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Diplomacy in Action

Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement Country Program: Mexico

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
January 20, 2009



The success of Mexico’s anti-drug, anti-organized crime, and border security efforts remains critical to the U.S.’ pursuit of national drug control strategy and border security initiatives. With a 2,000-mile long land border with the U.S. and the largest cross-border traffic in the world, Mexico is a natural transshipment point for drugs and other contraband destined for the U.S. and Canada. As much as 90 percent of Latin American illicit drugs enter the U.S. through Mexico and its territorial waters. Even with the Mexico’s major and continuing attack against illicit cultivation (that in 2008 eradicated over 12,035 hectares of opium poppy and over 15,756 hectares of marijuana), Mexico remains one of the principal producers of heroin and marijuana destined for the U.S. Mexico-based crime organizations control drug trafficking to and within the U.S. and are the source of considerable violence, corruption, and other crimes in both countries, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Throughout 2008, the Calderon Administration has continued the unprecedented efforts begun in 2007 to stop the flow of drugs and curtail the power of drug cartels.  The restructuring and more aggressive deployment of security forces, enhanced cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies, and strong engagement of the military in the fight to dismantle major drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have proven to be effective.  These efforts led to the apprehension of major drug traffickers, discovery of clandestine drug laboratories, and removal of corrupt security officials.  Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. and Mexico will work in partnership to break the power and impunity of criminal organizations; strengthen border, air, and maritime controls; improve the capacity of justice systems in the region to conduct investigations and prosecutions; consolidate the rule of law, protect human rights, and reform prison management; curtail criminal gang activity; and reduce the demand for drugs throughout the region. 

Key U.S. Counternarcotics Goals

  • Strengthen Mexico’s ability to control its border, ports of entry, and its national transportation system through the detection and interdiction of illicit narcotics, contraband (including explosives and weapons), and trafficked/smuggled persons.

  • Enhance Mexico’s capabilities to disrupt the command and control of Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations (DTOs). Expand the capacity of Mexican law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to interdict trafficked narcotics and precursors and the illicit proceeds that derive from them.

  • Establish interconnectivity between the respective command and control centers of Mexico’s LEAs, to maximize coordination of joint operations and investigations.

  • Support the professionalization and modernization of Mexico’s law enforcement institutions and criminal justice sectors.

  • Improve the Government of Mexico (GOM) capacity to apply advanced digital technologies to share, analyze and otherwise manipulate a variety of data, including crime reporting information.

  • Support demand reduction programs to educate the public about the harmful personal and societal effects of drug abuse and support initiatives taken by the GOM, state governments and NGOs in the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, particularly along the northern border with the U.S.

U.S. Programs

U.S. bilateral law enforcement programs promote and support Mexico’s efforts to strengthen the institutional and infrastructure capabilities of its law enforcement and judicial sectors, with a focus on counter-drugs and security along the U.S./Mexico land border zone. The U.S. approach in bilateral programs is to enhance law enforcement cooperation aimed at: pursuing organized criminal elements aggressively; seizing drugs, weapons, explosives, and other illicit contraband that harm U.S. citizens; targeting the financial proceeds of crimes; and strengthening law enforcement and judicial institutions. Specific programs include the provision of information management tools for improved data and intelligence analysis; provision of training and material to enhance the security of Mexico’s law enforcement personnel; support for interdiction, demand control, judicial reform, and anti-corruption initiatives.

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