More personnel may soon be headed to the U.S.-Mexico border to help stem rising drug-fueled violence, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday.



“We’re looking at manpower that perhaps could be relocated for the time being on a temporary basis, and we’re also looking at our existing grant monies to see whether any of those should be refocused on that area because of the different quality and kind of violence that we’re seeing right now,” Napolitano told reporters.

Napolitano, who resigned as governor of Arizona to take the Homeland Security post in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, declined to specify what type of manpower she was considering and played down the need for any more uniformed military personnel.

“It’s important to recognize that this is initially a civilian law enforcement issue,” Napolitano said. “We’re not talking about militarizing the border at this point. That would be a very far-off contingency at this point.”

She declined to say when the additional border security might start but added, “I think you can assume that this is taking top priority for the department.”

In the two years since the Mexican military renewed a crackdown on rampant drug cartels and corruption, deaths from related fighting have increased dramatically. Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed, according to news reports, and so far this year, more than 1,000 people have died.

It has escalated so much that last week Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he asked the federal government for 1,000 additional personnel — ­National Guard or otherwise — along his state’s border with Mexico.

But dispatching the Guard is a sensitive issue. In 2008, the Guard halted Operation Jump Start, a program designed to improve frontier security by deploying guardsmen to the border for their annual training stints.

Restarting a similar initiative would require another presidential directive, Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters last week.

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