Homeland security head to Mexico: US drug use fuels violence

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Friday that he told his Mexican counterpart the United States' demand for drugs was responsible for much of the violence on both sides of the border.

Kelly spoke in a joint statement with Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong on the third and final day of his visit.

"I acknowledged to my counterpart that America's insatiable appetite for drugs is the cause of much of the turmoil on both sides of the border," Kelly said.

Kelly and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made similar comments after meeting with their Mexican counterparts in Washington in May.

Kelly added Friday that the U.S. and Mexico would continue strengthening their security cooperation to battle organized crime. He noted that the U.S. had lost 60,000 people to overdose deaths last year and recognized that Mexican security forces had suffered losses in trying to combat drug trafficking.

Since Mexico declared its drug war in December 2006, it is believed to have claimed more than 100,000 lives and led to another 30,000 disappearances.

Kelly arrived in Mexico on Wednesday and met with President Enrique Pena Nieto before the Mexican leader departed for France ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Germany.

On Thursday, Kelly visited one of Mexico's most restive states and watched troops destroy opium poppy fields.

Mexico's Defense Department said in a statement late Thursday that Kelly accompanied military leaders to the southern state of Guerrero. The security leaders discussed efforts to combat organized crime, and Kelly observed the destruction of five poppy plots.