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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Merida Initiative

The Merida Initiative is 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. Based on principles of common and shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect for sovereign independence, the two countries’ efforts have built confidence that is transforming the bilateral relationship.

Enhancing Citizen Security

Under the Merida Initiative, the United States has forged a partnership with the Government of Mexico to disrupt organized criminal groups, institutionalize reforms to sustain the rule of law and support for human rights, create a 21st century border structure, and build strong and resilient communities.  Bilateral efforts are being accelerated to support democratic institutions, especially police, justice systems, and civil society organizations; expand our border focus beyond interdiction of contraband to include facilitation of legitimate trade and travel; and build stable communities able to withstand the pressures of crime and violence.

Merida Programs and Activities

The U.S. Congress has appropriated $2.3 billion since the Merida Initiative began in Fiscal Year 2008. Under the partnership, some of the activities include:

  • Mexico’s implementation of comprehensive justice sector reforms has been supported through the training of justice sector personnel, including police, prosecutors, and defense counsel; correction systems development; judicial exchanges; and support to Mexican law schools – all in preparation for Mexico’s transition to a new accusatory criminal justice system.
  • Police capacity building courses for Mexican law enforcement have been delivered to police personnel and include crime investigation, professionalization, tactics and firearms, forensics, strategic analysis, and specialized training for anti-corruption, anti-gang, anti-money laundering, and anti-kidnapping units.
  • Anti-corruption programs that include vetting of police personnel and the creation of trained internal affairs units have been instituted.
  •  Work is ongoing with the Government of Mexico and civil society to promote the rule of law and build strong and resilient communities to increase the knowledge of, and respect for, human rights; to strengthen social networks and community cohesion; to address the needs of vulnerable populations (youth and victims of crime); and to increase community and government cooperation. 
  • Air mobility of Mexican police forces has been increased through the delivery of specialized aircraft as well as training for pilots and technicians. The aircraft and training has proven invaluable in confronting criminal organizations who would otherwise have used the advantage of difficult terrain to operate with impunity.
  • Scanners, X-ray machines, and other non-intrusive inspection equipment have been provided to enhance the Mexican government’s ability to detect illicit goods at internal checkpoints and ports of entry.
  • Delivery of nearly 400 canines trained in the detection of narcotics, weapons, explosives, ammunition, currency and human remains to Mexican federal agencies, including the Federal Police, the Office of the Attorney General, and Customs.
  • A secure, cross-border telecommunications system between ten U.S. and Mexican border sister cities, has been established. This system provides public security forces on both sides of the border the capability to request and exchange information regarding active criminal investigations.
  • Task forces incorporating trained personnel from municipal and state police and state attorney general offices have been established in key Mexican states to better share information, develop actionable intelligence, and foster greater inter-agency collaboration and coordination in law enforcement operations.
  • Mexican prisons are working to receive independent accreditation from the American Correctional Association (ACA). To date, 18 facilities – eight federal prisons, nine state prisons, and the Xalapa Training Academy – have received ACA accreditation.
  • Drug treatment courts have been established across Mexico to provide alternatives to incarceration for drug abusers.


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