CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — President Felipe Calderon on Thursday unveiled a "No More Weapons!" billboard made with crushed firearms and placed near the U.S. border. He urged the United States to stop the flow of weapons into Mexico.
The billboard, which is in English and weighs 3 tons, was placed near an international bridge in Ciudad Juarez and can be seen from the United States.
'Mexico needs your help'
Calderon said the billboard's letters were made with weapons seized by local, state and federal authorities.
"Dear friends of the United States, Mexico needs your help to stop this terrible violence that we're suffering," Calderon said in English during the unveiling ceremony.
"The best way to do this is to stop the flow of automatic weapons into Mexico," he added.
Before unveiling the billboard, Calderon supervised the destruction of more than 7,500 automatic rifles and handguns at a military base in Ciudad Juarez.
Calderon said more than 140,000 weapons have been seized since December 2006, when he launched a crackdown against drug traffickers. More than 47,500 people have been killed since then.
One of the cities most affected by the violence is Ciudad Juarez, where more than 9,000 have died in drug violence since 2008.
The state on the border with Texas has seen a spike of violence as the Zetas and the Sinaloa drug cartel fight for control of drug-smuggling routes into the United States.
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Meanwhile, U.S. authorities announced Thursday that they have upgraded six miles of border fencing in a remote Arizona ranching town with a taller barrier that will be tougher to breach, in the latest effort to tighten their grip on the isolated stretches of the Mexico border.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said it has replaced outdated panel fencing that carved across the southern reach of Douglas, in the far southeast corner of Arizona, with an 18-foot-tall bollard and steel-mesh fence design.
The move to refurbish the barrier separating Douglas from Agua Prieta in Mexico's northern Sonora state follows an overhaul of 2.8 miles of fencing in Nogales, the largest city on the Arizona-Mexico border, last year.
The revamp in the high plains ranching town comes as arrests of illegal immigrants crossing north over the Mexico border plummeted to 327,577 last year, their lowest levels since 1972 when President Richard Nixon was in the White House.
Factors in the stark decline have included tightened border enforcement, a slowed U.S. economy providing fewer jobs to undocumented workers, and increased drug cartel-related violence in Mexico that has made the journey north more hazardous, according to analysts.
Also Thursday, the country's Attorney General said a federal prosecutor assigned to a northern state had been detained on suspicion of protecting the brutal Zetas drug cartel.
Attorney General Marisela Morales said federal prosecutor Claudia Gonzalez has been sent to prison. She didn't say when Gonzalez was detained or give any other details.
Gonzalez was based in the city of Saltillo, capital of the border state of Coahuila.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.