The flow of illicit narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border fuels violence in both countries and at our shared border. It is incumbent on both countries to address this challenge.
To date, the U.S. has delivered to Mexico more than $1.4 billion in assistance, including training and equipment. This assistance has been delivered through the Merida Initiative, an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering respect for human rights and the rule of law.
At present, said U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield, the U.S. “has more than $600 million in bilaterally agreed upon projects” with Mexico. These projects fall into three areas.
The first is professionalizing the Mexican law enforcement agencies. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, or INL, is working to strengthen policing capacity at state and municipal levels in Mexico.As a result, said U.S. Assistant Secretary Brownfield, “we expect there will be greater observance of civil and human rights, and growing trust in these intuitions by the people of Mexico. This is vital to any effort to stem drug trafficking, reduce the capabilities and influence of drug cartels, and secure our border with Mexico.”
With regard to border security, both countries have committed to increase Mexico’s ability to interdict illicit narcotics, arms, and money, as well as strengthen control of porous border areas. INL is providing more than $125 million in inspection equipment and about 340 canine teams deployed at ports of entry and internal checkpoints throughout the country.
Mexican drug cartels have in recent years increasingly turned to heroin trafficking. Under Merida, the United States is cooperating with Mexico to combat the threat posed by heroin production and trafficking. INL is building Mexico’s heroin interdiction capabilities including training, inspection equipment, and providing canines.
Mexico is committed to judicial reform, which is slated to be implemented throughout the country in mid-2016. The United States will continue to work with Mexico to build a strong and able justice system there to improve rule of law efforts. INL’s work in Mexico under the Merida Initiative has already achieved far-reaching, positive results, and “I am confident,” said Assistant Secretary Brownfield that with U.S. cooperation and assistance Mexico will continue to make progress.