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Diplomacy in Action


Challenges:  The success of the Government of Mexico’s anti-drug, anti-organized crime, and border security efforts remains critical to the U.S. Government’s pursuit of its national drug control strategy and border security initiatives. With a 2,000-mile long land border with the United States and the largest volume of cross-border traffic in the world, Mexico is a major trans-shipment point for drugs and other contraband destined for the United States and Canada. As much as 90 percent of Latin American illicit drugs enter the United States through Mexico and its territorial waters. Even with Mexico’s extensive and continuing efforts to reduce illicit cultivation (in 2012, Mexico eradicated at least 8,659 hectares (ha) of marijuana and 14,000 ha of opium poppy), Mexico remains one of the principal producers of heroin and marijuana destined for the United States. In 2012, the Government of Mexico seized over 3 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, 1,250 MT of marijuana, 182 kilograms (kg) of heroin, more than 30 MT of methamphetamine, and 1.46 MT of opium gum, and dismantled 267 methamphetamine labs. Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations control drug trafficking to and within the United States. They remain a source of considerable violence, corruption, and crime, including along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Merida Initiative Goals:  Through the Merida Initiative, the United States and Mexico have engaged in an unprecedented partnership to break the power and impunity of transnational criminal organizations; strengthen border, air, and maritime controls; expand the capabilities and professionalization of Mexican law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels; and improve the capacity of justice systems to investigate and prosecute cases. The two countries also collaborate to further respect for human rights and the rule of law, increase citizen security, and reduce the demand for drugs. .Based on principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect for sovereign independence, these joint efforts have enhanced cooperation that has transformed our bilateral relationship.

The Merida Initiative is guided by four mutually-accepted goals, or “pillars”: 1) Disrupt the Capacity of Organized Crime to Operate; 2) Institutionalize the Capacity to Sustain the Rule of Law; 3) Create a 21st century border; and 4) Build Strong and Resilient Communities.

Accomplishments:  Since the Merida Initiative began in Fiscal Year 2008, through the U.S.-Mexico partnership, the U.S. has provided training, technical assistance, equipment, and “best practices” exchanges, including:

  • Mexico’s air mobility in counternarcotics and other security operations has expanded through the delivery of aircraft that provide rapid transportation for law enforcement personnel.
  • The United States supports Mexico’s implementation of comprehensive justice sector reform through the training of prosecutors, defenders, investigators, and forensic experts and through judicial exchanges and partnerships between Mexican and U.S. law schools.
  • The United States assists in the strengthening and professionalization of Mexican law enforcement through training for the Federal Police as well as state and local police. Training includes topics such as Officer Safety and Survival, Crime Scene Preservation, Investigations, Anti-drug Trafficking, and Responding to Gender-Based Violence.
  • The Mexican government, with U.S. technical assistance, training, and equipment, has established a corrections academy in the state of Veracruz to train Mexico’s federal correctional staff. Under the Merida Initiative, the academy, eight federal prisons, and five Chihuahua state prisons have received accreditation by the American Correctional Association.
  • The United States has provided scanners, x-ray machines, other non-intrusive inspection equipment, as well as trained canines, to enhance Mexican authorities’ ability to detect illicit goods at key checkpoints and ports of entry along the border.

Merida Initiative support assisted Mexico in creating a standardized certification program for drug treatment counselors. During 2012, 600 new counselors were trained in a standardized curriculum developed with support from the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.

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