.

Although Reagan said in announcing the program that testing will be required of employees responsible for public health and safety, such as air traffic controllers, decisions have yet to be made regarding proposals that others be subject to random testing, Turner said. Reagan's goals, he said, are to identify users and to rehabilitate them.

Pressed to say whether employees whose tests show positive results indicating drug use will be subject to automatic dismissal, Turner replied that the President's goal is "rehabilitation when possible."

Kenneth T. Blaylock, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said he has no objection to the present mandatory testing of people in safety-related jobs and conceded that the government has a right to test an employee suspected of taking illegal drugs. But he opposed mandatory random testing as an infringement on individual rights.

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