U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed strong support for Mexican President Felipe Calderon on a recent visit to Mexico. "President Obama and I," said Secretary Clinton, "have been very impressed by President Calderon's courage and leadership, and we are very heartened by his commitment to a stronger U.S.-Mexico relationship and partnership."
A major shared interest of the United States and Mexico is combating transnational criminal organizations. Both countries need to work together to halt the stream of illegal weapons and cash coming in one direction and drugs going in the other direction. National efforts and bilateral cooperation are the only way to win this law enforcement challenge. "The drug traffickers," said Secretary Clinton, "are not going to give up without a terrible fight. And when they do things that are just barbaric, like beheading people, it is meant to intimidate." But President Calderon has refused to back down.
Beginning with the Merida Initiative, both Mexico and the United States have increased efforts to stop drug trafficking and organized crime. This year, the U.S. has committed to deliver five-hundred million dollars in equipment and capacity building to the government of Mexico. That includes sixty million dollars for nonintrusive inspection equipment that will help law enforcement and customs agents to detect illegal arms and money moving into and within Mexico.
Through Merida, said Secretary Clinton, "we are working to help Mexico strengthen court systems, build resilient communities, and offer constructive alternatives for young people."
Secretary Clinton said there have been encouraging results on both sides of the border. On the Mexican side, thanks to improved intelligence and targeting, nearly two dozen high-level traffickers have been captured or killed just in the past year. On the U.S. side, the FBI just arrested the largest number of mafia members in history in January. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department has designated nearly eight-hundred businesses and individuals associated with drug kingpins.
There is still a great deal left to do in confronting organized crime within American and Mexican borders and across them. But progress is being made. And President Calderon's leadership, with the support of the Mexican people, is one of the reasons that these gains are taking place.